thank you for the information. My disc also has a license key in the back.
the interesting thing is that when I bought my computer, it came with OEM windows xp home, so it has its own license key. When I installed xp pro, I tried to enter the license key for home edition, and it did not work.
so if i need to wipe out my computer again, the xp disc should not give me any problems, right? I can still install it and then activate it, right?
As long as you use the XP disc to do the "wipe out" you should be fine. Its possible that the XP pro disk you have is upgrade only - so you *might* have to install the OEM version and then the Pro version - but I doubt it.
For home (OEM) use the OEM #
For Pro - use the number MS gave you.
WOrse case, you may have an activation problem - you have 30days to call MS and clear it up with them when this happens (they are normally very nice about it). Normally they will just give you a code or something once you explain yourself. If you have a reciept of some type - save it. One problem you could have in the future is if you change machines. and try to install XP there - it may not let you activate - uninstalling it from one machine and transferring it to another may count as a "transfer" - I really don't know. If it is, you can only do it once with your license - and they *might* want proof you bought it. I doubt that as well - but its possible.
Unlike other academic licenses, once you are out of school, you can continue to use the OS (assuming you have what I have) legally.