Find out if your Windows CD-key is legitimate
I recently formatted the hard drive on my computer running Windows XP Home
Edition. I entered the Windows XP Home CD-key that originally came with the computer. Everything
was working until it asked me to activate Windows. When I tried, I got this error message:
"According to our records, the number you can activate windows with this CD-key has been exceeded.
Please enter a different CD-key. Message number: 45092." I don't understand why I am getting this
error message; I am the only person who has used this CD-key. It is a legal key as it came with my
machine. What could the problem be?
Be careful! I've found that many of the people who purchased what they thought was a
"legitimate" CD key for Windows XP did not, in fact, get a legitimate edition. This has proven to
be the case with people who bought a computer with Windows XP pre-loaded into it by a small-time
company that might have been using bootlegged licenses. As these licenses came into very broad
usage, Microsoft started blocking them at the activation center and thus preventing their abuse—but
a lot of people who thought they had legitimate editions of Windows were caught in the middle.
If you bought a PC from a reputable manufacturer like Dell or Sony, and you have a license
sticker for Windows on the PC case itself, then it should be legitimate. If you bought it from an
independent manufacturer who supplied you with a copy of the CD and a license on a piece of paper,
there's a chance—small, but still a chance—that they supplied you with a bogus copy.
The best thing to do is to call Microsoft's antipiracy hotline — Go to Microsoft's piracy page or (800) RU-LEGIT— and
find out if you got stung. If your pirated copy is of high quality (i.e., very hard to tell from
the original), you can usually replace the pirated copy with the real thing at little or no
This was first published in August 2006