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Office Activation Question

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RobertJ
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 7:32 am

.
In May I purchased a single machine license for Office 2016 Mac Home from Amazon. Went through the install and activation with no problem.

I have a Mac Pro with three internal HD's, a working drive and two cloned backups.

A few days ago I decided to replace the working drive with an SSD for performance and reliability (working drive is 7 years old). Physical replacement took 5 minutes and cloning the working drive to the SSD took 20 minutes. Booted from the SSD and all was good, almost.

I discovered that Office would no longer work, could not save anything; it was acting like a demo version.

I spent 20 minutes on the MS site trying to reactivate to no avail. Finally spent 1 hour with MS tech support to get it activated. They told me when I "moved" Office to a new machine it caused deactivation. So, when is adding a new SSD like "creating a new machine"?

Can anyone shed some light on how MS licensing works or any other useful information?

Thanks.

.
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rsx11m
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 8:28 am

Yeah, this licensing stuff can be quirky. Guessing rather than knowing, it's common for licensing software to create some kind of fingerprint of the machine on which the software is installed, usually including device-specific information (e.g., the serial number or other information on your hard drive, but also MAC addresses of installed network cards, etc.). Swapping any of those devices would result in a non-matching fingerprint and thus invalidate the license. Microsoft products periodically "phone home" if the license is still valid, thus they must be centrally keeping track of the issued licenses (and possibly such fingerprint information).

LIMPET235
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 8:32 am

Hi Robert,
I really don't know but doesn't every piece of "hardware" have it's own "UUID" code?
Maybe that's why it didn't function? Sort of like WIN 10 & "your" PC.
Once upgraded....it's not "your" PC anymore & you cannot use that particular WIN 10 on any other M/C.
Just guessing here. :)
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rsx11m
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 8:35 am

Glad to see that our guesses are in agreement. ;-)

I don't know if the drive's UUID is assigned by the manufacturer like the serial number or by the operating system. If the latter, just reformatting the drive would already invalidate the license as a new UUID is issued. On the other hand, if you really "cloned" rather than copied the drive contents, I'd expect it to have retained the UUID of the old file system.

RobertJ
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 8:55 am

.
I did clone the HD to the SSD using Carbon Copy Cloner; however, I would guess that the system will not allow two drives to have the same UUID since they are both in the same machine.

Note that the UUID is not part of the physical drive; it is assigned to the volume or partition. I just checked and the "old" HD volume and the SSD volume have different UUID's. I "assume" those UUID's are created when the volume or partition are created during formatting.

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rsx11m
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 9:06 am

It would be weird if Microsoft is using an operating-system generated UUID for the fingerprint, but you never know. The drive's identifying characteristics usually can't be changed by the user and would make it more difficult to "cheat" on the licensing system.

LIMPET235
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 9:09 am

I can only say, that I use ACRONIS True Image, 2016, Build 6571 & if anything gets changed, like a drive,
then ACRONIS will not be able to find it.
The info gets written to ACRONIS' data base.
I struck this problem when a recent Windows update removed a drive letter from one of the drives.
Had to "re-do" the schedules to enable it to function again.

Possibly the same thing in your case?
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Post Posted July 21st, 2016, 9:27 am

In the bios each drive is recorded according to a standard.
I run two SSDs, a WD Black and a Re4. Each has a different operating system and they are labeled individually.
Name is set by the hardware BIOS and not the operating systems.
Example:
#1 SSD -ABCD1001
#2 SSD -ABCE1002
#3 WDBlack - ABCF1003
#4 Re4 - ABCG1004
Sometimes there's a difference according to the speed of the port plugged into and sometimes the type devices seem to use a different rule set for naming in the same BIOS.
Example:
#1SSD - GL5001
#2SSD - GL5002
#3WDBlack - Rvl2009
#4Re4 - Rvl-2010
BUT - OS system wise, in some cases, the SSDs may show as the same thing if from the same manufacturer so you wind up with a list of SSDs and you have to set the actual ID.
To prevent the unauthorized copying of Windows OS and features MS goes into the BIOS, if allowed and does things to prevent some moves or copying.

In the case of Windows there may actually be some relationship to the original EULA which does record various components - This is a guess from my kids computers a couple of decades ago.

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Post Posted July 24th, 2016, 5:53 am

In my experience (albeit on Windows, not Mac) Microsoft software will usually remain activated as long as you don't do anything "drastic" like changing the motherboard, meaning that changing a GPU, adding a new sound or network card or cloning your installation to a different drive on the same computer (or possibly also to hardware with the exact same motherboard + CPU combo?) won't cause issues. But in the end it remains a total mystery whether some hardware change will cause some switch to toggle until you actually do it.
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Post Posted July 24th, 2016, 9:27 am

Recently there was a report in the Register about a Microsoft lap top or some other portable which would disallow the installation of alternative operating systems.
If this is a newer set up it could be some preliminary device meant for future on the part of Microsoft.
Also note RobertJ notes it's a Mac which causes a whole different set of possibly proprietary issues.

History: Remember when nothing for the Mac would work on MS or any other unless a duplicate package was written for the internal hardware codes?
Like in order to make the parallel printer port cable work with another system you had to swap the first and last leads in the cable.

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