Question about OEM Vista media and how many times it can be activated over the internet. RRS feed

  • Question

  •  I have a question about Vista activation for OEM Vista Home Premium 64 bit. Now from what I read it looks like for the retail boxed version of Vista you can activate on the internet 5 times, after that you must activate using the automated phone system, does the same pertain to the OEM or "Licensed for distribution only with new PC" physical media (not necessarly retail or boxed).

    I just purchased a new computer and though it came with Vista pre-installed, Vista had not been activated so every time I perform a recovery from thier DVD or using the Vista disc they provided I had to re-activate Vista, and now its giving me the "already in use" error. Do to some testing with the new machine, especially around drivers and doing a few recoveries to put things back to its default state, I happened to run into this but I don't know how many times I had to activate Vista.

    Now using the automated phone isn't a problem, I just wanted to know (in a long winded discussion apparently) if the 5 time internet activation applies to the "Licensed for distribution only with new PC" media?

    No hardware has changed, just that I have been loading and unloading drivers and benchmarking that I do a lot of reinstall's of the OS.

    Thank you,
    Sunday, August 17, 2008 8:51 PM


  • Hi Charles,

      There are two types of Activations.

    1) First Activation and Reactivations (where no Hardware was changed or any new hardware drivers* were installed, that changed the Hardware ID of any of your hardware). This type can be done over the internet or by phone.  (note: there may be a limit on how may times this can be done, but I do not know for sure)

    2) Activation using a COA SLP key and Reactivation (where Hardware was changed or added and/or new hardware drivers were installed, that changed the Hardware ID of any of your hardware). This type can only be done by Phone.


      For the purpose of Activation, Vista uses the Hardware ID, from the hardware in your computer, to identify that computer. If the Hardware IDs change enough (due to new Hardware or Divers*) and you attempt to Activate over the Internet, our servers see that Product Key being used on a computer that has a different Hardware ID then the last time it was activated and will give the error "this product key is already in use by another computer". At this point, a Phone activation is required.

      If I didn't answer your questions or if you need any additional information on activation, you can see the Vista Activation FAQs at http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/62088be6-3538-46a6-99fb-05e74aeb48b51033.mspx or call the Activation Call center (same number as when you Activate by Phone). They should be able to answer any of your Activation related questions as they have more indepth knowledge of the intricacies of Product Activation, then I do.

    Thanks for your question,
    Darin Smith
    WGA Forum Manager

    *Microsoft has found that some hardware manufacturers have started writing Drivers that change the Hardware ID of the hardware it controls. Microsoft is working with these manufacturers to minimize this from occuring in the future.
    Attention Forum All Users: Please Do Not post your issue in someone else's Thread...Create your own.
    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 8:43 PM