Windows XP Product Keys

I woke up with a stiff neck this morning, probably caused by my new gym programme. That combined with a seriously irritating laptop forces me to sit very still and write another rant.

Trevor, my local landlord wants a laptop. In fact since moving to St Mellion about 3 months ago, three people have approached me about laptops. Not a problem really, I like setting them up for people and sourcing them from Ebay. Anyway, I found a nice IBM T23 complete with a Windows XP Professional license. Hit the “Buy it Now” button and a few days later received Trevor’s laptop.

Then the problems started. First off, the XP installation on it was crap. With no software installed, (that I could see), the system was using 15GB of the 20GB available. No problem, I have a product key on a Microsoft sticker attached to the bottom of the laptop. Time for a trash and rebuild. All went well until the XP installation asked for the license key. I typed it in and the installation rejected it. No amount of rechecking the sticker made any difference, the product key remained obstinately invalid.

After a lot of Googling I eventually discovered the cause of the problem: The license key I have is for an IBM OEM version of Windows XP, not the retail version of XP on the CD I was trying to use. So here I am with a fully licensed laptop and no means to install XP on it. In the end I got fed up and used my own retail license key which worked with no problem. The issue now of course is that every laptop I buy is likely to end up needing my personal key. Much of this and bloody Microsoft are likely to fire a trojan at me to declare my license invalid.

I mean, for fucks sake Microsoft you are supposed to be encouraging people to correctly license their software, not making it so bloody difficult that people give up trying to be honest! I don’t want an IBM OEM installation, it has all sorts of crap in it that I don’t want or need, not to mention that I’d have to buy it! I’ve purchased a genuine license and think I should be entitled to use it.

The purpose of this laptop is for Trevor to put his business accounts on it. The more I think about it, the more tempted I become to strip XP off it and install Debian Linux with Open Office. This will do far more than Trevor (or most other users) will ever need and it doesn’t require any stupid product keys or activation. This reaction also makes me feel like I’ve raised two fingers in the direction of Redmond in defiance of their stupid, arrogant business practices.

To round off my rant: I think things are bad now but they are destined to get far worse. I just found this blog entry about Vista:

A sneaky change in Windows licensing terms by ZDNet‘s Ed Bott — Microsoft just released the licensing agreements for Windows Vista, and I read them carefully. Buried in the fine print is a dramatic change in licensing terms from the Windows XP versions. Think you can transfer a retail Windows license to any machine you want? Think again.

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