XP Product Activation Tip

January 10, 2005

Everyone who has Windows XP should be familiar with the new Windows Product Activation (WPA) feature.  This built-in feature of XP forces a Windows owner to “activate” their end-user license through the Internet to ensure that their copy cannot be used on any other PC.

Unfortunately, if you need to re-install Windows, you will need to contact Microsoft’s support staff and plead for them to re-activate your license. Scenarios when you might want to re-install Windows include (but are not limited to):

  • Adding/removing many hardware devices, causing the system to hiccup.
  • Upgrading or changing hard drives.

I don’t know about you, but I try to avoid contacting Microsoft’s technical support staff.  They really don’t need to know when I reformat my hard drive.

That in mind, I discovered this site the other day http://www.aumha.org. It contains a lot of information, but of particular interest to me is the section on WPA. The hints listed under “What about formatting a hard disk?” explains exactly which files to back up and restore in order to re-activate windows — thereby eliminating the need to call Microsoft.

I highly recommend backing up these files immediately. You never know when your hard drive will give up the ghost.