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New OS With New Motherboard?

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You must be unlucky, I have downloaded BIOS updates for HP & Compaq machines numerous times and never once have I had to buy one from a third party. Presumably if the update contains XP and Vista enhancements your computer is not all that old?

If the BIOS update was released by a third party though, this would explain why you were prompted to re-activate. The BIOS string in your original BIOS would have shown HP as the manufacturer, and probably had the model number of the machine embedded into it.

Your third party update will probably have the actual manufacturer of the board, or maybe the third party's name in the manufacturer field rather than HP, so that would have triggered Windows to think it was a different motherboard.

You clearly feel sure you would benefit from the BIOS update, or you would not have parted with any money for it I'm sure, so I would be inclined to re-update and then get back onto Microsoft. Be insistent that it is the same board, and if they try telling you to call HP again tell them you tried that already and got nowhere. Don't be rude but make it clear that you believe they should re-activate your software if need be. It may have just been that last time you got hold of somebody who didn't understand the situation.

As far as I was aware, once Windows de-activated itself, it would not automatically remove the need for re-activation if the original 'hardware' (or in your case the BIOS firmware) was put back. But I have to say I could be wrong on this one as it is not something I have ever needed to do so far as I can remember.

I hope this helps, don't despair and be persistent with Microsoft. Make sure they understand you have not changed ANY hardware.