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Microsoft Privacy

Microsoft Just Wants a Little Look 482

waynegoode writes "Do you want to let Microsoft check if your copy of Windows is legit? How about if they promise it's anonymous? How about if they give you some free stuff? Recently Microsoft launched their Genuine Advantage Program to let you (and Microsoft) check if your OS is legal. They hoped for 20,000 responses but received 800,000 without offering anything but piece of mind. Now they are throwing in a bunch of free and discounted stuff including Photo Story 3 and the Holiday Fun Pack to try to get more volunteers. Read more at and Microsoft Watch."
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Microsoft Just Wants a Little Look

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  • Stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by troll ( 593289 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:08AM (#10670764) Journal
    If I pirated windows, why wouldn't I pirate this too?
    If anything, give away a tshirt or a hat or some other convention junk.
    • by Barlo_Mung_42 ( 411228 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:27AM (#10670849) Homepage
      This isn't aimed at those who know they aren't legit. This is targeted to those who purchase a PC from some 3rd rate shop and want to check that the cd they were given is authentic.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        i'm sure the brilliant minds at microsoft have devised/gleemed all sorts of angles on how this information might help them.

        somehow, i doubt 3rd rate shops even rank in the top 10.

      • by dubbreak ( 623656 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:00AM (#10670973)
        exactly. However much MS would like to run down every joe schmoe with a pirated copy of windows (3.11 through 2003 server) they are more likely to be going after companies that sell computers with non-legit copies of winXP.

        I wonder how many stores are selling computers with xp corp. and generated keys just so they can undercut the competition or make an extra buck?

        As for the free software.. no one was going to buy it anyhow, so why not give it out as a perk? I think my parents might be getting some legitimate crappy photo software this week, for free.
      • by ti.payn ( 745150 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @06:01AM (#10671280)
        I think you are 100% wrong and I am surprised that with all the conspiracy theorists who post here no one has really put together that MSFT is making the move towards updates only for verified, activated copies and, likely, attempting to close the non-activation loophole for volume licensed copies with Longhorn (which is how Windows is pirated today). The "we just want to make sure you didn't ... er ... buy a copy that was pirated" line is crap.

        They have to be careful and I think they know it. If you piss off mixed sites (household or business sites that have a mix or paid-for and pirated copies) you run a serious risk of migration to Linux (as Windows - or any OS - without updates is pretty worthless). Also, you have the old "you have some type of responsibility to your code" argument that was made around SP2. Not that I think MSFT gives a shit about the idea, but as a PR idea it is of value ("MICROSOFT CODE PLAGUES INTERNET DUE TO REFUSAL OF PATCH!").

        In reality, I think the recent trend towards copyright-with-an-iron-fist-double-checked will likely backfire. If every Joe User and even every Bob SuperAdmin had to pay full price (even OEM) for every single copy of Windows & Office (and Photoshop and x and y and z) out there, you would see a serious exodus to Linux and related. Fuck security, fuck philosophy ... Ask you Mom to pay $500 for Office and see how she reacts (your Mother might be an OSS super-coder, so please just take the example as an example and don't be a prat). Piracy has always made commercial software pricing palpable & if the commercial software world wants to challenge that thesis, I really believe they do so at their peril.

        Actually, I have thought for a while that if the OSS community wanted to heighten the Linux desktop penetration numbers, the best way would be to form a "We Hate Dirty Pirates" group and spend six/twelve months devising & implementing (for free) anti-piracy mechanisms for the Win32 platform. Come up with a killer scheme, and you would have done more than anyone for your platform.
        • by sepluv ( 641107 ) <> on Saturday October 30, 2004 @11:38AM (#10672515)
          That is where the stronger conspiracy theory put forward does not work (although there probably is a conspiracy here somewhere). Remember, Microsoft actually encourage piracy of their products in some circles (where as they force big law-abiding users like governments to pay up) as this is the only way they can stop everyone from moving to a better OS. These facts have been well documented.
        • by pla ( 258480 )
          and, likely, attempting to close the non-activation loophole for volume licensed copies with Longhorn

          First, plenty of pirated versions of XP just use a cracked activator. VLK might make up for a larger percentage, only because it takes less effort. Fix that approach, and they'll just shift the balance rather than significantly affect the total.

          Second, although to the average home user, the magic acronym "VLK" might sound like a godsend for piracy, for the average corporate IT person dealing with more
      • This is targeted to those who purchase a PC from some 3rd rate shop and want to check that the cd they were given is authentic.

        My first thought was that it is aimed at people who will do anything for a t-shirt; i.e., those "girls gone wild...just wait til daddy orders a copy of your 5 minutes of fame" types. Sort of a self-selecting sample population, IMO, making any of Microsoft's published statistics worth taking with a grain of salt.

    • Re:Stupid. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This isn't targeted at individual pirates. This is targeted at retailers who bundle in a pirated copy.

      The 800,000 who have submitted are end-users who *wanted* a legit copy and paid (some amount) for it but now are worried if it's legit. Notice (in the article) how easy MS is on illegit copies -- you submit BIOS and purchase information to help them spot the system builder/retailer, you get a courtesy key and get all critical updates nevertheless.

      There's a strong element of hypocrisy, though. Notice how M
  • by addaon ( 41825 ) <> on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:09AM (#10670767)
    Ewww... does it at least come in a plastic baggie?
  • Sure! (Score:5, Funny)

    by arose ( 644256 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:10AM (#10670773)
    Thay can check out my Debian!
    • Re:Sure! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nobody checks out Debian.
    • Re:Sure! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I know my copy of Windows XP is legit, I bought in a backalley in Malaysia. I didn't get the manual though?
  • by Famatra ( 669740 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:11AM (#10670774) Journal
    ...then will come harassment and demands to look and that will just drive people away from Windows towards Linux.

    Bullying people into buying a $15 CD might work, but $200 is a lot more, esp. when there are alternatives.
  • incentives (Score:4, Funny)

    by DeusExMalex ( 776652 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:12AM (#10670778)
    so as a reward for using their crappy software, they give us more crappy software?

    no thanks - i'll stick to open-source goodness.

    • Re:incentives (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GQuon ( 643387 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @07:31AM (#10671502) Journal
      The Microsoft way:

      1. Market crappy software as if it was good.
      2. Profit
      3. Price fix, break law, pay both political parties.
      4. Profit
      5. Use money to buy competition and hire better developers.
      6. Kill competing products. Make own software less crappy.
      7. Issue new version less crappy, but more bloated than the last one.
      8. Profit.
      9. Goto 3

      The result of this is software that's less crappy. Windows 3.1 , 95, 98, Me were pretty bad. XP, except Explorer, is actually pretty good, in my experience. Would it be this good without competition from Unix vendors, the open source community and Macintosh? I don't think so.
  • Windows Update refuses to work if you're using a pirated Windows XP CD Key, so why would giving you free stuff be that big of a controvercy? It's not like they're telling you that you can't visit their site unless you do this.
    • by JFitzsimmons ( 764599 ) <> on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:22AM (#10670831)
      Because there is actually a way to generate a new key so that you look at least somewhat legit. At least enough to let you update, install service packs, the whole deal, as far as anyone can tell. If Microsoft knows you're a pirate... that's anyone's guess.
  • Everyday (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Everyday I feel guilty about purchasing not 1, but 2 legitimate copies of WindowsXP @ retail price.
  • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:14AM (#10670785) Homepage Journal
    But it would probably be rather easy for M$ to keep a nice tidy database of who has "legit" windows vs. those who don't. Also, this could, with trivial modification, be used to detect duplicate product activation keys....might it be something along the lines of a means to find these keys for a future crackdown?

    The article states that there is "no 'stick' as yet", and perhaps there never will be any official action taken against those with pirated copies who foolishly enough decide to tell Microsoft about it. [ After all, if they suddenly started sending out flying attack squads of lawyers, that would make for some bad press. ] However, how long will it be before such a check is integrated into the OS, and checked every time the computer goes online? It certainly wouldn't be that difficult to program in such a "feature', with the added bonus of locking down the system should the results not be acceptable.....

    At any rate, it makes me sort of pity all those poor windows users who are going to get screwed over...and makes me very glad that I don't use windows.
    • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:24AM (#10670843) Homepage
      They're more concerned in targeting the people who are selling copies of Windows as legit retail copies, when they're just repackaged pirated versions. They don't have much interest in going after the average user, because the average user isn't worth the trouble. If they can shutdown a major retail pirate outlet, or find a medium-sized business running 500 copies of Windows that are all pirated; it would be a pretty good deal for them.

      People that know they are pirating aren't going to run this tool (unless they're idiots). So, most of those that run it will either know for certain their copy is legit (or think it is) and 99.9% of them will probably turn out to be legit. It's the guy that bought his copy at the 2-bit shop down the street that finds out that it's not a legit copy that might just get pissed enough to turn in the bastard that sold it to him. He's not responsible for having it, and MS knows that. They want the phony retailer, not the poor schmuck that bought from him.
      • Hrmn. Using "free" software to convince people to be stool pigeons. That's kind of evil, I guess.....playing the greed of the end user off against the greed of the habitual pirate....

        Actually, it's sort of ingenious when you think about it.....for a modest expenditure of manpower setting up the authentication system [ they already have mondo loads of coders working for them, anyway, so what's one more project? ] and giving away some software they wouldn't be able to scalp for a high price, they potentia
        • If MS provided decent after-sales support to people that bought legitimate copies, this would actually be a very useful tool to some of those people.

          I mean that's the only reason anyone would pay for an operating system, right?

        • Evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:41AM (#10671091)
          How is it evil to want to find people selling illegally copied software as legit? Look, if I pay for something, I expect it to be legit, as in I expect it to be what I wanted, made by the company, not stolen, etc. If I go and and buy something from a store, I expect that it's not stolen good. Likewise, if I buy software, I expect it's a legit copy, not an illegal one.

          Look, you can argue that people should be allowed to make copies of software you have and distribute them. That is a defensible alternate view of copyright. However to sell software as legit when it's not, that's just fraud. We are talking about bussinesses lying to consumers to make extra money.
        • by Tim C ( 15259 )
          If this was RedHat, encouraging people to report GPL violations with the promise of a similar amount of free stuff, would it still be evil? All they're doing is trying to enforce their licence; or is that not allowed, as "they already have plenty of money"?
          • by Sleepy ( 4551 )
            If this was RedHat, encouraging people to report GPL violations with the promise of a similar amount of free stuff, would it still be evil?

            Are we really comparing apples to apples?

            Is Redhat a convicted monopolist?
            Does Redhat have a history of serious privacy violations?
            Does Redhat make it difficult to interoperate with competing OS vendors?
            Under Microsoft, do you really "own" your data?

            All they're doing is trying to enforce their licence; or is that not allowed, as "they already have plenty of money"?
      • They don't have much interest in going after the average user, because the average user isn't worth the trouble.

        Is the RIAA aware of that? They seem to be going after a lot of "average users".
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) * on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:14AM (#10670788)
    From their site:

    Using genuine Microsoft software ensures that you get world-class reliability, security, and support...

    I don't think I need to comment on the reliability and security issue around here. But I have a strange feeling if Microsoft really gave
    "world-class" support, half of Slashdot's readers would be out of jobs. I think they need to come up with a more realistic explanation of why it's worth spending 300 dollars for Windows.
    • I think they need to come up with a more realistic explanation of why it's worth spending 300 dollars for Windows.

      To help pay the wages for the new MS campus in India??
      /me ducks

    • by Anonymous Coward
      get world-class reliability, security, and support...

      No, they mean that Windows is about as reliable, secure and supportive as the world at large is today. ;-)
      • No, they mean that Windows is about as reliable, secure and supportive as the world at large is today. ;-)

        Do you mean the real world or the world inside of Bush's fantasy bubble? :-)

    • Free clue (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @05:28AM (#10671207) Journal
      Here's some free clue for you: "support" doesn't mean they'll come administer your servers for free, or write your programs for you. Which is what would put people out of job.

      It means you can call when you have a problem.

      And "world class" is a very relative term. Support from most companies is a sick joke nowadays. Support people are something like taxes: you pay them because you have to, but you don't want to pay a cent more than you absolutely have to. So the ones hired are the cheapest monkeys who can read a bulleted list. Occasionally even the right bulleted list, but no biggie if they read the grocery list instead.

      So it's not even hard for MS to actually be in the top tier. You know, the thing about the one-eyed man among the blind.

      E.g., having spent the last 2.5 years dealing with WebSphere, which is a buggy unfinished sick joke if you actually use EJBs. And reporting the bugs to IBM. Now IBM's WebSphere support is enough to drive one neurotic, to drinking, or both. And we're not talking support to end-(lusers) but to a big corporate client.

      It's a feat just getting past the mindless check-list reading drones. They don't even read what we send them. The first _weeks_ are spent just with them sending us canned "solutions" off their check lists, that don't even match what we wrote in the bug description. That idiotic.

      And once you got past those, it's like dealing with a corporate sized Wally (from the Dilbert comics.) It's an endless delay tactic. Including, but not limited to, asking if they can close the bug report just because they want to go on vacation. (No, I'm not making this up. It's too sad to make up, folks.) Or sending us a Jar file as a "fix" that didn't solve the problem, or one even broke WebSphere completely. Or once, after such a "fix" didn't solve the problem, they sent us the exact same file again, as the new "fix".

      Or to get you an idea of software quality: they never run the tests we send them to reproduce the problem, and obviously don't have any test cases of their own.

      An annoyed coleague finally actually asked them what test cases they used to prove they fixed the problem, 'cause their fix did nothing for us. The answer? A longer version of "no, we didn't actually test it, we didn't even reproduce the problem, but we're confident that we've fixed it. And we thatk you for testing it for us." (Again, I'm not even making it up. They thank us for acting as testers for them.)

      Or here's one actual support case that didn't involve a bug: Another team needed to import a SSL certifficate to get IBM's WebSphere Portal Server to talk to another server. So they ask IBM. After getting nowhere with the phone support, they actually pay a big heap of money to get an IBM "consultant" to come show them.

      Again, not some underpaid, overworked telephone support slave. A consultant. IBM consultants cost a small fortune.

      So the consultant messed around with the server for a _week_, and then said something to the effect of "uhh... I have no bloody idea. Try searching for key store files in all directories and importing your certificate in all of them. It's got to be one of those. I have no idea which, though."


      So, well, again, it's not even hard for MS to be better than such clowns. It may not be the ideal support by the client's standards, but it's waay better than the sick joke you get as support from some other companies.
      • Re:Free clue (Score:3, Informative)

        While WebFear certainly has holes in it you could float an aircraft carrier through, we've had zero problems with support over the past three years. Call in a pr, explain the issue to the drone in India on the phone, tell them the problem is in a production environment and you get a call back within a few hours from an actual engineer. I've gotten support for them on an unsupported OS and their fixes worked (running WSAD on Fedora Core 2).

        You can use iKeyman to figure out what certs you're using, btw. J
  • The MS van (Score:5, Funny)

    by xsupergr0verx ( 758121 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:16AM (#10670797)
    C'mon kids, check and see if your windows copy is legitimate. I've got candy...
  • Pie Rat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xombo ( 628858 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:17AM (#10670803)
    It's not so much for Joe user with his activation crack. I have a feeling this is more-or-less sniffing out people who use the Corp. Edition that is activation-free and thereby never needs to be registered, etc. and can run Windows Update to begin with (I've not yet found a copy of Home or Pro that can get on Windows Update "safely").

    They may not shut down your copy but you can bet they'll look into the company that bought that strand of registration keys that you just so happen to be piggy-backing on.
    • Without going into too much detail, theres both a "win update fix" that will alter the cdkey in such a way as to allow windows update to run (but if you let it reboot before changing back, windows wont boot ever again), and also some reg key that will disable the cdkey entirely and thus win update runs. I'm obviously not going to link to the first, and I dont know enough about the second to give more info-- It was an option in some reg frontend that was for tweaking speed and such.
    • Whether or not Windows tries to activate itself is all handled locally.. you don't need to "piggy back" on a legitamate key. They never thought of making a whitelist for the corporate keys, so as long as it appears legitimate, Windows Update will happily serve you. Althought I heard they blacklisted the famous FCKGW key from the Devil'sOwn release. Adding a whitelist for CD Keys is something they're supposed to be doing with Longhaul.

      I'm more interested to learn what would happen if someone with an ille
      • I'm more interested to learn what would happen if someone with an illegitamte copy of Corporate with a generated key would be detected as genuine or not.

        Well, I have Windows XPSP2 installed on another boxen sitting here that is using the corporate edition and a VLK. Ran the Photo Story 3 for Windows "offer" and it didn't say anything (installed the ActiveX control, it ran for a second, then skipped ahead to the download instructions for Photo Story 3). So, either it's not reporting if you "passed" or "

  • ehhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:17AM (#10670805) Homepage
    While you might have to trust that they're not going to try to hunt you down, it really does seem at this point that they are simply seeking to inform unsuspecting users that they may have received an illegit copy of Windows from a retailer. Most people who are intentionally pirating, aren't going to try to validate it. The focus of this campaign isn't try to catch Joe-Bob that loaned his copy to his sister, it's trying to get consumers who bought a copy of Windows at the corner PC store to go back and demand a legit copy.

    I was going to run it, but it doesn't work under Mozilla. Oh well.
  • Clearly Broken (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:17AM (#10670807)
    (posted as AC to protect my identity)

    I have bought enough Dell's to have windows XP CDs out the ying-yang, but I hate having to go through the activation process each time I format a PC. I own licenses for each computer, all I want is a clean windows installation with no Dell OEM crap. So this is what I did:

    1) Downloaded the Devil's 0wn corp version of windows.
    2) Slipstreamed SP2 into the install CD.
    3) Downloaded a keygen for SP2.
    4) Installed Windows with serial from keygen.

    I just downloaded Microsoft's authentication tool, and it said my copy was valid. I can download updates, their crappy photo software, and everything else. Im sure Microsoft is throwing millions of dollars into R&D to create this elaborate activation and serial number system, and yet their own tool says my obviously pirated copy is valid. Way to go.
    • I was wondering about this myself, since finding key generators and such is so trivial my 70 year old mother could probably do it. Thanks for posting your info.

    • I speak from experience with a client. He has a Toshiba Laptop.

      The Toshiba guys have some sort of CLONED CD from a hard drive, and when something goes wrong with your legitimate Windows XP (Home - ack), there's no choice. You can't just insert the Microsoft Windows XP CD and choose "repair". No. You have to insert the cloned CD from Toshiba, make it repartition your HD, format it, and install their already-tweaked version.

      Microsoft could do their users a BIG favor if they forced their re-vendors to distri
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Overall outcome: 100% of the responses were from legit copies of Windows.

    Conclusion: Piracy doesn't exist for Windows.

    Hey, if BSA can do statistics, so can we.

  • As i could see there are only two items being offered that are free. The rest is ... just a clever(?) way to sell more stuff and generate more profit... Just another marketing ploy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:24AM (#10670845)
    Posted anonymously to protect my job.

    Microsoft isn't going after the end users with this program. They honestly don't care whether you personally bought and paid for Windows, because face it, no one goes to Best Buy and plunks down $100 - $300 for an operating system. The goal of this program is to show the value to users of having a genuine copy of Windows. Create "mindshare" if you will, that genuine Windows has greater value than your borrowed/downloaded/pirated copy. This will hopefully, in turn, encourage users to demand genuine Windows when they buy a PC. Again, face it, when people buy a new PC, they buy Windows. Most never upgrade after that. By creating users who ask for genuine Windows when they buy a PC, Microsoft can indirectly assert pressure on small OEM's and System Builders, where the largest amount of counterfeit Windows is sold to unsuspecting users. Even Microsoft realizes it's unfair to punish users who honestly believe their copy of Windows is legit.

    You'll notice that those who fail validation are asked to provide (largely generic) information regarding their PC and their purchase. They get a 'courtesy key' in most cases that allows them access to the content (creating the image of a kinder, more benevolent Microsoft). It also goes straight into a reporting database where Microsoft can track trends like which resellers are selling large amounts of counterfeit copies of Windows.

    Regardless of your software ideals, stealing software is wrong, and it's certainly within Microsoft's rights to restrict premium content to genuinely licensed copies of Windows. Validation isn't locking any genuinely licensed users out of any content; in fact, a large percentage of those people with counterfeit licenses will still be able to access downloads. Microsoft has also committed to allowing all counterfeit licenses to access critical security updates via Automatic Updates, probably so they don't get lambasted in the press for "denying users security fixes."

    I'll try to answer any further questions that get posted as a reply to this post.
    • by Tracer_Bullet82 ( 766262 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:47AM (#10670935)
      Read my post further up, i was wondering the real motivation for this.

      Regardless of your software ideals, stealing software is wrong

      hHere in my country, a 'developing" nation I'd wager the piracy rate(for MS) is at 70-80%. Roll back 5 years ago,, it'd be near 100%.

      Piracy has actually helped MS entrech its position. Nowadays, the instances of non MS OS or office(in the office) software is still near 0%.. All "pirates" who uses MS in the past(i.e Univ) is now working, and they wouldn't be interested in learning about new "tools"

      I'd wager MS would not view 'stealing' that led them to a dominant position is wrong.

      IMHO all developing or poor nation starts with 100% piracy rate, as they gradually become more prosperous the rate will go down. The softwares most pirated will benefit the most from this growth.
    • It also goes straight into a reporting database where Microsoft can track trends like which resellers are selling large amounts of counterfeit copies of Windows.

      So what's to stop people (who know they have illegitimate copies of Windows) from colluding and falsely reporting innocent vendors?

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:25AM (#10671048)
      It also goes straight into a reporting database where Microsoft can track trends like which resellers are selling large amounts of counterfeit copies of Windows.

      Sounds like a great opportunity for a joe-job of a b&m computer store.

      1) Get a list of known warez registration keys
      2) Get a utility that lets you reset your XP registration key
      3) Get a DSL or dial-up account which gives you a new IP every time your reconnect.
      4) Find a key on the list of warez keys that will fail the test, then set your installed XP to that bogus one, dial-in for new IP and run the test.
      5) When it fails, fill out report form indicating local BestBuy or whatever victim you prefer.
      6) Rinse, repeat until local BestBuy is raided by the SPA/MPAA/RIAA/DHS/DHL/UPS.
    • Validation isn't locking any genuinely licensed users out of any content

      Perhaps not, but it was product activation that pushed me away from windows. I have legit copies of windows from 95 to xp. Once the activation stuff started, I started to look at linux. The hassle of having to reactivate my hardware when I changed things really bugged me. I know that someone is going to post how this isn't really a problem, you can change lots of hardware before failing activation, etc. From my perspective, it was the end of the road for microsoft. I don't ever want to be dependent on having to phone up anyone in the middle of the night (once was enough) and get asked stupid questions in order to prove I had a real copy, and get logged on a M$ database.

      I vowed not to do it again, and I didn't. Initially I never installed a copy of windows, etc, until I had acquired a cracked copy first (I still bought the legit licence), but I also started to look around. I now use linux and mac's but I'm not ever going down an activation type pathway ever again.

      So whose problem is this? Well, actually, not mine. Its microsoft's problem, because they aren't getting any more money out of me, and I've gotten a few people interested in mac's as well.

      So no, I didn't get locked out of microsoft software. But even moving part way that way was too much for me.

      My 2c worth

  • I've seen several comments wondering why a person who knows they have a pirated copy do this. This isn't for the "casual pirate". This is for people who saw a deal on the Web and got XP Pro for $50 and installed it. They'll "phone in" and Microsoft will tell them their copy is pirated, then ask where they got it. Voila! Pirate shop busted. That is what this is all about.
  • but there ARE some people out there still running FCKGW-* keys who are completely clueless as to the legality.

    I worked for a computer store, and we had at least 4 scenarios in 6 months where one of our customer bought Office/Windows XP off ebay, then we try to upgrade to SP1 to fix a problem and ... wait ... FCKGW-*. I imagine it's a common scenario, and most of these people WILL drop the $100 for a legal copy upon finding out they got screwed.
  • by IronChefMorimoto ( 691038 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:33AM (#10670878)
    Someone mentioned that this might be a way of hunting down errant, illegal copies of non-product activation corporate editions of MS Windows products. I would take that a step further and venture to say that this will be the next step in "product" activation. Instead of requiring the hassle of the product activation phone call/activation code entry for corporate clients, they will, instead, find ways to monitor corporate clients for errant product IDs floating around outside the bounds of a corporate purchasers' license terms.

    I would suspect that Microsoft could easily come up with some way to monitor an individual corporate license being used during product updates. Maybe they keep a head count of how many licensed copies are out there under a particular company's account. When 2041 licenses are detected for a corporate account of only 1000 licenses, Microsoft will skip going after the pirates and basically take the issue to the company in terms of fines and/or a nice big Microsoft bill.

    Could they do it with IPs? Make each company register a domain and/or IP range for corporate clients? Probably not, given that corporate clients could be working mobilely and the prospect of spoofing. But perhaps they could account for that and start issuing a set # of desktop licenses (that don't move) and a set # of laptop/mobile licenses that can move off the network. A little harder to say "you gave out more product IDs/licenses than allowed," but still a means of tracking licenses outside a set number of mobile clients. There would most likely be a threshold of, say, 20% more than the license limit before the company got called on it.

    I could see this as Microsoft's wakeup call to its corporate customers. Control your licenses, or you will be charged/fined accordingly. It might hurt business for Microsoft and cause some changeover to other systems, but for the most part, businesses are going to have to do business with software that meets their needs. And as long as Microsoft is the dominant player in the corporate world for desktop computing, businesses will have to make the effort to meet their licensing demands.

    • When a paid-for corporate license number gets leaked to the Internet and used to manufacture rip-off CDs, they could trace the original company and try to sue it.
      However, it will probably be very hard to get a company to pay for something like this, and then still have more corporate customers closing this deal.
      What company wants to get liable for a leak like this, which will be impossible to trace to an indvidual, and for which it will be impossible to hold someone responsible?

      In the end it will be cheape
    • But perhaps they could account for that and start issuing a set # of desktop licenses (that don't move) and a set # of laptop/mobile licenses that can move off the network.

      So how would they know if a desktop license would move from the network? As you said, they can't check IP ranges, because this won't allow you to change ISP without notifying MS. And then MS has to deal with private networking IPs (RFC 1918 []).

      And can't just a pirate use a mobile license key instead?
    • Control your licenses, or you will be charged/fined accordingly.

      So what is Microsoft's internal corporate license key?

  • If they are offering free copies that are *nix compatible I am all for it.
  • by Mike deVice ( 769602 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:39AM (#10670901)

    You know, this really makes me wonder.

    The whole point of making users "activate" a new installation of Windows is to discourage the use or distribution of pirated copies. It didn't really work. The honest people stayed honest, but were inconvenienced. And the pirates kept pirating.

    I might guess that activation is probably something of an inconvenience to MS as well. It didn't work as well as they had hoped, and in fact they had to keep track of illegitimate or "leaked" product keys in addition to the good ones. And it still hasn't stopped piracy.

    So now MS is throwing "carrots" out to people in an effort to weed out illegal copies of Windows. They haven't said just what they're going to do with the data they've collected, or how they'll expect users to deal with it. More work for them, and potential pain for those that thought they had purchased legal copies of Windows, but didn't.

    I don't know if I have a point... but this all just looks bad to me, and does seem to make product activation more and more of a hassle for everybody all around. It just seems to escalate, and I wonder if this is a case of diminishing returns. Maybe it gives MS some benefit (perhaps the marketing people get good data out of it somehow), but discouraging piracy doesn't seem to be one of them, from what I can see.


  • Greater reliability? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nermal6693 ( 622898 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:43AM (#10670922)
    Genuine Microsoft software offers you greater reliability

    Does it? A pirated copy of Windows still has exactly the same code as a genuine one. How can MS say that genuine software is more reliable?
    • Original Windows is pressed, while priated copies are burned. Every child knows that a pressed CD's lifetime is between 10 and 100 years; a burned CD would last between 5 and 15 years. Ergo, genuine Windows is more reliable!

      Oh, of course, the current CPUs won't exist anymore in 10+ years except in museums... ;-)

    • A pirated copy of Windows still has exactly the same code as a genuine one.

      For the moment. How can MS say that genuine software is more reliable?

      By denying known pirated keys access to future updates.

      Personally, I'm all in favour of an anti-piracy drive. In this day an age, when you get get a decent OS for free, there really is no excuse for pirating Windows anymore. Cost doesn't come into it - perfectly serviceable alternatives exist and can legally be had for the cost of a CD-R.


  • Can you get Bob? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by carcosa30 ( 235579 )
    Are they giving away Microsoft Bob along with those "Hot new holiday visualizations for Media Player?"

    I have a better idea.

    How about I don't run Windows at all. Ever.
  • Just used it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @03:50AM (#10670941)
    I'm running a pirate copy of Windows XP SP2 on my scratch partition. I'm a Fedora guy that's interested in distros and operating systems, and have XP installed on my scratch partition right now. I used a pirate copy for the install as the one I was forced to purchase from Dell will destroy my main OS partition on my hard disk.

    Interesting facts:
    1. It works in Firefox. If the ActiveX control doesn't download, they give you a .hta you run instead (pity there's no XUL version, but hey...).
    2. They don't show the results.

    Contrary to what another poster said, Windows Update seems to work fine with a pirate copy of XP, at least this one.
  • Is it in M$'s own interests to allow people to pirate windows? afaik, they make most of their money selling windows to companies.

    If heaps of home-users pirate microsoft products, and become accustomed to them, this will encourage companies to use microsoft products.

    Can someone more knowledgable on this matter explain why this is/isn't the case? (And yes, I can see the parallels with the music industry, but this is about microsoft, not them)
    • by mcleodnine ( 141832 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @05:00AM (#10671136)
      No, I'm not more knowlegable, but like many on /. I too have an opinion ;)

      Early adoption of Dos/Windows by 'casual' pirates is why Microsoft penetrated the market so quickly. (Tipping point again!)

      Microsoft made HUGE leaps in market share by using "educational discounts" and having ineffective copy protection (for retail/business/edu versions). This merely accelerated the adoption process.

      Bulletproof copy protection at a crucial time, like, say Windows 3.1/3.11 would have forced people to shell out hard cash for an OS, and would have allowed room for real market competition from the likes of OS/2, or the Apple hardware/OS bundle (granted, the Apple setup had its own lock-in woes). Instead, they played the crack dealer ("First one's on the house,kid") and reap the benefits of users' unwillingness to change to something new, and presented Industry with a workforce more conversant in the Microsoft Way. Eventually, people want the next version/office suite so bad, they're willing to pay for it.

      It was a win/win for MS, and the consumers who are getting boned today are only doing so because, well, it's a habit.
  • Due to a hard drive failure and a couple times of general xp wonkiness, i've re-installed my legitimate copy of xp enough times that I couldn't activate my latest install unless I called them on the phone.

    Nope, not gonna happen.

    So I broke out my 8-in-1 CD a friend burned for me and installed a corporate license of xp.

    Nice job, ms.
  • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:11AM (#10671010) Journal
    The fewer who "pirate," the more who will actually realize their disgruntlement with Microsoft and Windows, the more who will manage this in a constructive way (such as switching to Linux, etc...).
  • The asian gal near the title is part of the offer right?
    I am gonna give this survey a ride.
  • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:31AM (#10671060)
    Whoa, check it out... Firefox is in the FAQ []. In bold no less! Here's the quote:
    Q. Will the validation process work with non-Microsoft Web browsers?

    A. Yes, you can complete the validation process using a non-Microsoft Web browser. Mozilla Firefox users: although the instructions for the validation tool executable file say to open or run the file from its current location, Firefox will not present you with either of those options. Instead, save the file to your PC and then double-click on the file to run it.
    Im not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing that Microsoft is starting to officially recognize and acknowledge its competition.
    Interesting either way though.
    • by Gilesx ( 525831 ) *
      Microsoft are recognising the competition here because it potentially earns them revenue by selling a quantity of legit versions of XP. I don't think they would be quite so forthcoming with Firefox support for a service they don't stand to directly gain from - for example, I don't see windows update support through Firefox happening any time soon.
    • by geg81 ( 816215 )
      What is definitely a good thing, however, is that Firefox will not run the file from its current location...
  • I Buy (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) * on Saturday October 30, 2004 @04:38AM (#10671079) Homepage
    Now they are throwing in a bunch of free and discounted stuff including Photo Story 3 and the Holiday Fun Pack to try to get more volunteers.

    Since I am an extremely savvy and smart customer I shall certainly enroll in this program.

    Just imagine how nice the Holiday Fun Pack will look at my recently purchased time share appartment in Cabo San Lucas.

  • I paid for my copy of Windows, as in ordered it and paid cash, not as in got it with my PC. If it isn't legit, then I've been ripped off at least as much as they have, and I'd really like to know, so I can take appropriate action against the people I bought it from (warn them they have counterfeit software, stop doing business with them, whatever).

    How about if they promise it's anonymous?

    Honestly, why would I care either way? They already have my name, address, email address, etc from when I ordered som
  • Windows ME (Score:3, Funny)

    by ZhuLien ( 150593 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @05:17AM (#10671182) Homepage
    out of curiosity after reading slashdot, I thought I'd give it a go:

    "Unfortunately we are unable to automatically validate your Windows installation. It appears that you are using an operating system that is not currently supported by the Windows Genuine Advantage validation process. We hope that you'll return later to retry the validation process so that you may enjoy the full benefits of genuine Microsoft software.

    Guess what? Windows ME is on the computer I tested with!
  • This is another 'brilliant' move on their part...

    They get to sell people a load of crap: half price unoriginal software that they'll still be making a a profit on, that people think is a good deal for them; or services at reduced cost that require you to pay for every month.
    Its a normal capitalist technique - make contact with the consumer and you'll invariably sell them something.
    The sort of people that will buy this just want to be sold something, anything.

    And I think, more importantly, they're engender
  • by geg81 ( 816215 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @06:11AM (#10671309)
    Full compliance with Microsoft licensing terms is good for FOSS. As long as people live with the misconception that Microsoft software is affordable, because they pirate it or don't bother buying the right version, Microsoft's proprietary formats will remain entrenched. Furthermore, people should also take into account the impact on TCO that attempts to comply with vendor restrictions have (I'm sure Microsoft doesn't count that in their TCO studies).

    To put it differently, OpenOffice would probably have a big jump in market share if all the pirated or incorrectly licensed versions of MS Office wordlwide were replaced with OpenOffice.
  • Desperation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @06:19AM (#10671333) Homepage Journal
    Let's look at a few fun factoids, shall we?

    1. AFAIK, XP is the primary version of Windows being sold by MS atm. There might be others for corporate peeps...Server 2003, etc...but I'm talking in terms of home users. ME is still *supported* AFAIK, but from what I read 95 isn't and I don't know about 98...but even if it is, it's not still generating MS money. So from what I can see, XP alone is pretty much where it's at in terms of current home user OS revenue for them.

    2. There seems to be a fair amount of evidence that XP is currently being pirated to an insane degree. We know about MS bringing out Starter Ed in Asia to try and combat piracy there, and they had the serial number top 10 etc etc.

    3. Although it's true that it is now at that stage of the game where from MS' point of view, pirate XP on someone's machine is still more desirable than legit Linux, (because of mindshare retention) they have been starting to feel (at least compared to what they're used to) a rather nasty profit pinch over the last year or two. Because of this, it's understandable that given where they are now, they're probably more interested in stopping piracy at the moment than they ever have been before...however, they're not likely to be successful IMHO because

    4. They've destroyed/damaged consumer trust/credibility to the point where they're not going to be getting it back. Ever. For anyone who's been paying attention, Microsoft's list of crimes is a mile long, including violation of the Sherman Act, raping/destroying various other software companies and acquiring their software through dubious means, and more relevant to this particular topic, suspicion of engaging in various forms of surveillance of Windows users. I'm guessing Gates could quite literally donate his entire fortune to charity at this point and it wouldn't substantially improve most people's opinion of him. The PR crisis is actually Microsoft's biggest problem...Bigger than Linux...bigger than anything else currently challenging it. The plain and simple fact is that people passionately hate the company, in large numbers...or at the very least seriously distrust it...and it is utterly impossible to continue to successfully do business when the majority feel that way towards you.
    Gates would do very well at this point to acquaint himself with what Machiavelli wrote about a leader who allows himself to become hated.

    Because of this, however, I'm assuming that only the most gullible of casual users for the most part are going to go along with allowing Microsoft to check their copies of Windows...And I also have a feeling Microsoft know that. The line about improving reliability is one of their usual transparent-as-glass lies.
    • Re:Desperation (Score:3, Informative)

      by rfunches ( 800928 )
      ME is still *supported* AFAIK, but from what I read 95 isn't and I don't know about 98...but even if it is, it's not still generating MS money.

      Support for Windows products up to Windows 95 was discontinued some time ago, and IIRC Windows 98 support will end next year. MS's plan is to only support ME and XP for home users, and Server 2000/2003 for...well...servers, just about forcing businesses and schools that run nonsupported OS's to upgrade.
  • by Lonath ( 249354 ) * on Saturday October 30, 2004 @06:31AM (#10671367)
    came up to me in office hours yesterday telling me how he just bought a laptop, but didn't get an OS on it. He figured he would just "borrow" a copy of Windows from a friend and he couldn't get it to install on his laptop for some reason. It kept rebooting and it wouldn't accept the Windows disk. He came to me looking for help, but I didn't help him. Instead, I told him that I wouldn't help him with installing it because I don't like to help people to copy things illegally, and boy did he get pissed and storm away. He deserves it, however since he is a CS major, and although I can understand that people are greedy, lazy fucks who don't want to pay for anything they can get for free, you shouldn't pirate software if you're a CS major. That's just ignorant and makes me hope that he'll flunk out of CS (not that I would or could do it intentionally because of how uniform grades are determined), but just because he doesn't get where the money comes from that he will pay his rent some day when he gets a job. So yeah, MS has a problem, but I can't believe people wouldn't know if their Windows is legal or not. Generally it comes pre-installed by a big company, or they go to a store and buy it in a nice shiny box. Shrug.
  • It doesn't work. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by karmatic ( 776420 ) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @12:35PM (#10672917)
    I set up a machine in VMWare, installed using a key from the MSKey 4in1 VLK, product range 640-500 to 640-600.

    It validates fine.

    I have MSDN universal, so I'm fine, but it seems that the "is it valid" thing should actually detect invalid copies.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell