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Yesterday I got a notice on my Windows XP installation that said something to the effect of "Due to significant hardware changes, you must reactivate Windows".

Reactivate? What is this?

Okay, fine. I have my XP Product key. I'll just enter it in and everything should go fine, right?

Wrong.

The system said I had attempted to validate Windows too many times.

To note: I had used this key once on a previous computer that's now in a scrap heap. The second time I used it when I built my new computer. And this third time came out of nowhere just because I added a new DVD burner.

The system also said I had three days to re-validate the OS.

I was not pleased.

Not to be defeated (especially considering I "went legal" very recently), I said Uh-uh. No way am I paying for this again. I'm calling.

So I called the 800 number so I could get the product key reactivated over the phone.

The result? Success! I revalidated my key and didn't have to spend any more cash.

...

Here is what I find interesting...

If I hadn't called Microsoft, I would've had to buy another Windows XP license, either new or at a "discounted rate" even though I only use XP on one of my computers. My laptop runs Ubuntu Linux 7.04.

The system (Microsoft's) is so automated that even if you have all your ducks in a row, have your product key (which I do) and are doing everything right, you're still wrong and have to pay again unless you call them.

It bothers me that Windows XP actively keeps a pecking order of the hardware in my computer and from that ALONE "judges" whether I'm really using the same computer or not. That's a Big Brother tactic and I don't like it.

What happens if I add a hard drive? Or upgrade RAM? Will I have to activate the product key again?

One can only wonder.

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