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Windows Deactivation! “Your using Pirated Software!” Doesn’t it make you feel ripped off?

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I have received many a panic phone call from users describing a Windows Deactivation. “They say I am pirating their software, what did you do?” And the blame is usually extended to your IT Department, or you System Provider (computer guy) “ 


I will guarantee it almost always has NOTHING to do with your IT Department, your System Provider, your computer guy, or your avast antivirus! I am supporting 4000 networks, and countless versions of antivirus across the USA.  If this were an issue, then I would know about it. I have identified these issues that can cause Windows Deactivation to occur.  Believe me, you are NOT alone!



Windows Genuine Advantage

Anything that modifies the O.S. can trigger the Deactivation process, including corruption, infection, improper shutdown, etc.  Anything that modifies Windows can trigger this, so there are literally millions of possibilities here. Hardware changes, such as motherboards, CPUs, network cards, hard drives, etc.  I have even seen software updates that caused Windows to Deactivate. Windows Genuine Advantage will also randomly select PCs for verification for NO reason.



My final statement is the anti-piracy function of the Windows Genuine Advantage (what it was really intended for).  Microsoft will embed Windows pirated activation codes into some Windows updates:  Windows Genuine Advantage updates, and all Service Pack upgrades for sure! Major OEMs like HP use a volume license code in their distribution image (all have the same code)  Piraters will suck this code out of the systems registry,  and illegally use it until  Microsoft identifies the code as pirated and kills it. I have seen factory installed Windows Operating Systems on HP Enterprise Grade notebooks deactivate due to this.  When Deactivation occurs, you can usually use the Windows Certificate of Authenticity (COA sticker) on the computer to reactivate.  However, I have also seen those codes blacklisted.  How is that possible, when that COA was only on this computer?  Wasn’t it never used, or activated, because my notebook shipped with the factory image using the manufacturers OEM volume license? Here are causes for good codes gone bad:



1)  The code was hit by a Key Generator (KeyGen) and was pirated and blacklisted. 

2) The code was physically copied. Microsoft forced OEMs to place the COA in a visible location on the outside of the system. I have personally watched unscrupulous individuals use their phone to capture a PIC of COA codes for later use.  I have seen the remnants of the COA paper and glue on the back of Circle K registers, where a customer had “helped themselves” to the sticker! 


3)  Microsoft had an unrecoverable corruption on their license database server,  so M$ does not always know what is  a real code, and what is not a real code.  This one took us over a year to learn.  My Distributor and I couldn’t figure out why brand new legitimate codes from Microsoft would not activate.  Finally, we were able to get a Microsoft Engineer on the phone to discuss this anomaly.  The Engineer hesitantly admitted (finally after we pushed for an answer for a year) to a database corruption on the Microsoft Licensing Server, and they did NOT have a backup. At the end of disclosure: “You did NOT here this from me!”



I hope this sheds light on this continual question of Windows Deactivation.  These statements are accurate for Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and several versions of Microsoft Office. 

We don’t do Windows 8!  Windows 7 was the “last known good revision level”  We don’t do Office 2103  Office 2010 was the “last known good revision level” So I do not have any current data on what or how Deactivation will be like, or how it will occur on those products.  They are just not ready yet, their are no Service Packs, no debugging, so there early adopters are Guinea Pigs. And the Microsoft  tick / tock of  good / bad operating systems is a 14 year pattern.  2000 Pro was great, slow and clunky, but awesomely stable.  Millennium was \generation 1.0 of plug and play:  “learn what not to do!”.  XP “we got it right!”  Vista, generation 1.0 of a usable 64 bit O.S. “learn what not to do”.  Windows 7 “we got it right!”  Windows 8, generation 1.0 of a touch screen O.S.  “learn what not to do!”  Windows 9 “we got it right!”  So, for the last 15 years, 95% of businesses stick to the “we got it right!” versions for sanities sake!



J.R.  Guthrie                                      


Advantage Micro Corporation



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