Each piece of Windows XP CD disc media or ISO image has been created for specific channel of distributions, namely retail, OEM or volume licensing. Each channel has specific installation CD and product key or CD key that required to register and activate the installed system. Activation with product serial keys from other channel version are simply not accepted, causing end-user to encounter problem when installation as a CD-key is not accepted even though it’s genuine, valid and correct.

The main problem is that not many people may be aware there is difference between various Windows XP media and the Windows XP product key that they’re having, especially users who download Windows XP images (popularly in ISO, IMG or BIN format) from Internet through file sharing sites or BT (BitTorrent) torrents. These images may not be labeled properly by indicating it’s Windows XP retail, OEM or volume licensing version. Besides, the downloaded image is mostly for Windows XP VL edition, and is not suitable for OEM product key, which pasted on COA sticker on PC. Even for IT professionals who legitmatelly download Windows XP and obtain serial numbers from MSDN or TechNet subscriptions, the ISO images and product keys may get mixed up between OEM, retail or volume license (VL) version if not been labeled or managed properly.

For users who have an incorrect edition of Windows XP CD or have installed an incorrect version of Windows XP, here are two tricks or hacks to change a live version of Windows XP installation, and change the version of Windows XP installation files. Why? Well, because end-user cannot change their product key easily, that’s why the only possible way to properly activate is to change the channel version of Windows XP.

How to Change the Distribution Channel Version of Existing Windows XP Installation

  1. Boot up the computer using the CD of the Windows XP edition (retail, OEM or volume licensing) that user wants to upgrade or convert the existing installation to.

    Note: User may have to change the boot device priority or sequence in BIOS.

  2. Windows XP setup wizard will launch and ask user to setup Windows XP, press Enter.

    Note: Do not press R or select the option “To repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console, press R” option.

  3. Accept the License Agreement.
  4. Then, select the Windows XP installation you want to repair (change the channel) from the list and press R to start the repair process.
  5. Setup will copy some files.
  6. Reboot the computer.
  7. Windows XP installation is now properly changed for retail, OEM or volume license according to the version of CD been used.

How to Change the Distribution Channel Version of A Windows XP CD

Tip: A more easier way is probably to download a new Windows XP with SP3 ISO image.

Note: This step can be used to check or verify the channel version of a Windows XP CD or image too. And it does not convert CD or image to royalty OEM Windows XP, which requires some OEM files to be existed.

  1. Copy all content of Windows XP CD to hard disk drive, or extract Windows XP disc image to a folder.
  2. Open the file \i386\setupp.ini in any text editor such as Notepad.
  3. Inside the setupp.ini, there is a “Pid” parameter with [Pid] header. The Pid variable consists of 2 parts. The first 5 digits is Microsoft product code (MPC) which determines the version of Windows XP that will be installed, the last 3 digits is channel ID that determines which CD-keys or product keys that the installation wizard will accept. Some example of standard combination for Pid for various editions of Windows XP:

    Windows XP RTM
    Retail: 51882335 (Retail edition accepting Retail CD keys)
    Volume License: 51883270 (Volume License edition accepting Volume License keys or VLK)
    OEM: 82503OEM (OEM edition accepting OEM keys or COA keys)

    Windows XP SP2

    Retail: 55274335
    Volume License: 55274270
    OEM: 55277OEM

    Windows XP SP3

    Retail: 76487335
    Volume License: 76487270
    OEM: 76487OEM

  4. The first 5 digits of Pid is normally stayed the same for same version of Windows XP (i.e. RTM, SP1, SP2 or SP3). Thus, only the last 3 digits of Pid needs to be modified according to example above. Generally, channel ID for retail is 335, OEM is OEM, and volume licensing is 270.
  5. Use nLite or other disc imaging program to re-create or re-burn the modified Windows XP installation disc media or image.

Note: Newer Windows XP discs may check whether the CD’s volume label matches the type of CD too. In this case, the wrong volume label may still render the disc unworkable. Here’s a brief list of known English version of Windows XP CD volume labels.

XP Home and Professional Combo = WXPHFPP_EN

XP Home Retail = WXHFPP_EN
XP Home Retail with SP1 = XRMHFPP_EN
XP Home Retail with SP1a = X1AHFPP_EN
XP Home Retail with SP2 = VRMHFPP_EN
XP Home Upgrade = WXHCCP_EN
XP Home Upgrade with SP1 = XRMHCCP_EN
XP Home Upgrade with SP1a = X1AHCCP_EN
XP Home Upgrade with SP2 = VRMHCCP_EN
XP Home OEM with SP1a = X1AHOEM_EN
XP Home Volume = WXHVOL_EN
XP Home Volume with SP1 = XRMHVOL_EN
XP Home Volume with SP1a = X1AHVOL_EN
XP Home Volume with SP2 = VRMHVOL_EN

XP Professional Retail = WXPFPP_EN
XP Professional Retail with SP1 = XRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional Retail with SP1a = X1APFPP_EN
XP Professional Retail with SP2 = VRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional Upgrade = WXPCCP_EN
XP Professional Upgrade with SP1 = XRMPCCP_EN
XP Professional Upgrade with SP1a = X1APCCP_EN
XP Professional Upgrade with SP2 = VRMPCCP_EN
XP Professional OEM = WXPOEM_EN
XP Professional OEM with SP1 = XRMPOEM_EN
XP Professional OEM with SP1a = X1APOEM_EN
XP Professional OEM with SP2 = VRMPOEM_EN
XP Professional Volume = WXPVOL_EN
XP Professional Volume with SP1 = XRMPVOL_EN
XP Professional Volume with SP1a = X1APVOL_EN
XP Professional Volume with SP2 = VRMPVOL_EN
XP Professional Tablet PC with SP1 Disc1 = XRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional Tablet PC with SP1a Disc1 = X1APFPP_EN
XP Professional Tablet PC with SP2 Disc1 = VRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional MSDN = WXPFPP_EN
XP Professional MSDN with SP1 = XRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional MSDN with SP1a = X1APFPP_EN
XP Professional MSDN with SP2 = VRMPFPP_EN
XP Professional Evaluation = WXPEVL_EN

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  • Humzah

    If I were to use any of these techniques to convert my Windows XP (OEM license) to a volume license. Would I be able to use 2 version of my windows XP on 2 different computer and consequently use a windows 7 family upgrade pack on both computers?

    Sorry if it seems confusing (I’ll provide more information/clarity if needed)

    • mrtt

      @Humzah: no, you would be unable to use it at all. Because your key is an OEM key and will not work with a VL installation.

  • Ahmed

    Thanks a lot for this tips, the first option worked for me. :)

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  • Karl

    Very useful information. Worked great from Dell OEM to retail. Thanks.

  • isca

    re post at 10.52, i do not want to jst install the oem as i want to keep the build and info.



  • isca

    Hi Guys,

    have been reading lots of articles and am v/confused, akthough this seems the best.

    start from the begining, i have a winxp pro sp2 installed which i bought as a retail pack from ebay, cd in drive identifies as VRMPFFP_EN, pid is 55274270., so i take it the package is a retail volume pack, it sp2 as well.

    after 2 years MS flagged it upas pirate ( wrong/illegal key), due to ownership of a lappy as well just ignored it but wish to rectify now.

    I have just been given a genuine unopened ap pro sp2 OEM and obviously have a product key.

    if i follow the instructions for "How to Change the Distribution Channel Version of Existing Windows XP Installation" when do i enter the new key and activate it.



  • babak kamali

    I have/had an installation of MSDN XP pro plus SP3 and other latest updates. After an update Microsoft wouldn't reactivate my XP because I had changed the name of the machine!!!

    So I bought an XP OEM key and downloaded and burned the relevant ISO file. I followed the steps in the first part of this hint but when I rebooted I was prompted that the system needed to be activated again but activation page never appeared and the system was left hanging.

    What shall I do now?

  • zap

    Very interesting.

    Great job.

    Works for me.

    Change technet to OEM.


  • Dan S.

    The technique of changing the PID on a CD does NOT work for changing a Volume License (VLK) CD to an OEM CD – you wind up with a disc that will not accept any product key, and you cannot get past the product-key entry screen when trying to install it. But the technique DOES work to convert a Retail (FPP) CD to OEM. So if you want an OEM XP Pro CD, download the Retail version and make the change as described in the article. I presume it will work for Home Edition as well.

  • Chuck

    We could use an update on this article. It would be good to have a full set of the PID's included, from the RTM, to SP1, to SP2, and SP3 as well; plus all of the SP3 Volume Labels, which are not here at all. Thank you, Digital Life, for the first version of this article. I am looking forward to the revised edition!

  • Pete

    This article was right on. I was able to re-load a Dell after converting my MSDN disk to OEM.

    • babak kamali

      I am sorry but I tried to do the same but I got end up with an dead installation. Can you go over the steps you followed for changing an msdn installation to an oem specifically since the article is not quite clear on that issue.

      I would be most grateful.

  • Peter

    I am trying to make an OEM CD from an XP Home Retail SP1 CD, so I can restore a Dell PC that has an OEM Product Key label. The Retail CD is XRMHFPP_EN with PID 55277000. I changed the 000 to OEM and changed the CD name to XRMHOEM_EN. I created a bootable CD with the updated file but the XP Setup crashes when it says press Enter to install XP, R to Repair, or F3 to quit. Can't figure out why it is not working.

  • xp

    i used the first step ..after reboot i got installating windows screeen .. is tht supposed to happen??

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  • Joe

    This is the real life with such beautiful people help others.

    Thank you so much for the article. It help alot

  • yoper

    So after reboot windows will ask me to enter my new product key?

  • Vicente

    Thanks for the info !!! It works !!! ;-D

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  • TT

    For MAR Program the Pid the worked for Win XP Pro SP3 is 76487000

  • vian

    kalau bisa dijelaskan dengan menggunakan gambar agar lebih jelas

  • Derek

    Interesting that when I slipstream SP3 into an original 2600 SP0 VLK source, that the first 5 digits of the PID do not get updated in setupp.ini – in fact they seem to pertain to an SP2 CD! i.e. Pid=55274270. An install from the slipstreamed source completes successfully, though.

  • JuggHead

    The Dell OEM Win XP reinstallation CDs will install on any Dell, and don't ask for a key. The SP2 version is green and marked with P/N JD153. And SP3 will install without any problems. I can't find my SP3 CD, but it worked the same.

  • Thanks for your reply. I knew this already before my and your posting (but forgot to mention that), but – as I already said – it doesn't work and I've no glue why! And the (negative) result isn't dependent from the volume's label!

  • replicant

    MPC for German WindowsXP SP3 OEM is '76497OEM'

  • Unfortunately this hint does definitely NOT work with any of my German Windows XP SP3 versions. In addition I'm missing the school & academic distribution channel (instead of OEM there are three zeros and instead of a colored COA there's only an ordinary orange sticker on the soft-cd-cover) at your list.

  • sivhead

    Using the instructions above I created a retail Cd and a OEM Cd from a VL cd. I now have all 3 cd's. I installed a lenovo laptop with a VL cd and VL key for XP pro (as lenovo does not issue cd's). I now want to change the VL key to the key thats located on the sticker underneath (also XP Pro). I tried using the method above with the retail CD and OEM CD with the method above and in this scenario it does not work. Error Message the "The Product Key you entered is invalid". So I guess this method only works for changing VL to Retail and Vice versa. Not for OEM

  • Any Dell CD will work w/ and Dell pc as long as it's the same version… Example: Dell XP Home CD = Dell PC with XP Home tag on side.

  • T. Pack

    I obtained a Dell machine that had one of those Win XP Pro VL installations with the pirated key widely circulated on the internet (that was cutoff with SP-1).

    I'm trying to figure out what type of media I can buy to make it legal.

    It seems if I obtain a retail version with a valid key, I can "change the version" using your method above and activate a legal copy without losing everything that's already installed (which is the requirement of any method selected.)

    I'm seeing a lot of OEM versions on eBay. This is a Dell that has a COA sticker for WinXP Home. I'm assuming that's what shipped from Dell originally.

    Then, the XP Pro with the pirated key (which I want to convert to XP Pro with a "legal" key.)

    Would a Dell OEM XP Pro CD, with a valid Product Key, also work in my situation? I've been reading some posts that say it ONLY do a clean install and will wipe out your current installation. Other posts say the OEM CD won't even boot if it detects an O/S already installed. Lastly, since it appears it came from Dell with XP Home, will it accept a Dell CD for XP Pro?

    Please help!!


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