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Searchname

join:2000-09-24
Lawrenceville, GA

Puzzled about Windows XP Activation!

I am continually upgrading my system. Since, I have had WinXP Pro I have upgraded 5-6 times. One of those times was, pretty much, a total upgrade (vid card, CPU, motherboard, sound, ram, HD) and I was prompted to call MSFT for re-activation. I politely stressed my aggravation to the rep that I spoke with and suggested how happy I would be if there was a real alternative to Windows. He gave me my code and I was back up and running!

Today, I bought a 2.2ghz P4, an Asus P4B266, another stick of DDR, and a new Radeon 8500 (sold my 8500DV). I, of course, had to perform a repair to fix a BSOD, but was surprised that I wasn't prompted to re-activate again. Is it possible that I received a code to end the activation process because I stressed my unhappiness? I'm curious, because I figured I would have had to reactivate!

Guess I need to update my sig, maybe tomorrow ... I'm too tired now!
--
ATI Radeon 8500DV (6025 drivers)|Athlon 1700+|Gigabyte GA-7VTXE (KT266A)|768MB Crucial PC2100 DDR|Creative Audigy Platinum|100GB Western Digital ATA100,7200RPM|45GB Maxtor ATA100, 7200RPM|TDK 24x10x40|19" NEC AccuSync 90|D-Link 530TX+ NIC



Another Rob
Premium
join:2001-08-11
Seattle, WA

I think you can change six of the following items before reactivation is required:

Processor model
Processor serial number
RAM size
Graphics adapter
IDE controller
SCSI host adapter
Hard drive
CD-ROM drive
Volume serial number
MAC address

Check out the XP Info utility at Fully Licensed - WPA Resource Center. It shows you what has changed since you activated.
--
Without piracy, would Microsoft have established a monopoly?



dslr-agent

@245.xx.164.Dial1.Man
reply to Searchname

on the surface,

this searchname sounds like he is trying to use XP on several machines and is pissed off on the hassle it is to accomplish this. who do you think you are fooling?



vice8686

join:2000-10-13
Lancaster, CA

That's a serious accusation. Of the 9 times I've reinstalled XP, 1 of those times I had to make the call to MS. It happens. I format my PC just about every 3 months or so, so I guess I'm guilty as well:(



dicknite
Mmmm - Salmon

join:2001-01-05
Snohomish, WA
reply to Searchname

I'm kind of curious about this activation too - maybe since I purchased a machine with it on it already, I don't have to do it unless enough hardware changes... When I started the system up I was asked to register the computer with Compaq, and Windows XP with Microsoft (you know, the standard registration card thingie), but never did anything as far as the WAP... Never had to call or ??

d|:^)
Dick
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---DPCSRS v4.0.0.40 990 W2K ICS Host with XP, W2K, 98SE, & 98 Clients



littletommyd

join:2001-09-29
Portland, OR
reply to Searchname

Or you could just get your hands on a xp corporate version cd...no activation


boomer4d

join:2001-03-23
Huntsville, AL

reply to Searchname

*duh* double post sorry guys
[text was edited by author 2002-03-06 07:30:37]


boomer4d

join:2001-03-23
Huntsville, AL
reply to Searchname

This is from a paper i wrote for my MicroSoft class last quarter I hope it's not too long for the forum but I know it will clear up your questions.

When you purchase your new copy of WinXp and install it you will begin receiving the everpresent “nag” message in the system tray telling you that you have “x number of days” to activate Windows Xp (by default MS has deemed you have 30 days to do this). This message will persist until you cave and click the link at which time several things occur. If you listen to the paraniod masses out on the net you would think that your machine is sending confidential information about your finances, taxes and sex life directly to Bills office in Redmond.

Anyway, when you activate your copy of WinXP your machine takes up to 10 pieces of hardware and assigns bit values to their identification strings and encodes it in a one-way mode that can’t be reverse engineered to figure out your specific hardware configuration. (Myth #1, MS will know exactly what kind of hardware my machine has, is now shot down). Only some of the resulting hash is used thus the important element in this is that Microsoft doesn’t get enough information about your hardware configuration to decode the algorithm, if they could, to know what hardware you are running. Apparently the bit strings are weighted by importance, your NIC and associated Mac Address being the most impotant. These are combined into an 8-byte number and stored in the WPA.DBL file in the \Windows\system32 directory along with the activation status of your particular machine. This resulting number is combined with your Windows Product Activation Code (aka registration code) and the resulting 50 digit number is whisked off to the happy folks in Redmond either over the net or by phone.

For the internet activation to take place there are 3 communications that must take place. They are:

1. Handshake request: Contains product ID, hardware hash, and request header data, such as request ID (for linking the handshake, request, and acknowledgement), and activation technology version--262 bytes total.

2. License request: Contains product ID, hardware hash, and customer data structure for holding voluntary registration information if provided. If registration is skipped, this structure is empty. Also contains request header data such as request ID and the PKCS10 digital certificate request structure. The PKCS10 structure can vary slightly based on the inclusion of voluntary registration information--about 2763 to 3000 bytes total.

3. Acknowledgement request: Contains certificate ID (returned to user's machine after license request), issue date, and error code--126 bytes total.

If Internet activation is successful, the activation confirmation is sent directly back to the user's PC as a digital certificate. This certificate is digitally signed by Microsoft so that it cannot be altered or counterfeited. The confirmation packet returned as part of Internet activation is approximately 9KB in size (the digital certificate chain accounts for most of the confirmation data packet size). The fine people at www.extremetech.com that provided much of the information here ran a packet sniffer while activating a copy of XP and although they couldn’t actually read the encrypted information they were able to see the sizes of the files and they did match closely. Their opinion was that if any other information was being sent it would have been evident in the sizes of the files being transferred.

When you install XP the WPA.DBL file is approximately 2k but after activation grows to around 12k. Every time you boot your machine analyzes your hardware and compares the resulting algorithm to the information stored in this file. If they match it’s no problem. If they don’t look out here come the Microsoft Anti-Piracy Police! Not really, you can change the hardware configuration of your machine up to 6 times in 120 days, as long as you don’t involve your NIC. If you change NICs then you can only change your configuration 4 times. The kicker is that after 120 days the counter is reset and you can start all over again. For instance, you have upgraded 5 times within the first 90 days of having activated your copy of XP (you did activate it didn’t you?). You do nothing for the next 30 days. After day 120 you may upgrade up to 6 times again. For the casual computer owner this shouldn’t pose a problem, for more intense power users however you may be spending some time on the phone with those wonderful people in Redmond that have gotten your money.

The one problem with all this that has surfaced is that the file WPA.DBL is not a protected system file and thus not included in the WinXP system restore feature. Given that if you delete that file you could be faced with some problems if you are near or at your limit in terms of hardware upgrades. It would be a good idea to back the file up and store it seperately from your system.


Searchname

join:2000-09-24
Lawrenceville, GA
reply to dslr-agent

said by dslr-agent:
on the surface,

this searchname sounds like he is trying to use XP on several machines and is pissed off on the hassle it is to accomplish this. who do you think you are fooling?


Oh, you are just SO smart! NO, I am upset that I have to call Billy everytime I upgrade my system, just relieved I didn't have to do it this time. My wife's machine is the only other machine we have and she is content with Windows 2000 Pro. I think I would be too, had I known about this hassle!

I am building a 3rd machine w/ parts I have laying around ... I'm going to start learning Linux for kicks. I'm not sure if I'll use Mandrake or Red Hat, but will start work on it next week!

Thanks for the replies (well, from most of you!):).
--
ATI Radeon 8500DV (6025 drivers)|Athlon 1700+|Gigabyte GA-7VTXE (KT266A)|768MB Crucial PC2100 DDR|Creative Audigy Platinum|100GB Western Digital ATA100,7200RPM|45GB Maxtor ATA100, 7200RPM|TDK 24x10x40|19" NEC AccuSync 90|D-Link 530TX+ NIC


Another Rob
Premium
join:2001-08-11
Seattle, WA
reply to Searchname

Apparently OEMs may handle activation differently. From ExtremeT ech - Windows Product Activation (WPA) for Windows XP:

OEM Power
When Microsoft releases a new operating system, manufacturers often rally behind it with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) versions, and Windows XP is no exception. Vendors, such as Compaq, will ship machines with their own OEM versions of XP, and most will be pre-activating the software so the customer is relieved of that chore. Vendors can activate by contacting Microsoft themselves before selling the PC, or will have the option of using a "System Locked Pre-Activation" or SLP method to tie the copy of Windows XP to the system.

The SLP uses OEM-specified BIOS information as an activation key for Windows XP. At boot time, Windows XP compares the PC's BIOS with the SLP information, and if it matches, no activation is necessary. These versions will not require a hardware hash or contact with Microsoft. This allows the end user to restore a trashed machine using the OEM's System Recovery disks without having to activate again. An additional benefit is that these versions will allow you to change every component on the machine with the exception of the BIOS without triggering a new activation. The user could even replace the motherboard as long as it was acquired from the OEM and had the correct BIOS identification. Allen Neiman says that most of their OEM vendors will be shipping Windows XP this way. Though he declined to say which vendors, he said at press time there were five to seven major vendors signed up.
--
Without piracy, would Microsoft have established a monopoly?



littletommyd

join:2001-09-29
Portland, OR
reply to littletommyd

said by littletommyd:
Or you could just get your hands on a xp corporate version cd...no activation
Need i say more?


Another Rob
Premium
join:2001-08-11
Seattle, WA
reply to littletommyd

said by littletommyd:
Or you could just get your hands on a xp corporate version cd...no activation
Is there any truth to this statement by Fred Langa? (from Information Week - Is Windows XP's 'Product Activation' A Privacy Risk?)

"Corporate customers also got a modest WPA change. Site-license holders can enter a master key code that obviates the need to separately register every machine in the company. (But it's unclear whether or not the phone-home activity stops; my read is that it does not and that could end up eating a lot of bandwidth in companies with many PCs.)"

If that link fails, try this cached copy: »www.google.com/search?q=cache:f1···22&hl=en
--
Without piracy, would Microsoft have established a monopoly?


rogue_
I Have A Secret Window
Premium
join:2001-10-17
Lake Hiawatha, NJ
reply to Searchname

I second the "corporate" version. It's what I run as well. Also, the corporate version will allow you to install on multiple machines. But, of course, if you do so, you'd better be a corporation with the rights to the software.



C0deZer0
Oc'D To Rhythm And Police
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Tempe, AZ
reply to Searchname

In short, the only way you can legally own the corp. version is if you bought it for, or have a copy from your firm.

Otherwise, it's not.
--
Everything AOL touches just plain sucks. End of Story!