Yes, we've had author Scott Mueller on our radio show to discuss this. Scott says:
On the Windows front, lately I've been playing with SLP (System Locked Preinstallation) installs of XP <http://tinyurl.com/ndmg9> as used by larger Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as HP/Compaq, Dell, IBM/Lenovo, Gateway, Toshiba, etc. In systems using SLP, as the OS loads it scans the motherboard ROM looking for a specific text string unique to the particular OEM. If found, *no* activation is required and the system passes all WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) checks.
In Windows XP, SLP works via the OEMBIOS.* files in the %SystemRoot%\system32 folder as well as a fixed SLP product key, which is different than the system unique keys found on the COA (Certificate of Authenticity) stickers. For example, my ThinkPad R40 has the string "IBM CORPORATION" located at address F4240h in the ROM, and was installed using the same product key as on all ThinkPads with XP Pro, instead of the unique key found on the COA sticker.
Using this GetSystem tool
<http://www.siginetsoftware.com/forum/sh … d.php?t=51> you can find out which of the known SLP strings is present in a given system, where it is located in the ROM, and which set of OEMBIOS.* files should be used for that system. If you don't already have them, you can download the OEMBIOS files from the OEMBIOS Repository here <http://www.oembios.net>.
By placing the proper OEMBIOS files along with a WINNT.SIF file with the fixed key in the \i386 folder on the installation CD you can create an install CD that will never need activation for a given OEM.
Because the OEMBIOS files are system (motherboard ROM) specific, you would need to create a different OEM SLP install disc for every different brand OEM system you needed to reload. If you only work on one or two different brands of OEM systems (i.e. you work in a company that only buys Dell or Gateway), then that isn't much of a problem, but if you work on a variety of systems (i.e. a typical repair or user support shop) then there is a great solution which allows the creation of a single disc that will properly install on multiple OEM systems.
Using this OEMScan tool <http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=82638>
one can create "Multi-OEM" XP install CDs that will allow system reloading with the proper SLP setup without having to resort to the "product recovery"
discs or partitions. That is a major help as often the product recovery discs or partition are missing, and can be a major timesaver even if you do have them.
Combining these and other tools you can create automated/unattended Multi-OEM XP install discs (one each for Home, Pro, and MCE) that have SP2 and *all* updates since fully integrated <http://www.ryanvm.net/msfn/updatepack.html>, plus drivers for virtually all devices fully integrated as well <http://www.driverpacks.net>.
Then when you have to reload a Dell, HP/Compaq, IBM/Lenovo, Gateway, Toshiba, etc. that originally came with XP, you pop in the approprate disc (Home, Pro, MCE), reboot and walk away. When you return some 30 to 45 minutes later, XP is fully installed (including all WindowsUpdates), permanently activated via SLP, and all of the latest drivers are automatically loaded for all devices.
This beats using an illegal VLK (Volume License Key) CD - which can get both the installer and user in trouble, and it certainly beats using a retail, upgrade or standard OEM CD to install, after which you'll have to go through the dreaded waste-of-time telephone activation using the COA key.
And even if you *have* the product recovery CD or partition, this method is better since after using the product recovery you would still have to possibly install SP2, then all of the windowsupdates since (up to more than 60 now), then all of the updated drivers, and then finally delete all the bogus Symantec, AOL and other trial/junk/garbageware the "product recovery" process puts on the system. <g>
Going though all of this would probably go right over the listener's heads, but we could perhaps describe the SLP mechanism, and explain why their HP/Compaq/Dell/IBM/Lenovo/Gateway/etc. systems will never require activation, unfortunately unlike any systems they custom build. Then there is the issue of what happens when you *replace* the motherboard in your HP/Compaq/Dell/IBM/Lenovo/Gateway/etc., which breaks SLP and turns activation back on.