Activation Key

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by Mike6789, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. Mike6789

    Mike6789 n00bie

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    I got a stupid question but I never really thought about it before. Will my Windows XP activation key ever wear out? In the past 3 weeks I've reformatted a few times trying different things with dual boot using Windows and Linux (basically I screwed up the grub loader a few times and had to reformat 3 times...) Well hey I'm new to Linux! lol.

    So I've used my activation key a total of 4 times. I'm wondering where there will be a point where they will say its invalid? Is there some defense to be sure I'm not just installing it onto 4 different computers?

    Yeah just thought I'd ask.
     
  2. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    not unless your activating it that many times. The algorithm that checks the key for validity is hard coded into the setup routine and does not change. Now on activation though XP will check with Microsoft's internet database to see if the key is still valid for activation or not. But even then all it takes is a phone call to have it reset.

    Supposedly, (and I don't know the truth of this so take it with a grain of salt) Microsoft has the ability to nuke the activation routine once XP is no longer supported. Which will make you not have to activate anymore. But that's not until 2009-11 sometime.
     
  3. Whiznot

    Whiznot [H]Lite

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    The activation key will work for a limited number of reinstalls. I discovered this by doing dozens of reinstalls with an OEM CD of WinXP Home that had scratches resulting in corrupt installs. It took me a long time to figure out that the problem was my CD. Sometime after I solved this problem I did a reinstall and the activation failed. The screen that reported the failure included a toll free number to call. I had to talk to a call center in India and they required me to jump through a few hoops but eventually they helped me activate. Since that time I have done several more clean installs and each time the routine is the same. The bottom line is that you have paid for your operating system and it does not expire regardless of how many times you reinstall.
     
  4. Mike6789

    Mike6789 n00bie

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    Ok thanks for the help! Do you roughly know how many times you can use the key before its invalid?
     
  5. Whiznot

    Whiznot [H]Lite

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    I do not know the exact number but it is very high. More than 20 at least. However, with the help of the MS call center you can always activate a valid license.
     
  6. drizzt81

    drizzt81 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    the smart choice would be NOT to activate windows while you are playing around with your setup. Activate it once your discovery phase is completed and you know what your setup will be.
     
  7. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    I heard 20-25 times, but if this ever happens all you have to do is give microsoft a call and they can activate it over the phone.

    Same thing for certain hardware changes. Might have to call MS.
     
  8. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    The last two times I have reinstalled XP it has said my product key is no longer valid and I have to call MS as I can't activate over the internet but I can activate over the phone. This really pisses me off as my copy of XP is perfectly valid but I guess they have flagged my copy as having been activated too many times. I can't help that as there are many reasons as to why someone may need to reinstall the OS. Sometimes I feel like going back to Win2K just so I don't have to deal with the crap from MS.
     
  9. Flyboat

    Flyboat Gawd

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    Are you using OEM version or retail one? I heard that OEM's limit is 5. After that you have to call MS.
     
  10. munkle

    munkle [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I have oem MCE, oem xp, and oem xp pro 64bit, from my experiance once you activate it for the first time and then reformat your computer you will have to call MS because it says the key is invalid, but once you call MS (this is my belief) they make it so you never have to call them again. Basically this what happens with me ( I reformat every 3 months or so), first reformat I have to call to get my windows activated, any reformat after that I have never had to call to get it activated.
     
  11. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'm pretty sure I activated my OEM XP Home at least 10 times before I got hit with the message.


    That never happened with OEM XP Home. I reformatted fine several times before I got the message. And every time now I have to call when I use that copy... even if it is the same hardware.
     
  12. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You got more than I did. I got 2 activations out of it before I was force to call MS. May have something to with the fact that I installed a X1900XT, 250GB Sata HD, and another gig of RAM right before I reinstalled though. It was painless and took less than 10 minutes. I could even understand the Indian dude.
     
  13. munkle

    munkle [H]ardForum Junkie

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    This is why I hate calling, I have gotten lucky sometimes and had a very good english speaker, but once I got a lady that wasnt very good, and she skipped a whole box in the middle and I was trying to explain to her that all the boxes arent filled and she just kept reading the last box over and over, but I had that box just in the wrong spot. Finally she just reread the whole key again. I wish MS would maybe stop outsourcing.
     
  14. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yeah it usually takes 5-10 minutes for me. One time I got some woman who wouldn't help me at all, since I told her I had an OEM version. What a bitch.
     
  15. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    That's just it, I have a freaking retail version and it is still flagging me.

    Oh yea, both times I have called they have given me one wrong digit in the last box and had to read it back to me. Coincidence or by design? You tell me.
     
  16. Mike6789

    Mike6789 n00bie

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    Thanks for the replies. I have the OEM version so I'm guessing I will have to do that whole process when I reformat in 6 months or so. By then I hope to be using linux though. :p

    I've just had it with windows, the only thing it has going for it is the gaming but if I get good enough then I will just use wine.
     
  17. Josh_B

    Josh_B [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not really.

    I think it's ridiculous that you have to ask permission to use software you paid to use.
     
  18. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    you paid for a license to use. In that license it says you have to activate it. Don't like it use something else.

    Now I'm not a fan of activation, but it's painless and a once every once in a while issue.
     
  19. Whiznot

    Whiznot [H]Lite

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    My version of WinXP is OEM and I reinstalled over 20 times before activation failed due to the number of times activated. Now when I do a clean install I have to spend five minutes on the phone which is only a minor inconvenience. I think some people are making a mountain out of a mole hill but in retrospect I would have been smarter to delay activation until I was certain of the integrity of my install.

    My experience may be different from other peoples because I always keep a backup clean install on another hard drive. Each time I reinstall I also swap hard drives. If I reinstalled on the same drive each time I might not have to call again.
     
  20. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    Very true.
     
  21. ExplodingTurnip

    ExplodingTurnip n00bie

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    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't WPA tied to your current hardware configuration rather than an X amount of installs? I've reinstalled XP a lot of times on my home system, the only times it ever asked me to call Microsoft to reactivate was after a CPU and motherboard upgrade.
     
  22. Whiznot

    Whiznot [H]Lite

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    It is not the number of installs but the number of activations which can trigger online activation failure. The message given states that the activation number has been exceeded and then provides a toll free number to call. I screwed up by repeatedly installing from a scratched OEM CD and then activating before I discovered the installation was corrupted. You cannot imagine how much frustration I experienced before I figured out what was wrong. On the positive side I learned a good lesson about CD data verification.
     
  23. ChingChang

    ChingChang [H]ardness Supreme

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    yeah, it is definately tied to hardware changes.

    But it also might be tied to number of activations. I've never seen any proof for this though.
     
  24. br0adband

    br0adband Limp Gawd

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    It's tied to both the number of times the key is used for activation (a simple 5 second process most of the time when you're online) and the hardware. A non-specific amount of hardware changes of various types can trigger the need to re-activate; Microsoft has never publicly stated precisely what those conditions are, however, and that's where the problems come from.

    If you bought the software and you own the license legitimately, you have the right to reinstall 100x a week if that's what floats your boat. Just call Microsoft and make 'em give you a new key if you ever need one. It's their dime since it's a toll free call, so let 'em pay for it.

    And yes, since WPA was "invented" years ago, people have turned it into a proverbial mountain of crap when it's simply a way for Microsoft to try and quell the rampant piracy of their products. If you think that's not a legitimate concern, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn for sale, I'd give you a great price. :)

    bb
     
  25. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    But you can't do that anymore becaue MS has changed it so that you can't get all the latest security updates until you have activated. How can you be sure your PC is running with no issues until you have all the updates?
     
  26. altcon

    altcon Guest

    I disagree.
    [Rant] Since I work in a lab, reinstalling a clients XP is VERY routine stuff.
    Due to all this activation BS, I have spent countless hours on the phone activating Clients machines. Do you think anyone will make up that lost time for me at work?
    For a DIY community activating is nonsense and a virtually painless 5-15 min process, fore a regular joe reinstalling, it's quite a pain.
    Many of my clients have not managed to complete the process (mostly the older ones), and were quite shocked when they were notified they paid 100$ for in "invalid" key.
    As I said, it's a hassle for me in the lab, but more so for the innocent people who BOUGHT the damn software. Anybody know if cracked XP versions require activation?
    I don't think so....
    I will hand it to MS with the new Geniune Disadvantage program - they're scaring a lot of people into buying their software. [/Rant]
     
  27. jlbenedict

    jlbenedict [H]ard|Gawd

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    What hardware gets checked?
    The WPA system checks ten categories of hardware:

    Display Adapter
    SCSI Adapter
    IDE Adapter (effectively the motherboard)
    Network Adapter (NIC) and its MAC Address
    RAM Amount Range (i.e., 0-64mb, 64-128mb, etc.)
    Processor Type
    Processor Serial Number
    Hard Drive Device
    Hard Drive Volume Serial Number (VSN)
    CD-ROM / CD-RW / DVD-ROM
    It then calculates and records a number based on the first device of each type that was found during setup, and stores this number on your hard drive. Initially, this is sent to Microsoft in an automatic dial-up, together with the Product ID number derived from the 25-character unique Product Key used in setting up Windows.

    If Service Pack 1 has been installed, the entire Product Key is also transmitted: This can then be checked against a list of known pirated keys

    The hardware is checked each time Windows boots, to ensure that it is still on the same machine. Also, if you subsequently perform a complete format and reinstall of Windows, Microsoft’s activation center will have to be contacted again because the information held on the machine itself (the number previously written to your hard drive) will have been wiped out by reformatting the hard drive. If your hardware is substantially the same, this will be done by an automated call without your needing to talk to anyone.

    What does ‘substantially the same’ mean? WPA asks for ‘votes’ from each of these ten categories: ‘Is the same device still around, or has there never been one?’ Seven Yes votes means all is well — and a NIC, present originally and not changed, counts for three yes votes! Minor cards, like sound cards, don’t come into the mix at all. If you keep the motherboard, with the same amount of RAM and processor, and an always present cheap NIC (available for $10 or less), you can change everything else as much as you like.

    If you change the device in any category, you have lost that Yes vote — but will not lose it any more thereafter if you make changes in that category again. So, for example, you can install a new video display card every month for as long as you like.

    Note that it appears that if you boot with a device disabled (disabled — not removed), the device is not found in the enumeration — so if, say, you disable a network connection which uses the NIC and then reboot, you may be missing its three votes and find that a new activation is needed. If you are doing such things, take the Hint 3 in What about formatting a hard disk? below, and restore the files concerned once the NIC is back in service.



    What if I make too many changes?
    If, on Windows startup, there are not the required seven Yes votes, the system will, in the original version of Windows XP, only boot to Safe Mode. You will be required to reactivate by a phone call to Microsoft. You will have to write down a 50-digit number, call into the activation center on a toll-free number that will be given to you, read and check back the number you recorded — and explain the circumstances. In exchange, you will be given a 42-digit number to type in. This will reactivate your copy of Windows.

    This is made easier if Windows XP Service Pack 1 has been installed: The system will continue to boot normally for three days, during which time you will be able to contact the activation center via the net. If the extra changes have been removed, or if 120 days have passed since the original activation, you will be able to use the automatic process once more
     
  28. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You have very valid points, except that you don't buy the software, but a license to use it. The software is still property of MS. But still I can see how it'd become a hassle to phone in activations from a tech support POV.
     
  29. -(Xyphox)-

    -(Xyphox)- [H]ardness Supreme

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    with my experience workin in computer stores i have called MS a dozen times i would get a error about activiting too many times and just told them i replaced the HD or mobo and it needed to be reactivied, i just read them the numbers and boom it was activied. :)
     
  30. Flyboat

    Flyboat Gawd

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    I am not sure about that. I have read story about user updates the hardware drivers, Window asks for activation.
     
  31. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    That is a grey area and is defined by local laws and not Microsoft.
     
  32. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm just going by what the EULA says, and what a lawyer friend of mine was telling me.
     
  33. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    I enable/disable my network card all the time and it has never forced an activation yet. Better stay that way too as I don't like being connected to the internet 24/7.
     
  34. Gatticus

    Gatticus [H]ard|Gawd

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    It depends on where you live.
     
  35. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The above is true except for top tier OEM provided XP installs. They are tied to the BIOS in your computer. You can change all the hardware you like, but as long as the BIOS is the same, you'll hvae no problems. But if the BIOS changes (i.e. new different motherboard) then you have to re-activate.
     
  36. Jasonx82

    Jasonx82 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I had to call to activate, but weird thing is second time around after i formatted it again activation went right through online :)
     
  37. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Something about the EULA saying that it's governed by the laws of the state of Washingtion binds the agreement to that locality. Unless your area has laws saying that you can't be asked to agree to give up your rights to jurisdiction, then the entire EULA is valid because of that clause no matter what your local laws are. Or something to that effect. It was a late night bullshit conversaation with my friend and EULAs came up and I was trying to argue some points and failed miserably since I'm not a lawyer and he was. At any rate the accuracy of my statement may be completely off and nothing I said should be taken as Law (no pun intended).
     
  38. altcon

    altcon Guest

    It's lovely that all you could actually say about my post is argue the pointless semantics of that sentence without regarding the rest.
    Good for you!
     
  39. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Maybe it's because I found the rest of your points to be of valid concern.
     
  40. altcon

    altcon Guest

    And you couldn't write something to that affect?
    I don't think there was an ownership of intellectual property debate going on about this, that's too old to try again.Oh, never mind.