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Windows XP activation

I had to install Windows XP today. What a fucking pain! At least I had our university SP1 media and a "corporate" serial number, so theoretically, I would not have to activate it. Theoretically...

It would not accept two serial numbers from our pool, only the third one worked. I typed these serial numbers two or three times, copying them from official Microsoft documents, but no success. Yeah, Microsoft, "Buy One For Three" is a great way to make more money than you deserve!

When Windows finally installed, it surprised me with the notice that I would have 30 days to activate it. Somewhat startled, I clicked "Later", noted to ask our licence guru tomorrow, and continued.

But after the inevitable reboot, I found Windows to refuse logins without activation. My 30 day period just went with a puff. Having grown suspicious, I started from scratch, with a sniffer on the line.

And fact is... there's a whole lot of data transferred from microsoft.com to the machine, which I could not decipher, both during the install as well as after the first login... are they installing software on the new system that requires activation, even for corporate users? "Genuine Advantage" or some other euphemism for bullshitting customers? I have not found anything of that sort online, so I really doubt it, but the symptoms suggest so. I have sent the traffic capture to some friends for analysis...

FWIW, I also called the help desk and asked them what this was all about. The dude there was hopelessly clueless and came up with the following explanation:

Well, you know, sometimes even a corporate installation decides it needs to be activated. Then you just have to activate it for there is no other way to use it.

Great. When I asked him what conditions make such an install so special as to warrant custom treatment, he shrugged.

I will not go through the humiliating process of activating Windows over the phone. The Internet activation just times out for some reason unbeknown to me.

Thank $DEITY for Linux\^WDebian.