Windows-Help.NET Newsletter 30 June 2001, Vol 4 No. 26

In this issue:

w   Microsoft Windows XP Product Activation
w   Featured Rose City Software: FileSplit
w   Microsoft Security Bulletin
w   Web Site Updates
w   Administrivia

Software, Videos, DVD - Pay the S&H and it's FREE!

  Microsoft Windows XP Product Activation

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Windows XP OK, there's a lot of confusion about the Windows Product Activation (WPA) Microsoft uses in Windows XP. I will try to explain some of the techniques involved, as well as Microsoft's motivation behind it.

To start with the easy part: Microsoft's motivation. Microsoft wants to end casual piracy. Casual piracy is when (for example) you buy one copy, and install it on all your family members PC's.

No matter how we think about it, the (current) EULA (End User License Agreement) clearly states that you can only install the OS on one machine. Microsoft hasn't released licensing details yet for Windows XP, and has been urged by several sources to consider adding a "home" license, allowing the installation of Windows XP on more then one PC.

OK, I agree, there's a lot more to it. It's another inconvenience, especially to us "advanced" users who tinker a lot with their PCs, always adding/upgrading stuff. But anyway, let's take a look at the technical side of WPA.

Keep in mind that WPA and Product Registration are two different things. Product registration has always been voluntary and will continue to be so.

WPA is mandatory. If you don't activate Windows XP within 30 days, you will have to activate it on the next startup. Activation can be done over the Internet (preferable) or via telephone.

WPA works by validating that the software's product key has not been used on more PC's than is allowed by the software's license. Product key information, in the form of the product ID, is sent along with a "hardware hash" to Microsoft's activation system during activation. Activations on the same PC using the same product key are unlimited.

Now there are several questions surrounding the "hardware hash" that is generated. Microsoft is quite tight-lipped about this one. The "hardware hash" is a "fingerprint" of your PC's hardware, but it is not exactly clear which hardware is used to generate the hash. What seems clear is that more than one piece of hardware is used.

It is also not clear what hardware changes would trigger a reactivation, with Microsoft representatives only suggest that it would need to be "a substantial change". They do admit, however, that if you make "many" changes, a reactivation will eventually being triggered (i.e. changes are cumulative). So, for example, common changes to hardware such as upgrading a video card, adding a second hard disk drive, adding RAM or upgrading a CD-ROM device will not require the system to be reactivated. If you need to reactivate you'll need to call Microsoft, and they will issue another confirmation ID.

According to Microsoft they will err on the side of the user, so that you are not denied your right to use the product. Microsoft says it will reactivate with no questions asked, realizing that customers will need to use phone reactivation for various reasons and won't make it difficult.

The only information needed for a product activation is the installation ID, which is a combination of the product key and hardware hash. No personal information is needed. Activation over the Internet only takes a few seconds, activation by telephone takes a few minutes.

If you choose to activate using the telephone, you will need to read the 44-digit installation ID to the support representative in the activation center. You will then be given a 42-digit activation ID, which you have to enter. The support rep will wait till you finish, to make sure that the activation was successful.

According to Microsoft, Product Activation does not scan your hard drive, detect any personal information, or determine the make, model or manufacturer of the PC or its components.

If you need to reinstall Windows XP on the same machine, you won't need a new license. If you do not (re)format the hard disk prior to reinstalling, Windows XP will remain activated (the activation data is stored on the hard disk). Reactivation on the same PC can be completed as many times as required.

Another thing to remember is that customers acquiring their licenses through one of Microsoft's volume license programs (e.g., Select, Open, Enterprise, etc.) will not have to activate those licenses.

Add your comments to this article by clicking the link below.

Rose City Software


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Microsoft Security

Function Exposed via LDAP over SSL Could Enable Passwords to be Changed

Microsoft has released a patch that eliminates a security vulnerability in Microsoft Windows 2000. This vulnerability involves an LDAP function that is only available if the LDAP server has been configured to support LDAP over SSL sessions, and whose purpose is to allow users to change the data attributes of directory principals.

Affected Software Versions

  • Microsoft Windows 2000


Malformed Word Document Could Enable Macro to Run Automatically

Microsoft has released a patch that eliminates a security vulnerability in Microsoft Word. This vulnerability results because it is possible to modify a Word document to prevent the security scanner from recognizing an embedded macro while still allowing it to execute. Such a macro would be able to take any action that the user could take.

Affected Software Versions

  • Microsoft Word 2002, Word 2000, Word 97
  • Microsoft Word 98 (J)
  • Microsoft Word 2001 and Word 98 for Macintosh


  S P O N S O R

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Supports: Windows 95/98/NT/Me/2000 | Shareware, $20

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More Info - Register Now

Web Site Updates

These pages were added/updated in the past week. Information on previously updated/added pages is available on the What's New? page for 1 month.
Added: Shopping For A Personal Digital Assistant... Deals Abound!
Added: Online Data Storage Web Sites Disappearing!
Added: IBM's New Technology Quadruples Hard Drive Capacity


Added: Microsoft Security: Malformed Word Document Could Enable Macro to Run Automatically

Windows 2000
Added: Microsoft Security: Function Exposed via LDAP over SSL Could Enable Passwords to be Changed

Windows XP
Added: Microsoft Windows XP Product Activation
Added: Windows XP marketing to hit $1 billion


Shopping For A Personal Digital Assistant... Deals Abound!

Palm, Pocket PC, Psion or any PDA with wireless access? How about that beaming feature?

Read Full Article

Online Data Storage Web Sites Disappearing!

If you think your data is stored safely online, maybe you better check to see if it is still there!

Read Full Article

IBM's New Technology Quadruples Hard Drive Capacity

IBM's new high capacity harddrives will be smaller, quieter, use less power than ever before and cost about the same.

Read Full Article

Windows XP marketing to hit $1 billion

Rick Belluzzo, president and chief operating officer of Microsoft Corp., addressed more than 600 industry leaders at Partner Marketing Day in Las Vegas, sharing Microsoft's plans for the marketing frenzy behind Microsoft Windows XP.

Read Full Article

Windows 2000 Performance Tuning

This white paper provides information on how to tune the Microsoft® Windows® 2000 operating system to achieve optimal performance. It also provides useful information on how to test the performance capabilities of Windows 2000; presents data generated using various IBM Netfinity servers and industry benchmarks that show the performance capabilities of Window 2000 when running in an optimized environment; and, finally, shows how to use the integrated performance monitoring tools in Windows 2000 to eliminate potential performance bottlenecks.

Microsoft TechNet

FREE software: File Vault

This handy utility places a number of user selected files in a single self extracting / self decrypting executable file called a File Vault. A File Vault can be sent easily to anyone over the internet and only accessed with your password.

More Info

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