Last Friday, I blogged about the "Skipream hack" that lets you use Vista without activating it. A commentator here on 4sysops linked to an article on a Microsoft blog claiming that this workaround won't work. Although the arguments of Alex Kochis, the author of this post, are quite convincing, it is strange somehow that Brian Livingston, who is supposed to be a reliable source, purports that the Skiprearm trick actually worked in his tests.

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Alex Kochis explains the purpose of Skiprearm in detail. Anytime you run sysprep, Vista is "rearmed" automatically, i.e. the grace period is reset. This way you'll get the full 30 days grace period after you deployed the image, even though the image was created a long time before.

Since one can only rearm Vista three times, you'll run into problems if you run sysprep too often during your tests. That's where Skiprearm comes in. If you set this registry key to 1 before you run sysprep, then Vista won't be rearmed, which will preserve you the option to run rearm three times after the image has been deployed.

The question now is, how could Skiprearm help in extending the grace period indefinitely? If Alex Kochis is right, then Skiprearm won't change the fact that you can rearm Vista only three times. Setting Skipream to 1 just means that Vista is not rearmed automatically when you start sysprep, and nothing else. It does not change the fact that you can rearm Vista only three times. This, at least, is the intended purpose of Skiprearm.

So how can we explain the results of Brian Livingston's tests? One possible explanation is that his assertion is simply wrong. Maybe someone activated his test machines and he didn't know about it. The other explanation is that the implementation of Skiprearm contains a bug which indeed causes the effect Brian Livingston observed.

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The problem is that you can't easily test this since you have to wait for three months. One thing is for sure, though. Skiprearm is of no use on a machine which is already in Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM). I tried this yesterday. Neither slmgr –rearm nor did Skiprearm have any effect on my Vista PC whose grace period has already expired.

  1. The Geek 17 years ago

    Good post.

    I found the same thing, it doesn’t work at all, and the explanation from MS makes a lot of sense.

  2. Thanks, I am not so sure about it. Livingston is still insisting that it works. Check out this article at Computerworld.

  3. The Geek 17 years ago

    I’ve tested it quite a bit using Ultimate edition, and it doesn’t work for me at all.

    Frankly, I think the need to extend past 120 days is nonexistent and would only be used by scammers. If the hole really does exist, nobody could fault MS for fixing the problem.

  4. Joel 16 years ago

    I let my vista test machine slip into RFM – which basically leaves you with only a web browser when you logon. This happens 30 days after Installing Vista (I am using the Enterprise Edition for my testing). One old trick I used was to type C:\ into IE address bar, which allowed me to browse and run regedit. From here I modified the registry key SkipRearm per Brian Livingston’s article, and ran the slmgr command (as administrator). This seemed to work as described to extend my activation period for another 30 days. I will keep trying this and see if I get more that 120 days of unactivated Vista testing.

  5. chris 16 years ago

    Id have to say this does indeed work for me,no not the skiprearm but the 3 extention’s,im using ultimate upgrade.And yes it does not work at all,ive tried everything. So its bullsh*t.But you dont have to wait 3 month’s,instead forward your clock and reboot ,the activation date will change.then try slmgr and will set back to 30days .Oh ya dont update certain updates from microsoft,they seem to be setting up more updates for hack’s then fixes,assholes.There is a fix of course and work’s,as long as you dont update some updates from asshole’s.Extend 30days works!

  6. Joel 16 years ago

    Just curious, was this posted on Digg?

  7. Joel, not that I know of. But feel free to digg it. 😉

  8. H3R3T3K 16 years ago

    I am running vista ultimate x64..
    none of the hacks online work for a machine in RFM
    i am running keygens atm to get a legit serial

    is there an app like softice for vista ?

    ill post if i find 1

  9. H3R3T3K, Wikipedia says that Vista supports softice:

  10. H3R3T3K 16 years ago

    thanks Michael ..

    There is a 64 bit version..
    thats what i’m after now..

    I’ll post the link incase anyone else
    is interested ..

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