Parking is expensive. It can cost an arm, a leg, and a Windows licence

Activate Windows and put up a parking lot


Bork!Bork!Bork! Sometimes only the freshest of borks will do, and sometimes the best laid plans of administrators can go awry.

Windows activation bork

Click to enlarge

Windows, it seems, gets everywhere. This example, spotted by Register reader James, can be found in the Queen Anne Terrace car park, a 570-space facility in Cambridge with an impressively byzantine range of charges for customers. Stay over six hours and pitch up at the wrong time, you could be on the hook for £17.50.

A mere trifle for drivers stung by the eye-watering charges of London's car parks (or even those in this hack's hometown of Brighton).

It is, however, nothing compared to the cost of a Windows licence, as the operating system lurking behind the scenes here is making its displeasure felt regarding a lack of activation. No ticket insertion will make this message go away, alas, because a trip to Settings is required even though there is no keyboard or mouse present to make the magic happen.

Windows activation bork

Pic courtesy: Reg reader James (click to enlarge)

Activation turned up in Windows back in the days of XP and has annoyed users ever since. Normally, one would activate Windows on installation and again should the hardware configuration be changed. Former Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer explained the process earlier this year and the various editions of Windows behave differently should a "grace" period be exceeded. XP would simply stop working (no change there) while later versions of Windows opted for the watermark of shame and occasional reminders.

Hopefully, this is what has happened here. A nag for an administrator after a bit of thoughtless hardware or software tinkering rather than a full-blown shutdown for the motorist hoping to drive a car out of a Cambridge car park.

Our solution to parking in Cambridge? Go visit the Centre for Computing History – the parking does not require feeding money into a borked kiosk. Instead, one can indulge one's inner nerd in a place where "activation" is what happens when you wedge a power lead into the back of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. ®

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