Question

Windows 8 Suddenly telling me my product key is being used?

I've had my desktop PC for about 7 months with Windows 8.1 installed and use it pretty much daily. Suddenly, it just gave me a message informing me that my product key is being used by another PC. Recently I've been worried about the lifespan of this hard drive, so I downloaded Belarc Advisor, got my Windows product key and copied it onto a passworded file on an external USB drive which I keep unplugged when not in use. Is it possible that I got hacked and someone stole my key, or is this a common error? I downloaded the advisor and made the transfer for safekeeping about a week before Windows gave me the message. I'm very careful about Internet safety and use Bitdefender. If it's not a virus/hack, what can I try to fix this? It doesn't seem to be that urgent of an issue as Windows still works just fine, but will it stop working at some point if I don't register it? Any help would be much appreciated.

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Answer
Windows 8 activation is mandatory.

Let's not open another discussion if that's right or wrong but if you don't register there's usually bad news as you ask MSFT to correct the key issue.

No one can tell you if you were hacked or other. I'd register ASAP.

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Key does not work

Tried reactivating Windows with my product key, and it says "This key didn't work. Please check the key and try again or use a different key". Anything else I should do before contacting Microsoft (which I'm sure will be just wonderful)?

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Register.

And hope you have your receipt handy. If this is a OEM or installed by Dell (I can't find PC details in this discussion) then you call Dell (or its maker.) Details can help but only MSFT or the PC maker can sort this.

Be aware registry cleaners, some antivirus suites and malware have caused this but here I only have what you share.

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Which should I contact first?

I got the computer as an Asus pre-built system from Microcenter. This one, to be specific: http://www.microcenter.com/product/439619/M32AD-US021S_Desktop_Computer

I have since changed out the case and motherboard (I assumed changing out the mobo wouldn't cause this problem cause I've been running on it just fine for about a month, but maybe?), but all other parts remain as they are on the link. The PC never came with a Windows disc of any kind (or at least if it did I never knew and don't have it now, but I did go through the whole box).

New (current) motherboard: http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z97%20Extreme4/

I don't even know what a registry cleaner is, so I imagine I don't have one and the only antivirus program I use is Bitdefender. I would doubt I have any malware as I'm pretty careful and don't really do any shady browsing.

Think I should take a crack at Asus or Microsoft to start out? Thanks for the help by the way.

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new motherboard

unless the same make and model and manufacturer, will require a retail version of Windows. All the OEM computers with OS from manufacturer (other than Linux) are tied to the motherboard and will not activate for any other motherboard.

Your first call would be Microsoft, and they will tell you the same thing. It's OEM which is similar to "system builder" and since the OS is half cost of retail, it's tied to the hardware on the computer it's installed on.

Try Linux?

http://www.distrowatch.com
http://www.osdisc.com
What I use

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That's not good to read.

Windows versions that came with a PC are called OEM and the license dies with the motherboard. You can call all you wrote about but it should not get you a license as it's gone now.

There is a rare exception if the motherboard is from the PC maker.

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