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Last Updated December 10, 2003

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What you need to know about WPA

There are a few things that aren't readily apparent in the documentation that you should be aware of: 
1. You have 30 days from the time you install XP to activate it. If you don't, you'll be able to boot the PC but won't be able to launch Windows without first calling to activate XP.
2. Microsoft will only authorize a maximum of three activations in the first 30 days that you own the product
3. Microsoft will authorize a maximum of eight activations for a product (Although we've heard unconfirmed reports that this has been raised to 11 activations)
4 If you reach the activation limit, you will be required to purchase another license if you wish to continue using the product
5 Reinstalling Windows XP on the same hardware generates the same product key, so the above doesn't affect you. You can reinstall Windows XP an unlimited number of times on the same hardware. 

Windows XP Product Activation

Microsoft's decision to require Windows XP users to use a product activation feature has been a controversial one, and has made more than a few people a little nervous. In reality, the process only takes a few seconds and is painless. No personal information is transmitted to Microsoft, and it's not required for companies with a corporate volume license (which you can get if you have as little as 5-10 workstations) The product activation process is designed to prevent casual copying and isn't complexly fool proof. There are already a number of programs on the web that can be used to bypass the product activation process or to generate a fake product key.

Where to Start
Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft Product Activation 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 302878 - This article contains frequently asked questions about Windows Product Activation (WPA). The questions are separated into the following categories: 

Description of Microsoft Product Activation
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 302806 - Microsoft Product Activation (MPA) is designed to reduce software piracy. MPA is an umbrella term for technology such as Windows Product Activation (WPA) in Microsoft Windows XP and Office Activation Wizard (OAW) in Microsoft Office XP.

Ports That Are Used by Windows Product Activation 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 291983 - Windows Product Activation uses the following ports: 

HOW TO: Activate Windows XP 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 307890 - Windows XP uses software-based product activation technology, which means that you must activate your copy of Windows XP to use it. This article describes how to activate Windows XP. 

How to Activate Windows XP Using an Unattend.txt File 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 291997 - This article describes how to activate Windows XP using an unattended installation procedure. To automatically activate Windows XP, you must first establish an Internet connection.

How to change the Windows XP Professional Product Key Code
Since the release of Windows XP, Microsoft has discovered that almost 90% of illegitimate copies of the Operating System are using a handful of leaked "corporate" keys. In an effort to thwart these illegitimate users, Windows XP Service Pack 1 (and possibly all future updates) will not install on systems using these keys. Here's how to check if your systems are using a leaked key, and how to change the product activation key if it is

How to Change the Product ID in Windows XP  
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 321636 - This article describes how to change the Windows Product ID for a current installation of Microsoft Windows XP.

Inside Windows Product Activation
A very technical look at the inner workings of WPA, including what information is transmitted to Microsoft, how the key codes are generated, and how hardware changes are tracked. Source: 

WebCast: Support WebCast: Microsoft Windows XP and Office XP: Understanding the New Mandatory Product Activation 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 325510 - In this session, we will be talking about a new feature called Activation. We will answer some of the most frequently asked questions and discuss the benefits of Activation.

Poking Holes in Microsoft's Copy Protection
Software program spreading on the Internet allows users to bypass controversial activation feature in Windows XP. Source: PCWorld (November 1, 2001)

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