Windows 7 - Activation Problems (Not Spam! :))

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Has anyone else had activation issues with Windows 7? Recently my graphics card burned out from extreme overuse (no, I'm not doing any kind of crazy over clocking or anything like that) so I bought a new graphics card for my computer (exactly the same model, from someone selling it out of a similar machine on E-Bay, because the original card is OEM only).

Now, the Windows 7 activation wizard comes up everyday at the same time (around 7 O'clock PST, which is when I first installed the card) telling me that my copy of windows is not valid because my hardware ID doesn't match. So I call activation and they walk me through the wizard again so my copy activates (which it does without problems) only to have the activation wizard pop up again the very next day.

When I asked the very unhelpful Indians for help with this problem they told me to continue calling the activation help line. When I insisted that this was not a valid solution, they sent me to the Microsoft help lines...where I was told it was an activation issue, and I should call the activation lines.

Anyone have any ideas on this one? It seems insane that my license of Windows is going to be invalid every time I upgrade or change my graphics card.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I don't have any solutions for you, I'm afraid. While I appreciate the fight against software piracy is a difficult one, it always seems to me that it's the legitimate consumer - buying in good faith - who suffers. In my previous job we had a copy of Office 2002 that refused to activate properly, insisting that we did not have a valid licence, and Windows XP / Vista refused to recognise the licence for a laptop I bought for my brother. Fortunately he had no intention of using Windows on it, but it's still disappointing to not get what you paid for.

Like I said, it's the legitimate consumer, not the pirate, who usually suffers.
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
Did you install Windows 7 from your own discs or did it come with your PC? Also, is your PC a "white box" or from a company like Dell, Lenovo, etc?

The big problem is if it is the OEM version of Windows 7, which has lot of restrictions attached to it (which is why it's so cheap) - like it cannot be transferred and there's very limited hardware modification. It could very well be the case that your graphics card did it. Or, perhaps your graphics card burning up destroyed some hardware on the motherboard making the activation system not think it's legit anymore.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Did you install Windows 7 from your own discs or did it come with your PC? Also, is your PC a "white box" or from a company like Dell, Lenovo, etc?

The big problem is if it is the OEM version of Windows 7, which has lot of restrictions attached to it (which is why it's so cheap) - like it cannot be transferred and there's very limited hardware modification. It could very well be the case that your graphics card did it. Or, perhaps your graphics card burning up destroyed some hardware on the motherboard making the activation system not think it's legit anymore.
The computer was originally a 64-bit VISTA system, but because of the time frame I bought my system inside of it came with a free upgrade to Windows 7. I purchased mine through Newegg, a friend of mine purchased the exact same model through Fry's Electronics (a computer retail store, not sure how wide-spread they are) and a third friend purchased the same system through Gateway (Who is the manufacturer of the computer, so I guess it's not a white box?). (I got the best price at 800 + 45 shipping).

The one that purchased it through Fry's was not eligible for the upgrade, the one that purchased from Gateway had to pay a 14.99 shipping fee, I paid no fee and no shipping and got my copy of Win 7 just a day after I ordered it. It is (supposedly) Premium Edition though I am not familiar enough with the versions to know what exactly that means or how to check it.

It's interesting that you mention a motherboard problem, after the installation of the graphics card Windows was reporting only 6 GB of RAM in my system (It has 8 sticks of DD3 installed) but after adjusting some bios settings it began to correct this error.

However, I AM getting a Checking NVRAM....BIOS Error =8302 / Press F1 to Continue message on boot up (though occasionally, one in every six times? it skips this). And resetting my CMOS, my BIOS, flushing the BIOS, restoring to factory defaults, and changing the batter on the motherboard changes nothing. I tried unseating all the RAM sticks and testing them one at a time, the error comes up regardless MemTest tools have proven that the RAM sticks are free from errors, so this one I'm really at a loss too.

I replaced the graphics card initially because it was Blue-Screen-of-Deathing me when the graphics card would crash. I have two graphics cards installed, the other is an Nvida 9800 GT which is supposed to share drivers with the GT 230 that was installed when the machine came (and that I replaced it with). This is so I can run three monitors on the machine. I know the BSOD was from the graphics card because it would fill two monitors, but the third one would continue to show my windows desktop in whatever frozen state it had been in when the first card crashed.

I managed to alleviate this problem by jumping my computer to the other side of the desk - it had been inadvertently moved by the cleaning company who did not realize they had blocked the side vent on the computer. But I decided to replace the card anyway because someone was selling one (it is an OEM part) VERY cheaply and I was considered that the overheating may have damaged the card. After I had moved the computer to the other side I had no more BSOD's but the graphics card was still crashing occasionally when it was being taxed (my son likes to play LEGO Star Wars on the computer, and it wasn't running at all). After installing the replacement card I have had no issues.

HOWEVER. The new card is an off brand Pegatron manufactured card, which is off brand, and the one that was originally in the machine was an official Nvidia Card (which is probably the issue here with activation). Interestingly, they both are reported to the computer as a GT 230, but when I installed the SECOND card it had to completely re-download the drivers again, so apparently whatever the new chipset is it doesn't share the same drivers as the old card did.

The problem is to buy a new genuine Nvidia card for my machine is $200+ and I don't really have the cash to throw into the machine. For that $200+ I will not get a model that is comparable to my current card - it will have less then half the video ram. Upgrading to a higher model will easily double the cost - and thats half the cost of buying a new machine (which I am sorely tempted to do, as I believe I could probably sell off the rest of the parts from the machine and make my money back on the parts). And of course with my original card being OEM only, there's no chance of getting a new copy of it from Nvidia unless another model crops up on E-Bay.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Just two points. Firstly, no errors on Memtest does not guarantee that the memory is free from errors, although it should give you reasonable confidence in their integrity.

Secondly, I wasn't aware of 'official' video cards - I'm pretty sure that ATi and nVidia only make the chips, other manufacturers make the video card themselves. So I can't imagine that a video card being made by this company or that making a difference in activation. Although, I suppose anything is possible - I haven't used Windows 7 outside of work and they're all on standard machines with a company-wide licence anyway.
 

Prometheus

Spaceman
To my knowledge nVidia has been making not only the chips, but also cards with them for a couple of years now. That doesn't change the fact that there are still other companies that sell cards with nVidia chips.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Just two points. Firstly, no errors on Memtest does not guarantee that the memory is free from errors, although it should give you reasonable confidence in their integrity.

Secondly, I wasn't aware of 'official' video cards - I'm pretty sure that ATi and nVidia only make the chips, other manufacturers make the video card themselves. So I can't imagine that a video card being made by this company or that making a difference in activation. Although, I suppose anything is possible - I haven't used Windows 7 outside of work and they're all on standard machines with a company-wide licence anyway.
Well, the card I took out said NVIDIA on the side with the green logo, the one I put back in doesn't say NVIDIA or the model on it anywhere, the only largely readable text says PEGATRON.

The reason I am assuming it is not official is because Windows said it had to activate due to counterfeit hardware installation.

No activation request today, maybe the second time was the charm.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I knew they both made full cards for reference purposes, but a quick search showed that they occasionally make some for the consumer market too. So I stand corrected there, although the market is still largely handled by other companies. I still don't think a third-party solution qualifies as 'unofficial', though.

As for activation, does that mean you managed to get your PC working today?
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
Well, it's hard to tell, your PC could be an OEM with a "SLIC" BIOS - this is a certificate in the BIOS that Windows OEM uses for activation information. If you Google for the Gateway OEM Windows 7 Home Premium key, you might be able to use it to activate (by going to the Windows Anytime Upgrade, then when it asks you for the key, enter it). You use Windows Anytime Upgrade to enter a new key for Windows 7, not the System control panel (where it asks if you're genuine or not).

(Note: you need a SLIC bios for this - otherwise it won't activate).
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
I knew they both made full cards for reference purposes, but a quick search showed that they occasionally make some for the consumer market too. So I stand corrected there, although the market is still largely handled by other companies. I still don't think a third-party solution qualifies as 'unofficial', though.
I didn't think so either, it sounds like Worf is correct though, and the BIOS is probably screaming to Microsoft that I'm cheating Gateway out of hard earned money by repairing my computer with my own parts instead of just buying a new one.

This whole computer has been a nightmare from the beginning - it worked great for about three months, and then my friend brought his over with a horrible rattling sound whenever he used his CD-Rom drive, sure enough within just a week or two my CD-rom failed, and so did the other guy who used his. I bought us some replacements and upgraded them all (including adding a second drive to everyones computer).

Then a few weeks later we all had our computers locked out and we had to activate (this apparently was some sort of gateway error, or so it was told to us when we called to complain). Then there were the issues with the various sources of the Windows 7 upgrades and the varying costs between the three of us based on where we had purchased the computer.

A few weeks after that I added a Wireless-G card to my computer (again, no activation error) but my computer stubbornly refused to acknowledge it's existence. So I rolled over to a Wireless-N card, which the computer at least recognizes, but the card (or the settings) may be bad because it won't detect any wireless networks, anywhere.

Then I added in my second graphics card, which my computer also refuses to recognize. This was so I could add a third monitor to my system. While it's now working, it's working using improper drivers and the timing and resolution are set wrong (But they are set to the only settings that will allow me to see anything at all on my third monitor). It is functional for me, so I can't really complain, but I wouldn't mind having more control over that side of things if I could.

Then just recently it started the NVRAM error, and then upgraded from the NVRAM error to the Blue Screen of Death error (which I apparently am still getting despite changing the card) and now I am starting to suspect that my motherboard might be the culprit.

Needless to say, next time I will buy the 800 machine, take out the 400 graphics card and the 400 worth of RAM, and go buy myself my own case and my own motherboard and slap the computer together my self. Anything would be better then dealing with this again.

My friends computer (Exactly the same model) have run the gauntlet from their on board networking cards no longer working to their on board video card spontaneously activating itself and turning off the PCI-EX slot. Part of this I am sure is there lack of even a fundamental understanding of computer security, and some of it is probably also linked to their collecting of less-then-legitimate software, which I keep telling them not do download or use. There's really no excuse when things like the Star Wars Best of PC pack can be had for twenty dollars, and Steam makes things available even cheaper and downloadable to boot. (Sometimes I think they are anti-establishment not because they care, but just because they want to be anti-anything that stands for anything.)

But I digress.

As for activation, does that mean you managed to get your PC working today?
I laughed when I saw how you wrote that (You managed to get it working, today?).

Yeah it seems to be okay today, and it was okay yesterday. I had to activate initially, and then it skipped a day, and then it made me do it again. We'll see what happens in the future.

It may do it every time my hardware changes now, or perhaps my IP? I don't really know how activation works. At any rate, the second time activation occurred I had moved it to another location for a LAN Party and hooked up to a different internet connection with only one monitor (instead of my usual three).

I will keep you appraised if I run into anymore issues, the NVRAM thing is still with me, I'm, not yet sure what I am going to do about that one. For now I just continue to press F1 during boot up to fix it, though most of the time I only put my computer to sleep because I know it won't be more then a few hours before I use it again.

If my BIOS is the culprit and it's going to keep reporting to Windows that I'm doing something illegal (Even though I'm not!) do I have any options? Or a I just stuck?
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
No activation issues today, I'm going to assume this is resolved at least for the moment but I will let you know if I figure out the NVRAM error or if the activation problem crops up again. So far the new card is working great.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Good to know! Still, I don't like things 'fixing themselves', at least without knowing why, but I won't complain either.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Good to know! Still, I don't like things 'fixing themselves', at least without knowing why, but I won't complain either.
Maybe the first activation didn't take, for whatever reason, or maybe it was something about being on a different network. We have LAN Parties every Friday, and that's where I was when the second activation came up, I had a different mouse and a different keyboard hooked up so it may have been something about the new hardware that triggered it. I don't really know.

I am hoping this is the end of the problems. I hate having to call (the internet activation won't work at all) to fix this every time it comes up. At least with XP I had 30 days to take care of it, but the new activation software tells me I must activate before I reboot, or it will lock me out. I don't even get 24 hours.
 

Claymore

Rear Admiral
Well if the Nvram issue pops up again I think a new battery would fix it. The "Nvram blah blah" sounds a lot like bios checksum wrong, bios settings wrong, or overclocking failed. Those bugs are almost always fixed by a new battery. If your motherboard uses a CR2032 "coin" battery, 2 of them usually cost $5 at Walmart. Other solutions to the above mention error messages are reloading the motherboard's bios and replacing the bios chip (almost never is needed).

Cheers to your pc working.

Edit: I noticed that you said that you changed your battery. I think when I posted I thought you meant you just took out your battery. My bad. You dont have like ram that's two different brands do you, or bad settings on the ram?
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
At least with XP I had 30 days to take care of it, but the new activation software tells me I must activate before I reboot, or it will lock me out. I don't even get 24 hours.
Wow, I didn't know about that. That's pretty nasty. Would be lovely to have a power outage at that point, don't you think?
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Well if the Nvram issue pops up again I think a new battery would fix it. The "Nvram blah blah" sounds a lot like bios checksum wrong, bios settings wrong, or overclocking failed. Those bugs are almost always fixed by a new battery. If your motherboard uses a CR2032 "coin" battery, 2 of them usually cost $5 at Walmart. Other solutions to the above mention error messages are reloading the motherboard's bios and replacing the bios chip (almost never is needed).

Cheers to your pc working.

Edit: I noticed that you said that you changed your battery. I think when I posted I thought you meant you just took out your battery. My bad. You dont have like ram that's two different brands do you, or bad settings on the ram?
I MemTested everything and tried re-seating the RAM one slot at a time, when that (and the battery, and the CMOS and BIOS flush) didn't fix anything I tried taking out all the ram and re-installing it one disc at a time. It's all the same brand - came with the PC (which I know doesn't mean anything, I checked the brand anyway).

I DID replace it with another used battery, however, that came out of a PC. I know the battery was working AT THE TIME, however, it's possible that the new mother board simply drained it faster than I expected and there was a less of a charge then I thought.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
6 Days Later and activation hell is back again. :/ It did give me three days this time which is an improvement, again I had to call the number and do the automated thing to activate.

This time, however, the numbers they fed back to me looked familiar. I think maybe it's the same code I filled in last time. I saved it to my documents, along with the installation ID, if it comes up again with the same installation ID maybe I can just use the same numbers again.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Sad to hear that. ):

Interesting about the recycled numbers, though. Maybe there's a period of time before they expire and use new ones?

Either way, I'm not looking forward to this sort of experience if I ever move to Windows 7. I like to tinker around with my hardware somewhat.
 

Exterminator17

Spaceman
Remember OEM vs retail windows 7. i worked for Dell for 8 years, 1.5 of that in tech suppt. You learn a few things. Like nVidia supplies cards to the majors from their own reference maker but with nVidia on the card. Same with ATI. Major's BIOS, (Gateway, Dell, HP, etc.) is modified by them to work more closely (i.e. clamp down on pirates) so that the oem software knows when its been moved.
 
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