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So MS has rolled out MS Genuine Advantage for XP. You evidently can’t access updates without it running. But what happens when it doesn’t work? Prepare to enter MS tech support hell.
I recently made that journey, here I will recount it in skelatal form.
I was restoring an old PC at work, a Sony computer that came with XP home. No Windows disks, just restore disks.
Mind you this is an old copy of XP…perhaps even pre SP1.
So I went through the restore process, about what you expect. I uninstalled all of the crapware that Sony included with the OS…5 years ago some of this software may have rose to the level of somewhat adequate. But now it is out dated crappy and old. Then I went to Windows update to start installing patches, service packs, etc…
The first few steps, although awkward are basically what I expect from the Redmond monopoly. Install something (what??) then reboot, return to Windows update and install updates to the update software. Reboot again. Return to Windows update where it informs me that I must prove my software is not pirated. Although offended, I clicked OK. I promptly got a window stating that my install could not be authenticated and that I should contact my regional support tech.
What? Who or what is my regional support tech on a 5 year old computer? So I called 1800-microsoft and started hitting the zero key until a person came on the line. I explained my problem, and she suggested that I visit microsoft.com/genuine/diag/ to resolve my issue. I kept her on the line while I keyed in the address. There was a checklist with like 5 things that this website checked, the last thing on the list was “loading active X” and it stalled at this point. The tech support person kept urging me to go to MS support online and deal with this issue. I refused, insisting that she help me deal with this. At this point I was getting perturbed. No one was stating that my software was not genuine. None of their tests showed that it was not genuine. I was being blocked from getting updates due to Microsoft’s poorly implemented check. For the record this is a Sony Vaio bought at Fry’s Electronics, it has the holographic sticker and the disks were sealed by Sony. I don’t think this is where the piracy occurs. So the tech support person said there was nothing else to do. While not saying so, this person seemed to suggest that the problem would be solved by buying a new copy of Windows. So I escalated the call. Before I move on to the escalation, I want to point out that this first person I dealt with did not know English. I had to constantly rephrase what I said to simplify it for her. She was evidently reading from a screen (assumably phonetics) and became flustered when I pointed out that she already said that and it was of no help.
So when I escalated I was transferred to a man who knew english. He immediatly started parroting the same things using the same words as the first person. He informed me that Microsoft’s servers were very slow and that it might take 24 hours or more for the active x control to load on my dsl line. WTF? He kept trying to get me off the phone, but would do nothing else to help me. Sorry, he said, there is nothing else to do. I badgered him for a while longer trying to resolve my issue. He then gave me MS’s corporate number and told me to call them.
Which I did. My call was answered by a friendly woman who told me that I was calling the wrong number. She directed me to call the previous number, I told her I did that and they could not/would not help me. I asked to be transferred to someone who could help, she told me that MS was a “unique and exciting company” and they did not transfer by department. I needed a person’s name to get transferred. Since I don’t I don’t know anyone at MS I told her to transfer me to Bill Gates. She refused. I told her to direct me to quality control, or public relations, or anyone. Nope, sorry. She then gave me a fax number which she said would get me expedited support.
I thanked her, hung up and sent a fax with all of the info she said it should contain. She said this would generate a response within 24 hours. I sent the fax, but she lied…I got no response.
So what do I do. Do I install a pirated version of Win 2k? Do I purchase a new copy of XP? Should I get excited about Vista?
In the meantime I abandoned Xandros on my main desktop and replaced it with OpenSuse 10.1. OS is not as stable or as fast, but I did get 3d acceleration to work.

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