Vista deactivates me for upgrading motherboard firmware

Vista deactivates me for upgrading motherboard firmware

Summary: Updated 8:40AM - After going to "Windows Help and Support" in the start menu, I searched for Activate and the second choice was "Activate this computer".  Using the phone option I called an 800 number and spent 3 minutes waiting and 3 minutes talking to a person.


Updated 8:40AM - After going to "Windows Help and Support" in the start menu, I searched for Activate and the second choice was "Activate this computer".  Using the phone option I called an 800 number and spent 3 minutes waiting and 3 minutes talking to a person.  I didn't have to give him any keys and simply explained what happened.  He gave me a 48-letter activation code and I was on my way.  That wasn't too bad but the whole process is rather silly and a waste of my time.

Twas the day before Christmas and all I got from Microsoft and MSI was Vista's kill switch, a buggy motherboard BIOS, and horrible tech support from MSI.  The following is the screenshot of what I saw after I upgraded my problematic motherboard's (MSI P965 Platinum) BIOS firmware.

After switching to two larger 1 GB memory DIMMs so I can use the four 512 MB DIMMs for other systems, the system became very unstable.  The memory tested fine under memtest and worked fine with other systems so I immediately suspected the motherboard and tried to update the BIOS firmware.  Vista's crash analysis later told me that there was a problem with the BIOS and the memory and also recommended an update, but it didn't warn me that upgrading the BIOS would trigger Vista's kill switch.

I tried to upgrade the BIOS to version 1.7 but the BIOS update was faulty and both the online Live Update or booting from a CD to DOS bombed with an error message of "Error: Problem erasing flash050000 (31%)". MSI tech support was absolutely NO help to me and they simply told me to redo the update from DOS (which I already told them I tried) or they told me to go back to the vendor I bought it from.  Eventually MSI support told me to download it again and I noticed that version 1.8 was available and I managed to use version 1.8 to upgrade my MSI P965 Platinum board.

Anytime you upgrade a motherboard BIOS you pretty much have to hold your breath because a botched installation will result in a bricked motherboard.  But Microsoft seems to be well on its way to bricking my Operating System after I successfully upgraded my BIOS.  Now I'm going to have to call Microsoft tech support and see how I'm going to resolve this headache.  I'll update this post with how they respond.

Oh and I hope your Christmas gifts are a lot better than mine.  Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • Possible easy fix

    Leave the machine, opened, in the living room, in front of the fireplace. It might be beneficial to leave a few cookies and a glass of milk next to the machine.

    Get up real early tomorrow and rush down to the living room and check to see if the machine magically works. Better yet, you might find a brand new one.

    WARNING: If you happen to be awakened tonight by what sounds like hooves on your roof, DO NOT get up to investigate.
    • I'm trying that with all my busted tech!

      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • RE: Vista deactivates me for upgrading motherboard firmware

    We can't be expected to stay on the same bios version throughout the life of a system, so Microsoft needs to fix this.

    I like MSI's LiveUpdate feature, but I only flash when something is actually wrong (like you had to). I don't have much faith in any manufacturer help. I get tired of the "go back to your vendor" BS that you get from any board maker.

    for MSI users, there's a global MSI forum at You'll prob get help faster there than through tech support.
    • Be careful of flashing through Windows ...

      ... no jokes about the above statement please :-)

      Seriously though, be careful. I don't know about MSI because it's been a while since I've handled a board, but ASUS has a Windows-based flash that's dangerous to use. However, ASUS makes it easy to flash through the BIOS using a USB key.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Intel has USB, bootable Linux CD, Windows. They all failed!

        Intel has USB, bootable Linux CD, Windows. They all failed for the Intel branded G965 motherboard. The Linux boot CD wouldn't boot on a SATA optical drive and I had to crack open the computer to swap it out with a PATA drive. After all that trouble, it still didn't work. I have to ask myself if I have this much trouble, what does the average person have to do?
      • So far...

        I haven't had to update my bios even though it's a few versions behind.. Quite frankly I'm afraid (since I use Vista) and since everything seems to be working well I won't touch it... "For now"

        My brother has the same board as me did his USB update and has had alot of issues with Vista so far since doing the upgrade. I haven't had an issue yet with mine.

        I heard about the MOBO issue with Vista, which is one of the reasons I am waiting till SP1 to do it and also hopefully by then more fixes are made so that I won't fear updating my system.

        I never feared with XP.. Only with Vista.
        • The only reason I fear it more today...

          Is because of the 5 time re-install thing. :P Then again even though I have an OEM license which is "unlimited" activations I think..

          I don't even want to hit number 5 and I'm already at number 2.
    • I searched Google and other people had my error message

      I searched Google and other people had my error message, but I could not find the answer to the problem. The only thing that saved me was my own determination to go download the newest version 1.8 and try it again. I got lucky that it worked but I still need to try that new RAM again to see if it stabilized.

      I deliberately avoided press channels because I wanted to see how they would respond to regular people. Clearly they failed.

      As for Microsoft, I got it activated over the phone after 6 minutes. It wasn't that bad but this whole situation is rather stupid and unnecessary.
      • exactly right

        I agree, it is unnecessary, and I'm glad you try things through 'normal' channels, like the rest of us.

        I've had to reactivate a few times on the phone, and it doesn't take long, but it's ridiculous. Hard drives fail, memory gets added, firmware changes, CPU upgrades. You can't tie an OS to a set of hardware unless that hardware is set in stone.

        Maybe MS can ship a digital key on a USB stick or something with the next OS, so I can verify that the OS is only being used on one system. I don't mind the restriction, I just hate the poor implementation.
      • I would imagine any flash to bios will get an activation notice.

        I noticed on any motherboard that when you flash the bios, you also get a new number. The number is basically the same but the suffix changes.

        For example:

        It is now a different motherboard. Therefore it is a different machine so you will have to reactivate. I am sure this will happen to any make other than MSI and I would like you to test them too on flashing them also.

        MS should have shipped a USB dongle that you insert to run the Windows program than this FUBAR Check Point Charley that is just annoying everyone. Even a 1xPCI-E entered in the mobo would work.
        • People will scream louder if there is a serial or dongle on the motherboard

          People will scream louder if there is a serial or dongle on the motherboard. Remember when Intel implemented a serial number on the CPU and people screamed so loud that Intel decided to default it to off? People are afraid that any unique identifier will violate their privacy whether there's any merit to those fears or not.
          • Like the totally silent Apple ones' on the TPM Infineon chip.


            The serial number and OS will be tied together. The card in the PCI slot or the USB dongle in the USB slot in the front would actually be easier on your privacy since it doesn't have to go over the wire to verify you. I have seen dongles on AutoCAD student versions and expensive wood shop programs. But they used the parallel port.

            Besides they are screaming now because the verification system is not reliable and the pirates always seem to have a work around.

            By the way, I never said the serial number to be built into the mobo. I was saying it to be built into a USB or PCI card that can be removable. If you run Linux, just remove them since they are non-applicable. When your system blows, take the OS and the verification hardware with you.
        • actually not true

          i built a new PC in June with a GIGABYTE GA-N650SLI-DS4 and I used Vista Business ed. Since then, I have flashed the mobo twice through a Windows-based utility provided by Gigabyte and have not had any problems with Vista getting de-activated. George;s problem could very well be a problem caused by the way the code was written or implemented by MSI. Of course, this is just my experience - I could be wrong. I have also increased RAM from 2GB to 4GB and added a couple of HDDs and have not had any Vista errors of any kind. Even back in June all drivers and such were picked up automatically.
          • It was a suggestion type of problem solving.

            I would not know for sure either. But I have flashed many mobos in the past and the suffix changed on them to let the tech reading the post what verison of bios is installed. Also which service pack are you running and which one is George running. I also have always flashed in DOS and haven't had problems. Just 3 files for DOS and the flash utility and rom file. Don't discard your old DOS program.


          • no SP yet

            waiting for RTM of SP1. I do understand what you're saying, DOS has always been more reliable in such matters.
          • I thought they released that by now. Due Q2 2007.

            Oh well. But the number does change on the mobo to show you the current bios when posted on boot. That is the only thing I can think of that would show Vista the change that would make Vista incorrectly see this as different hardware. Rereading you post, you are not using the OEM version which George always does. The OEM version cannot be transferred to another machine where as yours can. But it still needs a phone call. Perhaps the sensitivity of hardware changes is more extreme in the OEM version. I am glad I still use Win2kSP4 for I like to play around with different hardware. All of my XP builds have been successful though. But they don't swap out hardware.
          • Oops. Make that due Q2 2008.

          • Actually true - gigabyte mobo

            Actually true if your mobo supports Win Vista, i flashed my BIOS several times on my Gigabyte mobo X38-DQ6 and i did'nt get any problem on deactivation of Win Vista. Just a precaution, make sure that your mobo supports Vista before you upgrade your BIOS. I am not concluding that Gigabyte mobo that supports Vista is great but that is actually true on my experience.
    • Now we just need Mike Cox to chime in with something

      Now we just need Mike Cox to chime in with something. He'd get his rep on it right away and have his MCSEs work overtime on Christmas eve if necessary :).
  • My MSI Board was Buggy Too

    I had to update the BIOS on my MSI board too because the board would not work with 4 gigs of ram. Then after I updated it, it was not stable, so I got pissed and replaced it with an ASUS board, and I am much happier.