Adventures in Software Licensing

The girl’s PC died a couple weeks ago so I decided to piece together a new one from a mix of old parts and new, which was both fun and worrying, as always. I was mostly worried about having to buy another copy of Win XP (Professional, because I have bad luck with Home), since I kind of assumed authentication would be denied since the new PC had a new motherboard, chipset, and CPU (went from old SiS chipset/Athlon XP 1800 to Intel 865PE/Celeron 2.4). Hoping for the best, however, I built up the box with as many of the previous components as possible:
2 PC2100 DIMMS
Optical drive
GF Ti300 graphics card
Firewire PCI card
HD with WinXP still installed
I intended to switch out the memory and HD for more recent and appropriate offerings after trying authentication once just for the hell of it. Well, I slapped it all together and fired her up and…. I’ll be damned! My first surprise was that XP started right up and auto-installed a crapload of new drivers, but hasn’t experienced any trouble like I expected – it went straight from one chipset to another without a hitch, adapting to its new nervous system like some cybernetic super-being, whereas I thought it would surely cry foul and curl up like a sniveling little bitch in a corner somewhere.
The second surprise is that authentication worked! It accepted the serial I used on the previous machine and brought an OK back from Microsoft Japan – excellent! So basically, to summarize, Bill Gates made a product that worked much better than I expected -AND- I got to fuck him out of a couple hundred bucks for doing so! (because one IS obligated to purchase a new version of Win XP for every computer they install it on – when your PC dies, so does the license for the OS.)
So. The moral of this story is: The parameters of the much-vaunted “hardware hash” used for Windows XP verification are not all that hard to fool. You can switch mobo, chipset, and CPU without having to make Microsoft richer (I specifically wrote this entry because I couldn’t find one like it a couple weeks ago).

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