SkipRearm – and run Windows without activation for at least a year (or until Microsoft pulls the plug on the feature)



March 15th, 2007

It seems that Microsoft has been sloppy again and built a way into Windows Vista that allows activation to be postponed for at least a year.

By changing the SkipRearm key's value from the default "0" to "1," said Livingston, the earlier-revealed "slmgr -rearm" command can be used over and over.

Brian Livingston calls this a documented feature, but Microsoft calls it a hack.

It's also only present in Ultimate, Business and Enterprise:

In tests with several editions of Vista purchased at different times, Livingston found that copies of Vista Ultimate and Vista Home Premium obtained at the end of January would accept the SkipRearm change only eight times. Together with the three postponements made possible with slmgr -rearm and the opening 30-day grace period, that would give users nearly a year (360 days) of activation-free use. A copy of Vista Home Basic bought March 14, however, ignored the SkipRearm registry change.

"Microsoft has slipstreamed something into Home Basic and Home Premium," Livingston said. "But from my reading of the support documents, Microsoft needs to keep this feature in its business editions, Vista Business, Enterprise and Ultimate. It seems that Microsoft is sympathetic to enterprises' difficulty in rolling out Vista within the activation deadlines."

Bottom line is that it doesn't matter.  Microsoft holds the upper-hand.  It's trivial to push a WGA update along the Windows Update pipe that spots systems that make use of this and, well, slam on the brakes.

In the meantime, here's how to use this hack:

  1. First off, use the slmgr -rearm method. When you have a day day or so left to activate, click on the Start button and type cmd in the Search bar.  Make sure to hit Ctrl + Alt + Enter to start Command Prompt with Administrative privileges.
  2. Then type slmgr -rearm and hit Enter.  After a few seconds you will be prompted to restart your computer.  After doing this you have reset the activation timer to 30 days. This will only work three times, giving you 120 days.
  3. Here's how to make use of this new hack.  Open the registry editor by clicking the the Start button and typing regedit in the Search bar.
  4. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SL
  5. Right click SkipRearm and select Modify and change the value to 1.  Click OK and close Registry Editor.
  6. Click on the Start button again and type cmd in the Search bar to access the command Prompt.  Again make sure to hit Ctrl + Alt + Enter to start Command Prompt with Administrative privileges.
  7. Once in Command Prompt, type slmgr -rearm. Now you can use this eight more times, giving you a total of 360 days of free Vista usage.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2007 at 21:06 and is filed under In the News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

One Response to “SkipRearm – and run Windows without activation for at least a year (or until Microsoft pulls the plug on the feature)”

  1. » How long until Microsoft pulls the plug on the SkipRearm hack? | Hardware 2.0 | ZDNet.com Says:

    [...] A hack has come to light (details here) that allows Vista to be run for about a year without activating using a documented Microsoft technique (although Microsoft claims that this trick is a "hack"). [...]