Work arounds for licensing pain

Work arounds for licensing pain

Summary: I got a question from a reader about a licensing issue, I have no idea on, so I thought I'd throw it out here to see what people think and what ideas they have. Here's the lay of the land: William bought a PC a while back that included an OEM license for Windows XP.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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I got a question from a reader about a licensing issue, I have no idea on, so I thought I'd throw it out here to see what people think and what ideas they have. Here's the lay of the land:

  1. William bought a PC a while back that included an OEM license for Windows XP.
  2. William wanted to upgrade to Vista, so he bought an upgrade license.
  3. As part of the upgrade process, William replaced the motherboard in the computer.
  4. XP got very mad at William for upgrading the motherboard and stopped working. It was at this point that William determined that he had a "recovery" disk, not a real OS install disk and the original vendor of his PC is out of business. Unfortunately, that would wipe out his data.
  5. William grabbed another XP Home Edition disk he had to "get the system going" so he could install Vista.
  6. Rather than the expected 30 days of grace, XP forced him to "activate" immediately. Of course, his license key didn't work for that since it was for the OEM version.
  7. William called MS and their answer after an hour and half on the phone (not including waiting times) was "go buy a new copy of XP as the OEM computer manufacture is out of business and that key is no longer valid".

As an aside, William isn't a n00b. He builds and upgrades systems for a living.

What is William to do? Is it reasonable that the copy of Windows he bought with his PC is only valid as long as the company he bought from is still in business? Is there any way that I can get this system going with out having to put out more money? Is there a work around that gets William what he paid for?

Here's a few thoughts I had:

  • Call Microsoft back and escalate. You might get some sympathy somewhere.
  • Replace the hard drive, recover the OS on the new drive, upgrade, and then copy things over.

Can you suggest others?

Topic: Hardware

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16 comments
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  • According to the license terms Williams needs...

    ...to buy a new, full (i.e. non-upgrade) copy of Windows (either XP or Vista). The motherboard replacement invalidates his OEM license as it is no longer considered the same computer(according to Micrsofts policies). The only way he can reinstate the original license is to put the original MB in the computer and use the restore disk that came with the computer (which should already be preactivated). The fact the computer manufacturer is no longer in business is irrelevant. And to think I didn't like word problems in school :-)
    ye
    • Re: According to the license terms Williams needs...

      LOL! I have another solution...



      :)
      none none
  • Point #6

    At Point #6, did the second install of XP Home finish? Sounds like it didn't. If that is the case the original install of XP should still boot.

    That being said, One possible solution would be to reinstall the original Motherboard, boot normally, install Vista then reinstall the new Motherboard. If there is another activation "issue", Microsoft has no choice but to resolve the issue, being that the issue is not an OEM issue but an upgrade issue.

    Just an idea
    JoseTorr
    • OEM

      I was not aware of the OEM License Rule stated in the first TalkBack, so my idea probably won't work.
      JoseTorr
  • So

    First of all William's XP broke when he changed the motherboard, and that is normal. If William simply done a repair install with his original OEM disk, it would have worked fine. I have done this MANY times because I make a good part of my living upgrading computers. Most OEM copies do not care what your hardware is, but when installed they do catalog your system and tie it to key windows components. A repair install usually overwrites and recreates this. And usually works.

    Also, reactivating an OEM version of XP is a bit of a pain but I have never been denied by MS while doing so. The automatic online activation does fail, but calling the phone activation, getting a person, and explaining my old mobo broke and was replaced, necessitating reactivation, has always been granted. So while technically it may not be within the EULA MS has always let me do it. I have used my Dell OEM XP on 3 different computers now and all MS wanted to know was that I removed it from my previous computer, and they provided me with activation codes.

    If I was william, given things are so messed up now, I would boot with a knoppix CD, get the data off the hard disk burned to DVD, external hard drive, of other medium.

    Format hard disk, install his retail version of XP, then upgrade it to Vista. Or use the trick where you can make the Vista upgrade, upgrade from itself. Whatever you find easier.

    This is likely about the lowest cost solution, given his only costs would be a blank CD to burn knoppix, and his time.
    AdebisiTheGamer
  • Suck it up, Matey. Arrrrrrggh!

    Isn't it amazing that you can try to do everything that's reasonable and right and [i]still[/i] be labeled a pirate?

    And isn't it just a godsend that Windows was installed in the first place so that you have the benefit of support from Microsoft (that support solely consisting of being told to "give us yer booty, ye scurvy dog, and we'll allow ye to keep what ye've paid for!")? It would make me wonder who are the REAL pirates, if I didn't know the answer already.

    Yes, that proprietary support is SOOO worth it.

    My advice is to stay legal. Suck it up and buy the new license. And never buy an upgrade license of anything, because this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you do.

    If you're chafed horribly by the thought of re-paying for things you already bought because you chose a sorry vendor who relies on a contract to make it illegal for you to do what copyright law clearly says you're otherwise entitled to do, then while you're installing things, set that machine to dual boot to an Open Source OS so you don't have to deal with such retardedness in the future.
    dave.leigh@...
    • People bleat on about a lack of support...

      ... if you install Linux or FOSS. Personally I get exactly the same amount of support (for Linux) that Microsoft used to give me for Windows.

      The chap in the story is stuffed. The easiest (non-clever, non-techie) workaround is to buy Vista Retail and install it.


      [i]"you chose a sorry vendor who relies on a contract to make it illegal for you to do what copyright law clearly says you're otherwise entitled to do"[/i]

      He's not breaching copyright law. He's breaching the License's terms of use. Not the same thing.
      bportlock
      • Correct.

        [b][i]He's not breaching copyright law. He's breaching the License's terms of use. Not the same thing.[/i][/b]

        That's what I said.
        dave.leigh@...
    • Dave, you read my mind

      I've long thought what you wrote, and I've been slowly but surely migrating to open source via dual-booting Linux and with the help of sites like the Linux Equivalent Project (http://www.linuxeq.com/).

      I just built my own new computer and installed Vista Business (OEM System Builder version) and called Microsoft to ask if I needed a new license if I upgraded the chip to a new Quad-core. After more than an hour on the phone, two tech support folks said yes. I escalated and the next "supervisor" said I'd need to buy another copy and rebuild my system from scratch, reinstalling the new Vista. (I figured I could make an image and just restore it if worse came to worse.) Apparently not.

      This is the [b]real[/b] reason Microsoft died in 2007:
      http://www.thegsblog.com/?p=164
      zaine_ridling
  • Other suggestions

    Sure -- pull his data off of the original hard drive, then do a system restore with the recovery disk and the old mobo.

    That's the license he has: use Microsoft's software with his original computer, period.

    I suppose he could try following up with the MSWinVista conversion, then change mobos, but there's the chance that when he went to activate the new system he'd again run into the "dead OEM" problem.

    All in all, it looks like Microsoft's advice is right: just suck it up and buy a new license.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Why upgrade an OEM version?

    It seems to me there is no good reason to ever upgrade an OEM version. It looks a lot cheaper to just buy another OEM version as long as you can support yourself. I don't believe there is a requirement to install on new hardware just a requirement to install on the same hardware.
    kmatzen@...
  • Re: Work arounds for licensing pain

    [i]Is it reasonable that the copy of Windows he bought with his PC is only valid as long as the company he bought from is still in business? Is there any way that I can get this system going with out having to put out more money? Is there a work around that gets William what he paid for?[/i]

    Sorry, no idea, other than it sounds like William is getting exactly what he paid for, poor chump.



    :)
    none none
  • Why install XP at all?

    I thought you could install Vista from an upgrade disk, you perform a clean install, don't register, reboot then register your Vista disk. Whether he has a copy of XP or not, many have recommended it because an upgrade install is not a good idea. This means you do not have to go through the extra (boneheaded) step of installing XP so that you can then wipe it out. He has the OEM disk, he has another license and guess what, he is wiping XP off the HD, he is fine, use the workaround. MS built this ability to install an "upgrade" disk as a clean install for a reason.

    Besides, who is to say that, in actuality, XP is complaining because of 1) a bug in WGA (I know extremely rare) or 2) the PC builder gave him an invalid disk or copy.

    This is not a case where he is trying to scam anyone by using Vista upgrade to perform a clean install without an XP license.

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Here's a link

      http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=5932

      [B]Microsoft internal documentation reveals workaround for Vista Upgrade DVDs with no need for a previous version of Windows[/B]

      Your friend appears stuck in the official revenue for nothing public path. Use the official rats we can't extort any extra money for nothing secret recall path.

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Not the same thing

        That's a pre-activation process, not post. Once you activate, your hardware is locked-in. Thus the allure of OPEN source — no lock-in, ever.

        Check out 'WHY LINUX IS BETTER':
        http://www.whylinuxisbetter.net/
        zaine_ridling
  • Vista "Upgrade" installation

    Phil:

    Your reader, "William", may not be a n00b, but he is ignorant. As are you. Had you done just a little bit of searching the blogs of your ZDNet compatriots (Ed Bott, specifically), you would have found the solution for him (that only one other person in the Talkbacks, Triplell), has noted:

    Leave the hardware in place (new mobo included.) Boot the Vista upgrade DVD and tell the installer to install Vista on the hard drive.

    It will detect a previous version of Windows and ask if he really wants to do this. The answer is yes. Do *not* allow the installer to reformat the hard drive.

    When asked to type in the product key, answer no. Uncheck "update automatically". Continue the installation. The Vista installer will do a "clean" installation and move *all* of the old data to a folder marked "Windows.old", for later retrieval.

    Finish the installation. When Vista boots for the first time, and presuming that a net connection is available, it will install all of the available updates from Microsoft's website (Windows Update.) Unless he has some really strange kind of NIC, Vista should have a driver for it.

    At this time, "William" can complete the upgrade by removing the DVD (if he hasn't previously done so) and putting it back into the drive. Perform the "upgrade". Enter the product key and activate Vista.

    Reinstall all of the previous applications (which would have been necessary anyway), then copy all the data from the appropriate subfolders that are found in the "Windows.old" folder.

    Done.

    It's not a disaster. You just have to know what to do, and that information has been available for quite some time now.
    M.R. Kennedy