Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
It is critical that Windows is able to keep itself updated, even if that means verifying your installation with Microsoft.
I bought a used IBM Thinkpad T42 a year ago with XP Professional already installed on it and no CD. Now, I just noticed that my automatic updates setting has been off and I'm wondering if the original owner may have done that. Maybe this XP is illegal or something. So I'm thinking to verify if my XP is legal by using either the Microsoft menu option, "Is my Windows XP illegal?" or perhaps by downloading the Microsoft online tool. If I do use the tool, I assume it will check with the Microsoft website. If my XP shows that it's illegal, would it get shut down by the process? In short, will I lose my XP from this laptop?
In this excerpt from Answercast #44, I look at a case where Windows updates are off on a used computer and how to get them back on.
The short answer is no. I don't believe that you will.
You may experience some reduced functionality: reduced functionality that may seem very similar to what you have right now – in that you won't be able to get any of the Windows updates.
What I would do in your case is:
Turn on Windows updates and see what happens.
If they start working, I would simply not worry about it any more.
The problem that you wanted to solve – getting Windows Updates – has been solved and the issue of whether or not your copy of XP is legal or not (it's probably legal at that point) is kind of moot. It really doesn't matter.
You can run those tools. If you do so, what will happen if it's determined to be illegal is:
Some functionality will be reduced;
But you will be given the opportunity to contact Microsoft and see what steps are available to legalize that installation.
I do recommend, at some point, that if Windows Updates does not start working for you, you're going to have to go down that path.
You are putting yourself at risk. At that point, it's probably worth a few dollars to go ahead and make sure that your Windows XP is legal:
If that means getting a legal key from Microsoft;
Or if it means purchasing a copy of XP on the secondary market;
I honestly believe that those two are worth it.
So, that's what I think you should do: just go ahead and turn on Windows
updates and see what happens.
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