I recently nuked my hard drive and had to reinstall Windows 7 on my machine. Unfortunately, I had lost my previous Windows 7 activation key and had to get a new one. The wonderful thing is that I could still use Windows while I was waiting to get my key thanks to the 30 day trial period that every Windows installation has. I would be hosed if this scenario happened on Windows 8.
A report from Computer World confirms that Microsoft will be getting rid of the 30 day activation period in Windows 8. The change comes from how Windows 8 handles activation in which the key must be provided at the start of installation. Those buying a new PC pre-installed with Windows 8 won't have to worry about activation.
The change in activation directly applies to those who are upgrading from Windows 7 to 8. During the initial installation, it will first ask for the usual 25 alphanumeric code that came with the software. Failure to enter the code will stop the installation. In contrast, Windows 7 asks for the activation key near the end of installation. Users can skip this step and activate Windows at anytime during the next 30 days.
So why did Microsoft change their policy? It would appear that they no longer separate the operating systems when buying a retail version of Windows 8. Both regular Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro are on the same disc. The activation key at the beginning determines which version to install. It makes sense, but it still feels like a slap in the face for those of us who relied on that free 30 day period more than once.
Fortunately for new PC buyers, you won't have to worry about activation at all. Windows 8 will activated at the factory and be ready for use when it arrives on your doorstep. I would assume that new PCs would still come with activation keys in case you decide to reinstall Windows 8. Microsoft could also decide that you should have to buy a new license if you reinstall Windows 8.
As for Windows 8 Enterprise, it's business as usual. Just like its predecessor, it will ship with a Key Management Service that's activated by the host machine.
It's strange really - Microsoft claims that Windows 8 is their most consumer friendly operating system yet. As far as usability goes, that may very well be the case. It couldn't be further from the truth, however, when it comes to consumer rights. The removal of the 30 day activation period is just the latest in a string of actions that sees consumers getting the shaft including desktop users being forced to use the Windows 8 "Metro" UI or Microsoft blocking users from filing class action lawsuits.