Windows Keys that Skip Activation

Windows is such a terrible (un)operating system that I find myself at least once a year having to wipe a computer I don’t care much about and reinstall everything rather than trying to solve whatever particular problem has surfaced — a procedure in stark contrast to troubleshooting my main, daily-use computers for which I will do whatever it takes to avoid a reinstall.

Microsoft compounds difficulties further, limiting the number of times you can try to recover from their self-made messes, and requiring activation of a poorly performing O/S that I’d frankly rather replace with anything created by the dumbest Apple engineer. Yet, for hopefully only the short term, I am forced — thanks to a tech budget recently blown on camera gear — to stick with Microshaft.

So, here I am, in my dining room, trying to resurrect my daughter’s computer. No, I do not want to activate or register my computer online for the umpteenth time. I just want to reinstall and go — and, in order to do so, I’m invoking a little-known secret.

The Secret

Located in the \i386\unattend.txt file on your installation CD is a product ID that resembles a registration key (not the same thing!) that sometimes allows you to activate your computer and skip the registration process when you use it instead of the registration key printed on your genuine Microsoft product packaging. It’s often hit or miss; some IDs work and others don’t.

Now, with any luck, you can stick it to the big guy in Redmond by refusing to re-activate your already registered product!