Activation Hell

People used to ask me “Why do you use Linux on your desktop?” Now they ask me “Why do you like Apple?” Here’s why:

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of Microsoft, there is a person who’s sole responsibility is to make other people miserable. After dealing with Windows XP activation for the last few days, I know this must be true.

In my spare time I’m reloading Windows on some old Dell GX280s that are being placed in a computer lab. This should be a no-brainer. Load the OS, install antivirus, download 85 updates, install Office, and you’re done.

This would be the case if it weren’t for one simple step – online activation. The first two I reloaded worked perfectly. The online activation happened almost instantly. Things went south on the third system. Online activation failed.


It’s not like I’m a pirate. These are Dell systems with the original Certificates of Authenticity stickers still attached. Now I get to call Microsoft.

Step one, read 54 numbers to a computer. Step two, answer a few personal questions. Here’s a hint: you’ve installed this copy of XP on one computer, and yes you have upgraded hardware. Step three, type in 54 different numbers as the computer reads them back to you.

Thankfully I’m only doing 5 of these. I feel sorry for whichever one of my employees gets to do the other 45…

2 thoughts on “Activation Hell”

  1. Who knows. I just left it running on the desk behind me. I’m guessing an hour or so. What’s bad is when you get infected with a virus before you can even get the updates downloaded. I got lucky this time.

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