Activation is making you pay

Activation is making you pay

By Richard Heller

Activation is making you pay

In an effort to fight software piracy, Microsoft and other software publishers have come up with a new way to force you to buy multiple copies of their programs. The latest method is called product activation. Let’s take a look at how this will affect you.

In the past, various methods have been tried in order to be sure that you didn’t copy software, whether for your own use or for you to “share” with others. Lotus kept track of where exactly 1-2-3 was installed on your hard drive. If somehow it was moved, the program wouldn’t work. To defrag your hard drive, you had to uninstall the program, then re-install it when finished. They also used a laser to burn a hole in the floppy disk; no hole, and the program would not install.

Product activation works in a similar manner. When the program is installed, key hardware components in your computer are examined, and a serial number is generated. The program also comes with a serial number that is necessary to install the program.

After the program is installed, you will have to contact the company and give them the two serial numbers. The number that was used to install the program will be unique; the serial number generated by your hardware configuration may not be. After they have these two numbers, they will give you the activation code, which will allow the program to function.

If you try to give the same product serial number for more than one computer, they will know that you have a pirate copy of the program. That’s right, you will no longer be able to install the program on the work computer and the home computer; you will have to buy a separate copy for each.

In the past, most companies allowed you to install on both computers; they figured that you couldn’t use the program on two computers at the same time. Since you will no longer be able to use the same serial number to install the program on the second PC, you will have no choice but to buy another copy. You do have an extra $500 to buy Office XP Professional, don’t you?

The software companies claim that this will actually make the price of software cheaper; they are losing millions of dollars a year to pirates. These people are related to the electric companies that, during the ’60s, were selling the total electric home while telling us how cheap electricity would be.

As long as you do not make changes to the hardware, you will not have to re-activate your program. If you change your network card, you will probably trigger the re-activate program, but adding memory may not.

There are web sites that have information on how to get around these copy protection methods. You can try and You should be made aware that many of the “crack” sites have pop-up ads for porn sites, so be sure to keep the kiddies away.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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