Product Activation is one feature in Windows 7 that ensures that a software product key has not been used to install more than the allowed number of instances of that specific software. In general, Product Activation works by transmitting the product key used during the Windows 7 installation along with a nonidentifying hardware hash that is generated from the computer’s configuration to Microsoft. Product Activation typically occurs via the Internet, and occurs automatically in Windows 7 after 3 days, but you can opt to perform activation earlier if desired, as we discuss next. Please understand that Product Activation is not intended to prevent you from reinstalling Windows 7 on the same computer more than once—it’s intended to prevent you from installing Windows 7 on more computers than the license covers (usually, one installation for any given key). As such, you should typically have no issues with reactivating your instance of Windows 7 on the same computer multiple times—at least, as long as the hardware configuration stays more or less the same (it’s the source of the hash value that Microsoft uses as part of its checks).
To activate Windows 7 yourself, before it does so automatically, follow these steps:
1. Open the Computer window, by clicking Start, Computer.
2. In Computer, click the System Properties link. The system properties are displayed.
3. At the bottom of the Properties dialog box, click the link to Activate Windows Now. The Activate Windows Now dialog box opens.
4. Click the Activate Windows Online Now link to get activation going.
You must activate Windows 7 within 30 days of installation, or it will begin to nag you to perform this task. For Windows 7, computers that fail its activation or validation tests will bug their users much like an XP system does when it fails validation. Upon logging in, a pop-up dialog box that can’t be dismissed for 15 seconds appears, and reappears every hour by changing the desktop wallpaper or background to plain black and flashing activation and balloon help dialog boxes near the system tray. You can ignore the pop-ups and change the background back to your favorite photo, but it all repeats again in another hour. The good news is that you won’t lose any real functionality, as with Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) and non-genuine Windows mode (NGM) in Windows Vista prior to the release of Service Pack (SP1). Microsoft heard users complaints and showed some mercy.
Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth (09-2009)
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