Bottom line: It is now possible to activate a new installation of Windows XP, despite the fact that Microsoft no longer operates its online activation servers. Windows XP has long since been left in the dust but there are still plenty of machines running the legacy OS that could benefit from this tool.

The Register points to a blog post from tinyapps highlighting semi-recent developments on the matter. Of course, folks have been cracking Windows XP for decades but it is now possible to do so safely, securely, and without having to get Microsoft involved. Per a Reddit post on the matter, the tool is based on a reverse engineering effort of Microsoft's telephone activation algorithm.

According to the latest data from StatCounter, Windows XP is installed on just 0.35 percent of PCs worldwide. That's a hardly a blip on the radar, you say, so why is this even relevant?

StatCounter and other analytics services only measure systems that are connected to the Internet and visit sites with tracking code installed. The truth of the matter is that there are lots of systems in the wild that are not connected to the Internet. But why would they still be using an ancient operating system like Windows XP? Out of necessity.

There is no shortage of legacy hardware and software that is only compatible with older operating systems like XP. I once did IT work for a tanning salon years ago, and they used proprietary software from a company called Helios to control hardware-based T-Max bed timers. The software and hardware has probably come a long way since then but at the time, it had to be run on an older version of Windows.

In many cases, upgrading these mission critical systems simply is not possible because the proprietary hardware or software is no longer in development. If you find yourself in this boat and Windows XP is your only paddle, it is good to know that there's a way to activate the OS without an Internet connection. Microsoft also offered phone-based activation, but it is unclear if this method is still functional today.

Full details on what you will need to activate XP can be found over on the tinyapps blog. It also begs the question - will Microsoft ever release an official activation tool for XP?