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Windows 8 to Feature New OEM Activation Method

By - Source: myce | B 74 comments

OEMs will no longer used the same key for every Windows PC shipped.

Several NDA-tainted slides have been leaked that reveal a new activation process used by the OEM version of Windows 8. The new product activation standard is called OEM Activation 3.0 (AKA OA 3.0), and provides benefits over the previous version used in Windows 7, OA 2.1, such as allowing OEMs to digitally order and receive product keys directly from Microsoft.

For the uninitiated, the OA process allows PC manufacturers to ship systems with Windows pre-installed and already activated so that end users aren't required to take additional activation steps when they boot up their rig for the first time. Hackers usually take advantage of the OA process to activate pirated copies of Windows using fake license keys.

However hackers now face a new challenge. The leaked slides show the difference between the OA of old, and the new system that will be used in Windows 8. To crack down on piracy, manufacturers will be required to write a unique Windows product key -- which is associated with the hardware hash -- into the system's BIOS instead of using the same product key for every shipped desktop or laptop.

The new OA system will also require OEMs to supply production reports to Microsoft, detailing their license compliance. A "Genuine Microsoft" label must also be affixed to the chassis, dumping the previous "Windows Certificate of Authenticity" sticker. Unused keys can be returned in real-time without shipping or insurance costs, according to the leaked slides.

"OA 3.0 is the new product activation standard for Microsoft, beginning with Windows 8," one slide states. "The new program enables OEMs to digitally order and receive product keys from, and report computer information to, Microsoft as well as enable activation of software on specific hardware."

In comparison, OA 2.1 allowed OEMs to write the same bypass key into the BIOS of every shipped PC. The Certificate of Authenticity was shipped from an authorized replicator and sent to the OEM's shipping address. When received, they were required to be affixed to the chassis (just like the current label). OEM's were not required to send production reports, and the RMA had limitations.

Products not eligible for OA 3.0 at launch include non-client Windows 8 products (Windows Server, Windows Embedded), and previous version of the OS including Windows 7, Vista and others. To see the additional leaked slides, head here.


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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    Ciuy , August 4, 2012 10:09 AM
    I give it one week !
  • 26 Hide
    halcyon , August 4, 2012 11:24 AM
    There are weird people out there...even those that would want to pirate Windows 8. Really? Really?
  • 26 Hide
    pjmelect , August 4, 2012 10:31 AM
    Who will bother to pirate it?
Other Comments
    Display all 74 comments.
  • 28 Hide
    Ciuy , August 4, 2012 10:09 AM
    I give it one week !
  • 18 Hide
    sasa_ri , August 4, 2012 10:26 AM
    30 days is more than enough to try and uninstall,no need for cracks :-)
  • 26 Hide
    pjmelect , August 4, 2012 10:31 AM
    Who will bother to pirate it?
  • 13 Hide
    mcvf , August 4, 2012 10:37 AM
    They do all they could to make people NOT buy their product.
  • 13 Hide
    DarkenMoon97 , August 4, 2012 10:55 AM
    I thought that PC's didn't use the same key before..
  • 18 Hide
    nitrium , August 4, 2012 10:58 AM
    I Imagine that KMS/Rearm exploits (which are almost impossible to block) will be the first methods released, followed by hacked .dll files associated with Genuine verification a it later. My guess is a "working" pirated Win8 will be available by the end of this month.
  • 13 Hide
    tiang , August 4, 2012 11:06 AM
    Should be short period of time to get the activation method. Wait and see for the miracle from the mighty hackers.
  • 26 Hide
    halcyon , August 4, 2012 11:24 AM
    There are weird people out there...even those that would want to pirate Windows 8. Really? Really?
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , August 4, 2012 11:28 AM
    DarkenMoon97I thought that PC's didn't use the same key before..

    Before they had a much simpler approach of selling a single key to the OEM. The OEM would then purchase COAs from MS that they would affix to the case of the computer, and would be used to register and track changes over time and piracy.
    This new system sounds like they will get a box of generic stickers instead of COAs, and instead of having a separate licence, activation key, and COA number, there will simply be a single # that is digitally purchased and assigned to the box which will then track the box throughout the life-cycle of the machine. This is perfectly fine for OEMs, and should actually make their jobs a little simpler on the logistics side of inventory and orders, while making the setup side a little harder. For MS this means that it will be much easier to track individual boxes, and their hardware changes over time, and if they get cash hungry then they can crack down on reactivation after upgrades and such (something that up until now they have been fairly generous with).

    I really wonder how this will work for refurbishers like the company I work for. We take old computers, and MS gives us an extremely generous discount so that we can put a fresh legal copy of Windows on the machine that is tied to us (instead of the OEM such as Dell, HP, etc.). For some machines we are just putting XP back on them, while other higher-end XP and Vista boxes are getting Win7 instead. I am sure that MS will still have some form of vehicle for us to be able to provide the service that we do, but when win8 boxes start coming our way, I wonder if we will be forced then to re-use the same OS, or if we will be able to 'downgrade' to win7.
    Personally I like win8 a lot, but the user base that we work with are quite computer illiterate and have a very difficult time moving from XP to 7 (which is essentially the same thing when it comes to web browsing and program launching). Moving from XP to 8 would be... traumatic at best. But time will tell, and I suppose this is what we have training classes for...
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2012 11:35 AM
    The first few BIOS updates will overwrite the unique product key screwing over the consumer royally.

    Then there will be malware/scareware that will overwrite the key and popup a screen saying you need to pay so much to restore.
  • -7 Hide
    drwho1 , August 4, 2012 11:38 AM
    Another reason to not get Windows 8.

    The article only talks about OEM as on when someone buys a pre built system, but but says nothing about
    the actual OEM copy of Windows 8. A huge problem about this method is that every time that a customer press the CLEAR BIOS button it will render the BIOS back to default.

    Example: while overclocking .... oh didn't work, lets try again.... etc... so when the customer finally gets back to Windows 8, will he have to REGISTER again?

    This method also apparently assumes that the customers will never upgrade their systems.

    Not that I care about this OS at all, but this is just unnecessary.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , August 4, 2012 11:58 AM
    Um... who said anything about BIOS? I mean, yes, it will be tied to BIOS (UEFI really) for the ARM devices, but the code is not kept inside of the UEFI itself. UEFI simply says 'this machine is for windows8' and then the win8 will have a code saying 'this machine requires UEFI to be a win8 device'.

    For x86, it will be more of the traditional way of hardware hash, and product registration, much like it has been sense winXP. It is only OEMs that are affected.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2012 11:59 AM
    I haven't figured out how yet, but I'm sure this somehow further screws us system administrators...

    As if Windows 7's sysprep wasn't bad enough. It seems like every new version of Windows Microsoft continues to ignore their corporate IT people and give us more and more BS that we have to work through to get our stuff to work right. With every new activation scheme I start thinking more and more about moving our systems to Linux. Especially since many of our programs are slowly being converted to web based formats...
  • 2 Hide
    memadmax , August 4, 2012 12:07 PM
    Well, it looks like meant to help OEMs streamline their Win8 process...
    But doesn't appear that it will do anything against piracy, simply because there will be end user copies of Win8 being sold that will not adhere to the tight coupling to the Bios...

    But they can dream right?
  • 4 Hide
    Movieman420 , August 4, 2012 12:10 PM
    And the hit-miss cycle continues...

    Windows 98SE - Miss
    Windows 2000 - Hit
    Windows ME - Miss
    Windows XP - Hit
    Windows Vista - BIG Miss
    Windows 7 - BIG Hit

    Oh and you can bet that Daz and all the other crackers won't stop till they get it. Windows is the crown jewel of the cracking world ofc.
  • -7 Hide
    Sakkura , August 4, 2012 12:14 PM
    The much more important question is whether Microsoft will officially allow people to install OEM Windows 8 on homebuilt systems, something that isn't allowed with Windows 7. If so, that could speed the adoption of Windows 8 among enthusiast a LOT, if the huge price difference between OEM and retail versions remains.
  • 0 Hide
    KelvinTy , August 4, 2012 12:35 PM
    Please tell me reinstalling wouldn't be a pain in the ass, but I guess not...
  • 8 Hide
    drwho1 , August 4, 2012 1:14 PM
    shafe88Wouldn't it be easier and better in stead of using a key in the bios to just use the motherboards model and serial# to activate windows. Like the motherboards model and serial# is imbedded in that copy windows, that way windows is locked to that computer.

    you can't be serious.
    many users (myself) included upgrade our system from time to time, but occasionally this upgrade includes to switch / upgrade the motherboard and therefor every other component as well.

    this means that I have to re install the OS and programs/games etc...
    (this usually also means one cal to M$)

    there are many LEGIT reasons to do this, and the customer should NEVER be penalize for it.
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