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Microsoft Super Powers - Activate!

One could argue that when you activate a Microsoft license you are in sense, unlocking the Operating Systems super powers.  I know it’s a bit of stretch but it’s the way I’ve always looked at it.  Unfortunately many customers don’t view Microsoft activation in the same positive light that I do and many simply do not like it and are quick to tell you why.

I hear it quite often:

 “Why does Microsoft have product activation?”

“It’s such a pain and causes so many problems for us and our customers.”

“Can you help us remove activation or is there a way I can buy a product that doesn’t have activation?”

So on that last question believe it or not, we actually can help a customer by-pass activation.  You would think that would be something a software pirate would do but depending on which Microsoft product and if you qualify or not, here at Avnet we can help you by-pass activation.

But before we get into details on this new service, let’s step back and talk about Activation and why Microsoft still uses Activation.  I was once pulled into a Forum discussion with the title “Activation for WES8?  Why?  Defeats the Purpose.”   I was working with a new customer in reference to Windows Embedded Standard 8 and he had found this forum discussion and wanted my feedback.  The scenario was the same scenario that is common for many new OEM’s that are building dedicated appliances.  The initial statement was this:

I design machine based industrial computing platforms. These systems are shipped globally and placed on plant floors where there is no phone line and in most cases no cell phone signal. They are connected to isolated networks; for security and reduced network interference. We thought moving to the Windows Embedded 8 platform was the solution. However, if Microsoft is going to force activations for the embedded platform, then we will have to rethink our future roadmap and I’m very disappointed in Microsoft’s decision to force this change on the Windows Embedded Standard family.

This was a typical response of many customers that inquire on Windows Embedded 8 or even regular windows products.  Most simply see it as an added level of complexity that they seem to think is just not required.  Or like this guy they have a dedicated appliance that isn’t going to be connected to the internet.   What this OEM customer didn’t realize is that when he builds his appliance, he could easily connect it to the internet and activate the license within seconds and it would not only protect him as the OEM of the appliance but it would protect his customer and the entire Microsoft OEM channel from piracy.  That’s the purpose of activation and it is one that doesn’t stop piracy by any means but it certainly helps those that are honest continue to support an honest channel.

So back to that service that Avnet can now offer called OA – OEM Activation.  It’s a process that allows an indirect OEM that buys through the distribution channel the option of using OEM Activation which is typically only offered to direct OEM’s.   This new option is only available for OEM Embedded systems and currently only available for Windows 7 Pro For Embedded Systems and Windows Server 2012 R2, 2012 and 2008 R2 For Embedded Systems.   If you are building a dedicated appliance that uses any of these Operating Systems then you might qualify for this new service where we can inject a string into your hardware BIOS and one that matches into your O/S image.  When the two strings match – it bypasses activation. 

There’s another option as well – Windows Embedded Standard 7.  It’s the componentized version of Windows 7 and it does not have product activation.  It uses a single key code that you embed into your image and then the systems do not have to activate. 

In closing, I tell customers not to focus or worry about product activation.  I’ve helped customers through many different activation scenarios from Military installations that have no access to the internet to computers that are in extremely remote areas where no phone exists.  There are options and methods to make it work and work without hassle.

For many of the Microsoft Operating Systems, some of the features are disabled until you activate the license.  So the next time you activate a Windows license – remember you are activating the Microsoft Super Powers of both the product and the product channel.

If you have more questions on our new OA service – please contact me or my Avnet team.