Microsoft Clear Up Windows Activation Misconceptions

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 10:42 pm

Microsoft’s plan to end windows XP activation via the internet caused some confusion to users. In response to the article first reported here last week, Alex Kochis, Senior License Compliance Manager at Microsoft Corp. sent me the following clarifications of the Windows XP Product Activation changes and how it will affect end users.

In brief:

  • Users of genuine Windows will experience no impact
  • The intent is to dissuade the theft or misuse of the Certificate of Authenticity or accompanying product key
  • Honest resellers have requested that Microsoft close this loophole so that they can compete effectively and they are extremely supportive of this effort

On Monday, Microsoft disabled Internet activation for all Microsoft Windows XP product keys located on COA labels that are adhered to PCs from large, OEMs who have direct licensing agreements with Microsoft. Directly licensed OEMs are authorized by Microsoft to customize their branded re-installation and recovery media so that if installed on the hardware it shipped with the Windows XP operating system will not require end-user activation.

Internet based product activation will remain available to all customers using products that require product activation today. The only attempts at activation that will be rejected are those using product keys that were pre-activated for the hardware they shipped with by OEMs on behalf of customers.

The intent is to dissuade the theft and misuse of COAs, and therefore, protect customers from counterfeiters and pirates. Honest resellers have also requested that Microsoft close this loophole so that they can compete effectively and are extremely supportive of this effort.


29 Responses to “Microsoft Clear Up Windows Activation Misconceptions”

  1. TRex23 Says:

    Does this mean that if I purchase an OEM copy of Windows XP Home from Newegg.com because my hard drive crashed and I can’t find the recovery disk that I may not be able to activate the software? If so, am I legally entitled to a refund?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    You will be able to activate your copy of windows. If the Internet activatoin fails, you’ll have to call Microsoft and provide a proof that you have actually purchased a legal copy of windows, then they’ll give you a new activation code.
    So keep your recipt

  3. Justin Haygood Says:

    This doesnt afffect regular OEM at all, only the copies that come with new computers from Dell and Gateway, which work differently with activation. They use a BIOS check to automatically authenticate, no net connection needed. Heck, the COA key doesnt even work with the XP reinstallation media they provide ;).

  4. TRex23 Says:

    Thanks Anonymous:

    Just to refine my question though. How do I know if I purchased a legal copy or not? More to the point: If I buy an OEM copy of Windows XP Home “with hardware” (ehem), is THAT considered a legal copy? Will Microsoft ask me what “hardware” I purchased with the OS? Will they not allow me to activate the software because I purchased only a hard drive? Or a cable? Any help will be appreciated.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know exactly what they’ll ask you but I don’t think you should have a problem, nor you’ll have to call them. Most likely that you’ll be able to activate your copy thru the net.

  6. TRex23 Says:

    Thanks for all your help. I just didn’t want to get stuck with some operating system software that I can’t use and then have to go out and spend almost $200 to buy the retail package.

  7. wookie_geek Says:

    Of course if you have to actually call in to M$ to re activate an OEM key be prepared to call several times as you get disconnected and then be prepared to wait a goodly time to actually speak to a rep. I was doing a re install on the OS for a customer at my place of work and thats exactly what happened to me. ON first 3 attempts to re activate WinXP Home on a Gateway PC, when I called M$ after wading thru the annoying voice recording asking me for the numbers, the phne beeped 42 times ( I counted) went dead for about 3 mins, rang and then I heard ” if you’d like to make a call please hang up and re dial the number”. Yes good ol M$ had disconnected. This happened not once but 3 times within about a 2 hour period. On my 4th attempt I actually got to wait on hold for 30 mins to speak to a rep. My boss says that from now on if we get an OEM machine that requiores a reinstall of Windows we are going to have to charge the customer an extra hour for the time we have to wait with M$. Gee Bill looks like you found another way to screw your customer base……do it by proxy.

  8. Joe Jade Says:

    Guys… something really bad is going to happen soon.

  9. Fatal0E Says:

    I experienced the new policy friday.
    Did a new install on a Dell Dimension 4400 from my own cd. Called to activate it, got a foreign lady, she asked if it was a preinstalled copy. I replied that it was, it came on a Dell. She then asked for the manufacturer of the pc (hmm quick one here). I told her Dell. She asked the model, Dell Dimension 4400. She then asked where I bought the PC. I explained I was just working on it for someone else, but I was very confident it came direct from Dell. She asked again, where I bought it, I gave the same response, She asked again, I told her it was from Dell direct, she hung up on me.

  10. Gunbuster Says:

    Oh yeay, now I get to make a new precision 370 image and sysprep it. Thanks Microsoft!

  11. Fido Says:

    Hacked OS’s without online authorization are a dime a dozen, it’s the only solution for now.

    M$ EULA’s don’t seem to be binding when less then 1% of their users acually know the content.

    People paid for the OS regardless of which machine it runs on (that’s “the understood intent” of paying for something) and Microsoft is scamming it’s customers and closing down small to medium sized businesses in the process (M$ has had discriminatory practices in the past which directly targeted small businesses which seems to be part of a strategy)

    Can anybody say “Class Action”

  12. Anonymous Says:

    This most likely won’t affect you unless you’ve been buing “COA Only” or “COA / System Pulls” over the internet…

  13. SuperGSR Says:

    If you want to reactivate a copy on the same hardware you can do it without calling M$. Any Technology services company should be aware how to do this, it only invovles copying a couple of files. Search google for it…

  14. Anonymous Says:

    If you have a legal version, you are free to use a pirated (activationless) install CD of the same OS if you cannot do a normal install.

    As long as you are able to show your retail box or OEM sticker, its legal.

    Do note that you may be unable to get certain bonus software from Microsoft if you go this route. Autoupdate does still work with those versions.

  15. Watcher Says:

    Re: post 13

    RockXP will perform this function.

    RockXP allows you to:

    - To retrieve and change your XP Key
    - To retrieve all Microsoft Products keys
    - To save your XP activation file
    - To retrieve your lost XP system passwords
    - To retrieve your lost RAS (Remote Access Settings) passwords
    - And to generate new passwords


  16. Watcher Says:



  17. Pagan Says:

    Ah, the wonders of ‘new and improved’ software from M$. Thankfully, I have Windows 2000, so I don’t have to fret every time I upgrade my computer or reinstall the whole deal.

  18. Shayne Says:

    its no problem at all to call microsoft….I work in a shop and do it daily…they dont give you a hard time….they dont interogate you…..they ask one or two questions such as “is this only installed on one computer” or ” what does the cd / book look like?”
    thats it….of course sometimes and this is no joke…..you are talking to an Indian with a hard accent…so have a quite room…..I have never been on hold nor ever disconnected…and I have 6 guys in our shop who do it daily….

    so if you are legit….you have 100% nothing to worry about ever….sh#t even if you run a bootleg corp cd….you atill aint got nothing to worry about……rule of thumb….if it can be read it can be cracked…. :)

    watch out…bill is gonna get you…

  19. Dan Says:

    Microsoft has an aggrement with all the major PC vendors which prohibits them from selling a PC without a wimdows XP license.

    However the license you recieve with the PC is a OEM license and not a MS license. So it is not legal to install a retail version without purchassing a new license.

    Most companys buy a PC from Dell with a license then to be complient with there Enterprise aggrement with MS buy an additional Enterprise workstation license which includes a real MS Windows XP license.

    So microsoft gets to charge them twice.

    I could keep on ranting butI will stop here

  20. TOM Says:

    Used to create ghost images with OEM install - since each machine came with an OEM install frim Dell, we could use the product key that came with each machine.
    Everything was fine - re-imaging would cut out hours of unnecessary, fruitless troubleshooting…
    Now THIS. Yeah, we had to recreate a bunch of images - using the Volume License install cd - but we’re getting screwed since we are now NOT using the installed OS AT ALL.
    And when was the last time u could order a Dell with no OS?
    Too bad i ain’t calling the shots - we’d be an APPLE house today…

  21. Colin Says:

    I found a bunch of programs that by pass the windows activation. They can’t check it if the request never gets to them. Also it can’t be that bad because the case still has the sticker on it that says you own it.

    Microsoft is going down withing the next 10 years, it’s the fate of all companies that think they can do anything they want ie, the Romans.

  22. Roger Says:

    My suggestion is this: Use Windows 98 or Windows 2000 and you wouldn’t have a problem….

  23. Greg Says:

    Read the Re-imaging Rights section section regarding OEM installs. If you own at least 1 volume license of Windows XP, you may use that VL disc for ALL your installs!

    You do NOT need to purchase a separate VL license for each OEM license you have.

    That is my interpretation, and I’m stick’n to it. :)

  24. Greg Says:

    (Re-imaging rights section)

  25. Greg Says:

    How the heck do you post a link???

    Click on “Greg” above for the MS link.

    If this post appears about 10 times. I apologize in advance!!!

  26. Aviran’s Place » Changes in Windows XP Product Activation Says:

    […] Update — 3/2/05: Microsoft Clear Up Windows Activations Misconceptions […]

  27. AV Says:

    Here’s a question if anyone knows the answer, i am in the process of researching the solution but though i’d give it a try on here. I support a 250 computer network. We recently purchased all new Dell PCs that came pre-loaded with Windows XP. We also have a legal volume license for windows xp that was purchased previously and has NOT been installed on anything yet. We use sysprep /symantec ghost to create and deploy images on our pcs. My question is this: When I create an answer file for sysprep, can i enter the volume license key and avoid having to enter 250 product keys after i create images?

  28. Donald McCallum Says:

    I install my windows xp pro and activate it over the internet,
    Ii ask if it is a coper cd I said yes I got yes for the cd Yes for the Keys and Yes for jenuine sftwere.

    yet in front of my windows a sign saying this copy of windows is not activated.

    What must i do,
    I buy this softwere three years ago and never have this problem.


  29. Aviran Mordo Says:

    If you purchased your copy of Windows, just call Microsoft and they’ll give you a new activation key

Leave a Reply

You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit comments.

All fields are optional (except comment).
Some comments may be held for moderation (depends on spam filter) and not show up immediately.
Links will automatically get rel="nofollow" attribute to deter spammers.

Powered by WordPress