My Dog Ate My Motherboard . . .

People have had a choice when building their own machines when it came to putting Windows on the box. They’ve either bought the retail version of the program, or (much more likely) bought a much cheaper OEM version of it.

Recently, MS pointed out a hidden cost of the OEM version. They said that an OEM version was a one-horse OS, the horse being the motherboard. Replace the mobo in a machine, and you have to replace the OS, too, and their activation procedure is apparently good enough to figure out what you’ve done.

One of the articles reporting this also has some real-life comments from those faced with the situation. The key response went like this:

“I ended up having to call the toll free number posted on the dialog and I explained that the motherboard died and when I replaced it the OS said I had to register it. I was asked if the OS was installed on any other PC’s, I said “no”, and no further questions were asked. I was given the activation number and all was fine.”

In other words, so long as you tell MS the equivalent of “the dog ate my motherboard” (and PLEASE, sarcasm-challenged, don’t take me literally), they’ll let you activate.

While this is no doubt aggravating to many, MS does have a point in that you (or Dell, for that matter) hardly paid anywhere near retail price for the OEM version. I suppose they could rectify this by getting rid of OEM versions for everyone, but somehow, I don’t think you’d like that kind of fairness. 🙂

On the other hand, if you really are junking the mobo (or simply sending the initial one you ordered back) and not trying to get two for the price of one, MS is trying to get one for the price of two, and that’s not too good, either.

Of course, there will be those who’ll jump on this as their new excuse to steal the thing (though it’s hard to seriously claim that calling MS once is more of a hassle than having to get updates indirectly all the time), or go to Linux (even harder to argue hassle-freeness for that), but that’s all it is.

Or you can lie, and that’s the real shame to this, yet another encouragement to do the wrong thing.

I think it would be a good idea for MS to explain just how they’re getting so beaten on this. Maybe the real problem is that there is currently no way to deactivate a copy of Windows so it can used elsewhere. Instead of making people pay twice for one box, or lie, MS ought to work on deactivation instead.


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