I sell/install McAfee Livesafe several times per week, usually without incident. Our build installs and then activates when the account is created or logged in to during installation, without the need for a serial number, and that last step completes the installation. Recently, I encountered the message "activation can't continue" and something along the lines of "we'll keep trying to activate it". Reading the forums, I found topics from 8 years ago describing the same issue, with users being told to uninstall/reinstall, or told to use the removal tool and then reinstall, and users replying that they had already tried all that but the issue remained. I already knew how to handle McAfee install issues when done after a clean 7 install (it requires several specific updates for the installer to work), but this was different, and the OS was 8.1. I concluded the issue was something within Windows, not related to the firewall. This was going to be the first time the customer was going to use McAfee, and I needed to find a solution.
How I solved the problem:
-Uninstalled the non-activated McAfee from the customer's computer
-Installed McAfee on a different computer (it installed and activated successfully, creating a McAfee account in the process)
-Uninstalled McAfee from that computer
-Went back to the customer's computer, opened browser, logged in to the McAfee account
-Chose option to redownload/reinstall software, and copied the serial number
-Used the downloaded installer and the serial number and installation completed and activated without any issue
It seems that when using a serial number, the activation process is (probably) done locally, not online. The installer "knows" it's a valid product because the serial number is valid, and it activates, apparently without trying to reach McAfee. Hurray!
Those without an extra computer can do it a different way. Log in to a McAfee account or create one, register the product online, get the serial number and download the installer. Same outcome.
I find it odd that in 2017 we'd still have (sometimes) issues that were first reported almost a decade ago. But I do understand there are too many variables involved, and installers can't possibly be ready for every single possibility. The customer's OS was 8.1 but was working 100%, no glitches, no bugs, no updates missing, no integrity issues, no problems. I'll never know what was preventing the original activation process.