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If the laptop is refurbished, second user or Recovered unit the number may already be registere. The sticker you are looking at may be for the windows Operating System installed on the unit. If you have bought this unit directly from Dell you should contact them for instructions.
The only way to get the 42 digit confirmation number is to get on the phone with Microsoft. There is a setting to activate the computer on the internet if it won't activate by the internet, a call to microsoft is the only legal fix for this problem. Using a keygen would subject your computer to possible viruses and would be against the DMCA in the USA.
You must activate your Microsoft product to confirm that each copy of the product is not installed on more than the limited number of computers that is indicated in the software end user license agreement (EULA). The activation process can be performed by using the telephone, a modem, or the Internet. None of the information that is collected during activation will be used to personally identify you.
To activate your product over the telephone
Windows activation: (888) 571-2048
This indicates that the number you are putting in does not belong to the product you are installing.
For example, if the sticker on your pc came with the pc with XP already installed this would be called an OEM product key.
You might be installing a RETAIL version of XP and trying to put an OEM key in. This wont work.
You will either need the key that came with the CD you are installing from or the original recovery/restore cd for your pc.