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Windows XP Professional > Evaluations > Product Overview

Windows XP Product Activation

Posted: March 20, 2001

Microsoft is committed to the protection of intellectual property rights and the reduction of software piracy. Everyone in the economic chain—not just the software manufacturer—is hurt by piracy, including the reseller, the support provider, and you, the end user. Authentic Microsoft software assures you of high-quality, virus-free software. Pirated software does not.

Windows XP retail products contain software-based product activation technology, which means you need to activate your copy of Windows XP in order to use it. Some new PCs purchased with Windows XP pre-installed will also require activation. If your organization licenses Windows XP through one of Microsoft’s volume licensing agreement programs such as Open License and Select License, you will not be required to activate those Windows XP licenses.

Product Activation Overview

Microsoft Product Activation is an anti-piracy technology designed to verify that software products have been legitimately licensed. This aims to reduce a form of piracy known as casual copying. Activation also helps protect against hard drive cloning. Activation is quick, simple, and unobtrusive, and it protects your privacy.

Product Activation works by verifying that a software program's product key has not been used on more personal computers than intended by the software's license. You must use the product key in order to install the software and then it is transformed into an installation ID number. You use an activation wizard to provide the installation ID number to Microsoft either through a secure transfer over the Internet, or by telephone. A confirmation ID is sent back to your machine to activate your product.

The installation ID number includes an encrypted form of the product ID and a hardware hash, or checksum. No personally identifying data is included or required. The confirmation ID is simply an unlocking code for the Windows XP installation on that particular PC.

If you overhaul your computer by replacing a substantial number of hardware components, it may appear to be a different PC. You may have to reactivate Windows XP. If this should occur, you can call the telephone number displayed on the activation screen to reactivate the software.

Activate Windows XP Right Away

If you have not activated Windows XP, you will be reminded each time you log in and at common intervals until the end of the activation grace period of 30 days. If you have not activated Windows XP within this timeframe, you will need to do so to continue using it.

If you choose to activate your product over the Internet, upon your submission the activation wizard will detect your Internet connection and connect to a secure server to transfer your installation ID to Microsoft. A confirmation ID is passed back to your computer, automatically activating Windows XP. This process normally takes just a few seconds to complete. No personally identifiable information is required to activate Windows XP.

To activate Windows XP over the telephone, you can simply call a toll-free* number displayed on your screen. A customer service representative will ask for the installation ID number displayed on the same screen, enter that number into a secure database, and return a confirmation ID to you. Once you have typed the confirmation ID, the activation process is complete.

Product Registration

Product activation is not the same as product registration. As discussed above, product activation is required and is completely anonymous. Product registration, on the other hand, is completely optional. You may opt to provide personal information, such as your e-mail address, for product registration purposes. Registration entitles you to receive information about product updates and special offers directly from Microsoft. All registration information provided is stored securely and no information is ever loaned or sold to third parties.

Product Activation Protects Your Privacy at Every Step

Activation data and any optional registration data provided to Microsoft is stored in a secure facility. Microsoft's privacy statement is displayed during the activation process.

* Toll-free telephone numbers are available in all countries whose telephony infrastructures provide for them. The telephone numbers to call are displayed when telephone activation is chosen.


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