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Windows Server 2003 R2 Product Activation

Published: April 1, 2003

The Windows Server 2003 family of retail products contains product activation technology, which means you must activate your copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 before it can be used. Some new servers purchased with Windows Server 2003 family of products pre-installed also require activation. If your organization licenses Windows Server 2003 R2 through one of the Microsoft volume licensing agreement programs, such as Open License, Select License, or Enterprise Agreement, you are not required to activate those licenses.


Product Activation Overview

Microsoft product activation is an anti-piracy technology designed to verify that software products are legitimately licensed. The goal of product activation is to reduce a form of piracy known as casual copying. Activation also helps protect against hard drive cloning. Activation is quick, simple, unobtrusive, and maintains your privacy.

Microsoft is committed to the protection of intellectual property rights and the reduction of software piracy. Everyone in the economic chain—not just the software manufacturer—is hurt by piracy including the reseller, the support provider, and you, the user. Authentic Microsoft software assures you of high-quality, virus-free software. Pirated software does not.

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 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 server 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 Server 2003 R2 installation on that particular server.

If you overhaul your server by replacing a substantial number of hardware components, it may appear to be different. You may have to reactivate Windows Server 2003 R2 within three days in order to continue to log on.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The software activation status does not impact the services running on the server. Even if the hardware goes out of tolerance and you are asked to reactivate it, services will continue to run, even if the software is not reactivated. Not activating only limits the ability of a user to log on. Services and remote administration are not affected.

If you are asked to reactivate the software, you may be able to re-activate over the internet. If activating over the internet fails, you can call the telephone number displayed on the activation screen to reactivate the software.

Microsoft Product Activation is implemented in Windows Server 2003 R2 as it is in Microsoft Windows® XP SP1. Details about implementing product activation in Windows XP hold true for Windows Server 2003 products as well.

Activating Windows Server 2003 R2

If you have not activated Windows Server 2003 R2, you are 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 Server 2003 R2 within this timeframe, you must do so to log on.

If you choose to activate your product over the Internet, the activation wizard detects your Internet connection and securely connects to a Microsoft server to transfer your installation ID when you submit it. A confirmation ID is passed back to your computer, automatically activating Windows Server 2003. This process typically takes just a few seconds to complete. No personally identifiable information is required to activate Windows Server 2003. Details about the information sent to Microsoft as part of activation can be found in the Windows XP product activation technical market bulletin. The information in this bulletin is also applicable to and accurate for Windows Server 2003.

To activate Windows Server 2003 R2 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. After you have typed the confirmation ID, the activation process is complete.

Product Registration

Product activation is not the same as product registration. As discussed above, product activation is required and is completely anonymous. Product registration, on the other hand, is completely optional. You may opt to provide personal information, such as your e-mail address, for product registration purposes. Registration entitles you to receive information about product updates and special offers directly from Microsoft. All registration information provided is stored securely and no information is ever loaned or sold to third parties.

Product Activation Protects Privacy

Activation data and any optional registration data provided to Microsoft are sent to Microsoft securely using SSL technology and the data is stored in a secure facility with limited access. Microsoft's privacy statement is displayed during the activation process.

* The activation period for retail and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product is 30 days. This period may vary for product acquired through other channels; for example, evaluation versions of Windows Server 2003 require activation within 14 days and MSDN® versions of Windows Server 2003 require activation within 60 days.

** Toll-free telephone numbers are available in all countries where telephony infrastructures provide for them. The telephone numbers are displayed when telephone activation is chosen.


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