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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Infoworld: Microsoft’s WIndows Vista not so revolutionary after all – September 11, 2006
Pirillo: Windows Vista RC1 disappointing, schizophrenic, disordered, inconsistent, and sad – September 07, 2006
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Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 2006
Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006
Microsoft’s greatest trick: convincing the public that the Wintel PC platform is open – March 06, 2006
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 20, 2003


  1. This is old news to me. In my Doze days, I used a legal copy of XP SP1(with activation cracked and turned off)with no problems. But SP2 de-activated the crack and after 30 days I literally could not log on. I had to reload SP1. Vista’s method may be drastic, but it doesn’t seem to be as drastic as XP SP2’s method was for me. Ofcourse, the important thing now is that I don’t care what Vista does, as I’d never buy it.

  2. > Imagine what we would say as Mac faithful if we knew that millions of people in Asia were pirating copies of our beloved OSX?

    That would be great news, because it would mean that Apple has sold millions of Macs to those millions of curtomers in Asia. Apple is a primarily a hardware company that creates great software. Obviously, Apple is concerned about piracy of Mac OS X, but it’s not going negate the Mac user’s experience with complex anti-piracy schemes.

  3. Activation isn’t a bad thing if it helps stop piracy. The problem that I had with M$ activation was that the damn PC bombed during the loading process but after it connected to M$. and then it wouldn’t let me reactivate when I reinstalled it on the same machine. I then had to play the waiting game on the M$ phone line just to use what I legally bought. The problem with M$ activation scheme is that it pisses off a large percentage of its customer base. I guess that’s okay if you don’t have any other options, but …

  4. I don’t fundamentally have a problem with Microsoft doing this to protect their interests.. IFFFF the software works the way they say it will, it shouldn’t be too much hassle.

    PROBLEM: The software WON’T work the way they say it will – it will be buggy, unintuitive, and chaotic, leaving lots of very frustrated users wondering why their computer doesn’t work after installing a video card.

  5. Are the draconian protection methods worth all the hassle to legitimate users? I say no; if the pirates can’t “upgrade” they’ll stay with XP longer … until an upgrade path is discovered. Most of them won’t or can’t pay – full stop. What little added revenue protection generates is not worth the hassle to legit users.

  6. Big Pete: I fully understand what you are saying, but that is not my problem. It is M$’s problem.

    If they (M$) choose to do business in a region that is rife with priracy, then they must still be making a profit, else they wouldn’t do business there. If they want to fight piracy, then disable Asian language dialects/Refuse to do business in Asia until said governments identify and manage to track down and prosecute piracy, instead of just playing lip service to it. I am not saying that will even be effective, but it will have an impact. Barring that, then piracy is merely a cost of doing business in these markets. This is a global product, and try as they might, M$ cannot dictate to foreign governments as to how it would like it’s intellectual property handled.

    I as the customer, do not appreciate the fact that I am presumbed to be operating an illegal copy of an M$ product, that I paid for and have in my possession a legal and tangible license key. As such, I would choose not to be a customer. Sure they may get me (or any typical computer user) initially, but I would no longer continue to be so.

    What I have yet to see commented on, despite what any M$ EULA may hold, is whether or not M$ may be breaking any consumer fraud, wire fraud, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or civil or criminal privacy or trespass laws. To allege that one possesses an illegal copy of something, when in fact it is not is libelous; to instruct one to pay for a copy/license when one has already done so is violates several state consumer protection laws and potentially also the FDCPA. To disable ones private property (no I am not talking about MS Vista) such as other legal copies of software, including a legal copy of MS Office 2007 for no other reason, but that Vista cannot authenticate, to me strikes as criminal trespass. Using the telephone/cable wires to communicate these messages may bring in some wire fraud charges too.

    I am not saying these will come to fruition, however, it will be interesting to see the fallout.


  7. I like how they’re using their swiss cheese security to their advantage in this case. Pirate Windows? Well we just won’t let you use the security system we plan on charging you extra for anyway, and let our crappy coding get its revenge!

  8. there are also places where once you bring a computer in, it is isolated and it isn’t coming out. how do you install new software (adobe e.g.) and new hardware (memory e.g.) in that type of environment with vista?

  9. What really keeps me wondering is whether or not – after all the negatives of M$ and Windows these past several years – Apple’s OS X will reach critical mass (as in 20-30% market share) after Vista is released. Will it? And if it doesn’t, what then? Can Apple pull another NExtStep? Otherwise, it will be doomed to minority status forever.

  10. I don’t have a problem with activation schemes, as long as they are not draconian and don’t inconvenience paid users. The issue here is this is almost guaranteed not to work right.

    This is Microsoft we’re talking about. You just KNOW there are going to be issues, and legitimate users are going to have their PCs screwed up. This is especially bad when it’s the OS that’s being disabled. If your copy of Shoot Zombies ’06 gets shut down, you do something else. I can’t imagine the fury I’d feel if I sat down to balance my books and found the Microsoft had shut down my entire PC.

  11. To maczac:

    While I agree with you, we currently have a government “of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation” with Bush et al. So any attempt to slap M$ on the wrist for this will quickly be stopped by the Bushies.

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