Hi all,

I'm trying to create a new base XP image for Dell OptiPlex PCs, starting
from the original out-of-the-box XP installation. Unfortunately, every
time I run SYSPREP, the machine asks to be re-activated following the
mini-setup process.

I'm doing this with the OEM license included with the PC. I'm aware that
if I had a volume license key I would not have this issue, but the
bosses have already made it clear that purchasing one is not an option.
Nor, frankly, should it be, since that would constitute paying for the
same OS twice (something only Microsoft can get away with).

The strange thing is this: I have an older, dirtier XP image that does
not suffer from this problem, but for the life of me I can't figure out
why, or what I might have done differently to make it work.

I've seen comments on this forum that "there are ways around this," but
I haven't found the magic bullet yet. If anyone has anything to share on
this I'd appreciate it.