Change the hardware, reinstall Windows XP Pro, and of course it doesn't want to activate over the internet. No big; you call the number, you give the computer on the other end of the phone a bunch of numbers, it gives you a bunch of numbers, life is good. Done it a jillion times. Give the machine my numbers. It says "this product has been activated before, I'm going to have to ask you some questions." Well, this is a change; last time I did this they forwarded me from the machine-lady to a call-center-in-India-lady; but okay. How many machines is this copy of Windows installed on? "One." Is this the first time you've activated this copy of Windows? "No." Has there been a major hardware change since the last time you activated this copy of Windows? "Yes." Have you replaced the motherboard in this machine since you last activated this copy of Windows? "Yes." Was the motherboard defective? "No."
I'm sorry, I cannot activate your copy of Windows. When you purchased Windows, you were subject to certain licensing restrictions which you are not in accordance with; please contact your vendor to purchase a new copy of Windows.
Are you fucking SHITTING me? Well, fine goddammit, this is some serious bullshit highway robbery given that a new copy of Windows costs literally every PENNY as much as the new hardware does; but it's not like it's my money. Call the customer, explain that Microsoft would like to insert penis in their ass, get their approval to guide Microsoft's cock all the way in (aka spend $150 on a completely bullshit new copy of Windows), buy new copy of Windows, click "Change Product Key", put in new Product Key from new copy of Windows. Internet Activation Successful.
Install Windows Update from the website. It wants to reboot. Okay. Computer reboots. "This copy of Windows will need to be activated before you can log on." What the FUCK? You already activated! Well, okay, fine. "This copy of Windows has already been activated." No shit, sherlock. AND IT LOGS ME BACK OUT. Click the username to log on again... "This copy of Windows will need to be activated before you can log on." ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS. Endless loop. No, rebooting doesn't help.
So, now, I am reinstalling Windows from fucking scratch again on this goddamn machine, three hours of my life down the goddamn drain. Fuck you, Microsoft, I was one of your staunchest advocates from the mid-nineties through the early 2000s, but at this point I cannot wait for you to die in a goddamn fire. Nothing but people's dependence on third-party software you did not develop is mooring anyone to your DRM-riddled crapware platform anymore, and it will fucking please me IMMENSELY watching more and more people realize this and get the hell rid of you like I did.