Analyst: Microsoft’s new activation scheme will give users another reason not to upgrade to Vista

“Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled anti-piracy plans for Windows Vista that take tougher measures against users of counterfeit software, including limiting protection against spyware and incapacitating the PC. Not everyone welcomed the measures,” Gregg Keizer reports for TechWeb. “Windows Vista, which Microsoft has said will ship to business customers in November and to consumers in January 2007, will be the first operating system to include technologies that the Redmond, Wash. developer called ‘Software Protection Platform.'”

Keizer reports, “Under the new plan, counterfeit copies of Vista will not run the Aero interface, the OS’s much-touted updated graphics look; will disable ReadyBoost, a feature that lets users add memory to systems by plugging in a USB flash drive; and will cripple Windows Defender, the anti-spyware protection tucked inside Vista. Previously, Microsoft had said it would strip some features, including Aero, from non-genuine Vista, although Defender was not among those mentioned.”

Keizer reports, “Product activation, which debuted in 2001 with Windows XP, but is now part of Software Protection, will also be dramatically revamped. If a copy of Vista is not activated within 30 days, the operating system will only let the user run the default browser, and then only for an hour at a time before logging off. Legitimate copies that for some reason later fail the ongoing validation tests will have another 30 days to re-activate or purchase a new license before the PC slips into what Microsoft dubbed ‘reduced functionality,’ while copies detected as fake during the validation process will also be downgraded after 30 days. In addition, users of genuine Vista must reactivate within three days of ‘a major hardware replacement,’ said Microsoft, or face a crippled computer.”

“‘This is actually a little more open in Vista [than in Windows XP],’ said Cori Hartje, the director of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative. ‘Today, if you don’t put in a key [within 30 days], you can’t use the computer at all,'” Keizer reports. “‘But is she talking about validation or activation?’ asked Joe Wilcox, analyst with JupiterResearch, who thinks Microsoft is making the wrong move at the wrong time and giving legitimate users another reason not to upgrade to the new OS.”

Full article here.

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Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006
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  1. Lol, that readyboost is a stupid feature anyway. What if the USB drive gets knocked out of the USB port by a passer-by or by accident, or an average windows user simply unplugs it because they feel like it? Loss of running programs, including the documents open in them. Probably making the OS crash – and then even if the USB is plugged back in its too late. And its not like USB is even fast – well i suppose vista doesn’t have support for firewire 800 until like service pack 6.

  2. users of genuine Vista must reactivate within three days of ‘a major hardware replacement,’

    Major hardware replacement? wtf does that mean? New RAM, new Hard Drive, new video card? I realize Microsoft is attempting to safeguard their intellectual property, but they have no business tracking my hardware configuration. If I have a valid copy of Vista, I should be able to use it on the machine of my choice – without Microsoft’s permission.

    Not that it matters, I use a Mac. But I think Microsoft is so comfortable in their thoughts, like noone has a choice. I can see them in a meeting now, “what are they going to do, switch to Linux?” Probably not…They’ll switch to Mac.

  3. I have got no problems with this tack from M$. I work in South Asia and have also worked in SE Asia where pirated software is the norm. It costs the companies we love and hate, billions of dollars a year. Why shouldn’t they look after their interests?

    Imagine what we would say as Mac faithful if we knew that millions of people in Asia were pirating copies of our beloved OSX? We would be really pissed off and rightly so. We pay, they copy and in the end we lose…

    The whole concept of stealing and selling software is bad juju and should be stopped.

    Unfortunately in most of Asia it is considered part of life and they have no problem with it at all. It’s the same for music and DVD’s. As an example in Pakistan or Thailand you can pick up a full year series of top American TV shows on DVD for $20.

    Asia is rampant with this piracy and that is why Apple recently said they would not get involved there.


  4. Big Pete:

    I’ll wager Apple doesn’t care all the much if millions in SE Asia pirate OSX. At least not as much as MS does about Windows. You see, Apple makes the HARDWARE that OS X runs on. So even if they do pirate the OS (and there is very little to prevent them from doing so) they still need to run it on Apple hardware.

    I think this is why Apple have never even put an activation key on their OS software(aside from Server version). Why bother? MS makes all their money on software, so of course they need to protect that. It means making life impossibly annoying for millions of honest consumers and IT staff in the process, but hey, since when has that ever bothered Redmond?


  5. The more I’ve read about MS the past couple of years, from Vista to Zune, the more it resembles watching a bunch of stalled cars stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing, and all the while an approaching train actually speeds up, rather than trying to slow down.

    The view looks pretty good.

    It’s too bad about the people in the cars. It’s unfortunate, but others did try to help them and they did have plenty of time to get out.

  6. If you buy the OS, then there’s no problem Adobe uses the same “Activation” technique that will be used in Windows Vista. In fact, if you don’t activate Adobe’s products within 30 days, the program doesn’t work at all. Nada!

    So, for me, it’s cool to require people to activate their product to make sure it’s legal. Because, you know, I buy my software.

  7. Great! MS will DISABLE OS protection software in millions of machines. That’s just what we need. My business receives thousands of spam emails a week due to Windows machines that have been compromised and taken over by malware. I have to provide the bandwidth, filtering, and storage for them until they are reviewed and dumped. Multiply my problem by millions of other businesses and you can see what Microsoft costs the rest of us. Any lawyer wanting to file a multi-billion dollar class action suit for defective products against Microsoft has my support.

  8. “I’ll wager Apple doesn’t care all the much if millions in SE Asia pirate OSX. At least not as much as MS does about Windows. You see, Apple makes the HARDWARE that OS X runs on. So even if they do pirate the OS (and there is very little to prevent them from doing so) they still need to run it on Apple hardware.”

    actually no, they don’t need apple hardware to run the x86 build of osx… sad but true.

    pirated copies of osx are hacked to run on just about any x86 platform, INCLUDING amd.

  9. ChrissyOne, you are correct of course. All I was trying to say is that Piracy in Asia is bigger than any software company. Even Apple. It is like a cancer within their societies.

    Asia is the fastest developing area on the planet and as the years pass they will become more influential then they are now. The problem is changing the paradigm from piracy to actually paying for the product and keeping the whole thing going. If Piracy takes over then software improvements will cease as no one is paid for their hard work.


  10. Curious- what happens if Vista is installed on a computer which has no possibility to be connected to the internet? How does one activate the software?

    I know a lot of businesses (mostly in defense, but others as well) which have test systems (for hardware) where company policy forbids connecting those computers to the internet EVER (in fact, in one company, they have THREE computers connected to the internet and the rest are all on a LAN exclusively for file sharing and e-mail).

    Well, not my problem, but I’m sure places like this will be “overjoyed” at this new hurdle to install the new OS…

  11. DW –

    I agree with you about Adobe, but once you’ve typed in a serial number, you can change your system as much as you want without having to find the number again. And what if you lose the number? I’ve misplaced more serial numbers than I can remember, mostly because it didn’t really matter till you wanted to upgrade, and often you can just get the serial number from the program itself via Get Info.

    I note that Adobe products has stopped including the complete serial number in the Get Info dialogue to toughen their security. But at the same time, it makes it a pain for the rest of us.

    I’m glad I don’t have to worry about “verifying” my copy of OS X every time I swap hard drives. One less thing to get in the way…

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