Activation...what happens in 30 years?

Dell / Mxc051
August 3, 2009 at 14:19:21
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 1.7GHz P-M 740 / 2GB DDR2-667
I'm more or less cross-posting this from the Microsoft TechNet forums because nobody has replied there, and this is a really significant issue that I'd like to see MS take notice of and issue some sort of official statement.

I don't really expect that anyone here has the true answer to this, but maybe someone has a connection at MS and can get the word circulating that this doesn't appear to have been well-thought-out on their part.


What will Microsoft do about Product Activation when they stop providing activation services?

I have asked this via email and phone with no luck. What I was told is "Microsoft will never stop providing activation services for Windows XP". That is definitely incorrect.

I very often throw together a 386 or 486 as my hobby surrounds older computers. I then proceed to install DOS 6.22 and Win3.1, or maybe Win95 in some cases. I own licenses for several older copies of Windows so if I want to build a machine and use it, I will do exactly that, then tear it down in a month and build another.

What I want to know is this: in 30 years when P3s, AthlonXPs and Pentium 4s are all 'vintage' computers, how will I install XP on them if the activation servers and phone options no longer exist?

Is Microsoft planning to release an activation-disabling patch to do this? I KNOW they will not continue activating forever (common costs money to provide those services).


Edit: to be clear, I'm talking about a copy which I own. Eventually, I will stop using it, since I will eventually have a new computer with the then-current version of Windows (this will likely be "Windows 8" since I run my computers far into obsolescence). Once I do, I will be free to re-use XP on whatever my "older" or "vintage" machine may be, and come the year 2030 that very well could be the machine I'm typing this from.

See More: Activation...what happens in 30 years?

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August 3, 2009 at 14:51:50
Hobbies are one thing. Business is another. Business runs the IT industry. By the time Microsoft stops providing activation services all of us would have stopped caring if they did or not long before. The business world is too dynamic and damanding to slow down the rate of change or not stay up with it.

By that time the hardware you are working with will no longer function and have been recycled. You would have saved images of the installs and their hardware components then loaded them virtually on a new workstation. You would be running all of them on a single machine. You could even switch between them at will.

I had a server we ran for ten years before we shut it down due to obsolesance. I couldn't even imagine using it for 30 years.

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August 3, 2009 at 15:00:12
My question is sort of an overlay for the real one, which is why does MS have the right to effectively deny me installation of a product I have licensed, and am not violating the license agreement of? Doesn't matter if I could take a drive image and then throw it back on in the future, what does matter is that they're effectively screwing my ability to use the software legally (omg, someone wants to use MS software legally for once? let's deny him that right)

I'd hate to think my current 'modern' computer would be recycled by then. Heck, my 286 won't be recycled by then if I have anything to do with it...I'll replace every component on the motherboard and every capacitor in the PSU myself if I have to. A 286 is uncommon enough as it is today, imagine what kind of conversation piece it will be in another couple decades (even 1 decade really). 286 isn't the point of course, the Athlon64 is.

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August 3, 2009 at 15:22:49

I agree with you in principle. That said, MS EULA clearly states the OS is licensed to be used on one computer only. WinXP and Vista both have those clauses in the EULA language. MS has been lenient with the enforcement of that clause.

I would suspect that Microsoft will solve the problem in one manner or another if they are still around in 30 years.

So, your scenario where you assemble a computer and install a previously used copy of say WinXP is technically against the EULA.

Your post is parallel to what is being debated in Washington currently. It is regarding DRM on music. At some point the provider of that music will stop providing access which allows the use of the DRM protected music you paid for.

This has already happened on more than one occasion. Write your Congress person.

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August 3, 2009 at 15:38:35
Ah, Congress person. I live in Canada, haha.

As far as I am aware from my own interpretation of the EULA and all that wonderful stuff, a retail purchased copy can be installed on any one computer at any one time, but is not bound to that computer forever (removing the software from one computer frees it up for use on another). I know the OEM copies are bound to one single computer, but I thought retail allowed re-use if you only use it once simultaneously.

The whole DRM thing is like the Amazon/Kindle issue where they revoked access to some has to wonder where exactly the concept of actually buying things is going.

Let's say I purchase an LCD monitor, but instead of buying it, the store only lets me license the use of that monitor. One day, the store decides they don't want to support LCD monitors anymore, and makes me give it back...

If it doesn't make sense for physical objects, how on earth does it make sense for software copies?

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August 3, 2009 at 16:10:17
I agree with you. However big media has other ideas and has convinced lawmakers they are in the right.

How about 50 year copywrites. Someone writes ONE hit song and lives offit for the rest of their lives. If only people that do regular jobs had deals like that, huh?

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August 3, 2009 at 16:31:07
There are a lot of things I dislike in existing copyright law, but if someone writes a song, they should forever own the rights to it, at least in my eyes.

By that I mean, they're allowed to take credit for it, and if someone else tries to, the rightful owner could sue that person. If someone were to sell a burned CD that had someone else's tracks on it, as long as they give credit to who really created the music, I don't see a problem with that (the customer will decide if it's ethical to them or not).

It gets really complicated when you start digging into different media types.

About Windows XP though...I'd really like to see them release some sort of Activation Keygen when they discontinue support fully. It's not like similar things don't exist in the warez scene as it is...and if activation services disappear in the future then anyone with a retail copy is going to be screwed if they want to use it.

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August 3, 2009 at 17:31:44
They will officially announce the end of life and stop all support.

"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, Make an autorun.inf folder on all usb drives.

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August 3, 2009 at 17:55:14
I reckon that when M$ officially announces the end of life and stop all support for XP, the online & telephone activation mechanism may also cease to function.


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August 3, 2009 at 19:11:26
A few weeks ago I tried to register Windows 98 SE. I got a message that the servers were busy.

Jesus Loves You!

Keyboard not detected. Hit F1 to Continue. BREAKFAST.SYS HALTED Cerial port not Responding!!

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August 3, 2009 at 19:51:02
Yes, Jefro, I'm well aware of that.

XPUser, that's exactly what I'm afraid of. I'm not asking them to continue support, rather to discontinue support COMPLETELY and allow us to self-activate, if that makes sense.

ChrisG, this has nothing to do with registration at all...this is about Activation, which is required before the product can be used at all. If you don't activate, it's useless after 30 days. Registration is optional entirely.

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August 3, 2009 at 20:05:56
The reason you are not getting a direct or serious answer is because if indeed you end up doing that, you will be the exception & not the rule. Also if you are putting the system together for a few weeks or so only to tear it up, the grace period is more than adequate enough for your recreational exercise, so why even bother.

In reality, there's always a workaround, if you end up needing something to run past 30-days. For example, there's a free 120-day trial of XP out there, but then again, I think you are only asking about this just to stir the pot & not so much because something dire is going to compel you to perform the exercise or if you do, cause you to be negatively or severely impacted production-wise whenever that time comes. Obsolescence is part progress & part necessity, if you are going to be mad at M$, you are going to be mad at a heck of a lot of companies out there.

If you look around your home, many of the items you depend on from day-to-day have evolved over time & will continue to evolve & you have very little control over that.

I can tell you this, right about now, not very many care about a mainframe system from 30 yrs ago.

Jabbering Idiots: Everywhere You Look!

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August 4, 2009 at 07:16:23
I know registering is different. There are tools you can get to disable the activation but they are not legal.

Jesus Loves You!

Keyboard not detected. Hit F1 to Continue. BREAKFAST.SYS HALTED Cerial port not Responding!!

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August 4, 2009 at 12:58:01
They will never allow you to self activate it. More likely some russian has already cracked the hash.

As I stated before, when they stop support you will have to sell your classic xp on ebay because you won't be able to activate.

Oh sure you can try to sue them. I doubt you will win.

"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, Make an autorun.inf folder on all usb drives.

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