When you change some com­po­nents but apps then think it’s a whole new PC

PC & Tech Authority - - INVESTIGATOR -

Prod­uct ac­ti­va­tion was in­tro­duced by various soft­ware com­pa­nies dur­ing the early part of this cen­tury as a way of com­bat­ting the ris­ing tide of soft­ware piracy. The idea was that once an ap­pli­ca­tion was in­stalled to a com­puter, it was elec­tron­i­cally “stamped” with a dig­i­tal fin­ger­print.

That fin­ger­print was cre­ated by us­ing an in­stal­la­tion code or prod­uct key, and some in­for­ma­tion such as a MAC ad­dress, se­rial num­ber or other iden­ti­fier from your com­puter’s hard­ware.

That works just fine un­til you al­ter enough hard­ware such that the fin­ger­print used to ac­ti­vate your soft­ware changes so much that the soft­ware thinks it’s been moved to an­other com­puter.

Ron sent us a mes­sage re­gard­ing re­pairs made to his Toshiba Satel­lite L750. This sys­tem is a few years old and was su„er­ing some prob­lems. He took it to an au­tho­rised re­pairer who, af­ter a failed at­tempt at fix­ing the prob­lem with a mother­board with “a spare they had around”. When that didn’t work, they or­dered a new part.

While the sys­tem was in for re­pair, Ron took the op­por­tu­nity to get a new 1TB hard drive in­stalled as well. The re­pairer cloned his old 500GB to the new 1TB drive. “They in­stalled a 1TB HDD, and trans­ferred all my files across­ap­par­ently fault­lessly. With all my screen short­cut icons and beau­ti­ful wall­pa­per still sacro­sanct,” said Ron.

But the anti-piracy pro­tec­tions Mi­crosoft had built into OŽce 2010 “de­tected di„er­ent hard­ware”. This trig­gered the com­mence­ment of a trial mode.

The change of mother­board and hard drive is what has most likely caused this is­sue. Given that the mother­board holds the graph­ics card, net­work in­ter­face and other key com­po­nents, and he added a new hard drive, it looked, like he had copied that in­stal­la­tion of Mi­crosoft OŽce Pro­fes­sional 2010 an­other com­puter. And, un­for­tu­nately, Ron can’t find his orig­i­nal pur­chase in­for­ma­tion.

As if that wasn’t bad enough Ron is work­ing on his doc­toral the­sis and he has pur­chased many of his books from Ama­zon’s Kin­dle store. His col­lec­tion of 1200 Kin­dle books can’t be opened and he has had no luck con­tact­ing some­one at Ama­zon for help.

So, there are two prob­lems to solve; the Mi­crosoft OŽce Ac­ti­va­tion and ac­cess to his Kin­dle books. Adding to the com­plex­ity, I think, is that the ver­sion of Mi­crosoft OŽce has been su­per­seded with a cou­ple of sub­se­quent re­leases. But we put the ques­tion to Mi­crosoft and Ama­zon to see what could be done.

Ron even­tu­ally solved his Kin­dle prob­lem. As there had been so many changes made to what he now calls his “new old com­puter”, he found that Ama­zon was treat­ing his com­puter as a com­pletely new de­vice.

Once that leap was made, and he notes that the er­ror mes­sages he was see­ing did not make it clear that was the prob­lem, he was able to ac­cess his li­brary of Kin­dle books.

So, he now needs to re­down­load his li­brary of 1200 books so that he can ac­cess them on his “new old” com­puter.

Mi­crosoft Aus­tralia con­tacted Ron and he also re­ceived a fol­low up call from Mi­crosoft USA af­ter we es­ca­lated the is­sue on Rons be­half.

They talked him through lo­cat­ing the OŽce in­stal­la­tion-date from my lap­top which he read out. They called him back and pro­vided the re­quired con­fir­ma­tion codes to un­block his MS OŽce 2010 Pro Plus in­stal­la­tion.


We re­cently wrote about the is­sues faced by a reader with con­nect­ing his “call to base” alarm sys­tem to the NBN. Fred con­tacted us to tell us how he solved this prob­lem with his sys­tem. As he was able to con­nect his ana­logue phone to his NBN mo­dem, he could see why the same wouldn’t work with alarm sys­tem.

Fred pur­chased a two-way split­ter, plugged it into the Tel­stra mo­dem, and ter­mi­nated the alarm line so he could plug it into the split­ter.

He com­pleted a live test with the se­cu­rity com­pany - the alarm was ac­ti­vated by in­tru­sion and it reg­is­tered at the se­cu­rity mon­i­tor.

De­spite get­ting no help from the se­cu­rity com­pany, who wanted to sell him a newer sys­tem, he found a tech­ni­cian who changed the wiring from the alarm so it would work.

But Mi­crosoft – it’s not a new PC, at all, just some new bits in my old one

An­thony Caru­ana has worked for al­most ev­ery ma­jor mast­head in the Aus­tralian IT press. As an ex­pe­ri­enced IT pro­fes­sional – hav­ing worked as the lead IT ex­ec­u­tive in sev­eral busi­nesses, he brings a unique in­sight to his re­port­ing of IT for both busi­nesses and con­sumers.

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