Will Microsoft turn off the Windows XP activations servers after official support ends in April 2014?

Last week I wrote a story about how all the discussion leading up to the official end of support for Windows XP in April 2014 reminded me a lot of the final months of 1999 as the year 2000 approached.

That story, thanks to being featured in last weeks PC Pitstop newsletter, has created quite a discussion over the last few days.

This post has come about because of one of the comments on that story:

What I most want to know is, will Microsoft also be stopping the auto validation system for when I have a full cleanup and want to reinstall from my fully bought and paid-for retail version of XP SP2 ?

A reply to that comment asked a similar question:

This is an excellent point. It didn’t even occur to me that MS might yank the plug on re-installation, although it would be great if someone could speak authoritatively to this point. I see is nothing on MS’s lifecycle page (windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/products/lifecycle) concerning perpetual re-installation.

That got me wondering and I think it is a valid question so I contacted a rep at Microsoft and posed it to the Windows team.

This is the reply I got back from a Microsoft spokesperson:

After XP End Of Support, Windows XP will remain on MSDN and TechNet for customers who still need to activate and re-activate XP (there aren’t new retail copies). We don’t have a date to share around when activation will be shut off, but it will be on for the foreseeable future.

Keep in mind that Windows XP was the first version of Windows that required activation within 30 days of installation in order to be able to continue using the OS. That means this is the first time an OS requiring activation will hit the end of official support. It is understandable that it would be a concern for those who simply do not want to move off Windows XP for whatever reason.

To give you an example of a typical time frame used for continued online server support lets look at Electronic Arts. When they release an updated version of Madden or most of their other games the TOS only guarantees on-line support for that title for two years after release.  That does not mean it cuts off at two years – it just means that it is not guaranteed after that point.

Now I know that is not a firm answer as to when the ability to activate Windows XP after a fresh install will be turned off however, we at least know it is not going to be shut off on the same date that official support ends in April 2014.

How long would you like to see the Windows XP activation servers stay online after support ends in April 2014?

37 thoughts on “Will Microsoft turn off the Windows XP activations servers after official support ends in April 2014?

  1. David A. Downs January 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM -

    1. Eons ago when activation was first announded Microsoft DID state that they’d provide a means of bypassing the normal software activation process if they ever ended support for activation of that product. They said that offering an app or well-documented registry tweak were among their options to do so. This statement clearly applied to ALL SOFTWARE ACTIVATION, not just Windows. Esp Office, since it was included in the discussion at the time. This should be a binding commitment, at least until they market software that says this position no longer applies. Regardless, the software license does not say it’s valid only so long as Microsoft decides to provide “software support”, or the user reinstalls the software for some reason, or any other condition. Legally they MUST somehow allow ALL legally purchased and installed (or reinstalled) software to run, else it’s a breach of contract. (Btw, at the time MS wasn’t even sure that they wanted to continue the activation stuff and wanted a way out in case they decided it was no longer in their interest.)

    2. Why someone want to use XP on their PC is immaterial. But excellent reasons include that the PC is used for a dedicated purpose for which no upgrade is useful (used as a TV/DVR device or in running some sort of equipment, for example) or when one’s important software won’t run on a newer version of Windows. Many such PCs aren’t on the Internet, or just online for occasional SW updates, so a possible reduction in security from malware over time doesn’t matter. And hackers will target XP less and less anyway…

    3. While MS is certainly not obligated to, it would indeed be good if they’d provide a final consolidated update. Preferably including all the items Windows Update provides, such as IE, Media Player, .NET, etc. Many people would even pay a modest fee for it. I believe MS would do this if they cared about their customers, but in my decades in IT I’ve never seen any evidence that they do. Not beyond pushing on them their “latest & greatest” for big bucks anyway.

    • “What if” by MicroSnot’s theory of “law”, your car company could decide YOU don’t own the “intellectual property rights to the programming of the computer in your car at some point, and disable your car, probably at the behest of the Gov’t. deciding it’s not “clean” enough anymore. Sound too “1984”? It’s 2014 already and we HAVE to buy health insurance or face civil and possibly CRIMINAL prosecution. Umm…

  2. in my opinion Microsoft has two options. People have paid for Windows XP. So either keep activation online for an indefinite amount of time or they send the hotfix out on the day that the support is ended to erase the need for activation. That’s the only two options I can see.

    • President Taft “busted” the big “trusts” none of which had a fraction of the restriction on competition MicroSnot has or a BILLIONTH the money (in today’s dollars) Billy has. Thirty years later, The Supreme Court ruled against Henry Selden’s patent’s and copyright’s on the automobile as being “too vague and general” after Henry Ford had built 25-odd million cars “infringing” on Selden’s patents and copyrights.
      Perhaps it’s time for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service to DO THEIR JOBS and break-up MircoSnot and put Gates in the prison cell like Al Capone, where he belongs. Anyone who has caused as many people to “commit suicide” over disputes with “Teflon Billy” would have been investigated by everyone from the U.S. Attorney General down to the local dog-catcher 40 years ago.

  3. Microsoft stated years ago (around 2002) about releasing a patch or update to disable activation on XP after EOL.

  4. MicroSnot will do ANYTHING we will let them do to milk a buck from our wallets. I ain’t payin’ $400 for “full featured Win7″…ain’t NO OS worth that. I wish I could lay this off at Vegas… MicroSnot has developed a Trojan Horse or worm or virus to deactivate XP on personal computers on the ‘Net with it. Medicare/Medicade and other Gov’t health activities will run XP ’til the NEXT century if it’s anything like the DOD and IRS.
    The “solution” is pirateware from China, Malta, Indonesia, Israel and other countries that don’t recognize the stupid International Millennium Copyright Act and cut the legs out from under MicroSnot’s thievery by hitting THEM in the pocketbook! Bill the Pill won’t like it if he can’t say he’s “giving billions to education” (he ain’t “giving” anything, he’s just NOT PAYING TAXES!). He’ll like it even less if he loses his five or six machine-gun guarded “retreats”.

  5. This is similar to the situation a few years ago where the company that broadcast the EPG to my Digifusion DVR stopped the service and no one took it over. My machine still works perfectly but I have to manually set recording times for programs I want to record (from the weekly tv magazine). It’s an extremely long-winded method and is a pain to do, and check every week.
    These companies don’t give a damn for their customers. They sell you their products……. after that, you’re on your own. They pull support from under you and then expect you to replace your “stuff” (whatever it is) with their latest versions……. yeah, sure I will….

  6. Better thing to do is do a fresh instill and activate it the make a restore disk there software out there that will do it. That’s what I do everytime I build a computer for someone so they don’t have have to go thorw that mesf

  7. There has always been a corporate version of Win XP which doesn’t need acivating, so a non-activate final version might be possible. And it is possible to crack if no better option becomes available.

  8. I’m encouraged by the delay in termination of MS activation and also by many of the replies here.

    I think it should be obvious to the folks at MS that the users and uses of XP will be in the situations where ‘upgrade’ isn’t a practical option. In general terms, hardware is made for a certain generation of software and visa-verse, they belong together.

    The perversity of this situation is that MS became so big and dominant all because of the logic of using a worldwide OS that was common to all users. Now that the tail end of it’s older OS has reached all users, we are experiencing a reverse of that logic. Some of us, probably most who are still sticking with XP for our own reasons, would now be much better off if the OS with our hardware and been fully propriety and unique.

    Imagine a vintage music synthesizer, or whatever else, that used internal software supplied by a 3rd party who suddenly decided to ‘take their ball back’ !

    I add my vote for a downloadable patch to activate XP, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that MS will not do it.

    We live and learn, and remember these things.

    • If they have any sense, MS WILL produce a patch removing activation. If a white hat malware writer (if there can be such a person!) gets there first, MS will end up with the worst of all possible worlds!

  9. Micrososft need to bear in mind that if they stop people reinstalling their legitimate copies of windows XP, those users will be forced to upgrade, and in a situation where they’ve just been made very angry by Microsoft, that upgrade is very likely to be to Ubuntu Linux, or Mint Linux, or Debian Linux, or Fedora Linux, or on servers, Red Hat Linux, or FreeBSD, or OpenBSD or NetBSD, or even Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, if they want commercial grade support – ANYTHING but Microsoft.
    That could cost them lucrative server sales as well.

    • I disagree. Only a small portion of long term XP users would have the ability to switch to Linux or BSD. I suspect those who stuck with the learning curve and pushed through getting everything working on any other OS would have their appreciation for Microsoft OS’s greatly increased.

  10. Many respondents point out that technically – ie. according to British law – Microsoft does not SELL you their operating systems they only LICENCE you to use it. This is inherently bad practice and should be made illegal.

  11. I asked the vendor- a small firm – of some other software that required activation: “what happens if you go under? (I put it more sensitively than that) and he replied he’d issue a final “upgrade” that did not require activation. That would be the honourable thing for Microsoft to do. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO XP-MODE IN WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL?

    • Honourable and large corporations seeking large financial gains. Seems to almost be an oxymoron. Yes I think the final upgrade without activation could work as far as allowing people to keep older software functioning. However some of the MS logic is based on keeping software easily relevant to new physical product. Most people do not want to hassle (convenience) with finding the necessary software to operate their machines. Evidenced by most systems are purchased as ready to operate by the maunufacturers as opposed to building your own or having it built to want you need. Just my thoughts.

    • XP-Mode is built into Win 7 and is not effected in any way by what happens to the stand alone operating system Windows XP. However, Microsoft will not be adding XP-Mode to future operating systems.

      • “Planned obsolescence” again. I have a 42″ CRT Wega TV that supports D-PAL @1550P but we went with the soon to be obsolete (because of 4K TV) ASTV, so my D-PAL to ASTV converter won’t work soon. The Japanese won’t buy hardly anything BUT CRT TV’s, and not in a 16:9 format but in a 2.7:1 format, just like the rest of the the D-PAL world. I’m now disabled, but I worked in video for over 25 years, and still do a little for “pocket money” which is one reason I’m re-building my computer. Guess what? AVID (and video in general) doesn’t “like” Win7 or Win8. There’s an entire new video OS being developed that you can run on an old 386 processor if you’re patience enough (which has always been the deal with video processing-it’s data crunching). We’re the one’s “out-of-step” with the rest of the World.
        Trust me, Google ain’t scrapping billions of dollars worth of servers up at Pryor Creek, OK that are running XP to switch over for 4-14-14. Their IT guys may create “Google-Linex”, or such, but they have a building the size of a Wally-World full of servers up there, and just bought the old Gatoraid Plant beside it. It’s only 16 ACRES under one roof. It’ll probably be a distribution center, which is what they said the first building was going to be…

  12. I hate MS. The only reason they keep upgrading is to make big bucks. There was nothing wrong with XP and thousands (milliions?) will agree. I hate both 7 and 8 and always use my comp with XP. Also, I have government databases which aren’t compatible with 7 and 8 so go figure.

  13. Last week my older PC with XP told me that my version was one from an OEC distribution and I could not activate it again, after about seven years! I paid for it, but now cannot update it. Well, I have Linux Mint 12 64-bit on it so I say to Hell with MSFT. All but one of my other PCs are dual boot with Windows 7 and Linux. Linux has evolved to the point I only need Windows for about 1/2% or my applications. Soon I hope to reduce that to zero.

    No other industry can sell buggy products and then extort money from their customers to “fix” the bugs. No wonder some European cities have switched to Linux from Windows.

    • Do you mean “OEM” ? Was this on the same hardware it came with ? Can you contact the PC manufacturer ? Have you tried the 800 number and the numerical codes route ?

  14. It really should be illegal to sell you something, and then deny you the use of it whenever they decide to. I cant think of anything else where this happens, or where anyone would even entertain the idea. It needs a test case……

    • Actually Microsoft grants you a license to use Windows – so they actually retain ownership of the product. I am not sure if their Terms of Service say anything specific about lifecycle but it likely refers to their policies that state how long an OS will be supported and how.

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  16. >> “How long would you like to see the Windows XP activation servers stay online…? ”

    indefinitely, until all my Win-XP machines die and my printers and scanners which lack Win-7 support all die. Yuhong’s suggestion is cleaner: MS should provide a utility that can be run locally that ‘activates’ Win-XP after installation. Or release a full unsupported Win-XP download (updated to the final patch level) that does not need activation (hey, I’d even pay for something like that). If MS is smart, they’ll support loyal customers, not sabotage them. Oh, and produce better products that make us want to upgrade.

  17. You have to think activation of the product is part of the ‘Support’ provided. The infrastructure for that cannot be free…. even if it is mostly automated.

    • I agree; that’s why Yuhong’s suggestion makes the most sense: “MS could release an update to disable activation or a utility to generate the confirmation ID from the installation ID.” I think most of us would happily pay $10-$20 for it. Win-win – we have no more anxiety about getting left high & dry, MS makes tens of millions of $$ overnight.

    • Totally agree with you in principle, but Microsoft would probably claim that the license was for the USE of their software rather than ownership. I don’t know, I never read the license … 8?)

  18. I have Windows 8 on my 46 inch TV in my living room. Upgraded for $39.00. Now that the price is up, I have moved my other PC’s to Ubuntu Linux for free. Free Open Office too. Can’t beat free.

  19. Pingback: Will Microsoft Turn off Activation Servers for XP? | MSTechPages

  20. So what if activation do gets shut off? MS could release an update to disable activation or a utility to generate the confirmation ID from the installation ID.

    • That would be great, if Microsoft gave any indication that they might release something like that; I think all of us would be thrilled

      • Then we can decompile MicroSnot’s basecodes and pirateware them. Billions can play. Just think, if every new release of software from MicroSnot was available as pirateware with-in hours instead of for hundreds of dollars, for $3-5 dollars? My best friend HAS a super computer to do this at his disposal in milliseconds, and free-reign to do it “for National Security Purposes”. There could be enemy messages hidden in MicroSnot’s farmed-out code…it has to be checked…Oooops, it got “leaked”!
        Bill, how do you like eating cat food?