If activation is completed successfully, the user can continue to use the operating system without any impediments or other problems.
If activation either is not performed within 30 days of the installation of the operating system (or if the system clock is changed after Windows is installed), or fails because of an invalid license key, then a number of different things can occur, depending on the operating system. Windows Server 2003, the system cannot be used whatsoever until it is activated. In Windows XP, the user will receive pop-up notices telling the user that they need to activate. On Windows Vista (without a service pack) the system will boot only into a reduced functionality mode, allowing data to be retrieved from the system's hard disk but making it very difficult to run any other software or use operating system enhancements until Windows is properly activated. From Windows Vista SP1 onwards and Windows 7, the system will add a text message stating that the copy of Windows in question is not valid, reset the desktop background to black every hour and give periodic notifications to activate the operating system. In addition, Windows Server 2008 users can only download critical updates from Windows Update.
When activation is performed, Windows saves a record of the hardware in the user's machine. If the system is booted up with significant hardware changes (such as replacing the motherboard or the hard disk or memory at the same time), Windows will require immediate reactivation to prevent the possibility that the same copy of the operating system has been installed on two different systems. However, from Windows XP Service Pack 1 onwards, the user is given a three day grace period to reactivate in this particular case. Windows XP allows you to modify six pieces of hardware or the Network Card and three other pieces of hardware.
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