Software License and Activation
Microsoft and other companies like Macromedia have moved to a licensing system of enabling software with a unique license code which is maintained on a central database.
With new installations of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office you are asked to "Activate" the software. If activation is not completed within a specific period of time (typically 30 or 60 days) the software will completely or partially become temporarily locked or disabled until it is activated. If you are later reinstalling it on the same computer, or, installing the software on a replacement computer, the installation and activation by Internet will probably work okay. Eventually, if the software has been reinstalled too many times, and those installations were performed on different computers, it will be necessary to obtain an activation code by telephone through speaking with an operator. The operator will probably ask you why you have installed the software multiple times.
Macromedia allows the user to activate and deactivate their software as needed. So, a person could potentially have it installed on several computers, but only use it on one at a time. Actually, the Macromedia installation allows the software to be activated and used on up to two computers simultaneously (as long as they are of the same OS). This may be to accommodate people who have a desktop and a notebook. Another benefit to allowing two simultaneous installations is that if a hard drive crashes, a user can rebuild their computer and install the software again without needing to call the company. When necessary, a person can call Macromedia to have the activation/registration information reset. It will then need to be activated again. [This information is based on recent experience with Macromedia Dreamweaver as include with Studio].
The iTunes music licensing system uses a similar activation database. The user can have up to five computers that are licensed to play their purchased music. The central database keeps track of how many computers are currently licensed. You can deactivate one computer to gain back a license and then activate another computer. Just as in the case with Macromedia, if a computer crashes, is sold, or is erased, without you first deactivating it, you will forever have one of your licenses used up until you call the company to have them reset the database.