|You can clone the Windows installation, or the whole hard drive data contents, but if the hardware of the two mboards (main chipset chips, etc.) is more than a little different , XP will probably NOT load all the way on the different computer.|
If you have a suitable XP CD, and a suitable Product Key for that CD for the second computer (it's NOT legal as far as Microsoft is concerned to use the same Product Key on more than one computer), you can fix that by running a Repair installation of Windows procedure, which will NOT delete the personal data that you have added to the Windows installation.
How to do an XP Repair installation procedure step by step:
- the CD must be for the same version of XP as on the existing Windows installation - Home, Pro, or Pro 64 bit
(All XP MCE versions are a much different situation - TWO CDs. or at least the first of the two CDs in the set, are required, the Repair installation procedure may NOT work when the mboard is different, etc., etc..)
- the CD must be for the same type of Microsoift Windows license - OEM, Retail, or Volume. Usually a brand name computer has an OEM licensed version of XP.
A brand name XP Re-installation CDs or similar that came with a brand name computer, or that is part of a Restore disk set for a brand name computer, usually CANNOT be used with any other computer except the same model, or a small group of models made at the same time, because a few files on the CD have been modified. The CD will refuse to install Windows from scratch, or to run a Repair installation of Windows.
A regular Microsoft OEM XP CD has the Microsoft holograms on it, and "For distribution with a new PC only." is printed on it. That CD can be used with any computer that has an OEM licensed Product Key on the official Microsoft label, if the CD is for the same version of XP as on the label, Home, or Pro, or Pro 64 bit.
Usually a brand name computer has an OEM licensed version of XP
If the computer has any hard drive larger than 137gb manufqacturer's size, there are other things you need to be made aware of (the XP CD must have SP1 or later updates integrated into it, etc.)
You MUST install drivers for the mboard, and possibly for other devices, after the Repaiir installation procedure (Setup) is finished, especially the main chipset drivers.
"2 identical machines"
The computers will never be identical if their hardware is not identical, but what is installed in Windows can be the same other than the drivers and devices that are different.