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Repair Computer, Repurchase OS?

Cliff posted more than 6 years ago | from the doesn't-sound-fair-does-it dept.

The Courts 453

An anonymous reader asks: "Recently, I have been bit by a computer repair on an e-Machines computer that involved a system board replacement. Though this was strictly a repair, not an upgrade, neither MS or e-Machines will provide for activation of the system. Why should a user have to purchase another copy of XP after repairing a computer? The system board is listed on the e-Machines website, but costs 4x what an off-the-shelf board with the same chip-set/capabilities costs, and furthermore is not actually available. The e-Machines rep even said repurchasing XP was my only option. This seems to me patently unfair and of questionable legality. Is it possible that there are enough disgruntled consumers bit by this problem to generate a class-action lawsuit?"

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Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (5, Informative)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828882)

Seriously, have you talked to Microsoft yet? I've had the same or similar problems in the past, and had no trouble getting a new key issued. Just call them up. They might surprise you.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17828996)

Ditto. It's easy and takes around 15 minutes - call the 800 number that the activation screen presents to you, put in the number that it gives you, wait for it to say it cannot activate it and for it to bring on a real person for further help, explain what happened and they'll provide you a number for that. Works like a charm for me.

Easy compared to what? (5, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829286)

When you say it's "easy", are you aware that previous versions of Windows didn't even need a special key that depended on hardware, and that you didn't need to call Microsoft to ask "can I please install the copy of Windows I purchased from you a couple of years ago?" only to be interrogated about why you need a new key.

I'm sure it's easy relative to what they could put you through, but can we please be absolute when using the word "easy"? Especially when Microsoft have gone out of their way to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Re:Easy compared to what? (2, Informative)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829696)

>>but can we please be absolute when using the word "easy"?

Actually, speaking absolutely, it *is* easy. Relatively speaking (in relation to how we think it should be) is when it becomes difficult.

Re:Easy compared to what? (3, Insightful)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829732)

You cannot be absolute with a relative word. The use of the word "easy" is an opinion and thus relative to the one making that opinion. I'm not a fan of Microsoft, but can we please not berate the grandparent for his use of the word "easy" when you obviously want to attribute it to a state of absolute that the word itself cannot attain.

Meaning. . . . Get over it.

Re:Easy compared to what? (4, Insightful)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829928)

Not only that but what about hearing-impaired people like me who find the phone an aggravation and want to be able to do it all online because it's a lot easier to read than it is to listen? Why can't we use the OS' automated activation tools? Why are we in some cases forced to call?

Seems to me like someone might have a good ADA case here -- why should I not be allowed to use something legally purchased because I am forced to jump through hoops that I can't jump through because of a physical disability? To me, this is as bad as a failure to install a wheelchair ramp.

Re:Easy compared to what? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829948)

You could always use an intermediary teletype operator.

Re:Easy compared to what? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830126)

Plus, the windows activation screen provides you with a TTY number to call if you are deaf.

Re:Easy compared to what? (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830010)

First, your comment is irrelevant.

Second, such actions would not be necessary if people didn't make illegal, unauthorized copies of software to use, sell, trade, or give away. Perhaps if people were more honest, such things would not be necessary. Personally, I find it funny that anyone complains, as such things have been going on since the early 80s.

Re:Easy compared to what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830196)

Isn't it great that the dishonest people with the pirated copies never have to worry about their activation keys? It's just the folks that do things the right way that get hosed.

Re:Easy compared to what? (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830204)

Second, such actions would not be necessary if people didn't make illegal, unauthorized copies of software to use, sell, trade, or give away. Perhaps if people were more honest, such things would not be necessary. Personally, I find it funny that anyone complains, as such things have been going on since the early 80s.

Perhaps we're basing our business model on a level of honesty that doesn't exist in human beings?

Re:Easy compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830138)

Have you tried it? It *IS* easy. I have had to do it as well.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829950)

Same here.

Replaced a MB on my homebuilt with the closest match available and had to call em to explain but no real problems with my XP OEM.

What exactly did MS say?

If the board is so much, would another board and another OEM XP be cheaper. Not that i believe it is needed. Replacing it with the nearest match available really should be enough.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (4, Informative)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829258)

Agreed. Talk to them. What does the OP have to lose?

In fact I recently had a pretty identical case to the original poster's query. A friend's e-machine had a blown mobo + processor due to a faulty PSU. I changed the parts across, booted, hit the product activation, phoned the Freephone support number and I didn't even need to speak to a person - the IVR system doled out a new activation code with no hassle.

Admittedly, if the activation hadn't gone as planned I'd just have dug out my VLK edition and performed an in-place upgrade...


Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829268)

I deal with this frequently.

Try to activate online
When it rejects and gives you the phone number, call it
Enter the confirmation ID

When you finally get someone from Bangladesh on the phone, they will ask if this is the first time it's been activated, and how many computers it's been installed on.

REGARDLESS of what work you've done, tell them "It's a reinstall after a virus infection.. This is the only machine it's installed on"

They'll give you a long ass number to punch in, and you're done.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829358)

You're right.

The article poster might want to refer to this page on computer repair [] , which covers the OEM license. Generally, Microsoft will not require a new OS license for a motherboard replacement that is truly a replacement (i.e., same OEM/model). If you're trying to replace the box with a non-OEM motherboard, you're hosed, because this is not in compliance with the OEM license agreement, which is different from the retail EULA.

If you're replacing with the same/equivalent OEM motherboard, then just state immediately that the repair/upgrade was made in compliance with the OEM EULA right away, as this will save you a lot of time and hassle.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829780)

On the other hand for retail windows, you should be able to. I know I've done MB replacements and reactivated via phone call.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829614)

You're right. I replaced a hard drive, motherboard, ram, sound, and graphics card on one system, and all I had to do was call them and say, "No, my copy of XP is not installed on any other system" and they game me a reactivation code.

My copy of XP isn't OEM though, which may be an issue...Still, that's about as big an upgrade as you can get and they didn't even blink.

Re:Have you actually talked to Microsoft? (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829662)

I built an entirely new PC after a motherboard fried on an older HP Pavilion. I attempted to use the license key stuck on the side of the fried HP, but the OS would not activate. I called the telephone number that the OS presented on the activation failure screen and was connected to tech support in India, who were very helpful. I simply needed to tell them that the OS was no longer on the old PC and they issued me a new activation key over the phone.

BTW, I did not tell them that it was a new PC...I stated that I just replaced the motherboard since I wasn't sure how they would react, but honestly, I had the license and it was no longer in use so I felt that the request for the new key was justified. In fact, I think MS agrees...which is why the have a NEW policy for Vista - you are allowed to transfer the OS to a new PC (or motherboard) once...and then you are done...time for a new license. Blech. One of the many reasons to stick with XP as long as possible.

exactly... (1)

vena (318873) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829728)

From MS's MPA FAQ [] :

Can I change or upgrade my hardware components?

MPA can tolerate some change in hardware components by allowing a degree of difference between the current hash value and the hash value that was originally activated. Users can change hardware components without having to reactivate the product. If users make substantial changes to their hardware components, even over long periods of time, they may have to reactivate the product. In that case, users may have to contact a Microsoft customer service representative by telephone to reactivate.

all it takes is a phone call.

FUD (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17828898)

Call the 800 # (free) and talk to the outsourced individual and request an activation key.

Re:FUD (2, Informative)

notanatheist (581086) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829064)

in the US it is 888-571-2048. I think. Haven't had to dial it today yet so no phone in front of me. When the stupid recording is done talking press '0'. Tell the beehotch to "transfer you anyway" so you can get a live person from India. Be very up front about the process and take no slack. Give them th 42 digits a nice firm 6 at a time so they can understand you. Before they ask you anything tell them it is the only PC it is on and you have to activate because you replaced the motherboard. They will sometimes ask again what you just told them. Whatever info you give them up front will typically reduce the other stupid questions like them asking what kind of computer it is, where did you buy it, what is the 25 character product key, etc.. Keep in mind they have no idea what your system is and what stores there are to buy from so if you get those questions you can answer any way you like. Name of computer? PEBKAC. Store? JoMommas. Simple as that. I have to do it nearly everyday with the number of computers I repair.

IIRC.... (4, Funny)

Churla (936633) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828900)

If I recall correctly there are ways to get around this by calling actual MS support. Usually this involves being the "bullying customer" some. But they will do an over the phone registration. I had to do this when I had to replace the MB in my mother-in-laws computer.

P.S. - This should also blossom into a beautiful flame war, I would recommend hot cocoa with marshmallows for viewing it.

Re:IIRC.... (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829404)

And yet you might not succeed as none one flaming has actually called MS and *not* gotten an activation key LOL.

But, cocoa and marshmallows sounds good to me. I'll join you.

how many are we talking of? (0, Redundant)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828916)

That's an interesting question. Do we know how such repair cases exist? A class action presupposes a large number of people and that's one bit of data one would need.

increments (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828918)

Has other hardware for that machine been replaced in the past? Apparently MS will allow you to replace one or two major components before considering it to be a "different computer". Maybe the HD was switched a few months or years ago?

Yeah, I know it's stupid.

Re:increments (4, Informative)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829202)

My current XP license was originally installed on this:

Intel D850MD motherboard
Intel Pentium 4 2.2 Ghz CPU
512 MB Rambus
Radeon 7000
80 GB Western Digital HDD

I then replaced the motherboard with a Soyo P4S Dragon Ultra (or something like that) and bought generic DDR RAM.
Then I bought a GeForce 5200 FX
When my motherboard's AGP port got flaky, I replaced it with a Soyo P4S-D
Then I added an Adaptec 1200A and two Seagate 120 MB HDDs on RAID 0 and reinstalled my OS on them
When my 5200FX was damaged by THAT AGP port getting flaky, I bought an Abit IC7-MaxIII and went with a different Radeon 7000 due to budget constraints.
I finally got around to getting a better CPU--a P4 3.0E and switched to high-end Corsair RAM.
Then I bought a Radeon X850 Pro as the last semi-high-end component to go in this system prior to a planned upgrade and switch to Vista this summer.

Some time In there I replaced my optical drives with a DVD+-RW, and several small hard drives have been in and out to back up data as I changed partitioning schemes twice.

I've had to call MS three times to have the license reactivated. All three times I've explained that I was replacing bad components or upgrading various things, and all three times they've not given me any grief on reactivation. The anonymous submitter is either doing something wrong, is clueless, or is trolling.

Re:increments (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829582)

You've only had to call for permission three times to use your own computer?


I can see why people like Microsoft so much!

Re:increments (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830044)

*rolls eyes*

All things considered, it's a minor inconvenience. It takes longer to download and isntall OpenOffice than it does to call MS to get Windows reactivated. I know this because on my last reinstall that's exactly what I did...start OOo downloading and call at the same time. Multitasking ftw.

Re:increments (3, Insightful)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829206)

Well, since many motherboards also supply your network and video IDs then a MB swap changes quite a few "major components" as far as XPs key checker is concerned.

Re:increments (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829692)

video (possibly, even if "off")
hdd controller

Re:increments (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829568)

WindowsXP assigns a kind of point system to various aspects of your system, allowing certain components to be weighted as more significant changes than others. From what I recall, even the more mundane things like sound card, network card, and memory were counted in this. If you go beyond a certain threshold value, it requires reactivation as it considers it a new PC.

Thing with switching motherboards is, most motherboards now have a bunch of stuff built on that would really increase their score. Onboard video, audio, LAN ports, just to name a few things. These likely were collectively enough to go over the limit.

And yes, it is stupid. It should be something where you can reactivate it as much as you like using your CD key, and just have previous activations disable if they feel the need to protect themselves. Would be so much less of a hassle for most legitimate customers, and not be any less secure for MS vs crackers.

Re:increments (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829638)

a new system board can have alot of major components on it that are differnt then a older one.

They have no way of knowing. (3, Informative)

phorest (877315) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828930)

They simply have no way of knowing.

That's always a problem with OEM OS loads.This Quick Reference [] Should clear up some issues for those who are not already aware.

I always figure in a new OEM copy whenever a board goes. You'll waste more time than is neccessary to try to save $139.00, but you saved a lot of money buying that replacement board from NewEgg [] . It sucks but other than sending it to (in this case EMachines) neither Microsoft -or- EMachines have no idea what happened to your hardware that your OEM OS is tied to.

eMachines (1, Interesting)

eric76 (679787) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828938)

I'm having serious doubts about eMachines computers.

I know two people who lost their power supplies within a couple of weeks of each other. In one case, the failure of the power supply apparently wiped out the motherboard and in the other case, the failur eof the power supply appears to have wiped out the CPU.

I'm not at all sure that it is worth replacing the motherboard or CPU.

I appreaciate learning this because it certainly increases the cost of getting it back up and running.

Cheap PSUs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829478)

I run a PC repair shop in the UK and I get 1-2 eMachines PCs a week with either a dead PSU or a dead mobo & PSU (the PSU dies and takes the mobo with it). Fortunately the rest of the unit (RAM, CPU and drives) are usually still functional.

Re:eMachines (5, Funny)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829560)

I'm having serious doubts about eMachines computers.

Really? You are having doubts about the quality of one of the least expensive computers on the market???? I'm shocked. Totally shocked. I would have never expected in a million years that the quality of such a low-priced, low-end machine wasn't very good....

I think you should immediately turn over the machine to the Geek Squad, and pay them big bucks to tell you that, indeed, the eMachine is a pile of crap. Those guys know. They are experts after all...

What? Was that a little too sarcastic?

Re:eMachines (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829758)

Shrug. I came to the conclusion years ago that, if you were able to build your own computer, you would be crazy not to. I've used nothing but custom builds for the last 8 years or so, and I wouldn't switch back for anything.

You end up taking the shaft even from working with a high end desktop from an industry leader. I got so tired of buying high end Dell's for 4,000 a pop, and then having them be a big non-upgradable paperweight 3 years later...All the internal mounts on their cases are proprietary, power supply, motherboard...hell, you can switch pci cards and that's about it. Pathetic.

On the other hand, a nice 150 dollar Antec case is good for years, and you can put any damn motherboard/power supply in it, no trouble at all, and when all the components are standards compliant, you can switch out whatever part you want and it's no big deal. New motherboard/processor without upgrading a single other piece of the machine? No problem.

Re:eMachines (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830072)

True that. My $90 Antec case is now 8 years old and has the original power supply. Everything else just came and went: 2 motherboards (think also CPU, RAM), 2 hard drives, 3 graphics cards. It's big and heavy, but it saved me a heap of money for being a pretty decent gaming rig that it is.

Re:eMachines (1)

Laur (673497) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829700)

And I have two eMachines which have been happily plugging away for years now. The plural of anecdote is not data.

Re:eMachines (1)

uredahdee (1058096) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830108)

I work in a computer repair shop (member of the OEM network) and lost my confidence in eMachines about half a year into the job. I have encountered this problem more than I care to account for and even a "bullying customer" or "I happen to work as part of the OEM network" seems to generally fail. No doubt it has worked at times, but easiest way to avoid this is to put a little bit of money into the computer, and (as a result) skip eMachines. They seem to use cheap parts and I think their tech-support is lacking...

E-Machines PS kill mobos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830178)

I've seen way too many E-Machines with dead mobos but apparently-working power supplies. Put in another mobo and within a month it will die.

Don't be fooled. When an E-Machines mobo dies the power supply can't be trusted.

Re:eMachines (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830306)

That happened to my girlfriend's sister. She had an eMachines. One night, the computer just wouldn't turn on. She brought the computer to me first to see if she would have to take it to Best Buy, and as far as I could tell, it was either the mobo or the PSU.

So after hearing that, she takes it in to Geek Squad, hears the exact same thing I told her, and then is told that it would cost over $300 just to replace the mobo. She ends up paying $40 to have them transfer the files off of her hard drive (which was still usable) and buys another eMachines.

Activate with windows... (0, Redundant)

ssand (702570) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828950)

I assume by activation you mean windows activation. In this case you have to go through Microsoft, not eMachines. If you can't activate online, and you haven't tried already, do the phone activation. Having reactivated plenty of systems for various reasons, that should do it.

Similar situation (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17828954)

I had this problem 2 months ago. It took 3 hours on the phone with Microsoft but their tech support finally gave me a new license key for my Windows XP OEM.

Re:Similar situation (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829530)

It took 3 hours on the phone with Microsoft but their tech support finally gave me a new license key for my Windows XP OEM.

I guess its possible that this is true, but I find it a bit hard to believe. I have to do this all the time and I don't think its ever taken much over 5-10 minutes. It was probably about 10 minutes the first time, but now that I know the drill its really quick.

Call for an activation code... (3, Informative)

VitrosChemistryAnaly (616952) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828964)

I've had copies of XP that MS wouldn't activate over the web. What did I do? Call the number they give you. The customer rep will ask why you need to re-activate XP. I just say that I did a reinstall. That's it. I've never had problems the 10 or so times that I've done it.

Have you actually called MS? It's pretty friggin' easy.

Re:Call for an activation code... (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830190)

Ditto, replaced 2 processors and a sound card last weekend and it took me 10 minutes.

Ask to talk to their manager (4, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828968)

It's amazing what you can get if you just bitch enough. Sometimes it's easier just to add another activation to a license to shut someone up.

I recommend.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17828972)

..Mac OS X + Parallels + XP.

corporate edition (-1, Troll)

muftak (636261) | more than 6 years ago | (#17828982)

Download the corporate edition, then you don't need to do the activation.

Purchase this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829020)


It depends.... (3, Funny)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829030)

If it was a direct replacement of the board (same model number, chipset, etc.) and the hard drive was not affected by the repairs (you didn't have to wipe the drive for some reason), you shouldn't need to reinstall the OS at all. If you installed a different board than the original, you might be SOL. If it were me, I'd plug the drive back in and boot up and see what happens. You might get lucky and everything would work fine.

Now if it's a WGA problem, that's a different story. You'll have to call Microsoft up for that one. Assuming you're not an ass when you call up, you shouldn't have much problem getting them to issue you a new key or something.

blah blah blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829034)

No, there aren't. Make a little effort and your situation will be resolved.

Been there before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829036)

Spent over an hour on the phone with msft who gave me the runaround eventually getting me nowhere until their activation center "transfered" me which ended up giving me a dead line. I was about to give up and go buy a new copy of the OS when i decided to try the dial in activation tool. Apparently this dials a separate registry that activates e-machines xp keys which msft's activation center has no access to. this got the key re-registered and the os worked fine after that. Oddly, the entire activation wizard had a fit if the modem card was pulled.

Just Do Like Everyone Else (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829066)

And pirate it of course. You'll join the ranks of 1/4 of computer users.
Seriously, is there anything morally wrong for actually using software you paid for?

Well (-1, Offtopic)

trippedn (1053468) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829074)

At least you didn't have Vista, change a mobo jumper setting and you gotta buy a new license :sarcasm:

Read your license agreement. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829084)

You should do whatever your license agreement says you should do.

If you can't understand your license agreement, get a lawyer to help you read it.

If you don't like what it says, get a different OS vendor.

And please don't mod me down for trolling - it really is important for people to understand the licenses for the stuff they buy - otherwise groups like the RIAA can walk all over everyone. If people started taking EULAs seriously and tried to understand them, more companies would start using reasonable EULAs.

Re:Read your license agreement. (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830186)

I didn't know that EULA's were binding contracts.

Time for a new computer (3, Insightful)

SeaSolder (979866) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829088)

So, if the replacement MoBo costs about 4x what other boards cost, then it is likely in the multiple-hundreds of dollars to replace the thing. My suggestion would tell eMachines to go to "the hot place downstairs", and purchase a new computer from one of the larger manufacturers. You can get them relatively inexpensively, and hey, you could even get one loaded with that abomination called Vista! On another note, you could also repair the computer, and use it to play around with Linux. I have noticed though, that a number of the budget manufacturers don't even include recovery disks with their computers, but rather they have a "recovery partition" on the hard drive. So this is all well and good, until the HD crashes, and your recovery partition is gone. I suppose this is just another case of "You get what you pay for".

Re:Time for a new computer (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829762)

Way pay $300 - $500 for a new lowend system or more for a good system when all you need is a $50 - $150 MB?
your old system may have more ram then new one and the new one may use differnt ram that you can move over form the old one. DDR2 is not that much faster then DDR1 and 1gb - 2gb of ram is faster then havening 512mb.
your old system may have a big IDE HD that is bigger then what comes with a newer lowend system and the newer system may only have 1 ide port that is being used by the cd / dvd drive.
your old system may have a good AGP card and new low end one may only have a pci-e slot and lowend on board video.

Re:Time for a new computer (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829898)

The recovery partitions typically come with a method for producing a reinstall CD for just that very problem. Obviously, you need to generate the CD before anything happens though. Scummily, they don't exactly go out of their way to let you know about this feature. It's in the manual, but not exactly in large print under a sticker demanding you run it before anything else.

Just pirate it (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829092)

It's less work.

Re:Just pirate it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829976)

Unethical behaviour by one party does not justify reciprocation by taking illegal measures. Or put another way, although I know it sounds cliche, two wrongs do not make a right.

And yeah... it can often be hard work to do the right thing, and we might feel hard done by when someone does wrong by us, but who ever said life was fair?

Re:Just pirate it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830354)

It isn't wrong to make any reasonable use of something you bought. End of story. As for what constitutes reasonable use, common sense should apply. Ethical is surprisingly rarely coincident with legal.

Only Old People Repair Computers Now (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829100)

Your case illustrates all too clearly why it is pointless to repair a computer that you didn't build yourself anymore. In the case of eMachines, I would guess that the OS license is explicitly tied to eMachines hardware only. In other words, you would have had to send the machine to eMachines for repairs. They probably would have ended up replacing the whole thing, if they accepted it at all. If they refused then you're just stuck buying a brand new machine or as it looks like you'll have to do, buy a new copy of Windows XP. Any cost savings of self repair of a box built by a 3rd party like eMachines or Dell, is killed by licensing and software activation.

If you have the time/money, sure go for the class action lawsuit. If not, see if you can pick up an OEM/System Builder copy of XP.

Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829104)

Either get a key from the web or install Linux, Its your PC, you can do what you want with it.

MS and or e-machines would come off in a bad light if they tried to sue you for a key of your choosing...

Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829108)

Just another OEM thorn in your side. -Verte

Solution can be found here: (-1, Flamebait)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829122)

You can find a solution(s) to your problem at one or more
of the following locations: [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

Added to bypass the stupid slashdot lameness filter which apparently doesn't like a post full of links. WTF is wrong with the
stupid lameness filter? Jeez, what does it want, for us to type paragraphs of meaningless drivel just to get past the lameness filter?
Sheeesh. OK, this is really stupid. Why don't ajfajf al;djal a fa fa lkdf jaa fal ja;ljf af af ajf;lajf alfjalf a fjal;fjafl; jaflakjf af;laj
jalkfaj fjf af af fajjjajal jajfa f afjdlakej2233 2235t2352 dsfalkfjal f 222j2 afdkja f23 2 2 2t2352322 233252352 2323232.

Re:Solution can be found here: (1)

jacksonic (914470) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829150)

Perhaps there's a reason why long posts full of links are considered lame...

Re:Solution can be found here: (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829250)

Perhaps there's a reason why long posts full of links are considered lame...







only understands

the notion

of characters

per line

but doesn't

understand the

semantics of the

text it's

looking at.

Note: Added to bypass the lameness filter, 235 2 235 fjadlskjf 23 k2ql4 `csdf ja;lfja d-a faqkl;c `qKWERJU`Q2-3R` LDKSJ L;DKJ2Q

Re:Solution can be found here: (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830174)

Anyone else find it ironic that the person giving the smartass "change your OS" answer,
totally misses the sarcasm of the "Perhaps there's a reason why long posts full of links are considered lame..." response?

Re:Solution can be found here: (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829262)

I dunno, I think the lameness filter caught that one pretty well.

This issue had NOTHING to do with choice of OS. It only had to do with Windows and what could be done about hardware-change-invalidation of it.

I love Linux. If it played all my Windows games, Kubuntu would be the only OS on my system. But that has nothing to do with this issue.

Re:Solution can be found here: (1)

Skewray (896393) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829310)

My Windows computer does not come with Snake. Nor Robot. How lame!

Re:Solution can be found here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829306)

As much as I like open-source operating systems, it's not a solution if you have windows applications that you want to run. When (if?) WINE or ReactOS ever get to the point where they can run all the major applications then there will be no reason to use Windows anymore but not before.

Re:Solution can be found here: (2, Insightful)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829462)

I had exactly the same problem with my emachine and instead of going through all the headaches I had a coworker burn me a copy of SUSE.

Re:Solution can be found here: (0, Flamebait)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829570)

Flamebait? LOL, /. mods are on crack again. The OP obviously has issues with the MS product activation policies... one solution is to switch to an OS that does not have such policies. You may disagree with the choice of any particular option I mentioned, but to say that pointing out that he has options - other than sticking with XP - is hardly "flamebait."

Have you stopped beating your wife yet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829190)

Why should a user have to purchase another copy of XP after repairing a computer?
Doesn't that question pre-suppose that anyone should ever purchase XP at all? If your very premise is that dealing with Microsoft isn't stupid, then all resulting conclusions are going to be weird.

Not an activation issue (5, Informative)

Joe5678 (135227) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829260)

Judging from all the people telling him to get a new activation key from Microsoft, the summary isn't very clear, but this guys problem isn't an activation issue (I think). It's the fact that his OEM Windows disc will not load because it's now detecting that it's not an e-machines computer anymore. e-machines is the problem here.

Re:Not an activation issue (3, Interesting)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829540)

You're probably right, but he's still not completely out of luck. If he can get his hands on a Windows XP disc that's the same version (ie Home/Pro, same SP number included, etc) as what was originally installed, he should be able to use the OEM key included with the machine to get Windows installed. He'll then have to call Microsoft and tell them the hard drive went bad, mainboard was replaced, etc, and he should have a fully functional standalone Windows XP installation.

Vis-a-vis the licensing, Microsoft can blow it out their ass. You purchase a license to run Windows XP when you buy the system, meaning you've paid money to Microsoft. Microsoft can throw all the legalese garbage into the EULA that they like and a court will tell them just where to stick it if they try going after someone doing what I just described above.

Re:Not an activation issue (4, Informative)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829964)

You're probably right, but he's still not completely out of luck. If he can get his hands on a Windows XP disc that's the same version (ie Home/Pro, same SP number included, etc) as what was originally installed, he should be able to use the OEM key included with the machine to get Windows installed. He'll then have to call Microsoft and tell them the hard drive went bad, mainboard was replaced, etc, and he should have a fully functional standalone Windows XP installation.
Actually, it's even easier than that. All he needs do is get his hands on an OEM disk for whatever version of XP he has a key for (most likely XP Home). XP install keys differentiate only between Home, Pro, or Media Center, and then between OEM or Retail. Nothing else matters. I work at a PC repair shop, and I've reinstalled WinXP on Dells, HPs, Compaqs, Emachines, and more very often. I use the same disks for all of them, unless the customer happens to have the disks (or restore partion on the hard drive) provided them by the manufacturer.

When it comes to activation, it will most likely tell you that your product key is invalid. I'm not sure exactly why (my best guess is that they use some kind of generic volume key when they install it the first time), but all you need to is click the "Telephone" button, hit the drop-down menu for your country, and then dial the toll-free number provided. (1-888-571-2048 for USA) You'll get an automated system that blathers on until it finally says "ok, let's get started." At this point, hit 0 on your phone (the system will tell you something like "I see you would like to talk to a representative blah blah blah"), then hit 1. This will connect you to a live human (in India I believe) who can talk more or less plain English, and at any rate understands the numbers you tell them a great deal better than the automated system does. They'll ask you for the first 6 numbers, tell you they need a few seconds to validate it, then they'll ask you some questions. (What software are you activating today? Is this the first time you are activating this software? On how many other computers is this software installed?) After one or two of these questions they'll ask you for the rest of the numbers (you don't need to read the first 6 again). Then they'll say they need a few seconds to validate those, and ask you a couple of the questions (which may or may not be the exact same questions they asked you 30 seconds earlier). Then they'll read off the confirmation numbers 3 at a time, which you'll type in the boxes, and that's pretty much it.

Re:Not an activation issue (2, Informative)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829820)

You may have a point - although what was said above is still worth a try. The e-machine [] I had in received an OEM board - and changed processor architecture (Celeron -> Socket 939 AMD). However I just booted the machine up "to see what would happen" - to my surprise after an extra few minutes of thrashing the disc, the machine was up and asking for reactivation.

If it had required a rebuild, I may have looked at my 7-in-1 disc or the VLK edition, but as it happened no reinstallation was necessary - XP recovered itself sufficiently.

However I concede the point that you usually need to do an in-place upgrade when changing such a major part of your hardware environment.


Re:Not an activation issue (2, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830192)

Yep. A good number of people don't seem to grasp that by getting Windows pre-loaded, they've not purchased a Windows license, their manufacturer has, ergo why it is tied to the specific hardware and you don't get an install disk, you get a "recovery" disk, if anything at all. You can't "RE-purchase the OS" if you never really purchased it in the first place.

I wish they'd give the option of OEM install or blank system with retail box version, but nooooo, rather than your first act of ownership being spending an hour installing the OS, you end up spending an hour UN-installing all the crappy OEM bullshit, trialware and advertising.

Try this... (1)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829360)

Recently our office built a bunch of new computers from new parts and purchased OEM copies of Windows from the hardware vendor for them. Several of the motherboards turned out to be faulty, so we had to replace them. In some cases, validation worked without any problems despite the hardware change.

For the computers which, inexplicably, failed validation after replacement, a simple call to Microsoft explaining the situation was all that was required to reactivate the OS.

I can't see why they'd be giving you such a hard time.

Repair shops have this problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829362)

I used to work for a name-brand computer store.

When someone brought in a warranty repair and the original motherboard wasn't available we put in one "at least as good" as the original from our store inventory.

We installed a fresh copy of Windows with a new key.

I have no idea how they handled the billing but Microsoft was cool with it.

fuck that noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829498)

Juarez can provide what you seek.

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829534)

Replaced Mobo, CPU and RAM on an emachines box for a relative, then XP refused to re-activate. I file this under "NOT MY PROBLEM". People need to stop paying the extortion gangs, we should all invoice emachines/Microsoft for the time we wasted and reimbursement of the original OEM XP.

More recently I outright refuse to deal with MS or their products.

You are screwed.. (5, Informative)

daniel422 (905483) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829546)

I just went through this fiasco while repairing a mobo failure on an HP Media Center PC. As with most OEM PCs these days it came pre-installed with everything and featured only a recovery disk (disc image) for system restore. Changing, upgrading, or altering many of the components onboard (particularly the motherboard) will result in this disk becoming useless. If you read Microsoft's ifo regarding OEM distributions -- they are totally OK with this. THe OEM is only required to provide a recovery disk that lives and dies with the computer (which is practically defined as the motherboard). The OEM install and recovery disks are keyed to some identifier in the motherboard, which requires some hacking to use. I wound up purchasing a new OEM version of Media Center (since they don't make a regular version) from NewEgg and reinstalling everything.
I was pretty pissed. I felt like I had paid for this OS in the first place, I should have the right to reinstall it as necessary -- from hardware changes/failures/upgrades/whatever. It turns out you don't with most OEMs. A recovery disk is all they are required to provide.
Here's the link to the forum over at (Windows Media Center site) that tells my tail of woe and what I learned. x []
Basically, you're screwed without at least on OEM copy of Windows. Then you can at least hack it. If all you've got is a recovery disk than you are hosed. THe same goes for all software that is preinstalled on your drive. You got Word preinstalled? And you changed your mobo? Whoops--it's a new computer now! No software/OS for you!
I'd love to hear if someone's challenged this in court -- it seems pretty anti-consumer, although I'm sure OEMs save a ton of money and hassle with recovery disks....

If you swapped the exact same chipset, then... (2, Informative)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829554)

If you had the board swapped with one that has the exact same chipset then Windows would not have picked up the change in motherboard. I have done this to many Emachines, Dells, and HPs. Sometimes I built them a whole new system, just same OEM license. Hell, the OEM license says that if the motherboard is defective, you don't have to buy a new license. In all those cases, the boards were defective and required a rebuild of the system. I never had to call MS to get a new activation key, not yet at least. Chances are what you have is an Intel chipset which are VERY picky if you swap the boards out without wanting to reinstall the OS. THe motherboard has to have the exact same chipset in order for XP to boot and not recognize the motherboard swap.

Re:If you swapped the exact same chipset, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17829630)

Emachines installs are bios locked, you'd need an identical mobo and their custom bios firmware.

It just completely sucks.

Re:If you swapped the exact same chipset, then... (2, Insightful)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829682)

I have had no hassles upgrading my machine after numerous hardware upgrades. In fact i bought my OEM XP and the only hardware I have the same is my FDD. In order to buy an OEM I just had to purchase "hardware" I just told MS customer support I bought my XP with my FDD. Sure XP balks at the install the first time, I ring MS and I got the long ass code every time hassle free.

Gee... (2, Funny)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829704)

I've never had this problem with Linux. Maybe this is Microsoft's way of suggesting that it's time to take the leap...

Re:Gee... (0, Flamebait)

singingjim (957822) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829848)

That's great advice. Not! You couldn't be any less helpful if you were an idiot fanboy. Oh...yeah...

This key thing is annoying (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829840)

It, more than anything else about MS Windows is driving me into other alternatives.

Apple offers a reasonable 5-pack "Family License" for less than the price of two installs, and they don't seem to make you jump through these hoops.

And I like Linux's pricing even better.

I'm slowly reducing the numbers of Windows PCs in my house. When each one dies of windows rot, I try to move required functionality (games, mostly) onto another PC and replace the common functionality (web browsing, music playing, writing docs, editing music, ...) onto a more appropriate platform.

I hope someone from Microsoft reads this topic--eventually if you beat them over the head with enough clues one will have to get through.

Easy. Talk to microsoft. (1)

Jarnis (266190) | more than 6 years ago | (#17829850)

This is easy to fix. Forget emachines, tell them to jump off a cliff.

Call Microsoft product activation center.

Tell them the following thing:
"I need to reactivate my copy of Windows, since I had to replace my motherboard due to a defect."

They will activate it. If neccessary, they will give you a new product key. You may have to provide your current key (off your emachines system). Complain until they do.

(confirmed to work at least in Finland. Dunno if in US they have different procedures or rules, but here by law they cannot refuse)

Of COURSE you doesn't have a problem with piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830028)

It's all about FREEDOM right? You shouldn't have to pay for anything because information WANTS to be free.

That's all. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830270)

All you have to do man, is call Microsoft and ask their permission to reinstall the software that you fucking paid them for. They'll check your hardware too, to make sure they have a deal with the manufacturer. If they don't, well, you get to pay for your software again.

I would have bought a copy of Windows XP by now, but I would rather pirate it than ask their permission every time I reinstall it or change my BIOS settings. I don't care how it works.

Especially for something as important as the OS.

I had to do that, but wasn't a big deal. (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830312)

I replaced the motherboard in my sister's computer, and had to call MS for reactivation. They asked what was up, I said I was replacing a broken motherboard, they said OK and reactivated the thing. There was nothing OEM about this, it was a purely home-built PC with a full 98SE license and XP Home upgrade. Whether I should have had to call and ask for permission is another thing, and I wasn't happy that I had to, but it was less hassle than I'd expected.

(My family doesn't seem to have any interest in talking to computer company support since they have a computer guy only 300 miles away, so I might as well give them my leftovers if they won't have anyone else service the things)

In the shop I used to work at... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17830322)

We'd take one look at the PC, one look at the motherboard replacement, see that they were identical, see that the OS wasn't installing with the appropriate key which was on the side of the PC...

Then I'd install an activation crack and be done with it.

I'm not going to spend 2 hours on hold for Microsoft to BS me about how I, as a repair technician, have to tell a customer that they, microsoft, lied and misled them.

I COULD just hand the PC to the customer and tell them they need to activate it with Microsoft, which is their responsability which technically it is. But they will come right back, like a scared animal, and start complaining about how they got assrammed without lube by MS. Or worse, they'll take their anger out on me.

Either way, I get fucked, MS gets money.

Is it a violation of the TOS? Well, here's a question; If a company sells a software package with an EULA, and that EULA states they have the right to install it on any PC or have repairs done to it by a authorized repair center with OEM hardware, and then they don't fallow through on that then technically, they are in violation of their own EULA. If Microsoft is in violation of their own software contract for failure to ensure the software can be installed, then this customer is owed some form of remedy. I realize that and work a bypass.

Am I violating the TOS? You better believe I am, but I'm also covering Microsofts scrawny ass. I'm doing everyone a favor.

They can call me up later when they do a restoration or reinstall themselves and run into the same problem, then they can connect up with microsoft and a Microsoft representantive can get yelled at and more importantly, Microsoft can look bad. That way the ass-chewing goes to the proper people with the power to do somethnig about it.

I'v got a bottom line to uphold and it's hard enough in the world of disposable PC's to make a living doing repairs; you've got to be at the top of your game. I'm not going to start telling customers "hey, the $200 work on a $600 PC is done, I attempted an OS reinstall and it turns out Microsoft has decided that you need to repurchase the OS for another $200". That's rediculous.

For the record, you'd better believe I'v refused to do installs of pirated copies of windows. I'v get people coming upto me all the time and asking if I can use this CD-key here, on this piece of paper, to do it then hand the computer back to them. That always turns into a mess; I require either the holographic sticker or booklet with CD-key. It's when they have that and it still doesn't work I begin having problems.

Warranty of Merchantibility (1)

LouisJBouchard (316266) | more than 6 years ago | (#17830364)

I have to wonder what would happen if someone took this to small claims court claiming Warranty of Merchantiblity(sp?). This is where the product is suppose to do as it is intended to do (for example, if your toaster does not make toast and the manufacturer told you to use it as a door stop, you are still entitled to you money back because the toaster did not work as a toast should work).

I know every state has laws such as this and it would be interesting to see the EULA get around them as these laws normally trump what the manufacturer states. Since small claims court is simple (and for the amount of any copy of Windows, you are well within the courts scope), maybe a test case will prove once and for all if MS can or cannot do stuff like this.
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