How to Bypass Windows Server 2008 Activation

In Windows Server 2008 (and previous Microsoft operating systems) you must activate your computer in order to use it legally.

You have 30 days after installing Windows to activate it online or by telephone. If this 30-day period expires before you complete activation, Windows will stop working. If this happens, you won't be able to create new files or save changes to existing ones. You can regain full use of your computer by activating your copy of Windows. Activation is mandatory (unless of course you have a different sort of licensing in your organization).

Last evening, while giving a demo to one of my classes, I started up a virtual machine running Windows Server 2008 RC1. The VM had been installed a few weeks ago and hasn't been used since then, but before it was shut down, I had it configured with a static IP address, default gateway, and DNS server. When the machine was last configured, it was on my office network, thus, the network settings that had been applied to it fit my office network setup.The issue was that now I needed it, and I needed it at a different location- one that had a DHCP Server on it. Because of that, booting the machine with the current network configuration caused the virtual machine to not be able to access the Internet. All this is good and well, except it happened just in time for the Windows Activation pop-up to appear!

If you chose to automatically activate Windows online when you set up your computer, automatic activation begins trying to activate your copy of Windows three days after you log on for the first time. But if you haven't done so, you're stuck with the manually activation process.

As you see, just after the logon screen appears, right after you log on, the activation screen appears:

Darn! Activation? Now? Just as I needed that machine up and running in one of my demo sessions?

Is there any way to bypass the activation screen and gain access to the system's settings? All I want to do is to change the TCP/IP settings so I can activate the server online. There must be a way!

Let's try.


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