Activate Windows AGAIN?
August 6, 2009 8:35 PM   Subscribe

After cleaning up my WindowsXP Professional OS (Dell) to give to my son, all of a sudden The nag screen comes up and tells me I have three days to 'activate' my product! I bought the program new years ago, and have legally installed it on three of my Dell machines with no problems. WTF? It appears that I turned off the restore function and automatic updates, I wonder if that has anything to do with it? Any hiv-ers know why this occured?

I went ahead and updated it three times, once on the phone because the network card didn't work due to the cleanup losing the driver, then after fixing the networking problem I did it again twice online. I have a sneaky suspicion that Microsnoot fubar'd SP3 because I have been getting a 'server too busy' error on the support site for XP.
posted by ~Sushma~ to Technology (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you can do phone activation (click on that option when the activation wizard pops up; you can also google for the MS phone number for that), it takes about 5 minutes. Just explain the situation to the operator, they'll activate it right away.

this page has more deets:
posted by jak68 at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2009

If it's a clean reinstall you will have to activate. If by cleaning up you managed to delete your wpa.dbl and wpa.bak files, you will have to re-activate. You'll need your original disk and/or license key, but if the hardware is generally the same the computer will be recognized.

How to activate Windows XP

I have no idea what you mean by "Microsnoot fubar'd SP3". XP Professional will be supported for a few years yet, just not at the former level. The download is here. Hmm, maybe there is a problem. It keeps dumping me back to the Update your computer page. It's probably temporary. They have thousands of corporate customers still using XP.
posted by dhartung at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2009

So you have one license and have installed it three (3) times?

Yep, in some version that's all they allow you to do. You have to call up MS and convince them that the other 3 installs have been nuked.

You have removed it from the other three (3) Dell computers, and are no longer using them, right? When you buy windows, it's a license for use on one (1) machine. I know. It's getting worse (the trend is that you buy a license to use it for a limited amount of time before you have to renew the license).
posted by porpoise at 10:22 PM on August 6, 2009

Let them know you nuked the older computer or buy more licenses.

Also, "hiv-ers?" Please don't do that.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:46 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

jak68 is correct. Call MS and they'll activate when you explain. It should be no problem, provided you know your key. There is no restriction on updating XP, so that isn't the cause. It's a software glitch like dhartung says.
posted by anadem at 11:01 PM on August 6, 2009

Yeah, calling them is the way to go. It's usually an Indian who doesn't really care that much, and since your key has been activated 3 times and not 3 million like some of the enterprise keys that got heavily pirated, it's really not a big deal.

Now, it does take the full six minutes they warn you it will take on the phone, since they provide you with an absurdly long activation code that I can only imagine also launches nuclear missiles and has encoded within it the communist manifesto, but it works, and they're perfectly nice.
posted by disillusioned at 1:10 AM on August 7, 2009

Depending on your definition of "cleaning up" but several months ago a Windows Update forced everyone to verify their serial key.

As part of your clean up, you might have run Windows Update and downloaded that.
posted by mr_silver at 3:11 AM on August 7, 2009

Just to be clear: You cannot install one license of XP on three different machines at the same time. If you meant that you've gone through three machines in sequence that's a different matter, and probably contributed to the number of times you were "allowed" to activate the product with different hardware. This can be corrected by calling MS. You cannot, however, have three different machines at the same time with the same XP key on each.
posted by odinsdream at 5:48 AM on August 7, 2009

also, as I understand it, if by 'cleaning up' you changed the hardware on the computer significantly, this can also trigger a reactivation request. Its part of the process by whcih MS prevents the same OS from being installed on multiple computers, is it takes the hardware configuration into account. So if you swap hardware around a lot, you can break the current activation and require a new one.
posted by jak68 at 8:04 AM on August 7, 2009

It's worse than that on the one (1) machine at a time limit; if you're using a retail copy bought in a box off the shelf, that's allowed to be used unlimited times on serial computers (one at a time though) and it will get flagged for phone activation if you do it too rapidly in a row on different hardware.

If it's OEM windows, i.e. it came with a PC, or you bought the OEM copy that was a quarter of the price of the boxed retail copies, that's licenced to be installed on one machine, full stop, ever. They may give you a grace activation or two, but once your limit is up on an OEM copy, it'll likely always need phone activation after that, as you're effectively using it outside the licence terms.

I've even seen dummy stickers on the bottom of laptops these days; they correctly assume that most people will only reinstall using the pre-activated restore discs, so the OEM code on the bottom will never automatically activate, but requires phone activation from the get go, and you get asked what manufacturer laptop it's going on before they give you the long-ass activation code.

However - in all cases, if you ring up the phone activation people, they will almost invariably give you the manual activation code as long as you answer the 'how many computers is this copy installed on?' question correctly. (Hint: the answer is 'one')

Follow the How to activate Windows XP by phone section of this guide.

Any hiv-ers know why this occured?

Because you're using the software illegally?
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:54 AM on August 7, 2009

Pronoiac-sorry if I insulted you, certainly didn't mean to. Is it 'Hive-peeps'? I'm old so don't hold it against me if I don't know the current vernacular.

I have a license for FIVE installs of XP, and only have used three, I run Vista on my main server. It is completely legal, I'm one of those people that believe in karma, and don't even like copying CD's on to my IPOD. I don't steal software, it’s not nice.

To be clear(er), I know how to activate the product, and have been doing so on all 7 of my machines with various versions of Windows, the core issue is AFTER I activate (via phone AND internet) a popup appears that I need to activate or it will nuke itself in three days, even though I have been using this machine for many years without having to re-do it.

I merely wanted to know of why the redundancy?

Thanks, MetaHive. (is that okay to use)
posted by ~Sushma~ at 11:13 AM on August 7, 2009

if its re-asking you to activate, it sounds to me like the activation didnt work. probably you should get the MS activation folks on the phone and let them know about the problem you're seeing. I've never seen a re-activation request like that unless the original activation failed somehow.

I'm assuming your installation hasnt been messed up somehow. You could also reinstall from scratch (and then activate) and see if its better.

I'd call MS at this point and describe the problem.
posted by jak68 at 11:37 AM on August 7, 2009

"The Hive" & "Hivers" are fine, but anything like "the HIV" is just not good.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2009

After you activate over the phone, try doing the following to verify it:

Start > Run. In the box type: %systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

The activation wizard should come up and it should say "Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit."

That's the normal behaviour. If you notice anything else, activation was not previously successful for whatever reason.
posted by odinsdream at 12:39 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went to the windows site, downloaded the activeX file and it validated the install. It actually scanned the computer and validated Office also. I followed a link from a tech developer's forum. Thanks all for your help.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2009

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