In the final phase of Setup, program and system settings are upgraded, settings saved and temporary files are removed.

The computer restarts for one last time, and you’re presented with the Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen. You’ll be invited to activate your copy of Windows XP, register your software set up your Internet connection and create users.

Microsoft Product Activation is an anti-piracy technology designed to verify that software products have been legitimately licensed. This aims to reduce a form of piracy known as casual copying. Activation also helps protect against hard drive cloning. Activation is quick, simple, and unobtrusive, and it protects your privacy.

Product Activation works by verifying that a software program’s product key has not been used on more personal computers than intended by the software’s license. You must use the product key in order to install the software and then it is transformed into an installation ID number. You use an activation wizard to provide the installation ID number to Microsoft either through a secure transfer over the Internet, or by telephone. A confirmation ID is sent back to your machine to activate your product.

The installation ID number includes an encrypted form of the product ID and a hardware hash, or checksum. No personally identifying data is included or required. The confirmation ID is simply an unlocking code for the Windows XP installation on that particular PC.

If you overhaul your computer by replacing a substantial number of hardware components, it may appear to be a different PC. You may have to reactivate Windows XP. If this should occur, you can call the telephone number displayed on the activation screen to reactivate the software.

If you do not activate Windows XP straight away, you will be reminded each time you log in and at common intervals until the end of the activation grace period of 30 days. If you have not activated Windows XP within this timeframe, you will need to do so to continue using it.

If you choose to activate your product over the Internet, upon your submission the activation wizard will detect your Internet connection and connect to a secure server to transfer your installation ID to Microsoft. A confirmation ID is passed back to your computer, automatically activating Windows XP. This process normally takes just a few seconds to complete. No personally identifiable information is required to activate Windows XP.

To activate Windows XP over the telephone, you can simply call a toll-free number displayed on your screen. A customer service representative will ask for the installation ID number displayed on the same screen, enter that number into a secure database, and return a confirmation ID to you. Once you have typed the confirmation ID, the activation process is complete.

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