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BuildOrBuy Group Network
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BuildOrBuy -
  1. ../images/bullet2.gifPiracy Basics - Microsoft Product Activation
  2. ../images/bullet2.gifWindows XP Product Activation
Windows XP Product Activation:
  1. Technical Details on Microsoft Product Activation for Windows XP (1/18/2003).
  2. Please note: MPA (Microsoft Windows Product Activation) is different than Product Registration and should not be confused. [WinXP HAS to be Activated but not Registered!]
  3. ../images/bullet2.gifDescription of Microsoft Product Activation: MPA
  4. ../images/bullet2.gifFrequently Asked Questions about Microsoft Product Activation:
  5. Straight Talk on XP Activation - Another stab from someone else we all respect. OK, most of us (8/20/2002).

Editorial Comment: Due to the nature and severity of Windows XP Product Activation (WPA), we feel any information provided to our BuildOrBuy Members should be shared. We agree with the following observation from Brian Livingston.


From: BRIAN LIVINGSTON: "Window Manager" InfoWorld.com, Monday, October 15, 2001 


Posted October 12, 2001 01:01 PM Pacific Time

[Brian Livingston] WROTE LAST week that Microsoft's new Windows XP operating system, scheduled for wide distribution on Oct. 25, has so few real benefits and so many irritations -- especially Passport, an insecure and relentless scheme to vacuum up users' e-mail addresses -- that [he]  instead recommend[s] buying new PC  systems with Windows 2000 installed.

But you're likely to face XP sooner or later, whether you like it or not. That's because PC manufacturers almost universally plan to install the new operating system unless buyers specifically request Windows 2000
or Windows Me.
As a result, you'd better know a thing or two about XP's most irritating feature of all: Windows Product Activation, or WPA.

WPA is a peculiar method of generating a numeric key that users must report to Microsoft via an Internet connection or a telephone call to continue to use XP after the first 30 days. The user receives a new code number that "activates" XP.

Fortunately, purchasers of volume licenses from Microsoft won't have to activate XP systems. And PC makers can preactivate the PCs they sell to buyers. Ideally, a PC maker will choose to "tie" an XP installation to its BIOS. This permits end-users to make any number of hardware changes (except a
different BIOS) with no complaints from XP.

But problems arise if a user installs XP and then changes several hardware components of his or her system. In that case, XP use is restrained until Microsoft is contacted again for a fresh number.

I've found that this method of generating the original code is so lame that it will have no effect, as Microsoft claims, on stopping true software pirates. [Brian Livingston will] explain why in next week's column.

This week, however, [Brian Livingston addresses] a different concern people have about WPA -- that it's a profiling system designed to reveal all your  software and hardware details to  Microsoft. This fear is unfounded. Although Microsoft itself hasn't been completely forthcoming about how WPA works, third parties have examined the communication between Windows XP and Microsoft on a bit-by-bit level. This shows that nothing more is transmitted than a few bytes that XP generates using a rough formula. No useful list of hardware or software can be deduced from the resulting string, which isn't unique to a single machine.

The best paper [Brian Livingston has] seen on the actual process of generating and  interpreting the codes used by WPA is from a  software-licensing company called Fully Licensed. To analyze your own byte  stream, a free tool called XPDec is provided in a Zip file. 

  • A broader study of WPA.

Will all this impede serious pirates, though? Not a bit. Tune in next week to see why. [Brian Livingston]

To get Window Manager and E-Business Secrets free each week via e-mail.

For a complete archive of his InfoWorld columns visit ...MORE WINDOW MANAGER.

Weekly commentary from the most trusted voices in IT:  INFOWORLD OPINIONS  Printer Friendly Version!

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