Over the weekend the Microsoft Windows XP activation centre, required by users to activate Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional and Windows Office XP, went offline for over six hours from midday to 6pm (AEST) leaving users with either crippled or totally unusable software.
Users on Saturday were caught unable to register their operating systems or office software, with worst case scenario shut downs in effect on machines with forced activation requirements.
We tried the telephone activation process during this time, which told us that we would be 'put through to a customer representative'. After half an hour of downtime, calls were forwarded to representatives who advised us to call back in 'five hours'. Subsequent calls received the message that 'Microsoft is now closed, please call back after 6pm'.
The controversial Windows activation process requires users to register their copies of Windows XP and Office XP software with Microsoft before the product becomes fully functional. System upgrades or software reinstalls can also require re-activation of previously activated software.
Until this activation is complete, the software runs crippled with a 30-day grace period where full functionality is granted after an online or telephone registration. If the software or the operating system has not been registered after 30 days users are forced to the activation screen. Forced activation may also occur after heavy systems upgrades.
Although Microsoft claim that no personally identifiable data is collected as part of the registration process and is part of a wider anti-piracy strategy, the activation process was widely denounced as an invasion of privacy.