Office XP/Windows XP product activation feature can be thwarted, German company finds.
Both Office XP and Windows XP include Microsoft's
new Product Activation feature, designed to discourage
casual piracy. When you install a copy of the
protected software, it generates a unique Installation
ID that is sent to Microsoft over the Web or by
phone. Microsoft returns an activation code that
authorizes the software. Without the activation
code, the software stops working, and because
the Installation ID is based on part on your computer's
hardware you can't use the same activation code
to install one copy of the software on multiple
PCs. Corporate copies, such as those purchased
under the Open Licensing program, are not included
in the Product Activation program.
A German company, Fully Licensed GmbH, has reverse-engineered
the Product Activation scheme used in Microsoft
Windows XP. Their research shows that most of
the Installation ID is derived by encrypting the
Windows serial number, and that the hardware information
sent to Microsoft is minimal and not an invasion
of privacy. They also determined that you can
change up to three major hardware items (CPU,
network card, hard drive, graphics adapter, RAM,
drive adapter) in your computer before you'll
need to reactivate Windows. You can read the complete
results of their research at www.licenturion.com/xp/fully-licensed-wpa.txt.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.