Your activation code( the 5 sets of 5 numbers and letters)I held in the registry on the hard drive. If you cannot get into the hard drive because of a MBR/Partition problem then your only choice is a sticker that comes with the computer, or trying to get Dell to give you one that will work.
I have about 10 XP cd's laying around here that i cannot use other than for repair installs simply because a was not given the activation code with the cd's. So, i say that if you cannot get the code off the sticker and dell won't give you any code then you will have to purchase a new OEM CD and install XP with a new code that comes with the CD.
A alternative could be to find someone with a SATA enabled computer and see if they can get into your hard drive by installing it as a slave drive in their computer. Then they can use the below program to find your code.
Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v1.51
The greatest thing about the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v1.51 key finder program, besides that fact that it's 100% FREE, is that it's very, very easy to use. You simply download the program and run it - no installation required.
In less than a second, Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder will display the Windows version you're running followed by the product key (also referred to as the CD key) that was used to install your operating system. If you own a Microsoft Office product, Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder will also provide the product key for that software too, along with the version you're running. http://www.magicalje...keyfinder.shtml