One of the most controversial parts of the Windows XP launch was its implementation of Windows Product Activation, an anti-piracy measure that was responsible for a plenty of bugs and headaches. Now, 21 years after Windows XP’s arrival, its activation algorithm has been cracked.
As reported by The Register, a blog post on tinyapps titled “Windows XP Activation: GAME OVER” gives a brief history of attempts to crack the operating system’s activation process. It then provides a SHA-256 hash for xp_activate32.exe, a program that lets you generate proper keys for offline Windows XP activation .
This program is based on Microsoft’s proprietary activation key algorithm. So, it should spit out the exact key that Microsoft would provide for your PC through traditional activation channels. (Of course, Microsoft stopped activating Windows XP installations years ago, and most people don’t need activation keys when they use XP in a virtual machine.)
As for why anyone would use Windows XP—well, you really shouldn’t. Aside from the fact that it’s completely outdated, Windows XP is full of unpatched vulnerabilities. Windows XP is only useful to retro gamers, people who want a nostalgia trip, and businesses that rely on decades-old software for mission-critical operations (you’ll still find XP in hospitals, industrial plants, manufacturing facilities, and some corners of the government).
If you use Windows XP, do not connect it to the internet. It’s not like the operating system can do much on the internet, anyway. I should also note that if you’re a fan of retro PCs, the tinyapps blog is full of some fantastic software for legacy machines.
Source: Tinyapps via The Register