Use Vista without activation for 120 days

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

It’s widely assumed that a newly installed copy of Windows Vista must be "activated" before 30 days are up.

But Microsoft has built into Vista a simple, one-line command that anyone can use to extend the activation deadline of the product to a total of 120 days — almost four full months!

How to extend the Vista activation deadline

The concept of "activation" has become familiar to computer users ever since Microsoft introduced it into the licensing for Windows XP.

After installing Windows, you have a 30-day "trial period" to either activate the product or let it lose some functionality. You can activate XP or Vista by allowing the software to contact Microsoft’s servers via your Internet connection. Or, if you’re paranoid about an automated session of this kind, you can call a phone number in various countries to receive a code to enter on your keyboard.

An activated copy of Windows is “locked” to the specific configuration that was present at activation time — motherboard, hard drive, and so forth. Changing several components, such as during a hardware upgrade, can cause Windows to complain, saying it requires reactivation.

Microsoft seems to be liberal about providing new activation codes to anyone who calls the telephone number and provides a plausible explanation. (My hard disk needed replacing, etc.) Don’t be afraid to try calling if a copy of Windows ever needs reactivation.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-02-15: