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Repair Computer, Repurchase OS? 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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Repair Computer, Repurchase OS?

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  • by Randolpho ( 628485 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:38PM (#17828882) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
      • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:02PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Balthisar ( 649688 )
          >>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.
          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:57PM (#17830762)

            >>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.
            Actually, it's unbelievably complicated. Why do I need to call anyone when installing software? Needless complications imposed by the manufacturer is why.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by n2art2 ( 945661 )
          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.

        • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:54PM (#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.
          • You could always use an intermediary teletype operator.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Buran ( 150348 )
              And count on them to get something like this right? They won't. Besides, the whole point of online activation is that that's not necessary. Forcing calls is just unacceptable, and just adds one more reason on the "why I won't use their software" pile.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Plus, the windows activation screen provides you with a TTY number to call if you are deaf.
            • What about those deaf enough that talking to someone with a heavy accent is a problem, but don't use a TTY since their hearing isn't bad enough to warrant one?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )
                And what if halfway through the call, suddenly an asteroid falls into their living room and then their phone line is cut off!

                Seriously, I know Slashdotters are anti-social and hate talking to people, but can the damned excuses. Either you can use a phone, or you can use TTY. You can come up with crazy situations all day long, but it all comes down to that.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  Oh, come on! Even for people with good hearing, understanding sombody in a loud call center in bangalore is hard. For somebody who uses a hearing aid, it can easily be impossible to communicate bidirectionally. And there are many people who have hearing aids but do not have access to a TTY. This is a realistic scenario, and one that microsoft must be prepared for. Remember, Microsoft chose to use activation. It is solely their responsibility to make it accessible to their customers.
                • what is crazy? (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by falconwolf ( 725481 )

                  Seriously, I know Slashdotters are anti-social and hate talking to people, but can the damned excuses. Either you can use a phone, or you can use TTY. You can come up with crazy situations all day long, but it all comes down to that.

                  Activation is what's crazy, along with WGA!!! Because of these, MS has forced me to switch to Linux and Macs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 )

            1. Upgrade your computer
            2. Call up Microsoft.
            3. Sue their sorry asses
            4. Profit!!!!!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Good point. I work on a blue water sailing vessel with three or four PCs and it is an absolute nightmare if we need to reinstall windows or even adobe creative suite whilst in the middle of the Atlantic. Not to mention data calls are either too slow to do online activation, or cost $14 per minute for single channel ISDN. On top of that we go through so many hard drives due to the boats constant slamming and movement that we are often asked why we have activated so many time in the past. All I can think is w
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by KevinKnSC ( 744603 )
            How about installing and activating everything in port, and then just backup the partition with g4u or the System Rescue CD? Then, if you do ever need to reinstall it, you just restore your already activated partition from a burned DVD? It's legal, faster, and is a much better way to do things even if you always have a highspeed connection.
      • by hurfy ( 735314 )
        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.

      • by NekoXP ( 67564 )
        Whenever I've done it, it's taken far, far less time than 15 minutes.

        Anyone who complains that they need to reactivate their system and is worried about having to "justify" it to Microsoft is talking shit. 3 minutes with barely 3 bars of hold music, you get to an operator - "I had to replace my graphics card because it exploded", or "my laptop died and Sony repaired it" - both real events here, and they shrug and say "thanks".

        It's just so they can enter it into their logs on how things are used. I think it'
    • by FoamingToad ( 904595 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:00PM (#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...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:01PM (#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.
    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:08PM (#17829358) Homepage Journal
      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.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )
        On the other hand for retail windows, you should be able to. I know I've done MB replacements and reactivated via phone call.
      • by Jesterboy ( 106813 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:38PM (#17830506)
        One thing is, the people in India handling the activation really don't care too much, and, as long as you don't volunteer certain information, will happily hand out the magic 42 digit number that makes everything work. I've even used this to transfer an XP OEM license to an entirely different computer (shhh!).

        However, it sounds like the problem is coming from the install media; perhaps a partition on the drive that copies over a disk image, or maybe an OEM install that checks for the correct hardware? I think the best thing to do would be to go download/find/borrow a real Windows XP disk of the correct "flavor"; probably Home, possibly Media Center, etc. If he does have the actual disk, he could try creating a pre-install environment using BartPE [] and then adding in the extra drivers for his mobo, but it's probably better to just find a disk.

        Once he actually gets it installed, he'll probably have trouble activating it, which will involve calling Microsoft and going through the following song and dance:
        1. Give the computer your product key.
        2. It will fail, and transfer you to a representative.
        3. They ask for the last 6 digits you gave to the automated system; give it to them and state you are reinstalling Windows XP.
        4. They will ask you several questsions, answer as follows:
        a) Is it installed only on this computer? Yes.
        b) Did you pirate the software or (sometimes) are you using the same OEM disk? Yes.
        c) Are you reinstalling Windows XP? Yes.

        Usually at this point they will give you the magic 42 digit number to make your computer yours again. Occasionally, they will ask about hardware upgrades, in which case you have two options: 1) tell them the truth and don't get your copy to activate, or 2) outright lie. If your scruples won't let you do the latter, you can tell the representative you have something else to go do (probably true), and call back later, hoping for a less diligent employee. As I stated above, I've used this process to switch Windows XP Home OEM licenses to computers with entirely different hardware, so I can't imagine a motherboard giving you too much trouble.
      • Even then, they'll let you transfer the license at least once to a different product.

        I've even had a Compaq Athlon laptop die and replaced it with a whitebox PC that ran a Core 2 Duo, and they gave me an activation key for the OEM copy of XP over the phone. They didn't even give me a hard time about it, and I didn't even have to make up some lame story. I told them exactly what I was doing, and why I was doing it. They asked me if the copy of Windows was only installed on a single working machine, I said ye
    • 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.
    • 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 se
  • IIRC.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Churla ( 936633 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:39PM (#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.
    • by Zebra_X ( 13249 )
      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.
  • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:56PM (#17829202) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
    • a new system board can have alot of major components on it that are differnt then a older one.
  • by phorest ( 877315 ) * on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:42PM (#17828930) Journal

    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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eric76 ( 679787 )
    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.
    • by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:22PM (#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?
      • 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
        • 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.

    • by Laur ( 673497 )
      And I have two eMachines which have been happily plugging away for years now. The plural of anecdote is not data.
    • by masdog ( 794316 )
      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 (whic
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      Some eMachines plug on and on and on, others die young. In my observation the death rate by 3 years is about 30%. In the olden days the issue was almost always the PSU (easily replaced), but more recently it's usually the motherboard.

      eMachines are made cheap, yeah (tho somewhat better now that they're owned by Gateway) but at least you get what little you pay for. You can pay 4x as much for a Dell that is no better quality and is often worse. (Dells may =look= better, but their consumer systems often use ev
  • by VitrosChemistryAnaly ( 616952 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:43PM (#17828964) Journal
    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.
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:43PM (#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.
  • by jizziknight ( 976750 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:46PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:48PM (#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.
  • by SeaSolder ( 979866 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:48PM (#17829088) Journal
    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".
    • 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 ol
    • 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rix ( 54095 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:48PM (#17829092)
    It's less work.
  • 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 c
  • by Joe5678 ( 135227 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:00PM (#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.
    • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:20PM (#17829540) Journal
      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.

      • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:57PM (#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.

        • by Fez ( 468752 ) * on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @03:23PM (#17831094)
          Even better: The phone system says to *tell* it the numbers, but the numbers on the phone keypad work. They even work for yes/no 1=yes, 2=no. I hate, hate, hate voice recognition systems. Being able to just push the digits like mad is much easier, and speeds the process way up.

          After punching in the numbers, the system still fails to activate -- because Microsoft locks major brand OEM keys to a single automated activation -- but then you do not have to repeat all 50-brazillion digits vocally to the person on the other end.

          I'm not sure where Microsoft's call center is for that, but I suspect they have several. Once I got into a queue where the recording and the person on the other end both had very British accents.

          And now back to the topic at hand: I've seen many motherboards replaced in OEM PCs, and never had a problem getting a key from Microsoft, but I also used generic OEM media and not the CD provided by the manufacturer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FoamingToad ( 904595 )
      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 - X
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by C10H14N2 ( 640033 )
      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
  • You are screwed.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by daniel422 ( 905483 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:21PM (#17829546) Journal
    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....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by skammie ( 802503 )
      Umm, did you replace your hard drive in the HP? HP (amongst others) creates a smallish (600MB~1GB) partition on your hard drive. The recovery software is looking for that partition. Swap out the drive, and those recovery disks are useless. You can buy a disk image set from them for about $14 for your machine. I recently have gone through this repairing a friend's Compaq laptop. I had to replace the drive, and order a disk image set. It took about 5 days for me to get it, but I didn't have to purchase
  • 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. Cha
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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... (Score:2, Funny)

    I've never had this problem with Linux. Maybe this is Microsoft's way of suggesting that it's time to take the leap...
  • 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 do
  • 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 b
  • 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.
  • Crack it. Why should you have to beg daddy Bill to run your copy of the operating system every time you make a hardware change? Tell Microshit to take their lousy "product activation" and shove it up their ass sideways.

    Or install Linux, which amounts to the same message.
  • He called MS already?

    Though this was strictly a repair, not an upgrade, neither MS or e-Machines will provide for activation of the system

    As someone stated before, if it isn't OEM it is against the EULA.
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:56PM (#17830742) Journal
    I've done this exact same process (not on an eMachine though, I won't touch those pieces of crap), and had no serious problems. The worst I've ever had is that the MS internet activation wouldn't work, and I had to call up the 800 number. As long as you have the Product Key sticker (which should be firmly attached to your shiny OEM boxen) you won't have any trouble.

    Unless you're a total ass, that is. I've seen (yes, actually watched) people calling up MS Support, and as soon as they get through they launch into a 10 minute diatribe on how this is so horrible, they hate it, they want their key NOWNOWNOW or they're wiping that piece of shit and putting Linux on it. Then the MS rep usually tells them to go fuck themselves.

    Hell, I've even put non-oem components in it, MS doesn't seem to care, although the mobo is probably the kicker as it'll have OEM bios and such, but I've still replaced those, called up and told them I replaced it because the manufacturer doesn't carry this replacement anymore, and they gave it to me anyways.

    So, I call FUD on this crap. Class action my ass.
  • Why should a user have to purchase another copy of XP after repairing a computer?

    Because consumers would rather have it this way, that's why. Or, because Microsoft/E-machines tell you to.

    Microsoft has a history of committing felonies and suing their customers. What led you to believe that they weren't going to shaft you.

    My question to you is this: Knowing how MS treats their customers, why did you expect that they would treat you of all people, fairly?

  • I don't see how. (Score:3, Informative)

    by SphericalCrusher ( 739397 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:15PM (#17834996) Journal
    I work in a mid-sized computer repair shop (I'm the lead tech actually) and we replace motherboards in e-machines all the time. I've even replaced one this week, and once it's done, I do a Windows XP repair on the new harddrive (due to recognizing the new motherboard and such and then activate by using Windows Activation through the telephone. After that, I proceed to load down motherboard drivers and download the rest of his critical updates... and so no so forth. Activating by telephone just consists of calling Microsoft, punching in the activation code, answering a couple of questions... and worst case scenario, explaining to them that you had to replace the motherboard (only if it's been activated one too many times). I've never ran into a situation where I just couldn't activate it.
  • emachines (Score:3, Informative)

    by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @09:03PM (#17836520)
    I own and operate a computer repair shop. This past summer I had an inordinate number of emachines in with blown motherboards. It started with a series of spikes which affected the power supply and then blew the motherboard. For a while there I had so many come into the shop that I didn't know if it would ever stop. The end result was a replacement motherboard -- and not from emachines. I purchased better quality boards with a richer feature-set and installed new power supplies and reinstalled the OS. Most of the time I had to use the code on the side of the case. You should consider that.

    This summer's run on emachine deaths is indicative of a very cheap power system in their design and probably should result in a class-action lawsuit itself, if ever the numbers are correlated.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann