What makes Windows 10 know a trial period for an app has expired?

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  1. Posts : 128
    Windows 10
       #1

    What makes Windows 10 know a trial period for an app has expired?


    Just for curiosity's sake. What makes Windows 10 know a trial period for an app has expired? is it some cookie?

    Any help much welcome
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  2. AddRAM's Avatar
    Posts : 3,858
    Windows 10 Pro x64 20H2
       #2

    The app knows, not windows.

    What app ?
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  3. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 30,085
    Win 10 Pro (1903)
       #3

    Cookies are small text files used by internet browsers.

    Possibilities: 'app phones home'; state of license detected when the app is launched; some routine scan...if you were notified at some point when not running the app.
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  4. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 10,495
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #4

    antonio3535 said:
    Just for curiosity's sake. What makes Windows 10 know a trial period for an app has expired? is it some cookie?

    Any help much welcome
    Hi there

    sometimes this stuff is stored in the registry which the app checks on start up.
    Deleting and re-installing the app to extend trial period for example won't work in a lot of cases if the registry is used.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  5. Posts : 1,212
    Windows 10 Pro
       #5

    There are many possibilities. The App could store an encoded timestamp in some obscure location in the registry (and there are many such) when it was first installed. Uninstalling the App would not remove it, and neither would a registry cleaner. If the user later tried to reinstall the App it would check for this hidden timestamp and not proceed if found. There are other possibilities as well. This is very simple for a developer. Obviously this would not be documented anywhere.
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  6. sygnus21's Avatar
    Posts : 5,407
    Win 10 Pro (x64) 20H2 (19042.928)
       #6

    antonio3535 said:
    Just for curiosity's sake. What makes Windows 10 know a trial period for an app has expired? is it some cookie?
    This....
    LMiller7 said:
    There are many possibilities. The App could store an encoded timestamp in some obscure location in the registry (and there are many such) when it was first installed. Uninstalling the App would not remove it, and neither would a registry cleaner. If the user later tried to reinstall the App it would check for this hidden timestamp and not proceed if found. There are other possibilities as well. This is very simple for a developer. Obviously this would not be documented anywhere.
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  7. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 18,790
    10 Home x64 (20H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #7

    I've looked at this in the past and found that some apps create a registry entry on first use that holds a hash of the date and time of use. This key is not deleted on uninstall.

    Being a hash it's impossible to modify it without making it invalid (which the app treated as 'trial period expired'). In some cases deleting the key would reset the app to 'trial period not started yet'. It's of no relevance to me now, I have since found other ways to do the same function with software that doesn't expire.
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  8. ricardobohner's Avatar
    Posts : 302
    Windows 10
       #8

    They might capture some unique hardware information like network card MAC address and upload it to their server. When you reinstall the software it might check the server for that info thus detect that the software already was installed on this computer before and that the trial piriod has already expired.

    Disabling the internet or blocking the software in the firewall might prevent the software from doing such verifications.
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  9. Posts : 128
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #9

    Thanks for your great answers, although most seem just guesses. I guess there's no way to know which one is used, regarding the registry: not sure it makes sense, so if you wipe and reinstall or restore a clone or wipe the registry you may reuse the trial period?. The MAC being registered seems an easy and more infallible way.
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  10. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 53,223
    Multi-boot Windows 10 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #10

    antonio3535 said:
    Thanks for your great answers, although most seem just guesses.
    S.W.A.G.s Since each vendor could apply a unique method to keep you honest, they certainly are not going to publish that procedure. May be guesses, but guesses based on experience and know-how.
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