Windows XP WGA and blank screen

I came across a problem with a PC today that I thought, from the symptoms described, had been spyware/virus infected. On booting the PC and logging on to a user you receive the message:

Windows Product Activation
“A problem has prevented Windows from accurately checking the status of the license for this computer. To proceed your copy of Windows must be activated with Microsoft. Do you want to activate Windows now?”

At first I thought this was fake since it didn’t seem like a genuine message, however I soon found out it was a genuine Microsoft prompt.

The only way to get in to Windows was via Safe Mode. The fix, thanks to rpek at the Microsoft Forums for IT Professionals:

1. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32
2. Delete “wpa.dbl” file
3. Rename “wpa.bak” to “wpa.dbl”
4. Reboot

Oh and if that does not work do this…

1. Logon in Safe mode,

2. Run Regedit,

3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version\WPAEvents and modify any part of the OOBETimer Value.

4. Then restart.

Thank you!

Move your “User Profile” to another drive

This post explains how, by way of a registry hack, you can change the location of the user profiles store from “%systemdrive%\Documents and Settings” to where ever you wish.

1.  Create a folder, name of your choice on the D drive you wish to use.

2.  Log in as an administrator and copy all profiles (except the one currently being used) by dragging the folders to the new location. After all other profiles are copied to the new location, the profile that is currently being used must be copied as well. To do this, log out of the current account and log in with another account that has administrator privileges. The remaining profile can then be copied using the same procedure

3. Change the default location of new user profiles.  Start > Run > “regedit”:

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Profilelist\
Key: ProfilesDirectory
Value: D:\Profiles

4. There are a series of entries below the Profilelist key that represent each user account currently stored on the machine. For each of these keys, the ProfileImagePath key must be changed to reflect the new location of the profile. It is best to perform this task with as few profiles created on the local workstation as possible to minimize the amount of time required.

5. Reboot

Windows XP SP3 and HD Audio Devices

After spending some time downgrading a Vista Business machine back to XP Professional I came across a rather odd problem whilst install the Realtek HD audio device.  I managed to ‘half’ install the drivers but couldn’t uninstall them, rollback or “update drivers” an got stuck with an otherwise perfect XP build.

After lots of searching I found out a few things:

  • The problem relates to Windows SP3 and the lack of HD support.  Therefore any slip streamed installations without HD audio drivers built in are prone to this problem.
  • If you allow Windows to automatically install its own drivers you may get this problem.
  • The “Microsoft UAA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio” play a part

So, in short, to resolve quickly, insure you have the correct self installing or driver only package for your sound card and do the following:

  1. Right click My Computer
  2. Click Hardware
  3. Click Device Manager
  4. Expand System Devices
  5. Right click “Microsoft UAA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio” and choose “Disable”, then click OK
  6. Right click again and “Uninstall”
  7. Click “Action” and “Scan for hardware changes” and point the wizard at the driver location OR run the install package.

Changing Windows XP’s default search tool

Like every little bug bear in Windows, theres usual a reg hack to change things, as there is for this!

So if you like me occasionally wish to search non-indexed locations by brute force, file by file and are sick and tired of click the “use Search companion” link at the bottom of the search window try this:

  1. Start > Run,  type ‘regedit’ and hit enter
  2. Goto:  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search\DS
  3. Modifiy the value for the ‘ShowStartSearchBand’ entry to ‘0’
  4. Done!