Windows XP Product Activation:
Details on Microsoft Product Activation for Windows XP
note: MPA (Microsoft
Windows Product Activation) is different than Product
Registration and should not be confused. [WinXP HAS
to be Activated but not Registered!]
of Microsoft Product Activation: MPA
Asked Questions about Microsoft Product Activation:
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
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,
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.
Will all this impede serious
pirates, though? Not a bit. Tune in next week to see why. [Brian
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