So, its been quite a few weeks since the release of Windows 8 and we were experimenting with the new shiny OS and the new ‘ModernUI Style’ of it. And, If haven’t activated the OS yet, you too were staring at the desktop watermark that says “Activate Windows, Go to PC settings to activate Windows”.
UPDATE: Please pardon to interrupt you, but let me tell you something. so you are looking for ways to activate your copy of Windows 8 illegally, right? But what if you could get a genuine copy of Windows 8 for free? Read how!
What a crap!! Anyway that is a very good way to remind you about your windows activation status. Since all other activation methods are failed and all the Russian, Chinese KMS servers are blocked now, everyone in search of new ways to activate their copy of Windows 8. Since Microsoft seems to be trying very hard at cleansing pirate information from web, there is no way to activate Windows 8 until another public KMS server pops up or a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) key leaks out. Currently Microsoft did very well the job to rinse out the web of any public KMS servers, and since there is no valid Windows 8 MAK leaked yet, preventing the creation of local Key Management Server(KMS).
As per documentation, Windows 8, activated with KMS server can be used genuinely for 180 days, allowing all personalization and full features. After 180 days, the Windows 8 system will need to check against a KMS host and re-activate it to maintain the activated status. Since there is no public KMS server available, there is no personalization and some UI features remains locked. When a Windows 8 is run without activation, it goes to ‘Notification Mode’, where a desktop notification watermark appears every 3 hours to remind user to activate the system.
So naturally the first thought would be, How to remove the activation watermark atleast? Well, there are many ways. The process that is responsible for the activation watermark is explorer.exe, if there is no explorer.exe, there is no watermark. Ooops thatz not possible, for almost all, Windows means Explorer.exe. So we’ve to go to next step; the thread responsible for the same, is ‘DllGetActivationFactory’ in twinui.dll. Ok, we got the target thread to kill. Suspending or killing the twinui.dll!DllGetActivationFactory thread in explorer.exe process will prevent the watermark from appearing.
Now we know what to do, but how??
Patching the explorer.exe to get rid of twinui.dll!DllGetActivationFactory can bring a hell of a lot problems and can even make the explorer.exe buggy and unusable. The only guaranteed way out then is to use Process Monitor to SUSPEND/KILL the thread. If you do this within the time limit (not before 3Hrs from logon), you’ll prevent your desktop from cluttering with activation overlay watermark.
But I don’t know how to use ProcessExplorer, is there any laymans way to get it done?
There are a lot of tools lurking around to remove the watermark, one example is http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1837246 which seems very good if it really does what it says.
If you are really a developer at heart, you are gonna wonder how can I do this myself, right? Check this post to see details.
Also, please check these links.
UPDATE: Well, all of these does changes to system in one way or another, but there is no other way to kill that damn activation watermark which stays atop. The threadkiller does the job nice, but what about the build watermark. It stays there even after we kill the thread. The reason behind the build watermark is, it is actually the desktop wallpaper itself. Yes, the wallpaper is transcoded to show the build watermark. To remove this you have to change the transcoded wallpaper to one without the watermark.
Please check this link for instructions.
This one is another clear cut instructions from http://blogs.microsoft.co.il/blogs/shair/archive/2012/04/03/how-to-remove-windows-8-consumer-preview-watermark-in-5-steps.aspx, which is for WCP, but will work for RTM too.
Anyway, please remember these will only remove watermarks temporarily from the desktop, the OS is still unactivated copy, you must buy your copy once you have done the evaluation.