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Microsoft Privacy

Anti-Piracy Windows 7 Update Phones Home Quarterly 819

Posted by kdawson
from the who-owns-your-computer dept.
Lauren Weinstein sends in news of a major and disturbing Microsoft anti-piracy initiative called Windows Activation Technologies, or WAT. Here is Microsoft's blog post giving their perspective on what WAT is for. From Lauren's blog: "The release of Windows 7 'Update for Microsoft Windows (KB71033)' will change the current activation and anti-piracy behavior of Windows 7 by triggering automatic 'phone home' operations over the Internet to Microsoft servers, typically for now at intervals of around 90 days. ... These automatic queries will repeatedly — apparently for as long as Windows is installed — validate your Windows 7 system against Microsoft's latest database of pirated system signatures (currently including more than 70 activation exploits known to Microsoft). If your system matches — again even if up to that time (which could be months or even years since you obtained the system) it had been declared to be genuine — then your system will be 'downgraded' to 'non-genuine' status until you take steps to obtain what Microsoft considers to be an authentic, validated, Windows 7 license. ... KB971033... is scheduled to deploy to the manual downloading 'Genuine Microsoft Software' site on February 16, and start pushing out automatically through the Windows Update environment on February 23. ... [F]or Microsoft to assert that they have the right to treat ordinary PC-using consumers in this manner — declaring their systems to be non-genuine and downgrading them at any time — is rather staggering." Update: 02/12 02:08 GMT by KD : Corrected the Microsoft Knowledge Base number to include a leading 9 that had been omitted in the pre-announcement, per L. Weinstein.
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Anti-Piracy Windows 7 Update Phones Home Quarterly

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  • False Positives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N3tRunner (164483) * on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:54PM (#31101700)

    I wonder how many false positives this will generate? The thing is, for every person who pirates Windows 7, there is a fairly decent chance that they will be doing so with an activation code which a genuine user may have purchased. I wonder if MS has figured out some way to deal with this issue? I wouldn't bet on it.

    • Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:57PM (#31101736) Homepage Journal

      I wonder how many false positives this will generate?

      Probably no more than Windows XP, whose "Windows Genuine Advantage" module has the same behavior.

      • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Informative)

        by Knara (9377) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:07PM (#31101890)

        Not to mention that it's trivial to get your machine re-authorized over the phone if you actually did buy your copy of the OS and end up being a false positive.

        Hell, Microsoft reauthorized my OEM copy of Vista Home Premium twice when I moved the install to a new system, in spite of the license saying they don't allow that. Awfully kind of them, I thought.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:09PM (#31101922) Journal

          it's a lot less trivial for folks who never bought it (and thus pirated) by just disabling this WAT. Nice to know MS is treating their paying customers almost as well as it treats the ones that don't pay.

          • Re:Son of WGA (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:27PM (#31102200)

            it's a lot less trivial for folks who never bought it (and thus pirated) by just disabling this WAT. Nice to know MS is treating their paying customers almost as well as it treats the ones that don't pay.

            Yup.

            Once again, the assorted DRM measures only affect paying customers.

            Anyone who is actually pirating the software has already cracked or bypassed the activation process in some way. They'll probably never have to deal with this WAT stuff.

            And some poor soul who actually purchased a legitimate copy of Windows (either retail, or with an OEM box) is going to get their software de-authorized because of a false positive.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:31PM (#31102272)

          In my book, any piece of software which requires getting on the phone is defective by design. You may not mind the ridiculous waste of time and effort which is calling tech support, but I sure as hell do.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by smartin (942) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:32PM (#31102278)

          Yes awefully kind of them to let you use the software that you bought and paid for.

          • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Interesting)

            by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:01PM (#31102902)
            Linux is always Genuine. And with the open distros, it doesn't cost a cent. You can put copies of it on as many computers as you want. You have server functionality if you want it - for free.

            As Microsoft keeps tightening up on people, I really have to wonder why anyone still puts up with it.

            I understand that they are a company, entitled to sell licenses to their stuff, and to enforce those licenses. But this seems to be changing the rules on legitimate users after they already bought the licenses.

            Doesn't matter to me. I run XP on a system not on a network and don't need to patch it for anything. Everything else I run is Linux and I haven't booted the XP box in over a year - probably more like two.

            I voted with my feet a long time ago.
            • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

              by butalearner (1235200) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:41PM (#31103580)

              As Microsoft keeps tightening up on people, I really have to wonder why anyone still puts up with it.

              I've always felt it was a kind of technological Stockholm Syndrome, or perhaps it should be called Redmond Syndrome.

              There are reasons to continue being Microsoft victims, of course, such as all those content providers whom Microsoft pays handsomely to ensure their products only work or only work reliably on Windows. And they provide their own proprietary development tools for everything - some of which are the best in the business, don't get me wrong - so that more and more new software (and more and more developers) only works on Windows. Other than that, people just stay because Windows is familiar. So people happily accept their abuse - indeed, they defend it - in return for these things. I'm sure people will jump in with anecdotes about "trying" Linux and failing miserably, but the counter-anecdotes are just as numerous. The only conclusion you can draw is that people accept the abuse because they don't know any better.

              And if that's not just like Stockholm Syndrome, I don't know what is.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by asdf7890 (1518587)

          Hell, Microsoft reauthorized my OEM copy of Vista Home Premium twice when I moved the install to a new system, in spite of the license saying they don't allow that. Awfully kind of them, I thought.

          That comes down to it being difficult to tell the difference between a certain amount of upgrading and a completely new machine, rather than MS being nice about it. The license says you must affix the proof of authenticity to the exterior of the machine. Upgrading the CPU which may well mean a new motherboard & RAM, which implies a new graphics card controller if you are using an integrated controller rather than a plug-in card, and may necessitate a complete reinstall - from the OS's perspective this l

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:43PM (#31102538)

          Can you give me the name of the tech support people you talked to, so that I can ask for them specifically? Your experience is quite different from mine. I had Windows XP on a Dell system. I had to replace the motherboard, Afterwards, I got messages that the software was no longer valid. I called a Microsoft support number. I think I was talking to someone in India who told me I would have to speak to Dell tech support. I said I thought it was a Microsoft Windows issue, since it wasn't Dell software, but was "Windows Genuine Advantage" from Microsoft telling me the software was invalid. When I kept insisting that I thought it was a Microsoft problem, the Microsoft support person kindly gave me a phone number. I hung up and called the number. It was a nonworking number. I called Microsoft support again. A different person also seemed to want to get me off the phone as quickly as possible - I'm sure that makes their performance metrics look good when they "solve" problems so quickly. I was given another different number to call. I hung up and again found that I had been given a nonworking number. I called back again. I was given yet another number to call, but I was told that, since it was a weekend, I would have to wait until Monday morning to get anyone at that number. I've just ignored the "WIndows Genuine Advantage" message since then, since the system is a game server for friends and family where no one actually sits at the console normally.

          That's not the only time when I've replaced hardware that I've encountered problems, especially when I've replaced a motherboard that wasn't the exact same model of motherboard. If you're replacing hardware in others' systems, they don't want to hear that now they've got to buy another copy of windows for several hundred dollars for a system that is several years old. In some cases, you might as well throw the system away, just because a new copy of Windows can cost more than a system is then worth, just because you upgraded or replaced a failed motherboard. Because Microsoft will say that the OEM copy only goes with the exact hardware in the system when it was purchased.

          • Re:Son of WGA (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:52PM (#31102734)
            Blame Dell - OEM license says they'll handle all tech support queries for the software. If you're not able to accept that you called the wrong person despite being told several times, I'm pretty sure it's your problem, not theirs.
          • Re:Son of WGA (Score:4, Informative)

            by Runefox (905204) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:13PM (#31103136) Homepage

            That sounds like a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of issue, to be honest. Of the years I've been activating (and transferring) licenses of all sorts in the local PC repair business, I've never once had Microsoft refuse to activate a legit license, regardless of the OEM (I also once screwed up and used a known illegit license just to get Windows installed for the sake of time and forgot to change it afterwards; The guy at the other end actually ended up giving me an activation code for it, too).

            Hell, the shop I worked at bought CoA's on the side from a vendor in Ontario. They were usually pulled from VLK systems and so on, and a few of them even had OEM branding. They basically always worked if you told the IVR that you had made an upgrade. :P

            Usually, I don't end up having to even talk to a rep over it. If I do, it's mostly "I'm a tech at a PC repair shop, I'm activating this for a customer after a reinstall due to [your choice of: severe malware infection, motherboard failure, hard drive failure, hardware upgrade, etc]. This is the key on the side of the system." - They usually comply.

            • Re:Son of WGA (Score:4, Interesting)

              by kimvette (919543) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:09PM (#31104026) Homepage Journal

              Of the years I've been activating (and transferring) licenses of all sorts in the local PC repair business, I've never once had Microsoft refuse to activate a legit license, regardless of the OEM

              I have; I have five MSDN subscriptions. One of those subscriptions is mine so I often have a bunch of test and staging workstations (or servers) installed, and to install some of the updates I've had to activate workstations which are going to be wiped after a few days. I always answer honestly when asked "Is this installed on more than one system?" and one asshole on their staff argued that MSDN is no different than any other license. I had to demand to speak to that moron's supervisor and explain that the employee is an idiot and needs to learn their product lines because MSDN explicitly allows for 10 concurrent installations on all of the software (with a couple of exceptions), a couple of items are allowed for production (not Exchange or SQL Server, obviously. I think it was XP and Office), and that I should not have to deal with activation for a suite of products which is intended for use in development and testing environments where the OS is reinstalled regularly, and where imaging may not work due to varying configurations. The manager was apologetic and agreed that I was right about the MSDN licensing, but that doesn't fix things when you have to wait on hold for anywhere from a minute to 20 minutes to speak with a supervisor when the void of a phone grunt doesn't know MSDN subscriptions exist.

              You could say to just lie and get off the phone quickly, but I disagree. Honesty is the best policy, and on top of that, supervisors and managers at Microsoft need to be made to feel the users' pain, and hopefully enough irate users will drive the incompetent phone grunts into quitting, resulting in a net gain for Microsoft and end users alike.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:49PM (#31102662) Homepage

          Yeah, because it seems perfectly reasonable for my OS to require me to call the developer periodically in order to remain functional. I'm shocked the contractor who built my house doesn't periodically change the keys to the front door so that I can validate every 6 months that I do, in fact, still own the house. Or that my car doesn't connect electronically every few months to make sure I still have the manufacturer's permission to drive it.

          Why would anyone have a problem with this sort of thing? As long as any malfunction can probably be fixed with a phonecall, I don't see how anything could possibly go wrong.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pwizard2 (920421) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:18PM (#31104168)

          Not to mention that it's trivial to get your machine re-authorized over the phone if you actually did buy your copy of the OS and end up being a false positive.

          And you see nothing inherently wrong with the concept that you have to call Microsoft and essentially beg them to reactivate a product you already bought and paid for? If your Windows 7 can be deactivated and essentially blacklisted on Microsoft's whim, what exactly did you purchase? Do you actually own a copy or are you just renting it? Phone reactivation may not be a long drawn-out process, but I still oppose it on principle. It's not my problem that Microsoft is supposedly losing money on piracy, so why should I be inconvenienced in the slightest by it?

          Not to mention that I would consider any program that phones home without my concept to be malware, even if Microsoft wrote it.

        • Re:Son of WGA (Score:4, Insightful)

          by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:45PM (#31104540)

          Microsoft reauthorized my OEM copy of Vista Home Premium twice when I moved the install to a new system, in spite of the license saying they don't allow that. Awfully kind of them, I thought.

          Good lord. You had to ask permission from Microsoft to upgrade your own rig, and you think they're just swell because they gave it to you.

          If only there was an OS that you could install on whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, without asking permission or paying a fistful of money each time. Oh, and free too. Well, that could never happen...

    • by DeadPixels (1391907) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:57PM (#31101740)

      I wonder if MS has figured out some way to deal with this issue? I wouldn't bet on it.

      Why should they, at least from their point of view? Corporate thinking here is just "well, maybe we'll get a few false positives, but gee, we'll have stopped those pirates!" They don't give a damn about catching innocents by mistake if it doesn't impact their bottom line. And it won't, because the average user is just going to phone tech support and deal with the grief and hassle, because they don't see any other option.

      • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:25PM (#31102166)

        I think it's more an extortion on the law-abiding clueless to get people to pay yet again for the same software, thus moving toward the renter model MS has been after for years.

        As if the windows tax wasn't bad enough. Windows 7 could be nothing more than a picture of Hitler with flashing eyes and still sell millions of copies hitchhiking on new PCs.

      • by Targon (17348) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:54PM (#31102776)

        A big problem isn't from those who intentionally pirate, but from those who place an illegal copy of the operating system on the computers of other people. It is amazing how many customers have had "someone come fix their computer" and that person used a Windows XP Pro CD with key to "fix" the problem. Then they turn off automatic updates. The moment the customer does an update of the OS, the key used flags the OS as not being genuine.

        One thing that I feel is needed when dealing with this sort of thing is for the OS to be the same, with the key used just being used to enable or disable features. In this way, you can "downgrade" from an Ultimate or Pro version to Home if you have this sort of thing happen to you. The so-called experts who put illegal copies of software on computers are the ones who need to go away, because they cause more trouble than they solve.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sponga (739683)

        "grief and hassle"
        Uhh last time I updated my motherboard and a couple other components I had to call in to get my key authenticated, it was hardly that painful. A lot of exaggeration about phone support around here, it can do a lot of good for your OS when people cannot even get on to a forum for help.

        It is not painful to call MS and get a new key, I did it under 10 minutes a couple times when switching around Motherboards.
        1.Phone in and enter your product key using the pad or read it to operator
        2.Operator

      • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:24PM (#31103316)

        ***Warning: Linux Advocate*** ***Warning: Linux Advocate***

        Sorry I'm late to the party. One of us should have been in the first 3 posts.

        Users DO have an option. My wife and teenagers use Linux at home all the time (only my wife is semi-"tech savvy"). Admittedly, they do have a resident "expert" to provide support and lessons, and fix the hard stuff (drivers, etc..). But they love not being bothered by malware, not needing anti-virus software, and the systems just work. In fact, my wifes' wifi card works fine under Ubuntu, but we couldn't get the drivers to work under XP. I'm setting them up with virtual machines soon, to run optimized images of XP for their games, and whatever else they want, in a secure sandbox.

        Yes, not all printers, video cards, or wifi cards are supported by all flavors. But apparently, that's the case with Windows, too. We just purchased a NAT, wifi router, and network color laser printer that all work fine with Win and Linux (the router and NAT came loaded with embedded Linux from the manufacturers). No special research involved. "Computer" doesn't have to mean "owned by Microsoft", and you don't have to worry about "drive-by" malware, or getting hijacked by cracked warez (sure, I believe your kids downloaded Visual Studio).

        You don't have to get bent over by your OS distributor. But you will as long as you let them.

    • Re:False Positives? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:03PM (#31101816)
      The thing is, for every person who pirates Windows 7, there is a fairly decent chance that they will be doing so with an activation code which a genuine user may have purchased.

      Nearly all the Windows piracy out there either uses corporate versions (hence the key is used thousands of times already) or they involve hacks that disable/neuter/replace the WGA components. As a general rule, they don't involve using the individual license keys that you get when you buy a retail or system builder version of Windows.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by melikamp (631205)

        Which leads us to consider the real motive for this "feature". I have to guess they call it market research, but a customer should simply regard as snooping.

        It really blows my mind that people use an OS which can be rooted and/or remotely disabled by a private US company, a convicted monopolist, any time it is connected to the Internet.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:54PM (#31101702) Journal

    Lauren Weinstein sends in news of a major and disturbing Microsoft anti-piracy initiative called Windows Activation Technologies, or WAT.

    Microsoft Phone Support: Thank you for calling Microsoft, all calls may be monitored for training purposes and to ensure quality of service. Now, what seems to be the problem ...
    Customer: That's right.
    *pause*
    Microsoft Phone Support: ... ? Sir, you have to give me more information.
    Customer: I'll tell you my problem. WAT is my problem.
    Microsoft Phone Support: Sir, I don't know the answer to that question, you haven't told me yet.
    Customer: I didn't ask you a question.
    Microsoft Phone Support: Then why did you call? Why do you need help?
    Customer: WAT's wrong. I can't activate Windows 7 but I just bought it!
    Microsoft Phone Support: Okay, let's try to diagnose this problem. What's wrong?
    Customer: Yes, I already said that, I know WAT is wrong! That is precisely why I called!
    Microsoft Phone Support: Wait, why are you calling?
    Customer: WAT!
    Microsoft Phone Support: I said, why are you calling?!
    Customer: WAT! WAT, GODDAMNIT, WAT!!!

    • by skuzzlebutt (177224) <jdbNO@SPAMjeremydbrooks.com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:11PM (#31101958) Homepage

      Customer: What's your name? I need to talk to your supervisor.
      Microsoft Phone Support: Hu.
      Customer: (head explodes)

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:56PM (#31101730) Homepage
    WAT? WATTF!

    Like serial numbers, product keys, and activation before, automatic auditing like WGA is proving not to be as effective as Microsoft would like... this is surveillance plain and simple. Looks like I'm going to need to update my article on problems with non-free software... (Free Software or: How I Learned... [trygnulinux.com]).
  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:58PM (#31101746) Homepage Journal

    Looks like the Win7 upgrade is off the table for me. Dual-booting XP & Kubuntu for the foreseeable future!

  • Note to self.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Itninja (937614) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:00PM (#31101774) Homepage
    ...skip update KB71033.
    • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:40PM (#31102458) Homepage Journal

      You'll be skipping the service packs, then.

    • Re:Note to self.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:43PM (#31102528) Homepage

      Get spare box (or VM, or even your own machine if it's beefy enough), install WSUS [microsoft.com] (Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Small Business Server 2008, Windows Small Business Server 2003), point clients at WSUS either with a GPO or in local policy (gpedit.msc), decline KB71033 (if it even gets pushed through WSUS, which it probably won't; WGA didn't), sit back and relax.

      This is also handy for any other "critical" updates that you might want to avoid, or any updates that are incompatible with your system, or may cause errors (Like KB977165 [arstechnica.com]), especially in environments where other people have administrator access to your machine and like to click things without reading them or you're managing several machines (friends, family, housemates, girlfriends, etc).

  • by Alcimedes (398213) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#31101780)

    I have a machine, purchased by my employer that has to be validated against the key server at the office.

    The machine however is at my house. The only way to make it validate is to ensure that I'm connected to the VPN when it attempts to find its key.

    Does this mean once a quarter (if I have this update) my machine will downgrade itself, make me hop on the VPN, revalidate etc.?

    That's just damn annoying. I'll probably end up cracking my legit install to stop this stupid behavior. When the cracked version of your software is less obnoxious than the legitimate version you have a problem.

    • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:40PM (#31102468) Homepage Journal

      I have a machine, purchased by my employer that has to be validated against the key server at the office.

      The machine however is at my house. The only way to make it validate is to ensure that I'm connected to the VPN when it attempts to find its key.

      You shouldn't be using a KMS-licensed computer away from the KMS server for such a long time. The whole point of KMS is to reduce licensing headaches by having clients automatically aquire a volume license and activate themselves, all without going over the Internet. Removing such a machine from the local network completely invalidates this.

      If you have a computer at home, it should be converted to a MAK license so that it doesn't need to communicate with the KMS server. Anyone mildly familiar with Windows 7 volume licensing should know this. I suggest you (or your system administrator) take a look at the Win7 Volume Activation Deployment Guide [microsoft.com] and the Volume Activation Planning Guide [microsoft.com]. You know, the things you should read before you do a wide-scale deployment of a new system.

      I'll probably end up cracking my legit install to stop this stupid behavior.

      So instead of connecting to your VPN four times a year, you'll put yourself in a position of almost certainly getting blacklisted? That makes sense.

  • Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Gigante de Justic (994299) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#31101782)

    I don't see how this is in any way news or shocking. WAT = rebranded WGA.

    The only major question I would have, is if it's only calling back every 90 days, how many false positives will it get from people doing major hardware upgrades over that three month span. (I'm assuming it compares the system specs with the license key as WGA did to determine if it was actually the same computer or not)

    And at least they just downgrade you - they could instead just shut your system down for a suspected license violation and prevent any log-ins.

  • Hoooly crap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#31101790)

    Ok, conspiracy theorist point of view here, apologies... but... I mean, they can basically disable/cripple anyone's computer for any reason without notice.

    Think of what governments would like to do with this little feature, during wartimes, etc...

    Do you really trust Microsoft that much? Do you really want them to have that much control over your computer at any point in time? Your ability to communicate online?

    Come on, this is really getting ridiculous.

  • Can it be avoided? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Killer Orca (1373645) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#31101796)
    You could manage to avoid WGA by unchecking the checkbox when it asked to install via update, then making sure it didn't mention un-selected updates. I wonder if judicious users can keep an eye out for this and do the same?
  • The 1960s called... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wandazulu (265281) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:02PM (#31101806)

    ...they want their mainframes back. This is not unlike IBM charging for use of their hardware and software on a per cycle basis. One of the people I worked with back in the 90s remembers earlier models of mainframes actually had mechanical car-like odometers that were read by a "meter reader" like the gas company, and IBM would send them a bill.

    And it is a guarantee that enterprising individuals will come up with a solution to WAT as my former co-worker did; crack the box and reset the numbers. Not enough to arouse suspicion, but just enough that they wouldn't be charged for a huge end-of-month load on the processor.

  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:03PM (#31101832) Journal
    Windows would be so much better without Microsoft.
  • News flash (Score:5, Informative)

    by 1s44c (552956) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:05PM (#31101850)

    If you buy a computer with windows on it you own the hardware. You never own the software. You license it on the condition that you agree to the EULA. Microsoft's EULA states that you give up all rights, they are not accountable for anything.

    Microsoft users have been and will always be slaves to the evil empire.

    • News flash (Score:3, Informative)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      You know that clause in your EULA that states that if they cannot take away a certain right, by law, the rest of the EULA is still binding?

      I wonder why they need that clause...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) *

      You license it on the condition that you agree to the EULA.

            This has not been tested in court AFAIK. What if, for instance, I don't agree with their terms? I added a condition to the EULA stating that Steve Ballmer can come to my house and personally collect my copy if they disagree with my using their software under the amended terms. Oh, letting their program install on my computer signified their acceptance of the new terms.

    • Re:News flash (Score:4, Informative)

      by linux_geek_germany (1079711) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:58PM (#31102846)
      Microsoft's EULA is - for example - not legally enforcable in Europe. If they shut down your software I'm pretty sure you could go to a court and get at least reimbursement. They can't override local laws with their EULAs.
  • by aBaldrich (1692238) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:07PM (#31101882)

    That means I have at most 90 days left!

    I'll start spinning counter-clockwise.

  • by VTBlue (600055) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:09PM (#31101930)

    //Microsoft Employee here//

    If you read the blog post it has some valid points about how it works:

    1. Voluntary patch
    2. When non-genuine copies deteced, OS functionality is NOT reduced
    3. Yes, Microsoft does decided to notify/annoy you that you're not using genuine software which is a good thing because most people don't know they are.
    4. The goal is reduce the number of Windows installations using pirated copies many of which include malicious code.
    5. No personally identifiable information is transmitted. Details on this can be found in ANY of our privacy policies which are standard across all Microsoft products.
    6. It does not apply to any enterprise installations where Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is used. @FranTaylor, lots of people use Windows on a server...what planet are you one? :)

    The slashdot headline is a little too Orwellian considering the body of the blog post. Looking forward to all the responses...I think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dudeman2 (88399)

      "Voluntary patch" ...And what happens if one does not choose to accept this "voluntary patch"? Do I lose access to other system updates, am I locked out of other Microsoft services? ... And is this "voluntary patch" going to be included in the next Windows 7 Service Pack as a mandatory component for non-corporate installs?

    • wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:39PM (#31102436) Homepage Journal

      i've been reading and posting here a long time, and i don't remember anyone coming right out and saying "microsoft employee here"

      i never expected someone to rip off their clothes, douse themselves in a1 steak sauce, and walk into the hyena enclosure

      you are very brave sir

      how well read is slashdot at microsoft?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      Voluntary patch

      Conveniently not, if they have updates turned on and automatically installed like they’re supposed to.

      Yes, Microsoft does decided to notify/annoy you that you're not using genuine software which is a good thing because most people don't know they are.

      Bullshit. Most people have a pretty good idea, most of them don’t care, and the ones who really don’t know really don’t care.

      The goal is reduce the number of Windows installations using pirated copies many of which include malicious code.

      That might be a convenient excuse, but it’s certainly not the goal.

    • by tomtomtom (580791) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:53PM (#31102766)

      I would really pick you up on your point (1) - I'm assuming this will be like Windows XP's "WGA Notification" patch which is also "voluntary".

      In that you can avoid installing it, IF you (i) don't use Automatic Updates; and (ii) remember to click "custom updates", then find it in the huge list of patches that comes up on a fresh install, then realize what it is, then deselect it, then click the box saying "no I really don't want this, don't ever show it to me again".

      Oh, and if you do have the bad luck to happen to accidentally install it, you can only uninstall this patch with a third-party crack.

      All in all, I'd say this patch is less "voluntary" than a lot of malware trojans are.

  • failure mode (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:10PM (#31101932) Homepage

    What happens if the domain name and IP addresses used for validation are null-routed?

  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:10PM (#31101942)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw6uZNz3i1g [youtube.com]

    Microsoft Licensing, MOTHER FUCKER, do you speak it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:17PM (#31102056)

    Essentially we don't buy anything anymore. Everyone out there seems to have control of my computer but me. Yes I can spend the time and disable some of the functions but it's constant cold war of disabling the latest functions only to get hit with the next round. I want to use software not fight OSs. Also I'm tired of fighting software licensing, period. I'm not from the camp that wants free software I pay for every piece, except I do love some open source like Open Office. The point is why do I constantly have to deal updates? My bloody HP Printer driver constantly demands to be updated. I'm not stupid and I know they aren't releasing updates that fast. Many of pay thousands of dollars just for our desk top let alone software and yet everyone insists they should have control of our machines at all times. 10, 15, 20 years ago this was not the case. 15 years ago due to corruption issues I used to reinstall my OS and all software once a month. The machine ran better and the software crashed less. It took me a couple of hours and gave me a fresh machine each time. These days I live in terror of redoing a machine. I have a lot of software and at best we're talking days and generally it's weeks before I can get all the licenses squared away again. It's reached the point where I dread buying a new machine.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:20PM (#31102088)

    Forgive me if this is a stupid question with an obvious answer, but I am not a Windows person. How does this work when the machine is not connected to the internet? Say, sequestered on it's own network, but not leaving the room.

  • by coffii (76089) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @01:29PM (#31102242)

    Trusted Windows Activation Technologies

  • Every time I don't have an Internet connection,win7 informs me within a few minutes that I "may not be running a legitimate copy". The link it provides to "resolve" this is a essentially a "buy win7 now" page. Without fail a few minutes after the Internet connection is restored, the warning goes away and the desktop watermark accusing me of piracy also disappears again.

    I'm actually more than a little peeved about being called a thief every time I resume my session from suspend -- during the few seconds it takes to reconnect -- or use my laptop out of range of my wireless. But my point is that if it wasn't phoning home, it wouldn't be telling me this *only* when there was no Internet connection; and it wouldn't stop telling me *only* when my connection was restored.

    Of course, no matter how peeved I am - as long as it doesn't get in my way, it's not worth waiting on hold for 20 minutes of my life to get a solution which may or may not resolve it.

    • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:09PM (#31103076)

      You have a corporate license it sounds like... And yes - it does check the license server for a valid license (KMS - Key Management Service). They do have a voluem license called MAK (multiple activation key) for machines that are connected and disconnected from the corporate network constantly that you can use.

      I have a regular retail license for Windows 7 and do not have this issue at all.

  • End of life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:11PM (#31104054) Homepage

    What happens when MS stop supporting windows 7 and turn the activation servers off?
    Does that mean it will become useless 90 days afterwards?

    What about for machines which aren't networked, or are on isolated networks which can't or aren't allowed to access the internet?

    If they provide a corporate version which doesn't need to phone home, then pirates will simply pirate that instead, just like they did with the corporate versions of xp that didn't need activation.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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