This is why you pirate

Posted: Saturday 5 July 2014

Microsoft, yes, I'm looking at you Micro$oft. This article is all about you.
Now, there was once this Windows 8.1 PRO key. That worked.
And let's just say, that there was a person like me, who used this key.
And used it on a second-rate laptop.
Oh, and guess what. When Windows 8.1 was installed on said laptop, all sorts of funny business occured.
Like a reboot loop in "getting devices ready" after it was reinstalled a second time, but that will be a story for another day.
Getting a reboot each attempted boot into Windows 8.1 lead to an unstable and ultimately unusable operating system 
But, I don't want to bash Microsoft too hard, I mean, I had loved the Windows operating system all my life.
It's just that the Windows 8.1 installation simply did not work.
It froze after you used it for around 10 minutes (prompting the power button to be held down).
And I've waited and waited for hours to recover the laptop from Windows 8.1's freeze. Nope. Perma-freeze.
So I gave up on Windows 8.1, and like all sane people, booted into Ubuntu and deleted the partition.
Partitions were destroyed and new ones were rebuilt upon its foundations, the Windows 8.1 partition is shown to be missing from the partition table, only leaving behind the OEM Windows 7 install and ALOT of linux distros to fill its space
A few months passes. And we're right about here in this point in time.
New CPU, New Motherboard, New HardDrive, practically a new skin - a brand new day.
i7 4770k, SSD storage... Just the way I would like a computer....
Windows 8.1 installed? Check...
Ubuntu installed? check...
But wait, what is this?
Windows 8.1 failed to activate and is giving me this annoying pop-up every so-often?

Got the "Activate Windows" popup for some reason

Isn't this kind-of like the Windows XP genuine advantage thing?
Windows 8.1 PRO failed to activate. With a proper RETAIL key that has worked before.
What is this madness? Why won't it work now?
Guess what.... After diving down in the depths of computer activation command, and desperately trying to trace the issue. I figured it out.

The old laptop

Somehow, the Windows activation was still adamant that it was installed on that computer.
It wasn't.
And so, being me. A quick Windows 8.1 re-installation on the laptop occurred... Quick meaning around 40 minutes....
The boring setup stages were passed, and the madness continued.
slmgr -ato
Worked on the laptop, not on the computer.
Tried to deactivate Windows 8.1 on the laptop that Microsoft's servers still thinks that it's activated at...
slmgr -upk
Was used on both computers, more then 5 times... NOPE. Apparently, the laptop was permanently activated
slmgr -dli
Well, yer, the code is retail....
slmgr -ipk
Managed to activate on both computers, amazingly... Well, "activate" meaning the code was confirmed. (It didn't "activate" on the computer)
Attempting to confirm if the Windows 8.1 key that I've been using is valid
Well apparently it is... The key activates on the laptop, but not the computer...
And so.


This is where things get really fun. After trying out a non-obtrusive way to deactivate a windows installation to move to another computer, the second-last resort was really to call Microsoft Support.
Because, well, it's a legitimate RETAIL key that's paid for, and so "legitimate support" was to be offered.
And boy, was I wrong..
*Calls Microsoft Support through Skype*
Robot: Welcome to Microsoft Support, Please press 1 for windows activation on a new machine. Please press 2 for microsoft office activation. Please press 3 for visual studio....
Me: *Presses 1*
Robot: Please enter the installation ID
Me: *Mood: Angry, Thought: WTF*
*Enters in the long and tedious installation ID*
Robot: It appears that this activation code has been used in another computer.....
Robot: Transferring you to customer support.. Please hold the line.
Me: *...*
Robot: ...
Customer Support (human being!): Are you trying to activate Windows, Word....?
Me: Windows
Customer Support: What is the installation ID
Me: *Mood: Silently pissed off*
*Verbally communicates installation ID for a very long time*
-> 6 minutes later
Customer Support: It appears that you have activated the code in another machine.
I cannot help you with this, I am transferring you to a technician. Please hold the line
Me: *Thought: So, I came all this way.... For.... This?*
Robot: Invalid phone code. Invalid phone code. Invalid phone code. *Disconnect*
Me: *Thought: Wow did Micro$oft fail badly.. Customer support was really the same as the machine activation and was just as reliable (not so much)..*
-> After another 9 minutes, and the entire installation process pops up, another customer support pops up. This customer support was just like the other, and was just as reliable.
-> He asks for the installation ID, and when he cannot give me a confirmation number, asks to transfer me. "Hold the line".
-> And the whole call disconnects. Again...
So as you can see, so far, piracy would of allowed me to skip through bad customer support. Because, when you pirate software like Windows 8.1, there would be no point in handling them.
If you have the legal ground to pirate software, then by all means, do so.
""Legitimate support"".. "Legit support guise...".. "You had one job..."..
I ended up printing out the installation ID, and recalling them.
Now instead of pressing "1" in the robotic voice prompt, I waited.
After 3 cycles, the message announces: "It appears that you have a problem. Please press 1 to contact customer support".
Basically, square one.
But this time around, the most jaded operator came on and asked for the installation ID.
> For some more context, it had already taken an hour of messing around with command prompt, uninstalling/reinstalling product keys, restarting computers both at the same time (when activated and not, and when both unactivated at the same time) to get to this stage.
> And to make things even worse, it was 4 IN THE MORNING! (5 AM by third customer support operator).
Now, he sacastically mocked a celebration: "Congratulations! You have a confirmation number".
"Do you see the boxes with the letters?"
Boxes with letters? More context: I had printed out the installation ID. I don't have any boxes..
And so, said yep, and basically, a funny reversal of roles played out. He was doing the talking, I was doing the copying...
I mocked typed characters into the box that I couldn't see..
More context: The computer doesn't have a microphone, so I had to plug it at the front, where I had to sit on the ground to speak into, and hence not see the screen clearly (why I printed out the installation ID in the first place...)
And after a few confused exchanges of words, we parted ways.
Aka, he asked for me to complete a satisfaction survey - not with that jaded attitude, I haven't even activated windows yet!
and... asked me to "concern", aka disconnect...
After calling Microsoft Support multiple times to claim a valid Windows 8.1 key on another computer (which I have rights to use), it finally ""paid"" off and Windows 8.1 successfully activated... Through I could've activated it faster by just pirating the operating system.
This is why you pirate. You don't have to handle bad customer service for a product that you have purchased...
If I was to have used an external activator, then my legitimate Windows 8.1 keys would be honoured and used without problem.
This is also a reason why customer support should be improved in a setting with money involved.
I installed Ubuntu because I like the concept of having a recovery operating system.
But now.. Now it seems like Ubuntu is about to be my best friend... And I will make the judgement to pirate the next time an event like this occurs again.


To move a Windows 8.1 / Windows 8 installation from one computer to another, call up Microsoft Support and wait until you get prompted by customer support.
He(/she) will most likely parrot the robot operator, but will give you a valid confirmation number/code.
If you liked his(/her) service, give him feedback, and complete his survey - I didn't like the service I got as a whole and hence refused to complete the survey.
Moving a Windows 8.1 installation from one computer to another will not be 100% anonymous or automated. Unless you get extremely lucky.
The slmgr.vbs commands do not affect Microsoft's servers.

Pirate Windows 8.1 if you're moving from one computer to another and own a valid Windows 8.1 key, you have a right to do so, and this right is actually explicitly stated in Windows 8.1's SLA as follows:

"Can I transfer the software to another computer or user?

You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you.

You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement. To make that transfer, you must transfer the original media, the certificate of authenticity, the product key, and the proof of purchase directly to that other person, without retaining any copies of the software. You may use the backup copy we allow you to make or the media that the software came on to transfer the software.

Every time you transfer the software to a new computer, you must remove the software from the prior computer.

You may not transfer the software to share licenses between computers. You may transfer Get Genuine Windows software, Pro Pack or Media Center Pack software only together with the licensed computer."
- The words from the little document you have to accept before installing Windows 8.1...
Microsoft needs a better support system. Else they, themselves pretty much promote the pirating of their software, since pirating software is more convenient then the recommended channels to "activate" software. The end product is realistically the same with the same legality (see: SLA).
These reasons also add to the list of reasons as to why you should pirate: To avoid dodgy customer support and to get the products that you have the rights to access.