AMI AWARD HP BIOS Tattoo for Windows XP & Windows Server 2003 Activations on Non-OEM Computer

So you have seen my tutorial on activating Windows XP using the OEM activation method and you’re looking at your custom, home-built Windows XP rig that you want to activate without phoning Microsoft (they’ll not keep the phone activation system forever you know!)...

Let me ask you this question - is it an Award or AMI BIOS you have? If so you are in luck!

Thanks to some very clever people over at My Digital Life, we have a safe method of tattooing your Award BIOS or AMI BIOS with a “Hewlett-Packard” string that will allow you to use the HP OEMBIOS files and installation key.

If you can find a working download of the ISO, burn it to a disc and boot your PC from it. I’ve not had any luck using Rufus (it doesn’t support the boot method of the ISO). Once you boot from the CD, follow the instructions below to tattoo and activate your Windows XP installation as an HP OEM install.

As this process will modify the DMI area of your BIOS, I suggest you do this after updating your BIOS to the latest version you require as you may need to re-tattoo it after any other updates or resetting.

Step 1

Select Option 1 - this will confirm if you have any existing strings in the BIOS you could use. For example many Asus motherboards might let you activate with an Asus OEMBIOS files set and key.

If you don’t have any strings listed, you can move on to Step 2. I found the 15 seconds wait it suggests to be a bit hit and miss so I reboot the PC and start from the CD again.

Step 2

Select option 2 to tattoo your AMI BIOS or AWARD BIOS. Follow the instructions and it will put “Hewlett-Packard” into the DMI area of your BIOS. Windows XP will look in this area when activating using the HP OEMBIOS Files and OEM Key.

Your PC will restart.

Optionally you can boot again from the CD and re-run the first option to verify it now reports it finds Hewlett-Packard.

Ensure the disc is no longer in the drive and boot into Windows XP.

Step 3

Follow my previous blog post on how to convert your Retail/VLK install to OEM using the HP OEMBIOS and OEM key.


This process may work on Intel BIOS but I have not ever tested that method.

You cannot also test this process on a virtual PC via VirtualBox or VMWare Player because you cannot write the tattoo to their virtual BIOS. You can however use the Shuttle HOT-557 board in PCem to test this process for yourself. See my specifications below to test in PCem:

  • Machine: [Socket 7] Shuttle HOT-557
  • CPU: Intel - Mobile Pentium MMX 300
  • Dynamic Recompiler is ticked
  • Memory: 128 MB
  • Graphics Device is ATI Graphics Pro Turbo (Mach64 GX)
  • Sound Device is Sound Blaster PCI 128

Configure the hard drive and CD-ROM etc to your own liking. I also didn’t have a network card configured.