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They are including a Windows Genuine Advantage security patch in the updates of Windows XP.The newest patch, released the first week of June 2006, actually produces popups on the login screen and on the desktop explaining that this version of Windows XP is not genuine and the owner may be the victim of software counterfeiting. I’ve just performed a clean setup, and Windows now won’t let me even log in until I activate. And after an hour and a half on the phone, I was no further along. Today I decided that this was the machine to use for a new employee at my wife’s business. Now, here is the confusing factor: the machine is a Dell, and came with Dells OEM version of Windows XP Home pre-installed.The network card has apparently not yet been configured, so I can’t activate over the ‘net. And yet, left to my own devices I had the machine activated in about 10 minutes. The product key for XP Home that was installed on it is on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop.This and the way it was pushed onto systems quietly in the early days has led many people to label WGA as borderline spyware. If the Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications rightly or wrongly detects a not genuine Windows XP, You’ll get this on boot: The Resolve Now button will take you to Microsoft where they try and sell you the latest Windows as XP isn’t available any more.The Resolve Later will allow you to boot, but all is not well on the desktop: Three things happen to your desktop; firstly, the background goes black and although you can add your own wallpaper back in, it will be reset to black again every 60 minutes while the activation status is failed.Microsoft is offering a variety of options to customers who unknowingly purchased a counterfeit copy of Windows XP.Customers can submit a proof of purchase, the original counterfeit CD, and fill out a report with the details of the purchase and Microsoft will give the customer a complimentary copy of Windows XP.

Now Microsoft is becoming more advanced in their attack on pirated versions of Windows XP or Microsoft Office.Notification is actually a voluntary patch you can opt out of, but once on, is the more intrusive because it affects the system while booting and on the desktop if the install is not deemed to be genuine.The Notifications tool phones home every 2 weeks to validate Windows with several bits of information about your PC including the Windows product key, computer make, model and BIOS information, region and language settings, Windows version and product key, and also the hard drive serial number as well as a few other bits of data and information.If not, I expected it would at least generate an error when I entered it. Windows Setup dutifully accepted the product key, reformatted the entire hard drive as I requested and copied over files from the CD. Any normal person would have throw up their hands at this point, I’m certain. To their credit everyone I talked to was polite and honestly intent on getting whatever issue was in front of them resolved.So when I installed Windows I entered the original Dell product key, even though I was installing a retail copy of XP Home. It just generally seemed to be working, and working well. (Still no idea what that was about.) I removed the CD, and hard-booted the machine, and sure enough, Windows came up except that it presented me with a message I’d never seen before, and didn’t even know existed: “You must first activate this copy of Windows before you can log in”. In my experience Windows will normally allow you to log in and complete your set-up without activating, giving you 30 days to get around to that. The choices came up, I plugged in a network cable and told Windows to activate itself over the net. The network card hadn’t been configured yet, there was no external connectivity available. (I, too, took pains to remain calm and friendly throughout. I can understand that a less patient person would have had a difficult time staying civil – what I was looking for was very simple: I wanted to install and run Microsoft Windows, all legal and above board. • Left to my own devices, I fixed it in about 10 minutes. The key was my statement early on: “The network card hadn’t been configured yet, there was no external connectivity available.” That’s a statement I made repeatedly to the folks at Microsoft.That’s all well and good, but you can’t even buy Windows XP any more even if you were using a pirated version and wanted to go legit!Although Windows XP is nothing more than an afterthought for Microsoft these days and they want it killed off ASAP, WGA is still very much alive and can still cause problems for users.This article is intended for IT Professionals and systems administrators with legitimate corporate licenses for Windows XP Professional.It is not intended for home users, hackers, or computer thieves attempting to crack the product ID on a pirated version of the Operating System.Microsoft claims that legitimate licensed users of XP Professional should be unaffected, however there are a number of different ways one of these leaked keys can find it's way into an otherwise legal environment and cause serious deployment issues.(When a legitimate corporate key is not at hand during an installation process, it's a common practice for some administrators to simple search the web for a valid key.) Here's how to check if your systems are using a leaked key, and how to change the product activation key if they are.

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