I once again had my decision to support and love all things Linux validated last night as I was trying to help a friend with his Microsoft Windows XP Machine get the 7 year old machine back up and usable. I had been working on it part time for about a week. The hard drive had just stopped being friendly to the installation of Windows that he had on there. The beast had never been tampered with, updated or modified in anyway as the warranty sticker was still intact.
I had to use every trick in the book to recover the history of his young family (all the pictures and videos, tax files etc were still living on the hard drive). Because of the depth of the corruption on the drive I had no choice but to format the entire drive wiping out the restore partition and doing a full destructive reinstall. I knew that the Windows OS on the machine was legit and I did have a copy of the Retail version of the same version kicking around from the days of yester year that I still used Windows.
The install and recovery of the images and videos went smoothly but then out of the blue I started getting activation errors when I tried to get him updated with the latest patches. Because this was not my computer and had all the right documentation I decided to do the right thing and activate the copy of Windows with Microsoft over the phone. First attempt with the “Activation Team” left me wanting more as they told me that there was a miss match of the Product Key and the Installation and I would need to call the Windows Support Team…ok fine…I can accept that…different type of support but they didn’t open until after I had been at work for a few hours so I waited until I got home from work.
This is when the deep seated resentment for all things Microsoft set in. When I called the support team, the IVR recognized my request for Windows XP support as a request for Windows 8 Support…wow that is a stretch but I get through to an agent, apologized for the queuing error and describe my issue.
We go through reading the 10,000 numeral Installation Code and then the Product Key and the agent tries to politely tell me that he is unable to help me for reasons I still fail to understand. You see the product key is unique to the install media and while the Product Key from the back of the computer is valid there is nothing he can do for me as it does not match the version that was installed. I explained the situation with the Hard Drive that made it impossible to install from the media that was provided by the OEM (in this case eMachines) because of the hard drive issues. Unrepentant the agent gave a half hearted apology stating that to prevent piracy, Microsoft instituted this factor!
I was completely taken aback. To prevent piracy you made it impossible to upgrade the drives on an OEM machine that is nearly 7 years old? The genius advises me to go to eMachines for support…which while I have him on the line I jump over to their site and see just how much replacement media would cost…and guess what:
So now I am stuck between a rock ad a hard place. I am not allowed to update the installation to a legitimate level because of features supposedly built into the Windows XP system, I can not order new media to ensure that I am compliant with the license for the OS and the maker of the OS is jerking me around.
The agent was empathetic and supportive, I guess but he really was without a clue and was out of his depths when I made some pretty bold statements retorting his earlier claim that they had done this to prevent Piracy…I had to tell him that it would have taken me far less time to install an Activation Crack then it took to fart around with Microsoft Support only to be told they can not help and that I would have to call the OEM who in turn is pushing back to Microsoft to support the product.
As always I am so glad that I made the transition to Linux all those years ago. I truly do hate everything that begins and ends with Microsoft.
Well it was good to vent…I will not say what the end result of the series of conversations with Microsoft actually resulted in but somewhere there is going to be a training call used of some guy in Canada Ranting about how the practices of Microsoft not only promote Piracy but also validate the decision for anyone with half a brain to walk away and choose an alternative…and yes Davin…even Macs can be included.
Chris J Powell