September 13, 2010

Windows 7 Activation problems and how MS hung up on me

I get the 3 user family pack . . . in fact, I get two just in case I want to upgrade my HTPC boxes. I install Windows 7 on my two office computers and all is well. Then one of my HTPC boxes dies and the Core 2 Duo it had was faster than the one on my main machine so I decide to switch it. Windows 7 box wants to activate again. I go ahead and let it knowing I probably lost one of three activations for the first family pack and now I don’t have any left. As for the HTPC WinXP box, well, it didn’t try to activate after the processor change and it turned out to be the video card. Side note on PC Troubleshooting 101 for computers that previously worked fine: 1) new power supply, 2) hard drive?? 3) new video card, 4) motherboard is dead.

Fast forward 5 months and that same machine dies. Hard drive issues. A month or two before I decided it’s time for a new PC and already started ordering parts. The Win7 family pack is for upgrades only so officially I can’t use it on this new machine. I know one of my XP licenses are the full version while others are the OEM versions. I have no idea what computers have what licenses but the OEM version is tied to a motherboard (or other hardware) while the full versions allows you to move to a new computer if you wipe it off the old computer.

ANYWAY . . . I don’t have a full time job now and I can’t go and buy Windows 7 too even if technically I should. I mean, I already have it! I spent $300 when it first came out because the family pack was for a limited time! And my “upgrade” was an $88 Core i3, an $88 Gigabyte motherboard, $88 for 4GB of RAM (Fry’s was having a sale) and $180 for an X-25 80 GB drive from Newegg.

Wow, this is going way longer than I thought and I haven’t even gotten to the good part.

So I go to activate Win7 on my new machine and the online activation fails (I used my instructions from an earlier post about installing on a new computer). I knew it! So then I make the dreaded phone call and read in all those numbers. The automated lady kindly tells me I’m breaking the rules . . . and then she hangs up on me!!! I was furious and that’s why I started this post.

I called back. I didn’t read in any numbers and just tapped on 0 until the nice robot asked me if I needed help and gave me the option to talk to a real person. I get a real person, read her all the numbers and she tells me a new group to type in. No questions asked!!!! I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I guess the pirates don’t have the persistence to keep calling in!

And, no, I’m not a pirate. I also bought an OEM Windows 7 Home that day for $88 too. I couldn’t pass it up. But I didn’t have to use it it this time. And next time I have an issue I’m going to use the Family Pack DVD to do the install but use the OEM number just to see if that works! I always hated that there was 50 versions of XP and you had to use the right install disk.