View Full Version : XP keeps asking me to authenticate...

Jun 26, 2003, 08:09 PM
...and yet I've already authenticated this copy of Windows XP Home.

Here's the story, was running newly assembled computer off of my old GeForce3 whilst I found the time to get my (now installed) 128mb 9800 Pro. I had XP installed and all that fun stuff.

What I decided to do, to make sure that there couldn't possibly be display driver conflicts at all, was to reinstall XP Home. So I do the usual backup/format/reinstall thing. Drivers are all in, everything is working fine (I love this card!). XP is asking me to authenticate with the product key. I click the little bugger that pops up, do what I did before. It says it's already been registered and to "input another product key".

Question is, I do NOT have another copy of XP Home, nor have I installed it on another computer (just reinstalled it on this one). So is it safe to ignore this, or will it kill me in 30 days time?

If Billy Gates will, in fact, lay the proverbial smackdown upon my heathen ass, then what can I do to PREVENT this from happening? This is a legal OEM copy of XP, never installed on another computer, etc. etc. etc. As far as I know I'm fully within my rights (and Microsoft's draconic license). Any ideas?

Jun 26, 2003, 08:28 PM
I have never had this issue with Windows XP, and I have formatted/reinstalled many times. You enter your cd key at install, and at the end of the widows install it has you activate the software over the internet or by calling microsoft.

The only issue I had was when I did a major upgrade and I had to call the number that pops up. I called them, entered in the activation code they gave me (after gving them the information on screen)..and Windows XP was reactivated.

Are you sure you have a legit copy???

:hmm: :bleh:

Jun 26, 2003, 08:54 PM
Yeah it's legit. I'm staring at the CD right now and it's the pretty XP Home install disc with the holographic..stuff...and "Microsoft Genuine" all over it, blah blah... still have the booklet that came with it as well. Got it from TigerDirect.com.

Jun 27, 2003, 06:17 AM
My Copy of XP Pro that came with My old Gateway PC Never Once asks me for my Product key, Its not until I go to Activate it that it Says it cant activate and please enter a "Valid" Cd Key. How do I get it to enter my Valid CD when it sets up? any ideas????

Jun 27, 2003, 09:40 AM
Call 1-800-936-4800 They help varify your product key and get your computer installed

Jun 27, 2003, 03:13 PM
XP is just odd... I was just checking the authentication thing to see if it would give me the "input valid code" thing again, and it comes up and says that XP has already been authenticated.....very strange if you ask me, maybe Microsoft checked it the last time I tried or something... I dunno...

Jun 27, 2003, 06:20 PM
Man thats happened to me many many times..im ALWAYS putting new components in my system..heres the skinny..when you register your xp..Windows knows what you have, as far as components in your system..so if you change something, you may have that issue..its usualy 3 components in a month..but ive gotten it from changing 1...Thats Microsoft's way of keeping people from installing on more than 1 machine...its no big deal..just click on register by phone..you will get a long number..input that number over the phone..theye will say no dice please hold..youl get a person..give them the number..then theye will give you a number to put in..and your set...:D :D

Jun 27, 2003, 11:19 PM
Well, if you already registered it once, then reinstalling it and trying to do it again, the authentication process doesn't know if it's on another system or not. It's protecting you and them from someone else using your number.

I had to call and they just simply gave me a temporary number to activate it over the phone.

I've had to reinstall it once again recently, but this time using my original number, it worked. I wonder what would happen if I had to again. Maybe because I activated it before with that temp number it undid the authentication of my number, so it's possible I'll have to call again on the 4th time now. Or they just marked my number as ok for multiple authentications since I once called about it.

Who knows how it works, but just call and they'll quickly give you a number over the phone to reactivate it, they can't turn you down.

Though, like the user said above, changing components can cause it. The first time when I needed to call them was after installing a new mobo and cpu, XP wouldn't startup, so I just reinstalled it. The second time reinstalling was just an addition of a harddrive.

Jun 27, 2003, 11:29 PM
Hmmm, I've installed my copy of XPpro on 3 computers, and never had problem. As MS only seems to blacklist highly-traded CD-keys.

Maybe a key-gen, or trojan somehow nabbed your key?

Jun 28, 2003, 08:53 AM
all this activation crap, makes me happy i have the corp edition

Jun 28, 2003, 01:40 PM
Like i said its just MS XP,s way of keeping you from installing on multiple systems...ive reinstalled my XP many time, and the ONLY time i had trouble Re-Activating is when i changed out components, like the CPU, MainBoard, Hard Drives or Graphics cards. Im not on a BlackList....I call them up...Talk to an Actual Person....Very Polite . I tell them the number, theye ask me Why im Re-Activating, i tell them i changed some components..theye say OK, Please type this number in..i do..and all fine..i Even got mad once, saying this is crap
That i change something and i gotta do this.. And he said Microsoft Appreciates me Upgrading my system, and theye were sorry for the inconvenience...Thanks to all the people who copy software, load 1 copy on many systems....this is what i gotta deal with now...

Jun 29, 2003, 01:25 AM
me and spike700 are in the same boat. :p

Jun 29, 2003, 04:58 PM
Here's a good rule of thumb to follow: if you're installing a new copy of XP that has never been activated, don't activate it until you have your PC the way you want it. I know a lot of people that have activated it right after installing XP, but they're not done switching in new components, etc. Then XP will bug them again. If you know the system still needs some work, wait until you have all the components in that you want before you activate. You still have a good 30 days before you are required to do it :D

Jul 1, 2003, 12:28 AM
all this activation crap, makes me happy i have the corp edition yea and you also just admited that you have a highly illegal warez version of WinXP on your system. :evil:

U really should keep this info to yourself. The vast majority of criminals get caught because they brag about the crime.

Jul 1, 2003, 04:05 PM
Originally posted by Skynet
yea and you also just admited that you have a highly illegal warez version of WinXP on your system. :evil:

U really should keep this info to yourself. The vast majority of criminals get caught because they brag about the crime.

actually the corp edtion is just the Pro version with a multi site liesence. not all corp edition copies are warez

Jul 2, 2003, 12:55 PM
Unless you are a "Corp" and fit the catagory for Purchase then it's illegal for you to run it :-p Duh. ;)

Jul 2, 2003, 07:12 PM
boo hoo. lol. they wont do nothing about it, its a waste of money to try and get you, unless your a warez group or something. plus, if im gonna pay that much money for an OS or game, it better do everything i want, and make me completely satisfied, which im not, close, but not.

but this topic has gone astray, point is, activation sucks, were doomed...

Jul 2, 2003, 07:48 PM
Its a Conspiracy!!!.. O.S you need to Activate, then RE- Activate when you change your components...Computers in cars that Record your speed, brake pressure etc, when you crash so the insurance companies can screw you, EZ Pass (Automatic toll paying) here in Jersey, can tell your Average speed between tolls, so in the future theye can issue speeding tickets...BIG Brother is taking over.
DAMN these DAMN computers, Computers are EEEVIL...

Jul 6, 2003, 11:32 PM
in Windows XP Service Pack 1
Service Pack 1 for Windows XP (SP1), released on September 9, 2002, introduces some changes in the way WPA works. These are not large, and attention is drawn to them at relevant points in this page. For more detailed discussion of the changes and their implications, see Microsofts article Service Pack 1 Changes to Product Activation.

One new feature in Windows XP that has caused great concern is Windows Product Activation (WPA). There are a great many rumors, and much misinformation, from which you might be led to think that WPA is going to call Microsoft every day and say just what you are doing with your computer; that, if you make any changes at all to your computer hardware, the machine will be instantly disabled; and that WPA is a sneaky way for Microsoft to store personal information about you or your computer, or to begin charging you a monthly fee for your continued use of Windows XP. In fact, all of these rumors are false. WPA is a fairly easy-going check when Windows boots, confirming that it is still installed on the same computer as last time it checked. Thats all. But the rampant misinformation is understandable, because it is hard for the general consumer to find a simple yet comprehensive explanation of just what WPA is. This page tries to fill that gap by explaining WPA in a straightforward, detailed way  and to show that it will be a lot less trouble to most people than many have feared.

Whats the idea of WPA?
The Microsoft License for use of Windows has always been limited to allowing installation on only a single machine (and that excludes having the same copy installed on a laptop as well as a desktop machine: only MS Office is licensed for the combination). Microsoft believes that this has been subject to much casual abuse. WPA is a means of ensuring that a single copy is not installed on more than a single machine.

So, within the first 30 days after installing Windows XP, you must get the system activated if you are to be able to go on using it. This involves the computer dialing in and giving some information about the hardware on which Windows is installed, receiving in return a release code which will be recorded on the system.

At subsequent boots, Windows checks to see that it is still running on hardware that it can recognise as being the same. If it does not match well enough, you will be unable to do more than backup files until you call Microsoft to explain  for example, that the old machine broke down and had to be rebuilt  and get a new release code.

This may not apply to new machines, bought with Windows already installed and activated by the maker locking the system to the BIOS on the motherboard. If the manufacturer has done this, you can change all the rest of the hardware without affecting activation status. But, in this situation, any replacement of the motherboard, or a new BIOS, would have to be obtained from the original computer maker, or WPA will come into action on the replacement and a new release code from Microsoft will be required.

What hardware gets checked?
The WPA system checks ten categories of hardware:

Display Adapter
SCSI Adapter
IDE Adapter (effectively the motherboard)
Network Adapter (NIC) and its MAC Address
RAM Amount Range (i.e., 0-64mb, 64-128mb, etc.)
Processor Type
Processor Serial Number
Hard Drive Device
Hard Drive Volume Serial Number (VSN)
It then calculates and records a number based on the first device of each type that was found during setup, and stores this number on your hard drive. Initially, this is sent to Microsoft in an automatic dial-up, together with the Product ID number derived from the 25-character unique Product Key used in setting up Windows.

If Service Pack 1 has been installed, the entire Product Key is also transmitted: This can then be checked against a list of known pirated keys

The hardware is checked each time Windows boots, to ensure that it is still on the same machine. Also, if you subsequently perform a complete format and reinstall of Windows, Microsofts activation center will have to be contacted again because the information held on the machine itself (the number previously written to your hard drive) will have been wiped out by reformatting the hard drive. If your hardware is substantially the same, this will be done by an automated call without your needing to talk to anyone.

What does substantially the same mean? WPA asks for votes from each of these ten categories: Is the same device still around, or has there never been one? Seven Yes votes means all is well  and a NIC, present originally and not changed, counts for three yes votes! Minor cards, like sound cards, dont come into the mix at all. If you keep the motherboard, with the same amount of RAM and processor, and an always present cheap NIC (available for $10 or less), you can change everything else as much as you like.

If you change the device in any category, you have lost that Yes vote  but will not lose it any more thereafter if you make changes in that category again. So, for example, you can install a new video display card every month for as long as you like.

What if I make too many changes?
If, on Windows startup, there are not the required seven Yes votes, the system will, in the original version of Windows XP, only boot to Safe Mode. You will be required to reactivate by a phone call to Microsoft. You will have to write down a 50-digit number, call into the activation center on a toll-free number that will be given to you, read and check back the number you recorded  and explain the circumstances. In exchange, you will be given a 42-digit number to type in. This will reactivate your copy of Windows.

This is made easier if Windows XP Service Pack 1 has been installed: The system will continue to boot normally for three days, during which time you will be able to contact the activation center via the net. If the extra changes have been removed, or if 120 days have passed since the original activation, you will be able to use the automatic process once more

What about formatting a hard disk?
Two things are recorded for disks: the number of the disk drive itself, and the Volume Serial Number (VSN) of the partition on it.

HINT No. 1: The VSN is part of the data in the partitions first sector, so it is changed when you reformat the drive. It is worth getting the freeware utility Volume ID to restore the original VSN. Before you reformat, run VOL from a Command Prompt, note the VSN (e.g., 1F2E-3C4B) in the second line. Then, after the reformat and new Windows XP installation, defer the new activation until you have run Volume ID to restore the old VSN, and rebooted. This is not essential  but it saves one of the Yes votes against any future hardware change. (If you dont wish to run this utility, the next best way to obtain the same result would be to delete the old Win XP files from the hard drive before reinstalling, rather than actually reformatting.)

HINT No. 2: Another thing that changes the VSN is converting a FAT 32 partition to NTFS. So, if you upgrade a system using FAT 32 to Windows XP and intend to convert to NTFS, do the conversion before activating the system. Remember, you can wait a while: you have 30 days before you need to activate. The machines hardware at the time of the first activation is what counts. Or, if you have already activated, use Volume ID as described in Hint No. 1.

HINT No. 3: It is valuable to back up the two files WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK from the Windows\System32 folder.Then, should they get damaged, or should you do a Repair reinstallation of Win XP, these files can be copied back to restore the prior activation status. However, this only works in those limited circumstances. The contents of these two files is matched to the specific Windows setup; therefore, contrary to what many journalists and members of the user community have written in recent months, restoring these files will not restore your activation status following a reformat and clean install.

The disk drive and partition recorded will be the ones that the system has found first when doing the initial activation: normally the one from which the system booted. So, if you change that disk and reinstall Windows to a new partition, you have lost two of the Yes votes. If, though, you add a new hard disk, copy the original partition onto it with an imaging program, and retain the original hard drive as a secondary data disk, it will still be found by a later check. This is because it searches for all disks, and the vote will be Yes in both categories if it finds the original one, with the partition not reformatted.

What about a swappable hard drive bay?
Provided the swappable hard drive bay is for secondary disks (used for data), and the boot disk with Windows is still present, the swappable disks do not enter into the WPA calculation.

Changing the motherboard
Installing a replacement motherboard will change the IDE controller, and usually will mean that you change to a new, faster, processor. If the processor is one with a serial number (Pentium III), then you lose a third vote  including when you change to a processor with no serial number, such as an Athlon. If you also add RAM, or if the motherboard is one with an on-board SCSI adapter, that makes four or five categories now voting No  you would need an unchanged NIC to avoid having to call in for reactivation. If the new motherboard also has inbuilt video (and possibly even a NIC of its own!), you run right out of Yes votes with this one hardware change.

Again, this doesnt stop you from making such a hardware change, nor from using Windows XP thereafter. The phone-in reactivation option was created for just this type of situation. Also, this is an extreme example. Due to the onboard features of some motherboards, this one hardware change is equivalent to several changes at once.

Re-activation on a new setup after adding devices
If you add devices, as mentioned earlier in relation to hard disks, the check at boot up will still find the original device, even if it is now in a subsidiary postion (e.g., as a slave hard disk). But if you format and do a new setup, it will be the device that is now in first place that goes into the hardware hash sent to Microsoft. This means that this hardware category no longer will match  and will be seen as voting no. This means that you may find the automatic activation rejected, even though you have not recently made any changes. Therefore, from the point of view of WPA, it is best to make such hardware additions subsidiary ones. For example, if you add another CD drive, have it as the secondary slave, and, if need be, move the original one onto the primary channel.

There is a useful program XPInfo which will give you a simple picture of which categories are currently casting Yes votes at the boot-up check.

How long does this go on?
The license for a retail version of Windows XP is in perpetuity. You get to use Windows XP forever, if you choose.

But Microsoft recognises that machines do get upgraded. If, following the activation after setup, you do not need to contact the activation center for 120 days (any changes you make during this time being seen as acceptable when the system boots), then the sheet is swept clean and you can start again using the current hardware as the new baseline to make more changes.

If you get a new computer, you are entitled to remove Windows XP from the one that is being junked, and install the same Windows XP on the new machine  but you will have to do the reactivation by a voice call and explain (unless, as was just mentioned, 120 days have passed since the activation was last performed).

Microsoft has said that if it ever becomes not worthwhile for them to keep this activation system going, they will take steps to allow users to disable it.

Restrictions of specific license types may limit the foregoing. OEM versions of Windows XP are licensed together with the hardware with which they are purchased, as an entity, and such a copy may not be moved to a different computer. Other specific license types (e.g., Academic licenses) are handled in different ways. This isnt a WPA issue per se, but rather an issue of the license for that purchase, and therefore outside the scope of this discussion of WPA.

Installation of Service Pack 1
Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) introduces some further obstacles to systems that appear to have been pirated: It will not install at all on systems which appear to have used one of two well established pirate Product Keys, and a wider range of pirated and cracked keys will result in no access being allowed to Windows Update.

Installation of SP1 also will detect and fix a number of cracks used by pirates to circumvent the need to activate. Such systems will then need to be activated after SP1 is installed.

Regular, legitimate, installations of Windows XP will not need to be reactivated after installing SP1.

Some things WPA does not do
WPA does not send any personal information at all about you to Microsoft. There is still an option to register the product with Microsoft, but that is separate and entirely voluntary.

If you have to phone in yourself to carry out an activation or reactivation, you are not required to give any identifying personal information.

WPA does not phone in every day to check. The check that the system is not significantly different is done by Windows itself at boot. If the hardware is not acceptable (i.e., you dont get your seven Yes votes), you have to initiate the telephone call yourself in order to reactivate. Windows itself never calls Microsoft except when you specifically tell it to do so for an online activation.

WPA does not provide a means for Microsoft to turn off your machine or damage your data. (Nor do they even have access to your data.) If the system is requiring you to phone in, you will still be able to boot to Safe Mode and back up your data.

WPA is not a lease system requiring more payments after two years or any other period. You may use the product as licensed in perpetuity.


I hope this clears up alot of questions for everyone. :)

Jul 7, 2003, 05:28 PM
Originally posted by Rayder
Installation of Service Pack 1
Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) introduces some further obstacles to systems that appear to have been pirated: It will not install at all on systems which appear to have used one of two well established pirate Product Keys, and a wider range of pirated and cracked keys will result in no access being allowed to Windows Update

I have heard of bad things happening to a system that SP1 refused to install due to a pirated key. (hourly BSOD's for one)

Jul 7, 2003, 05:34 PM
Plain and simple. Call MS support line (toll free, on the open the box experience window) and tell them the number the window says, then MS guy will give you another CD-key. with this you can re authenticate your windows.

Jul 10, 2003, 12:49 PM
I feel the first guy's pain on this. I have had to call Microsoft at least 10 times to reactivate my fricking legal copy of XP. Makes me wonder why I don't just use my "special" copy.

I had to call them this week because I UPDATED MY NFORCE DRIVERS. Hello? Such a pain in the arse.

Jul 11, 2003, 10:23 PM
I just installed XP and I think it upgraded instead of reformatting because it kept all my files.

I have not activated it yet. Can I just boot to dos with my old 98 boot disk, format correctly and install XP again without having to deal with the activation nonsense.