| imho \im-hö\
abbr In My Humble Opinion
Are You Activated?
Well, I've been
waiting for it to happen, and today it finally did. What pray tell, was all
my anticipation about? Why the Microsoft Office Activation "feature,"
For those who don't
remember, when you install Office XP on a system, you must activate it. Office
forms a "snapshot" of what your computer hardware looks like during
the activation. Make too many changes to your hardware and the Office Activation
dialog pops up to inform you that you can't use Office again until you've reactivated.
Here's what Microsoft
didn't tell you about activation (well, some of it they did, in fine
print), which I learned the hard way today:
- Every Office
program will complain the first time you start it after triggering re-activation.
For those of us who have set our systems to boot with the full set of applications
we use every day, this means that the Activation dialog pops up more than
once--on my machine, I got four dialogs.
- You must have
your original disk handy, and it appears that you need to be a bit careful
about where you put it if you have multiple optical drives, as I do. The re-activation
"wizard" looks at the drive from which you originally installed
(or it may be the first optical drive--both are the same in my system). It
works best if you force it to point to the right drive using the Browse button,
- You must have
access to the Internet at the time re-activation is done. Can't connect? Then
you can't use Office until you can. Fortunately, this wasn't one of the times
when my local MSN ISP was unavailable (happens once a week, on average, here
in rural Pennsylvania).
- You may have
to re-activate every Office component (it depends upon how you installed).
Publisher and Access both asked to be independently re-activated on my machine.
Both were installed independently.
- Strange things
happen. Despite "re-activating successfully," Excel came up and
locked. You could move the window around, browse the menus, but attempting
to do anything, including Exiting (!) didn't work. Of course, this means that
the re-activation doesn't complete! Why? Because you must leave all
Office components in the final step to complete the activation, and the locked
Excel kept me from completing the step, triggering new re-activation notices
until I used Ctrl-Alt-Del to pull up the Task Manager and forced Excel to
quit. Once again Microsoft's crack engineering team has left their mark. By
my count, they've received 125 Error Reports from my machine in the last three
months. Perhaps I'm burying them in too much information...
So what triggered
the re-activation, you ask? Installing a new network card and pulling out my
SCSI card. I've also added external USB drives, but if that was figured
in the trigger, Microsoft's algorithm is decidedly touchy. Note that the memory
and CPU hasn't changed. For the most part the only changes that occurred after
installing Office were additions or removals of peripherals.
Now the interesting
thing is that Microsoft clearly hasn't thought through this activation business.
Why, for example, wouldn't you simply do a re-activation when a major update
to Office is installed (they had their chance at SP-1 and SP-2)?