Microsoft spells out Windows 7 activation nags, limits

Beta turns desktop background black if not activated, shuts off some updates

Microsoft will turn Windows 7's background picture black and put up persistent notices on the screen if users don't activate the new operating system, a company manager said Monday.

Windows 7 beta, the public preview Microsoft launched January 10 but has since stopped offering, exhibits much of the same behavior as Windows Vista if it is not activated within 30 days, said Alex Kochis, the senior product manager for Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program.

"If you do not activate the software within the grace period, you will receive persistent notifications, including a message from the system tray every 60 minutes that reminds you to 'Activate Windows Now'," said Kochis in a long entry to the WGA blog. Also on-screen, he said, is a permanent notice that the copy of Windows is "non-genuine," Microsoft's term for pirated or not-yet-activated versions of the operating system; a similar message appears whenever the user launches the Control Panel, which houses Windows' settings and options.

"While you can change the plain black background to any background you choose, if changed, the background will reset to a plain black background every 60 minutes," noted Kochis. "Also, you will not be able to receive optional updates from Windows Update unless the copy of Windows is properly activated."

Several of those on-screen elements -- notably the black desktop and the always-onscreen non-genuine warnings -- are shared with Windows Vista, which was revamped with Service Pack 1 (SP1) to soften the impact of not activating the OS. Before SP1, Vista used a so-called "kill switch" that dropped the operating system into what Microsoft called "reduced-functionality mode," in which nothing worked except for the Internet Explorer browser, and then only for an hour at a time.

Other bits, however, appear to be new to Windows 7, including the non-genuine notice that pops up when the Control Panel is launched and the blocking of some updates.

Kochis also spelled out the warnings that Windows 7 puts in front of users as the 30-day grace period slowly shrinks. If the user doesn't activate within the first three days of use, for example, a message reading "Activate Windows Now" and the number of days remaining appears in on the Windows 7 taskbar.

A pop-up asking the user to activate appears daily through the 27th day, said Kochis, at which point it switches to an every-four-hour schedule until the final, 30th day, when it changes to an hourly timetable.

Although Kochis did not mention it, others have noted that like Vista, Windows 7 can be run for up to 120 days, not just 30, without activating the operating system by using the same "slmgr -rearm" command that gained notoriety after Vista's debut. Several blogs have posted instructions on how to use this legal method to extend the life span of Windows 7, including "My Digital Life."

Kochis noted, however, that nothing is set in stone. "The beta isn't necessarily the final experience that will appear in the released product and that based on feedback some of the specific elements of the product activation experience could change," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?