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Mistaken OS requests for activation

  1. #1

    Mistaken OS requests for activation


    I've spent the last hour or so looking over several pages of these activation threads and haven't found one that addresses the problem I've recently had with my Win8 x64 activation. My copy of "8.0" Win8x64 has been activated since I bought it direct from Microsoft in January for $39.99 and burned the iso to DVD and installed it (This post does not concern "8.1" as I installed that on another partition entirely just to play with until it is ready for prime time.) I also got the free copy of Windows Media Center with its separate key. For the past six months I've had no problems at all relative to activation. I've actually never had any problems with activation (that I couldn't fix pretty quickly) ever since Microsoft initially started doing its activation bit with its OSes several years ago.

    Yesterday, (I've listed my system specs) I'd been experimenting with using my UEFI bios to push the clock rates for my cpu with an attendant .15V rise in power to the cpu core--standard clock is 3.5GHz with Turbo to 4.1GHz--and I incrementally moved the cpu clock to 4.515GHz and turned off Turbo mode (of course), and found that my idle temps while running AMD's Cool 'n Quiet mode (through a UEFI setting) averaged 38C-45C; and ~55C under load (@4.515GHz), which is not much different at all from the standard stock-clocked temps. OK, that's as it should be for a well-binned, good-yielding chip, etc. It overclocks well with very little resistance either in temps generated or power required. Bear in mind that such experimentation is something I've been doing here and there for a couple of months as opposed to something I started yesterday for the first time...

    OK, suddenly yesterday I look up and on my system properties page (I don't have or want a touch-screen, and I still very much prefer the Explorer GUI to the RT GUI in Win8--I don't even see the RT UI to the extent that I often forget it is there!), and it says "Windows is not activated." I did a double take, actually, and looked again, so unaccustomed was I to seeing that phrase. I followed through the prompts and tried an Internet activation, which returned an error with the key I orignally got from Microsoft for Win8 Pro, with an error that said "This version of Windows is being used on another machine." SO I tried again, this time using the key that Microsoft supplied me when I got Media Center and successfully installed it, but activation declined that as well and returned a different error! I looked up this error and it stated something like "This copy of Windows has exceeded its number of activations"--or something like that, anyway. The prompts then lead me to the phone-number program which I dialed and successfully navigated the robot phone talker to reactivate my copy of Windows without incident.

    But I'm a bit concerned as "tinkering" with my system at home is something I enjoy doing--it's cathartic and relaxing! I know a little bit about former Windows-versions of activation--as in you could replace, subtract or add, a couple of peripherals, or three, like ram, DVD drives, adding in another hard drive, etc., within, say, a three-month window, or all at once, and Windows would not as a rule call for reactivation of the software because it looked also at more fundamental things like certain motherboard aspects, cpu aspects, and of course the hard drive that served as the boot drive when Windows was initially installed and activated. So long as the "sacred stuff" wasn't replaced or removed then you had an excellent chance of Windows taking you through years of peripheral updates without requiring an additional activation ("sacred stuff" like motherboards and OS-installed, booting hard drives and cpus, especially--as just changing out a motherboard can look like a brand new computer to the OS even if all your other components are the same, etc.)

    What I think happened to me was that all of the times I'd been monkeying around with clock rates and voltages and changing *nothing else*, Win8 had been recording many of those "events" as "hardware changes" and that I ran afoul of normal activation in that Win8 activation saw too many changes in too short a time period and so erroneously concluded that I was trying to put this version of Windows on another machine and Win8 rescinded my activation (which had stood for six months or so.) But I don't *know* that this is what happened...Almost forgot, one other change that I did yesterday was to replace my AHCI drivers with their AHCI RAID counterpart drivers in preparation for doing a pure RAID setup sometime later this year. The driver swap happened when I went to safe mode and switched in the UEFI from AHCI drivers to AHCI-compatible RAID drivers and then booted normally. (I didn't actually know about "AHCI-compatible RAID drivers" until recently.) In the UEFI, after switching from IDE to RAID, you can go another level deeper and choose between the "Legacy RAID" function in the UEFI (which emulates a normal RAID bios) or you can choose "UEFI RAID" which is the latest and presumably the most advanced RAID configuration tool between the two modes. I chose "Legacy RAID" until I become more familiar with the UEFI in general, and in this legacy mode your drives will function as normal AHCI drives until such time as you use the UEFI legacy RAID tool to set up your RAID drives physically--with a stripe and so on.

    Likewise, I'm guessing that my original problem with my Win8Pro key was the fact that it was for Win8Pro sans Media Center, and since I now had Media Center installed it looked to activation that this could not be the machine the key covered, since the key did not cover the Media Center addition. And to repeat, the Media Center key supplied by Microsoft also didn't work, either, citing that it was "out of activations" for the Key number--which I understand as interpreted in the above paragraph.

    At long last my query: can I expect this to happen again if I continue to "monkey" with my hardware settings? I'm thinking "Yes, I can," but I thought I would defer to some of the experts here who have had more experience with Windows activations and might hazard a guess as to whether this was a failure of activation due to erroneous assumptions of hardware changes that never actually occurred, or whether this was the result of *some other bug* peculiar to Win8Pro's activation code?

    All ideas welcome! Thanks in advance!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 1,093
    Windows 8 Pro Windows 8.1 Preview


    Hi waltc,

    Wow, you really know how to write a book with no stone left unturned! Anyway, since you have had 0 responses from the forum, I decided to just throw in my two cents. First off, my reactivations have been much more simple than yours; however, I can tell you that I have been successful every time. Some of these reactivations have included major components and the phone reactivation has always worked for me but the key to success in this area is, when they start to ask you questions, always respond with "one" as the answer. Now, since nobody knows for sure what information MS collects to identify an installation configuration, you can probably expect more of the same down the road but since Win 8 Pro is actually a retail license you should be able to get through a reactivation time and time again (if necessary). Remember, the answer is always "ONE." Cheers.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by JustATest View Post
    Hi waltc,

    Wow, you really know how to write a book with no stone left unturned! Anyway, since you have had 0 responses from the forum, I decided to just throw in my two cents. First off, my reactivations have been much more simple than yours; however, I can tell you that I have been successful every time. Some of these reactivations have included major components and the phone reactivation has always worked for me but the key to success in this area is, when they start to ask you questions, always respond with "one" as the answer. Now, since nobody knows for sure what information MS collects to identify an installation configuration, you can probably expect more of the same down the road but since Win 8 Pro is actually a retail license you should be able to get through a reactivation time and time again (if necessary). Remember, the answer is always "ONE." Cheers.
    Thanks for the reply, JustaTest! Yes, I know exactly what you mean about "one". A somewhat funny story: with Win7 HP x64 I bought the "family" pack which included three separate & simultaneous installation licenses for $150. The box is clearly marked that way--highly publicized, well-known fact which Microsoft even advertised, etc. So at one point I had to do a phone activation (have no clue why) and when the time came for me to say "one" I said "two"--because legally I could have said "three"--and as you can guess the machine said "No dice--no activation for you, bub!" I called right back, said "one", and was activated. I was sort of hot about that because the key numbers should have told the &(*&(*&( machine that I had a three-license family pack--but it didn't. In that case, Microsoft should have provided me with three keys, but it didn't do that, either. Go figure.

    I know that I'm too detail oriented in my posts--but I've always felt that if I leave something out it might be the key someone else needs to offer a suggestion--so, yes, i get verbose from time to time...

    I'm just concerned about what triggers the activation request. Is Win8 really that dumb that if I change some clock rates back and forth it will reach the conclusion, after a while, that it's not running on the original system? I'm not through tinkering, so I guess I'll have to take my chances, I suppose, and endure the phone thing every now and then if I must. I was wondering whether Microsoft had released any info on what triggers activation requests so that at least I could understand it and anticipate it when it happens. Thanks again for your reply!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 1,093
    Windows 8 Pro Windows 8.1 Preview


    Quote Originally Posted by waltc View Post
    I'm just concerned about what triggers the activation request. Is Win8 really that dumb that if I change some clock rates back and forth it will reach the conclusion, after a while, that it's not running on the original system? I'm not through tinkering, so I guess I'll have to take my chances, I suppose, and endure the phone thing every now and then if I must. I was wondering whether Microsoft had released any info on what triggers activation requests so that at least I could understand it and anticipate it when it happens. Thanks again for your reply!
    I can only take a wild stab and say that I think subtle changes to hardware (ie, clock rates) would not be recorded. However, I do think that hardware IDs and other "fixed unknowns" are collected but who really know what the MS algorithms are for collection and identification? Certainly not me. However, if anyone else knows this secret MS formula, it would be great to know it so please post it here! BTW, I enjoyed your verbose tale of woe. Very well written. Good luck.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Manchester CT
    Posts : 693
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit GA


    The Key component for how MS Windows recognizes a particular motherboard is the Network Adapter Hardware ID. You can change out the hard drives and the graphics cards usually with no activation needed. I have never had an issue with resetting the clock speed or the BIOS and having to reactivate.
    Note that there is a HUGE difference between a RETAIL version of Windows, an OEM Version of Windows, and a UPGRADE version of Windows. You never have to worry about activating a RETAIL version but you invariably be calling India with an OEM version.
    I have no idea what version of Win8 was the $39 sale.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by johnpombrio View Post
    The Key component for how MS Windows recognizes a particular motherboard is the Network Adapter Hardware ID. You can change out the hard drives and the graphics cards usually with no activation needed. I have never had an issue with resetting the clock speed or the BIOS and having to reactivate.
    Note that there is a HUGE difference between a RETAIL version of Windows, an OEM Version of Windows, and a UPGRADE version of Windows. You never have to worry about activating a RETAIL version but you invariably be calling India with an OEM version.
    I have no idea what version of Win8 was the $39 sale.
    It was the retail, upgrade version (which is still good for clean installs provided you can show it an earlier version of Windows--I always have the previous version on hand so buying the upgrades has never been a problem for me, fortunately.)

    Well, I changed the clocks again and had no problem. That's good.

    One thing I did that I forgot to mention (I can't believe I forgot I'd done this!) is I installed the latest UEFI 2.x "bios" from MSI--This UEFI was different from the earlier UEFI versions I had installed in that once this one is installed there's no taking the board back to the 1.x UEFI installs (according to MSI.) The earlier 1.x UEFI versions were "legacy" UEFI versions, apparently. Anyway, I also remember that when booting up after this UEFI install there was a lot of driver-install (reinstall, really) activity--which always happens when a bios changes a bunch of fundamental things the prior bios had addressed much differently. Now that I think about it--I'll bet this was what prompted the reactivation. Nothing else really makes sense.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by JustATest View Post

    I can only take a wild stab and say that I think subtle changes to hardware (ie, clock rates) would not be recorded. However, I do think that hardware IDs and other "fixed unknowns" are collected but who really know what the MS algorithms are for collection and identification? Certainly not me. However, if anyone else knows this secret MS formula, it would be great to know it so please post it here! BTW, I enjoyed your verbose tale of woe. Very well written. Good luck.
    After writing everything in my initial post...

    One thing I did that I forgot to mention (I can't believe I forgot I'd done this!) is I installed the latest UEFI 2.x "bios" from MSI--This UEFI was different from the earlier UEFI versions I had installed in that once this one is installed there's no taking the board back to the 1.x UEFI installs (according to MSI.) The earlier 1.x UEFI versions were "legacy" UEFI versions, apparently. Anyway, I also remember that when booting up after this UEFI install there was a lot of driver-install (reinstall, really) activity--which always happens when a bios changes a bunch of fundamental things the prior bios had addressed much differently. Now that I think about it--I'll bet this was what prompted the reactivation. Nothing else really makes sense.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Manchester CT
    Posts : 693
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit GA


    Walt, I upgrade the BIOS all the time and that should not kick off the activation.

    There is a difference between RETAIL vs. UPGRADE but not much. If you can, get the retail version. I never have any issues with multiple activations. If you DID NOT have to call India <Heavy Indian accent: "Hello, my name is Debbie. How many computers is this license on?">, you are fine with the upgrade. Just keep activating it if it asks you to.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by johnpombrio View Post
    Walt, I upgrade the BIOS all the time and that should not kick off the activation.

    There is a difference between RETAIL vs. UPGRADE but not much. If you can, get the retail version. I never have any issues with multiple activations. If you DID NOT have to call India <Heavy Indian accent: "Hello, my name is Debbie. How many computers is this license on?">, you are fine with the upgrade. Just keep activating it if it asks you to.
    Yes--not just *any* bios update will do it. But a bios update that rearranges i/o addresses and ram addresses for onboard hardware is *capable* of triggering activation--because if the displacement is massive enough the OS won't see the same motherboard as before, but it will see a *different* one. I've had bios updates that do almost nothing in terms of making changes to the last installed bios, and I've had ones that change a lot of stuff around--as I said, you can spot those by watching a lot of your drivers reinstall upon initially rebooting under the new bios. A very minor bios change will cause no driver reinstalls at boot because it changes nothing/very little from the previous bios--so there's nothing there to trigger an activation. Doesn't install "new" device drivers for "new" devices--it simply changes the configuration so that the "old" hardware drivers need to be reinstalled to reconfigure themselves under P&P. (If you've ever taken a sound card, for instance, and moved it from one slot to another, you will have noticed that upon reboot the sc drivers reinstall themselves because they are now using different hardware resources and the drivers must reconfigure themselves else the device won't function--they reconfigure when they reinstall. A major bios update works exactly like that.)

    Also, the upgrade I mentioned was purchased/downloaded direct from Microsoft and is 100% retail. You may have missed it, but this was a public sale Microsoft put on for about 4 months at the launch of Windows 8 and which it advertised copiously. Aside from that, it was talked up in just about every forum that exists at the time, because Microsoft has never done anything like that before. You have the retail "upgrade" and the retail "complete" version or "full" version, etc.--both are equally "retail." This was the first time I'd ever had to do anything with 8.0 except the standard "Internet activation." That's what got me thinking about all this in the beginning--I'm satisfied that I've gotten to the bottom of it and now understand it!

    Thanks again to both you guys for forcing me to prod my memory in a more effective way than I was doing by myself! Kudos to both of you! Thanks again, guys!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    One thing that every MB has different from all the others, even exactly same ones, is MAC address for the network.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Mistaken OS requests for activation
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