Microsoft Relaxes Windows XP Activation Rules

Under Windows XP Service Pack 3, customers won't need to enter product keys for each copy of the OS during setup.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

January 3, 2008

2 Min Read

Businesses or individuals who install the latest version of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system on their computers will have more time to register the product under new rules published by the software maker.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 steals a page from Windows Vista's product activation model, meaning that product keys for each copy of the OS don't need to be entered during setup. Instead, users will have 30 days to enter the keys to prevent the software from deactivating, according to a newly posted document on Microsoft's Web site.

The feature should prove popular with corporate IT managers, who often need to oversee hundreds, or even thousands, of operating system installations. Microsoft requires the entry of product keys in its software to ensure that customers are using genuine copies.

A final version of Windows XP SP3 is expected to be available early this year.

Beyond the extended activation period, Windows XP SP3 offers a number of enhancements over the current version of the OS. It includes all updates issued since Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released in 2004, and some new elements.

Among them: A feature called Network Access Protection that's borrowed from the newer Windows Vista operating system. NAP automatically validates a computer's "health", ensuring that it's free of bugs and viruses, before allowing it access to a network.

Windows XP SP3 also includes improved "black hole" router detection -- a feature that automatically detects routers that are silently discarding packets. In XP SP3, the feature is turned on by default, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft recently released to the public a downloadable, nearly final "Release Candidate" version of the software.

Software vendors usually issue a release candidate when they're close to producing a final version of a product or update. It provides a last chance for users to weigh in before the final version is released to manufacturing.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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