Run a legal Vista copy for 120 days without activation

Hint: You have to 're-arm' the OS with a little-known command

Windows Vista can be used for as long as 120 days without agreeing to its product activation antipiracy software, the company confirmed Friday. That's four times longer than the 30 days the company has widely used as the maximum time span the operating system can be used before it shuts down.

Several bloggers and Windows experts, including Brian Livingston, who publishes the Windows Secrets newsletter, have posted details on how to extend the 30-day grace period a maximum of three times, for 120 days. "All versions of Vista allow a 30-day period without activation, except the corporate-oriented Vista Enterprise, which supports only a three-day trial," said Livingston in the latest issue of his newsletter.

"If you know the secret, however, you can extend the activation deadline of editions such as Vista Home Premium and Vista Business up to four months past the original install date."

The one-line command of "slmgr -rearm" changes the activation deadline to 30 after the current date, Livingston said.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed the feature and command on Friday. "Yes, 'rearm' can be run up to three times from the release media from Microsoft," she said in an e-mail response to some questions. "This means [that] a total of 120 days total time is available as a grace period to customers that take advantage of rearm."

Microsoft has documented this option on its Vista Volume Activation 2.0 support site. Although the bulk of the technical information posted is aimed at corporate administrators, the sections dealing with repeated activation also apply to consumer users of the operating system.

Extending the grace period, the spokeswoman continued, is not a violation of the Vista End User License Agreement (EULA). Microsoft introduced product activation in 2001's Office XP and next used it in that year's Windows XP. The feature was toughened up for Vista, however; after the grace periods, nonactivated PCs running Vista drop into what Microsoft calls "reduced functionality" mode. In reduced mode, users can only browse the Web with Internet Explorer, and then only for an hour before being forced to again log on.

Some critics have argued that the new activation rules and reduced functionality combine to make what's essentially a "kill switch" -- a way for Microsoft to disable PCs running counterfeit copies of Vista. Microsoft has repeatedly rejected that characterization.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?