How do ‘pirated’ license keys of, for example Windows, work on multiple different computers, regardless of where they are or how old the key is?



So, we have probably all at one point seen those free activation keys for Windows, that seem to work on multiple different computers, even several years after they were posted. How does that work?

Is it a sort of unlimited, universal key that works for everyone?

It always amazed me that a 10 year old Windows XP key could work on multiple different computers at the same time, cause when I think license keys, I think One time usage, one device usage or having to transfer it to a new system somehow.

Any explanation would be great, thank you.

In: Technology

For XP, Windows 95 and other older versions the key wasn’t actually all that unique, it just had to fit into a specific pattern. For example [111-1111111]( was a valid Windows 95 key because the last 7 digits add up to a multiple of 7

I… err… a friend of mine, used to have a Technet account back in the day and you received tons of licenses for all levels of Windows. Those keys are still being used on various Windows 7 systems (and some XP). Many of those systems are never ‘windows updated’ in fear of the key being discovered. Some of them seemed to be discovered and desktop went black, it yelled at your every log in, and you couldn’t do Windows Updates anymore, but the system still works. A key on the later system would not work on a new install. I never found a rhyme or reason to it. These are all home use, not commercial settings. Microsoft discovering and fining organizations for license abuse is big business.

They also use what’s called volume licenses as well.

These are where a large company gets to have a single install code that can be used as many times as needed, in the theory that it’s only ever used by that one company.

This is very useful so that a company doesn’t have to have a different license for every single PC in their company and also they don’t have to get new keys every time they get another PC in the company