Halloween Spooks - Microsoft is watching your upgrades

Summary:On All About Microsoft, my blogging colleague Mary Jo Foley has come across an interesting tidbit in the Volume Activation 2.0 FAQ that demonstrates just how much Microsoft's changes to the Windows Vista EULA will affect hardware enthusiasts.

On All About Microsoft, my blogging colleague Mary Jo Foley has come across an interesting tidbit in the Volume Activation 2.0 FAQ that demonstrates just how much Microsoft's changes to the Windows Vista EULA will affect hardware enthusiasts.

[poll id=10]

Halloween fun!

Credit: Vexentricity.com

Contained in the FAQ, Mary Jo discovered the following question and answer:

Q. How do hardware changes impact system reactivation requirement?

A. As long as the change is above 25 points you do not need to re-activate. Here is the table to determine total points. This applies to both Windows Vista client and Longhorn server for retail activation, MAK activation and KMS activation. [Emphasis added]

Component Class NameDefault Weight
CD-ROM/CD-RW/DVD-ROM1
IDE Adaptor3
Physical OS Hard Drive Serial #11
Display Adaptor1
SCSI Adaptor2
Audio Adaptor2
Network Adaptor MAC Address2
Processor3
RAM Amount Range (i.e. 0-512mb, 512-1GB)1
BIOS ID ('0' always matches)9

Note:  I'm assuming that "As long as the change is above 25 points" is a mistake and that it should read "As long as the change is below 25 points".

This is what's behind the 'algorithm' that Microsoft has been hiding behind for the past few weeks. 

Make any changes that adds up to more than 25 and BANG! It's time to reactivateThis clearly shows the extent of the problem that hardware enthusiasts will face.  Make any changes that adds up to more than 25 and BANG!  It's time to reactivate.  Do that twice and you're either looking at buying a new license or having to call Microsoft product support and hope (and it is hope, because there doesn't seem to be any written policy anywhere) that you'll be allowed another activation.

I'm also assuming, although I have no information to back this up, that Microsoft is also going to incorporate some kind of timer into the equation so that you can't say change the hard drive now and the rest of the PC later on today (or maybe they haven’t thought of that, in which case enthusiasts  have a possible escape route to avoid activation - don't count on it though).

My main worry with the points system is that it is heavily motherboard and primary hard drive centric.  The algorithm hits those who use motherboards with a built-in display adaptor, network adaptor, IDE adaptor, BIOS and so on.  However, it seems that changing a motherboard isn't enough to have to reactivate:

Maximum effect of changing a motherboard
Component Class NameDefault Weight
IDE Adaptor3
Display Adaptor1
SCSI Adaptor2
Audio Adaptor2
Network Adaptor MAC Address2
Processor3
BIOS ID ('0' always matches)9

TOTAL

22

Lose your motherboard and hard drive in some kind of incident and you're down an activation.  Nasty.

Don’t have nightmares!

More scary tech here!

Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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