Feeds

WinXP activation bug zeros testers' trial period

Grief, is that the time already?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Some traffic from the Microsoft WinXP beta news groups forwarded to The Register indicates that the company may be in deep doo-doo as regards the operation of Product Activation. It's fragile, it's triggering the termination of testers' eval periods, and Microsoft doesn't know why.

Given Microsoft's recent habit of sprinkling time-limited eval copies of its code around the world, this one could conceivably do a lot more than just hack off some beta testers, so you might reckon it's kind of important. According to one luckless tester: "I activated my desktop a few days ago, and now all of a sudden I get the following message after I type my password at the login screen: 'The evaluation period for this copy of Windows has ended. Windows cannot continue loading."

Finger trouble? Apparently not. Paul (surname withheld by our informant) from Microsoft asks: "From the time you started getting the expiration errors, have you done any of the following:
1. Flashed your BIOS
2. Changed the system clock in your BIOS
3. Joined the system in question to an existing domain
4. Done anything else that may have adjusted the system time"

Paul does sound like he was already a little bit aware of this problem, doesn't he? But it's more than just a problem of the eval period being zapped by a simple change of the system clock, as is clear from what else Paul has to say: "Also, if any of you have hit this situation and have not done anything that may have reset your system clock, you should bug the problem, with as much detail as possible."

So they know it's there, they're after it, but they haven't caught it yet. The likelihood is that the eval code and the product activation code are more closely tied together than Microsoft is letting on, and there's some kind of interaction there that's triggering expiry.

Paul suggests a couple of possible fixes, and these may provide an indicator of where Microsoft thinks the problem could lie:

"1. Boot to safe mode (no networking) and run an upgrade (note that you can upgrade to the same version you're currently running
"2. Boot to safe mode (no networking) and run 'sysprep -nosidgen - reseal'

"Note that neither of these two options are guaranteed to work, but, if they do, it beats the alternative, which is a reinstall."

Actually, we at The Reg don't entirely agree. In our experience so far, a complete XP reinstall seems to beat trying to fix whatever it was you broke, and it usually takes a lot less time. ®

Other good XP newsgroup leaks:
WinXP beta testers still in open revolt over product activation
MS testers shout 'Linux!' over Whistler copy protection

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.