Device driver updates causing Vista to deactivate

After weeks of gruelling troubleshooting, I've finally had it confirmed by Microsoft Australia and USA -- something as small as swapping the video card or updating a device driver can trigger a total Vista deactivation.

Put simply, your copy of Windows will stop working with very little notice (three days) and your PC will go into "reduced functionality" mode, where you can't do anything but use the web browser for half an hour. You'll then need to reapply to Microsoft to get a new activation code.

Just over a month ago I swapped over the graphics card on my Vista Ultimate box. There were some new DirectX 10-based titles out and I couldn't get the benefit on my old DirectX 9 card. The swap-over went well and I went on my merry gaming way.

Then a few days ago I got a Windows Activation prompt – I had three days to activate Windows or I'd be bumped back to RFM (Reduced Functionality Mode). What the? My copy of Vista was activated, and a graphics card change shouldn't have triggered deactivation... surely!

I was able to reactivate easily enough, although as the product key was already in use (by me!) I couldn't reactivate automatically, but had to speak to a Microsoft customer service representative.

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i forgot, installing vista on a separate hd causes all the driveletters to be reasigned. However the partiontable stays intact. So many xp apps refuse to operate as 'c:\program files' is actually 'f:\program files' and the can't find their installation path.....


after having installed vista dry, i.e. with nothing more then a graphics card, the system runs idle at 35% processor load. 49% of 1.5 gb memory in use. Running whatever then the load jumps to 100 for some minutes returning to baseline with humps to 80. Installing Zonealarm lets the thing running at 64% idle. Looked at processes, Zonecrap gulps a whopping 32% for the 'true internet vector'. Thats also a way of preventing hacking, just sow your system to a crawl and you wont be online long.

Norton 360 was a bit lighter, it 'only' eats about 18%. Running an office application takes a full minute to load.
My system is rated above 3 in the system index. It should be able to run all the candy without problems so MS say.

I'll wait another couple of years and try again :P

that wouldnt work for me i switch parts out daily. Also ive found that Store's installs of vista are less impressive than a home-install done by a computer-illiterate house wife. Ive never used such a slow computer...

installed vista on a seperate hd, thinking i could play around and keep my xp on hand. Good thing, because after having also had reactivate my vista about a zillion times by mucking about trying different firewalls, drivers, ethernet, wireless and such. I reformatted the hd 5 times to get out of a completely busted install. You can't even delete your files without changing ownership from trusted installer and even then some files are untouchable. No thx, but i think i'll hand back the disk to my employer and keep on my by now somewhat stable xp. (in other words doesn't go on the blink more then once every few days)

Good luck, you'll need it.

I had, for the first time in 8 months my first BSOD with Vista last night ... I had just plugged in my Logitech V400 Wirelss Laser Mouse, and it went "kaput!"

I just wish Microsoft would dump product activation. Maybe if Mac os and Linux can eventually put some pressure on Microsoft competition wise, it would force them to dump product activation.

I am obsessive compulsive and reformat my pc all the time. Currently, I haven't even been activating vista and I just use the rearm command if my installation lasts 30 days. I am planning to switch to a mac whenever the next iMac update is.

why does the title say device driver update, and you changed you damn hardware int he article...

slight difference you'd say ? and what's the problem, you have 3 days to do a 5 minute call to MS. actually when I had to reinstall and reactivate the OEM license on my laptop after a partition got fubared (Thank you paragion partition manager, go burn in hell) I blieve my phone said I had been on for what 3.8 minutes ish including typing in the number, getting connected to the agent and getting my code.

Anyway it's been known for a logn time that certain driver changes, mostly system drivers, can and probably will trigger one of the hardware changes allowed in the Vista license, because with the new drivers vista don't know that it's the same hardware due to the changes. I believe this goes mostly for lower level hardware than graphics cards though such as motherboard stuff. Anyway changign the graphics card had allready triggered one change, so if you upgraded some system driver and stuff later that'd do it.

As as you said yourself, it wasn't a big deal, so why the need to make a news "whine" about it ? it's been known since before RTM that this could and would happen.

Yep, this happened to me too, I updated some driver (audio, video, don't remember exactly) and few days later i noticed the reactivation prompt, but the activation worked without calling ms support.

lol, this is amusing.

Anyway, on the flipside (just to provide a little balance I guess) when I had Vista and upgraded my graphics card I didn't have this problem. I toyed with the drivers all the time, downloading and trying out new ones and not once had Windows deactivate.

So this is an interesting problem.

I made the mistake of downloading an nForce SATA driver via Windows Update and then had to spend 30 minutes getting it activated again. This is not progress and it gives me a little satisfaction that I am not the only one this has happened to.

The same thing happened to me on XP several times, often without any apparent reason.
The article is another episode in Vista Bashing Saga @ Neowin. That's sad.

Yep, had that happen to me sadly I had to ring up MS and when they asked for the reason for my reactivation, I said I updated a device driver, sad isn't it?

Vista just keeps on getting more appealing by the day! I think I'll hold out though until it really gives grief for money, perhaps by setting the computer on fire when the screen-saver kicks in. Surely, it can't be far behind....

I think I'd stick to XP for now, at least till till MS comes up with SP3 next year, forces me to update and dumps all of Vista's "unwanted" junk to XP....