Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Anti-Piracy or Anti-Privacy? Windows Product Activation

By DeadBaby in Op-Ed
Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:43:11 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

As everyone knows by now Microsoft has decided to implement a controversial copy protection system in their newest Windows release. It's widely assumed that most new Microsoft products will use a similar system. Presently, applications such as Office2k and Office XP do ship with comparable protection, albeit less drastic. These new copy protection "features" are drawing a lot of heat from privacy and piracy advocates. I'd like to explain why I feel Windows Product Activation and similar protection systems are simply necessary.


I've been involved in computer service and IT for sometime now. This has put me in direct touch with Microsoft products virtually every day. Extended contact with unhappy computer users often leads you to Microsoft and even more often to a Windows or Office CD. In all these years I've yet to go more than a week without seeing some form of blatant, unabashed, piracy.

In the service field, outside of hardware problems/upgrades, Microsoft is probably the biggest cause of trips to the computer shop. Very commonly it comes down to Windows rot. Windows has been proven time and time again to have the inability to cleanly delete the remains of programs, including registry entries and various (often incompatible) DLL's. The only fix? Reinstalling.

I can't begin to tell you how often those reinstalls were met with an obviously pirated copy of Windows and/or Office. I can't break down the numbers exactly because I didn't keep track but every customer had an excuse. I can even remember some of the pirated keys commonly used in popular warez releases of Windows.

Piracy in the US & Elsewhere

The Business Software Alliance has recently reported that the US still has a 25% software piracy rate, other countries having astounding figures much higher. (BSA says Vietnam is at 98%, Hong Kong 56%) Obviously there is a very real problem and Microsoft's WPA is much more than just a scheme to steal personal information or control consumers.

Many small businesses I've had contact with treat one OEM copy of Windows like a corporate volume license version. Very often knowing what they were doing was illegal. While working in the service field it wasn't uncommon to see people cutting corners by selling pirated versions of software.

On the consumer side of things, personally I know very few people who own Windows. It's a bit of a joke among most computer geeks that no one buys Windows but even more disturbingly it has spread to numerous requests from friends, family, and co-workers for copies of the latest version of Windows or Office without so much as a suggestion of shame on their part.

The Confusion over WPA

From the first time I heard Microsoft was trying to crack down on piracy using unique keys and hardware ID's I knew that it'd upset practically everyone. Privacy advocates feel Microsoft is simply trying to more tightly control their products and gather precious market research and software pirates everywhere are secretly scared to death that their long term and prolific theft of software might be coming to a quick and painful end.

I'd like to explain why I support Windows Product Activation (WPA) and other similar protection systems and try to clarify the confusion over privacy concerns. I want to touch on the issues commonly associated with WPA and add a quick response.



  • Windows is too expensive, I have to steal it.

    Anyone who feels Windows is too expensive should try to use another OS that is less expensive. Linux, BeOS, and FreeBSD are some very good examples. If you don't want to buy Windows you shouldn't use it and you shouldn't cheapen privacy by using it as an excuse to make piracy easier.

  • Microsoft just wants my hardware information.

    It is becoming extremely clear that the hardware ID sent to Microsoft, as they've stated from the start, includes no information on the specifics of the hardware you use. While there isn't much information out there currently about how these ID's are obtained from your hardware, my theory is they are a collection of PCI vendor ID's, possibly combined with other information obtained from the BIOS. When you register Windows over the phone (I haven't personally tried this method yet) you need to read off a fairly short number so if they're stealing info, they're not getting much.

  • I won't be able to reinstall every 6 months.

    This is the most serious threat of WPA to me when I first heard abut the process. If you were forced to call Microsoft every time you need to reinstall Windows I suspect their toll free number will be racking up an enormous phone bill. The key item to remember is that when doing a reinstall your hardware ID would not change and you will have no problem registering your copy of Windows online with the same key and will not be presented with any extra hassle outside of the WPA process itself. (which is very simple)

  • I won't be able to upgrade my hardware.

    When upgrading your hardware Microsoft is simply keeping a tally on the number of times your key is registered with a new hardware ID. If you plan to do major upgrades scores of times without buying a new copy of Windows you might run into a problem but I honestly can't see that happening in reality. The hardware ID also seems to treat PCI devices and other smaller upgrades (USB) with less importance than your motherboard. Smaller upgrades equal smaller changes in your hardware ID key and therefore result in more leniencies from authentication servers.

  • Microsoft just wants to collect my personal information.

    The WPA process takes place separately from the registration process. They, at this point, are entirely separate. I have not personally used the phone based registration method but I assume it is also separate.

  • Large organizations will reject WPA due to deployment overhead of activation.

    Microsoft in the past has offered versions of Windows specifically for volume licenses, partly due to the deployment problems faced with hundreds of unique product keys. I am sure they will continue to offer an easy way to register products. Either by not requiring it at all or allowing deployment tools that makes the process automatic. If they don't, this will be a very real problem with WPA and will make opposition of it very valid.

  • It'll be cracked in a week anyway. Pirates will have an easier time installing Windows than honest consumers.

    It's entirely possible it will be cracked. Some say it already has been. (See next point) The process is not overly complex and doesn't take much time. If for some reason the key servers are down or the phone line is too busy you have 2 weeks to activate. I'd point to the fact that various other key based systems, including Half Life and Quake 3 have yet to be cracked. It seems entirely possible Microsoft can find a way to make WPA very hard to crack.

  • It's ALREADY been cracked

    I want to clear up a factual inaccuracy that many major news sites have failed to understand. The current "crack" floating around the internet is simply replacing new versions of the file that includes the product activation code (Winlogon.exe) with a version from an older build that didn't include product activation yet. It's safe to assume by the time of final release Microsoft will ensure that older builds of Winlogon.exe do not work with the final release. This type of "crack" involves no programming what-so-ever and no compromises to the WPA process. The key protection systems found in Half Life and Quake 3 have yet to be cracked and valid keys are very uncommon. Microsoft should be able to create a similar system.

  • If consumers can't steal minor upgrades they might not buy them.

    Microsoft, in my opinion, is backing into a corner in this respect. Many consumers who buy retail upgrades have simply stopped being interested with minor visual upgrades or new collections of updated free software (Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, DirectX primarily) Yet it seems they always have the latest copy of Microsoft software, if you acquire my drift.

    Consumers who are forced into the choice of paying $90 for Windows SE ME Super Duper Edition or simply not using it will often settle on not using it. Microsoft will largely sell their new products to the OEM market or be forced to produce new versions of Windows that consumers are interested in buying separately unless they want their growth tied directly to new PC sales. The yearly upgrade mentality that Microsoft is so fond of will become less and less interesting to the consumer who's been tricked into thinking a 2 year old OS or office package can't be expected to work properly.



  • Why am I writing a pro-Microsoft article? Why do I care if Microsoft makes more money?

    It's not, I don't. I simply feel that people who advocate freedom of speech, freedom of distribution in the form of open source licenses such as the GPL or the BSD license should also respect other laws and other license agreements. Legal procedures are how you disagree with license agreements, not a FTP site full of stolen products.

    I also know that the simplicity of pirating software has caused me to steal a wealth of software over the years. It's obviously hypocritical of me to blame anyone for doing so as well but that's a major reason I support WPA. It's just too tempting and easy to pirate software yet I've found software I cannot come by any other way I will gladly buy. Maybe others have more self control than me but I suspect I am not alone, by a long shot.

    It's also clear that the privacy issues people associate with WPA are simply non-existent. Using privacy for more sinister goals weakens valid arguments people might have in other cases.



    Questions to the community:

    Is software piracy as widespread as I've observed in your experience?

    Now that it's clear WPA doesn't send information about hardware or personal information are you less opposed to it?

    How will the impact of potentially non-free software (in price and freedom) impact the adoption of free or inexpensive operating systems and software?

    What are the remaining downsides to WPA now that privacy and re-authentication are not an issue?

    Are the staggering piracy figures widely reported by the media true?

    Related Links:

    WindowsXP, You & Piracy

    Windows Product Activation: an early look

    WinXP activation: what happens under the covers?

    Microsoft Product Activation Q&A

    Latest Worldwide Software Piracy Figures

    ***NOTE***, all this information is based on BETA software and may very well change drastically before the final release of mentioned products.

    All of the factual aspects of this article come from either the related links or my own personal experience with Windows XP Beta 2. Judge the sources on your own.

    Sponsors

    Voxel dot net
    o Managed Hosting
    o VoxCAST Content Delivery
    o Raw Infrastructure

    Login

    Poll
    Given new facts, Windows Product Activation is:
    o Bad. 40%
    o Good. 5%
    o An elaborate plot to take over the world. 13%
    o ftp ftp. debian.org 35%
    o A sad necessity 5%

    Votes: 122
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o WindowsXP, You & Piracy
    o Windows Product Activation: an early look
    o WinXP activation: what happens under the covers?
    o Microsoft Product Activation Q&A
    o Latest Worldwide Software Piracy Figures
    o Also by DeadBaby


    Display: Sort:
    Anti-Piracy or Anti-Privacy? Windows Product Activation | 176 comments (165 topical, 11 editorial, 2 hidden)
    Q3A and HL (4.20 / 15) (#1)
    by klerck on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:46:58 AM EST

    The key protection systems found in Half Life and Quake 3 have yet to be cracked and valid keys are very uncommon.

    Actually, you're very wrong. The key systems have been cracked. You CAN download key generators for both games if you want to play them on a LAN.

    The problem with using these keys online is that when the products were created and shipped, a number of keys were created and put into a database. These keys were were then shipped with the final product. When you go to play online, it checks your key to see if it exists in that database.

    If you think that the key generation schemes haven't been cracked, you're living in a dream world. Over the years, it's become more and more obvious that all encryption and protection schemes will be cracked (just look at CSS and even SDMI which hasn't even been put to use(!)).

    online verification (3.85 / 7) (#7)
    by Defect on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:13:02 AM EST

    Piracy + Online verification adds a whole slew of new problems, a pirate can 'randomly' create a key that is identical to a valid user's own key, thus not allowing the guy who actually bought the software to play online.

    With keys such as this the software only becomes part of the equation, the honest users become the second target, i've known several cases (dating back a long time ago now, in the days of back orifice) where people would distribute half-life tools with the BO trojan and subsequently use the infected computer to steal half life keys from the registry.

    The online verification works ok for the company, but it's screwed more than a few end users.
    defect - jso - joseth || a link
    [ Parent ]
    Has *every* system been cracked? (3.33 / 3) (#18)
    by pallex on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:25:47 AM EST

    Certainly i`m not sure that any Amiga products werent cracked.
    But has, for example, Pro Tools (high end pc audio software) been cracked?

    And i wouldnt like to run the risk of running cracked software which attaches to a network! Not unless i was using a laptop and an untracable mobile phone - not the usual business environment, i`m led to believe!

    [ Parent ]
    Yup (none / 0) (#81)
    by spiralx on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:37:38 AM EST

    I think I've got a cracked version at home somewhere on a disc along with Cubase VST, Sound Forge, Rebirth, Acid Pro etc. etc. There's a group called Radium (IIRC) that specialises in cracking high-end audio software.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    You can control what goes out of your box (none / 0) (#113)
    by cbraga on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:33:58 AM EST

    Install a program such as ZoneAlarm and any software will need your allowance to make or receive connections.

    ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
    [ Parent ]
    Q3 keys (3.00 / 2) (#52)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:31:58 PM EST

    I never needed a key generator to play Q3 on my LAN, or even on the same internet server with my brother. I just put my key onto his computer and everything worked fine.

    I didn't get the game when it was released though. I bought it around the end of summer 2000 when I actually got a PC with a 3D card. Id may have patched it to remove most of the copy protection by then,

    "I'm sorry, but it's vital to the health of the U.S. economy that we destroy the entire Earth." -- Chris Stratton, Delivery Driver




    [ Parent ]

    Nope (4.50 / 2) (#53)
    by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:37:48 PM EST

    Quake3 still ships with identical copy protection to the first shipments that went out in the "collectible" tins. The difference between LAN and internet play is simple, LAN play doesn't involve keys at all. Internet play requires you authenticate with a keyserver before you can join a game. Since id knows which keys exist, which have been shipped, and so forth they can easily control piracy through key generation.

    There are valid Q3 key generators that allow you to play in single player mode, as the algorithm by which keys are checked has been discovered.

    Leftist Laugh Riot


    [ Parent ]

    How is "LAN play" defined? (4.00 / 2) (#61)
    by pin0cchio on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:04:13 PM EST

    The difference between LAN and internet play is simple, LAN play doesn't involve keys at all. Internet play requires you authenticate with a keyserver before you can join a game.

    How does the software distinguish LAN play on a large network (/16 or bigger) from play across the public Internet? The only difference I can see between LAN play and Internet play is that LAN play requires you to know the IP or hostname of the server and has less latency than Internet play.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Easy (3.50 / 2) (#67)
    by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:31:17 PM EST

    LAN play is multiplayer in "local" mode, which uses a broadcast to look for quake servers, whereas Mplayer and Internet use directories to find them.

    Leftist Laugh Riot


    [ Parent ]
    The server does. (4.00 / 1) (#91)
    by PFlats on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:12:25 AM EST

    Although I'm not sure how it exactly works for Quake 3, the method Half-Life uses for LAN servers is simple.

    If sv_lan is set to 0, anyone can join, and the CD-Keys are authenticated with the Won.net auth servers. If it's set to 1, only computers on the same network as the host can join, but are not authenticated.



    --- "It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." - Peter Gibbons, Office Space
    [ Parent ]

    Again, what qualifies as "the same network&qu (none / 0) (#176)
    by pin0cchio on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 09:36:26 PM EST

    If sv_lan is set to 0, anyone can join, and the CD-Keys are authenticated with the Won.net auth servers. If it's set to 1, only computers on the same network as the host can join, but are not authenticated.

    So what IP addresses qualify as "the same network"? The Internet is one big interconnected network that runs TCP/IP and UDP/IP.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Or better (none / 0) (#114)
    by cbraga on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:36:33 AM EST

    If Quake can connect to the master server to validate keys, this is a Net game. Else, this is a LAN game.

    ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
    [ Parent ]
    reality (4.38 / 13) (#8)
    by Defect on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:24:39 AM EST

    It's entirely possible it will be cracked.

    It will be cracked, there is no doubt about that, and more than likely it will be cracked nearly the same day of it's release, if not before. It's a guarantee. Thus none of this makes much of a difference, the honest users will buy it or buy a new computer with the it installed, and continue using it the way they've always used windows, the pirates will download cracked versions, and the users who want to install it on several computers will just download a crack or crack their own honest version to do so.

    No software has really gone uncracked for too long, and with winXP and it's relatives being such a sparkle in the eyes of cracking groups, i imagine there are going to be dozens of versions to download within the first week. There's really not all that much different about this release compared to any other.
    defect - jso - joseth || a link
    moving target? (3.80 / 5) (#21)
    by spacejack on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:54:00 AM EST

    MS may have some advantages on the server side. What if MS's Windows Update starts looking for known cracks? Then the next time a security hole pops up, and the unauthorized user goes to update, they're told their installation is "corrupt". Then getting a pirated copy might not seem like such a good idea.

    Sure, some people will register by phone, install everything off a CD. But most connected users will want to use the Windows Update.

    [ Parent ]
    Security holes and cracks (none / 0) (#142)
    by Bernie Fsckinner on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 09:50:06 PM EST

    Not only that, M$ will probably have a division in Bulgaria that makes cracks with security holes and deliberate connections back to the Collective.

    [ Parent ]
    lol! (none / 0) (#145)
    by spacejack on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:15:04 AM EST

    You mean they're going to take over the crack market too?

    [ Parent ]
    Copy protection (4.44 / 18) (#10)
    by wiredog on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:44:53 AM EST

    A system that deters only the incompetent criminals while annoying a majority of users.

    The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
    Phage

    Credit where its due... (4.77 / 9) (#17)
    by pallex on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:21:47 AM EST

    ...I believe you are referring to :

    ------

    copy protection /n./

    A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.

    ------

    from http://www.outpost9.com/reference/jargon/jarginfo.html (aka The New Hacker's Dictionary)

    [ Parent ]
    Thanks (3.00 / 3) (#22)
    by wiredog on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:58:42 AM EST

    I had seen that years ago, but couldn't remember the whole thing.

    The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
    Phage
    [ Parent ]

    Microsoft's XP implementation details (4.88 / 26) (#11)
    by onyxruby on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:54:07 AM EST

    A friend of mine works with one of the PC makers and has had exposure to Microsoft's upcoming anti-piracy effots with XP products. If I understand him correctly, under XP you will have product activation and registration. They also don't just keep track of a checksum on your computer, they keep track of serial numbers for hardware that can go into the checksum. As I understand it you can make 4 changes to your system before it locks and you have to call microsoft. Please note, that this means any 4 changes to your system. Adding more RAM qualifies as a change.

    Also of note is what Microsoft has done to burning of cd's and music. I have been told that any music cd that is created has a signature that is placed on it. That signature is tied into a particular sound card, and that CD won't play on any machine without that sound card. Supposedly this also happens with data CD's, but I was not able to confirm this. They have deliberately broken CD burning programs so that they will have to be rewritten to be XP compliant. Thus as I understand it, it's not just the built in cd burning software that is "anti-piracy compliant", but any other burning software that is installed on the machine.

    It's not so much that I'm opposed to paying for software that I use, it measures like the above that I am opposed to. If anybody happens to have inside knowledge and knows that I am wrong on something. Please post here and correct me.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

    Big Boost for Linux and Open Source (none / 0) (#170)
    by cynwoody on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:59:38 PM EST

    That signature is tied into a particular sound card, and that CD won't play on any machine without that sound card. Supposedly this also happens with data CD's, but I was not able to confirm this.
    If true, that can be counted upon to enrage users, and CD drive and media producers as well, since it would render the products essentially worthless. Maybe this is just what is needed to turn *nix into a mass market phenomenon!

    [ Parent ]
    Where can I buy a new PC without paying for Window (4.25 / 12) (#12)
    by jeremiah2 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:23:54 AM EST

    Windows is too expensive. I don't want to be forced to buy it.

    I tried to buy used PC's once and came up empty. No dealers in my area were selling them. They all gave the smae excuse: Microsoft wouldn't let them unless they wiped the hard drives, and nobody wanted a PC with a wiped hard drive except maybe me.

    Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
    Niveus Workstation from Peguin Computing (4.50 / 4) (#19)
    by Tachys on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:38:47 AM EST

    Found the Niveus Workstation from Peguin Computing. No "Microsoft Tax" it comes with Red Hat Linux.

    [ Parent ]
    I bought one (before) (4.75 / 4) (#20)
    by tnt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:48:30 AM EST

    Ya, I bought a Workstation off of Penguin Computing., and I've been happy with it. Although I didn't like the shipping & handling cost -- but the only way to really avoid that is to buy it from a local store... but you likely won't see that [at this time]. (I'm in Canada, so it was a little more expensive... I think there might have been a tariff too, when it crossed the border, from the USA to Canada.)

    I'd suggest you compare the shipping & handling cost to the cost of the Windows Tax and see which is less, and go that way.



    --
         Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
    __________________________________________________
      Kuro5hin user #279

    [ Parent ]
    Spindl3top (4.25 / 4) (#41)
    by josh_staiger on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:20:17 PM EST

    Better yet, get a system from Spindl3top.

    No Windows tax, amazing systems, and even contributions to free software...

    I wish that I would have known about them eight months ago.

    [ Parent ]

    In other news, Stuff that matters... (1.50 / 2) (#72)
    by eudas on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:33:50 PM EST

    this has been mentioned before. i seem to recall there being some unfavorable points being brought up about them. article is here:

    http://slashdot.org/articles/01/04/06/0320243.shtml

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]
    Interesting (4.00 / 3) (#23)
    by spacejack on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:01:02 AM EST

    I suppose it depends on where you live. There must be at least 10 stores within walking distance from me who will sell me PCs pre-installed with any currently available version of Windows, Linux or nothing at all. One of the stores I notice will even sell you a Penguin case :) (There was also a bulldog case.. I'm not sure what that was for.. maybe dog lovers.. I'm seriously considering picking that one up, it just looks so strange.)

    [ Parent ]
    www.499pc.com (4.00 / 3) (#46)
    by weasel boy on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:01:06 PM EST

    I bought a PC from 499pc.com. My PC-savvy friends tell me they use some pretty cheap components; that's fine with me. What do you expect from a place called '$499 PC'? Anyway, their site lists Windows as a $120 upgrade, so I assume you don't pay for it otherwise. They pre-installed Red Hat on my system for $1, but I don't see that option now. I didn't like how they set it up anyway. :-)

    499pc made some mistakes, but their customer service was very responsive, and everything worked out fine in the end. Bottom line, they sold me exactly what I wanted: A really cheap PC with no Windows tax. How cheap is really cheap? I'd call a 1.3 GHz Athlon for $499 pretty darn cheap.


    [ Parent ]
    Desktop or laptop? (4.00 / 1) (#60)
    by stormwave on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:54:57 PM EST

    I recently bought a Clevo laptop from M-Tech Laptops and I had a choice of Win98, WinME, Win2K, or nothing. I found a number of places on the web that sell new and used laptops without Windoze. See Google:Computers:SW:OS:Linux:Hardware Support, and check the categories for "Complete System Sellers" and "Linux Laptops."

    And I know that !Windows != Linux, but it's a good place to start.

    "Plenty of hamsters but no wheel." - Hektor
    [ Parent ]
    Ah, but WPA shows everyone the dark side... (3.54 / 11) (#16)
    by WinPimp2K on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:12:41 AM EST

    of a monopoly. Now that Microsoft has achieved really massive market share, they are behaving in exactly the way predicted for a monopolist - namely cranking the price up to whatever they can get away with.

    I don't approve of piracy and agree in principle with the points about using alternatives to Microsoft rather than pirating their software. But MSFT has pretty much turned a blind eye to individual piracy in the past - after all it helped to ensure their domination in the business/ government markets. Now that will all change. They will now want every dime of revenue they can lay their mitts on. They will have a legal and ethical basis for demanding it and what mainstream products will be available as alternatives? (When everyone in business emails Word and Excel attachments)

    I have a specific concern about Star Office vs Office XP. When MSFT has fully embraced the subscription model, how long will it take them to start making minor tweaks in "stealth upgrades", (that will auto update) to their file formats to break third party file compatibility. I know they are also moving to XML for their formats, but if they start seeing a real threat to their market share they will have to take some action (or face shareholder lawsuits) - and their history does not suggest they will win by deploying a superior product.

    piracy protection (3.77 / 9) (#24)
    by hany on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:05:39 AM EST

    Every anti-piracy technology is doomed to fail. What it can acomplish, is to make number of pirates slightly lower at the price of making difficulties to legitimate users.

    So if you are advocating WPA or alike you are saying to all those legitimate users "Yes, you actualy paid, but you know, I still consider you to be pirate. So you have to pay and still experience pain!".

    So I think the only right think software vendors can do is to bring as much pirates as possible to court, prove them guilty of piracy and seek damages. Because causing paint to legitimate users is just wrong.


    hany


    I've heard (3.62 / 8) (#25)
    by Zeram on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:09:33 AM EST

    that some one from M$ said unoffically that they are only going to enforce the new activation on the business versions of XP. M$'s "numbers" show that where they lose the most money is in business that don't have enough licences, espically small businesses. It's not high profile enough to attack the occasonial home user who installs windows on several systems. I mean it's only one person, probably a good, upstanding IT professional, and M$ would never want to hurt them right? Were as a company, well all companies are looking to save money right? And companies so bad things all the time...

    M$ is tired of being shafted by companies that hate their buggy OS, but are trapped in the M$ or nothing world of business. Thats all.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    Windows is too expensive, I have to steal it. (3.11 / 9) (#26)
    by hany on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:19:59 AM EST

    What about situation like this:

    "I alredy have legitimate copy of Windows 1.0. Also I have legitimate copy of Office 1.0 . Now they (MS) released Office 1.5 which is unable to read 1.0 documents. And it also does not run on Windows 1.0 - it requires those "brand new" Windows 1.5 . They (MS) did not provide my colegues with this new Office and Windows with backward compatibility so they can't comunicate with me. They (MS) screwed me. So I'm going to screw them too - I steel thos f***ing Windows 1.5 and Office 1.5 ."

    I know such situation is not very ideal (both MS and customers are screwing each other) but I think that such situation is possible and real in some cases.

    With WPA in such "screw-him" battle, MS makes themselves advantage at the price of screwing not just those "version 1.0 free update pirates" but also legitimate users of version 1.5, because they have to perform a lot of things just because of MS is fighting those 1.0's!

    Now that's difficult situation. What will be solution?
    WPA? HW keys? Watermarking? CDMI? SDMI? DVD CSS? ...?


    hany


    Heh... (3.90 / 10) (#27)
    by trhurler on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:46:26 AM EST

    What makes you think Half-Life and Q3A haven't been cracked? I can easily demonstrate that you cannot make a system like what Microsoft is trying to make that is secure against an attacker who has knowledge and free time, and furthermore, once it is cracked by one guy, it is cracked. At that point, he can write and release automated tools to do the heavy lifting, so that even morons can circumvent the system. You can prosecute him, maybe, but maybe not - what if he's from some place that thinks DMCA is a new designer drug?

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Hehe (3.00 / 4) (#33)
    by regeya on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:59:21 PM EST

    I was thinking the same thing. I bought my copies of HL and Q3A, so I've never looked into cracks, but I have little doubt that they've been cracked, or at least that it's very possible.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    The registration process is still suspect (4.27 / 11) (#28)
    by Erbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:51:13 AM EST

    Now that it's clear WPA doesn't send information about hardware or personal information are you less opposed to it?

    That's not clear to me at all. How do you know WPA isn't sending this information? You don't. You can't examine the source code to see what is being sent. You can't even disassemble the code (legally) and find out what's being sent. (Thank you DMCA.) So all you know about the WPA registration process is what Microsoft tells you. And how many times has Microsoft lied before?

    Face it, the WPA registration process could be telling Microsoft the size of your shoes and how long your dick is, and you'd never know. Given Microsoft's track record, why should I believe anything they have to say anymore?

    For the record, my wife and I don't use any Microsoft OS more recent than Windows 98, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

    Eric
    --
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org

    Well... (3.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Kinthelt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:55:19 AM EST

    You could always do a network sniff.

    [ Parent ]
    Nope. DMCA. (none / 0) (#96)
    by Erbo on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:51:44 PM EST

    The DMCA bans any attempt to reverse-engineer copy-control and access-control mechanisms. Presumably that would include network sniffing. You can't even use the "for purposes of interoperability" defense, because who else would need to interoperate with MS' registration procedures?

    Eric
    --
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
    [ Parent ]

    Bad Law (none / 0) (#167)
    by hammock on Wed May 09, 2001 at 02:24:02 PM EST

    You should leave the United States of America if you don't like the asinine laws that keep coming out designed to tell you how to use your computer.

    OpenBSD is based in Canada because the US government believes that the encryption and high security is a munition, and should be controlled like an animal in a zoo.

    [ Parent ]
    Controlled Obsolescence? (4.45 / 11) (#30)
    by jhillyerd on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:26:01 PM EST

    Would WPA mean that Microsoft can determine when a version of Windows is 'obsolete' and disable it (preventing me from re-installing it)? That's a scary thought if you need to keep old software running.

    damn straight! (3.83 / 6) (#44)
    by douper on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:50:48 PM EST

    Havn't they already claimed some of the MSCE's or whatever were obsolete and forced people to take more classes to keep the certification?

    [ Parent ]
    Lets talk about the real world (2.46 / 13) (#31)
    by Jack Wagner on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:32:19 PM EST

    I'm not interested in any controversial conspiracy theories. I am interested in real world solutions. I can tell you I have done literally several hundred man-hours of testing with regards to OS solutions and Windows wins hands down. I'm not talking about downloading mp3's or sending simple email tests, I'm talking about customer centric performance metrics designed to maximize your value framework paradigm. If you are looking for a reduction of supply-supplier variability then you have no other real option. Based upon this is it reasonable that Microsoft performs some extensive operations to insure their product is not stolen or miss-appropriated. If you look at this from a professional standpoint, and not an emotionally induced tin-foil-hat standpoint you will certainly arrive at the same conclusion.

    I get paid large amounts of money to provide solutions to my clients. A lot of my solutions come from innovative work that is done in my lab at my office. Guess what, I lock up my office and have a very sophisticated alarm system in place to protect that. Is that wrong?

    Wagner LLC Consulting - Getting it right the first time
    www,wagnerconsulting.com

    Wagner LLC Consulting - Getting it right the first time
    Your tone is misplaced. (4.28 / 7) (#37)
    by mike huber on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:44:35 PM EST

    There isn't all that much conspiracy weirdness going on in this discussion. Except for the mention of the security issue of Microsoft's unknown level of access, nothing that even vaguely warrants the "tin-foil-hat" insult. I'm sure there are other fora where that comment would be appropriate.

    I deal with several different environments. In some of them (in my case, small business accounting functions and software developement for Windows applications) Windows and other closed-source software products are key parts of the appropriate solution. In others (in my case, web developement) other software developement paradigms have resulted in tools that fit the task better.

    What people are discussing here, for the most part, is the problems that might result from Microsoft's technical approach to enforcing licenses. Some of those "problems" are that some people will have to actually pay for the software they use - that's hardly a problem in my view. In a professional situation, the cost of a legitimate software license is just not a major factor. But there are other problems - real technical and business problems, not "tin-foil-hat" emotional conspiracy theories - being brought up that warrant discussion.

    Most of my work is related to the developement of software that is copy-protected, and I am well aware of the costs and benefits of that particular technical way of enforcing licenses. A substantial part of our technical support effort is a direct result of copy protection. We are aware that copy protection imposes operational costs (besides the cost of licenses) on our honest customers, and that it does not even significantly inconveniece the serious pirate.

    Now, while Microsoft has the perfect moral and legal right to protect their software, the methods that use will impose certain costs on the user base. In some cases, those costs will be a decisive factor. And exactly what those costs will be is a serious topic to be discussed, not a matter of "tin-foil-hats".


    Mike Huber
    email to nax at execpc dot com for details.
    [ Parent ]

    Could you consider speaking a human tongue?? (4.16 / 6) (#48)
    by RandomPeon on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:37:01 PM EST

    I'm talking about customer centric performance metrics designed to maximize your value framework paradigm. If you are looking for a reduction of supply-supplier variability then you have no other real option.

    You've managed to obsfuscate your statement to the point that it's unitelligible, at a level normally found amongst humanitities PhDs. The sad part is that it's quite simple, which I can infer from your need to avoid using terminology anyone understands. Could you consider communicating your statement in English, Spanish, Portugese, or Japanese? I would be able to understand it and reply then.

    [ Parent ]
    Autogen? (4.50 / 2) (#51)
    by stuartf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:23:49 PM EST

    Looks like his comment was automatically generated here

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, I was thinking... (none / 0) (#169)
    by athryk on Fri May 11, 2001 at 07:55:59 PM EST

    ...that that looked like an Auto-Gen response. Besides, I'm a bit amiss at this guy's credibility in choosing company logos vis-a-vis his ability to live up to it. Para exampla...

    Wagner LLC Consulting - Getting it right the first time www,wagnerconsulting.com

    Wagner LLC Consulting - Getting it right the first time


    Now, you ask, what's wrong with this picture? Simple. 'Getting it right the first time' would preclude that ',' in the e-mail address, and certainly wouldn't need to be posted twice! :D

    Athryk
    -"The error you have made would make a Mongoloid programming an abacus ashamed"- Registered Linux User #215612 : http://counter.li.org
    [ Parent ]
    Paradigms and whatnot (4.71 / 7) (#65)
    by jordanb on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:04:21 PM EST

    I am interested in real world solutions.

    Agreed.

    I'm talking about customer centric performance metrics designed to maximize your value framework paradigm.

    I hear you brother! In fact, just last week, I was adjusting my end-to-end dynamic e-commerse deliverables, and I realized that my abiliby to embrace the enablement of wireless commerse solution metrics hinged on my compelling drive to e-enable my synergies with B2B functionalities from Microsoft(R).

    If you are looking for a reduction of supply-supplier variability then you have no other real option.

    Indeed! For real-world global leading-edge infrastructures, Microsoft is the only FBC, frictionless, extensible, and robust provider of innovative out-of-the-box solutions. I mean, who else could set up a revolutionary, seamless system for one-to-one, proactive, and scaleable infomediaries with 24/365 experiences?

    Based upon this is it reasonable that Microsoft performs some extensive operations to insure their product is not stolen or miss-appropriated. If you look at this from a professional standpoint, and not an emotionally induced tin-foil-hat standpoint you will certainly arrive at the same conclusion.

    Certainly. One time, In third grade, Archy Dent stole my intellectual property in the form of the idea to give Susie Miller a bouquet of dandelions. So I contacted the teacher to inform her of his piracy. She really re-structured his ubiquitous back-end with value-added metrics!

    I can tell you I have done literally several hundred man-hours of testing with regards to OS solutions and Windows wins hands down.

    In fact, I've done man-months of testing! I didn't do them literally though. I only do figurative work.

    Now, I'd love to continue this dialog, but I must go cross post this to the other site(TM) in an effort to exploit its intrinsic niche for impactful proactiveness of my robust and scalable karma score.


    Jordan Bettis
    [ Parent ]
    BUT (none / 0) (#165)
    by SirRobin on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:27:51 PM EST

    But you must delve deeper and see how Microsoft GOT to that position (I started a sentence with but and I will not use Paradigm. Hope you'll still read this!!). Read the findings of fact and the rulings on the MS monopoly case. The only reason there is such a support base for MS is because of their predatory acts. If they acted like a normal company, maybe (but probablly not :) ) MacOS would be as popular, have as much software, etc. They don't though. They use unfair methods to become #1. This they have achieved (I am not talking about quality I am talking about quantity, use, and knowledge of). What is my point here? Current statistics may say MS is the best for the job, but they got there by predatory acts and ways (such as this XP registering thing) that they shouldn't use.
    Where is God you say? ask Him. or ask me.
    [ Parent ]
    Piracy, in general, doesn't lose money (4.00 / 12) (#34)
    by Vygramul on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:00:50 PM EST

    Study after study has found that, in general, people are honest, and they will purchase those things they feel are worth the money. There are lots of people who pirate software only to buy a copy after they decide they like it and/or they finally have the money to pay for it.

    To a certain degree, piracy has HELPED Microsoft. Pirated copies of Office and their OS has made it possible for millions to become proficient at MS products at home, so when given a choice at work, which do you think they want the company to buy?

    The only danger is that if a culture of piracy is tolerated, soon people will not know any better. I used Napster to download songs to play for a while and see if I wanted the album. I bought a Sting album SOLELY because of Napster. Yet I know many others who simply decide that burning their own CD will suffice, and not only see nothing wrong with it but, as Henry Hill of "Goodfellas" said, they see honest folks as losers with no balls.

    After all is said and done, I don't see Britney Spears looking for a job at K-Mart due to lack of money, and that's not to say that it's ok, but to say that as long as she ISN'T driven to destitution due to piracy, I'm going to focus my energies on helping those who were driven to destitution due to other problems.
    If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.

    Incompetent Piracy Advocates Versus Honest Users (4.18 / 16) (#35)
    by Crashnbur on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:33:22 PM EST

    With all the back and forth comments supporting Microsoft and supporting piracy and supporting privacy and ... oh dear ... I feel compelled to toss in my opinion. You know, just because someone might actually like it, or maybe they won't, so they'll somehow discover the greatest flaw of humanity buried in my comments. Either way, maybe my comments will help someone ... somehow.

    Napster, Mp3s, & Burning CDs

    I download mp3s. I burn mp3s to CDs. I do not burn complete albums to CDs; I buy those. I love to make singles compilation CDs. I also love the inserts and lyrics and stats on the band that come with purchasing a CD; nothing can replace that. Is that so dishonest?

    As for the piracy debate, I don't see what I do as so horribly wrong. I buy about three CDs per month, and I use about two BMG subscriptions per year, so I am legally purchasing between 30 and 50 CDs per year, which is a very significant portion of my income. (College income sucks, you know.) Before mp3s, I bought maybe ten CDs per year, but I made about the same amount of money.

    Hmm. What's going on here? Could it be that my interests have changed? ... I think not. I've always loved music, and I've always had the money to buy it. The difference is, now that mp3s make it possible to hear a much greater variety of music that horrible local radio stations would never allow me to hear, I am exposed to literally hundreds of different bands and scores of styles of music that I would never otherwise be able to hear. I find out about new stuff that isn't played locally, and I download a few singles from the album, and if it's worth buying, I somehow find the CD and buy it. If the album sucks, but one or two songs are good, I'll download them to my hard drive and possibly burn them to a CD of random songs that fit into that "like the song but not the album" category. Is that so wrong?

    The Napster issue has been blown way out of proportion, and the music industry (read: RIAA) is only in it for money. CDs are overpriced as they are, and the price is only rising, yet people are buying more and more!

    Conclusion: Napster has not only not hurt CD sales or the music industry, but I would also argue that Napster has even helped the music industry by allowing millions of users a much greater exposure to music in general, thus the increase in CD sales. Sure, CD singles sales are bound to drop, but with full albums and mp3 singles, what's so bad about that? We're not screwing them over; the music industry is screwing themselves over.

    Windows, Applications, Cracks & Hacks

    I never buy a brand new OS, ever. They are severely overpriced, and only businesses with their business budgets can really afford to buy them. What I do is buy Windows OS's that are a little over a year old, usually, and I get them pre-installed on a new system.

  • August 1996, bought a Pentium 166 with Windows 95.
  • September 1998: bought a Pentium II 300 with Windows 98.
  • August 2000: bought an Athlon T'bird 800 with Windows Me. Note that each of the above systems were fast for their time, but not the fastest, and Windows wasn't brand new (except perhaps Me) when I bought the systems, so I got great performance for decent prices. So in that respect, I consider myself an honest user.

    However, when Windows 95 began to destroy my 166, I upgraded it to Windows 98 using my 300's Win98 disc. And when my dad took the 300 back in September (he let me have the fast one; yay!), he upgraded to WinMe using my system's disc. Yay! Is that so wrong? I think not. We have spent several hundreds of dollars for Windows on each computer, so upgrading and duplicating our newer OS's should not be considered wrong in any way. We have paid for the products that we have. We have three Windows OS's and three systems. Let us configure them how we like. I don't think Microsoft has a problem with that.

    (Someone has pointed this out in their comments below. Microsoft seems to be implementing WPA only with regard to businesses, particularly small businesses, that buy scores of computers and duplicate a single operating system, which is where Microsoft is "losing" most of its money. Home users are not a great threat, and are usually simply upgrading a machine for which they had already purchased a Microsoft OS. In that situation, I believe that Microsoft should allow the upgrades for free. Upgrading an OS should not cost $80, or even $40. If I buy Windows Me, and Microsoft brings out Windows Me2 [heh] a year later, a very minimal fee or no fee at all should be required to upgrade to Me2. This is already somewhat implemented through Windows Update online.)

    Oh yeah. Applications. Some applications can be priced at up to $600 for a single CD. As if someone my age has $600 to spend on a CD. *cough* So, yeah, I might indulge myself a little there. I don't pirate much software; I understand that it is not a good thing to do, and I understand the consequences. However, in some cases, such as with those $600 applications, I see little wrong with a *home user* downloading a cracked copy. (Note that I say little. Yes, it's wrong, but at $600 per CD, you'll just have to get over it. I suggest that some of these applications drop in price! Like down to $60. There we go!)

    Closing Arguments

    WPA is not a bad thing. It is meant to protect Microsoft's investment in its own endeavors. Microsoft is a software developer (among other things) and has the right to implement such a feature on their own software. When we have cold, hard proof of abuse of such features, that is when we should lash out in defense. Until then, let's not get bent out of shape over hypothetics, okay?

    Also, I think that CDs (music and software) are grossly overpriced. It takes about $0.25 per CD to produce and write a CD by the thousands, which is how the music/software industries do it, and the other fees that come with those respective industries still do not warrant CDs being priced at $15 (music) or God-knows-how-much (software).

    So, yeah, I hope I helped someone, or I hope someone has something good to say in response. You know, other than, "you're stupid and I disagree," without giving me any reasons why.

    crash.neotope.com




  • Reality calling (3.80 / 5) (#59)
    by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:50:32 PM EST

    We have paid for the products that we have. We have three Windows OS's and three systems. Let us configure them how we like. I don't think Microsoft has a problem with that.
    As a matter of fact, you violated the license agreement. Your math indicates you are running two copies of Windows Millenium Edition however you only hold one license.

    Microsoft has not traditionally cared which computer each license was installed on, as long as the number of licenses was not exceeded by the number of installations. I don't see that as too much to ask, really.

    It takes about $0.25 per CD to produce and write a CD by the thousands, which is how the music/software industries do it
    Surely you don't believe that manufacturing is the only cost that goes into the price of a CD? Have you forgotten that somebody has to write the music? Yet another somebody has to produce it, and pay for the studio and equipment time during production? Then there's advertising budgets, salaries for the people who provide support services for the people who do the talent scouting, production, advertising and so forth. That's what you're paying for, not a silicon disk that shines prettily under a laser.

    As if someone my age has $600 to spend on a CD
    I'll remember to use that same argument the next time I steal a Ferrari. I mean, surely everyone understands that no one my age has $350K for a single car. I might indugle myself a little, I'll only steal 1...and I'll even return it after I'm done driving it for a while and might be able to afford my own.

    I believe that Microsoft should allow the upgrades for free. Upgrading an OS should not cost $80, or even $40.
    Oh, absolutely. Yes, Microsoft has a social responsibility to provide your grubby little ass with a copy of their shiny new operating system. Right.

    Leftist Laugh Riot


    [ Parent ]
    Common error.. (3.00 / 1) (#136)
    by esonik on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 05:08:30 PM EST

    I'll remember to use that same argument the next time I steal a Ferrari. I mean, surely everyone understands that no one my age has $350K for a single car. I might indugle myself a little, I'll only steal 1...and I'll even return it after I'm done driving it for a while and might be able to afford my own.

    There's a small difference between stealing a Ferrari and unauthorized copying of software: When somebody steals a Ferrari, somebody else has one Ferrari less. When somebody does an unauthorized copy, nothing changes for anybody else - there's just one more copy.

    What would you do, if you could "copy" a Ferrari without much effort? Would you do it or would you say: "Oh no, I don't have the Ferrari License".

    [ Parent ]

    Actually (none / 0) (#143)
    by Miniluv on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 03:32:32 AM EST

    Philosophically speaking your difference is relevant. Legally speaking theft is theft. Acquiring a good or service without paying for it is theft, thus stealing a Ferrari is no different than stealing a Windows license. They carry different penalties as the US, and many other countries, enforce a graded severity approach to theft.

    The point isn't whether you argee with the law, but if you follow it.

    Applied Solipsism worked for me.
    [ Parent ]

    OTOH (none / 0) (#159)
    by esonik on Sat May 05, 2001 at 10:57:50 AM EST

    The point isn't whether you argee with the law, but if you follow it.

    Yes, but when there is enough disagreement with a law, there is a chance for change.

    [ Parent ]

    Simular situation (4.00 / 3) (#74)
    by dasunt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:33:38 PM EST

    While I don't agree with all of the points in your post, I do have an illegitimate copy of a Windows98SE installation disk.

    I bought Windows98SE awhile ago from a supplier that is no longer in business. A few weeks ago, the CD tore itself apart in the CD drive and I was left with about 50 pieces of the shattered CD (the drive was fine after I shook out the broken CD pieces). Visiting Microsoft's website, and calling several of their numbers (often with long distance or other charges tacked on), I came to realize that they had no mechanism in place to replace a ruined CD. All I wanted was to send my broken CD to Microsoft and get an intact CD back. The task proved impossible.

    So, I had a friend burn my a copy of his Windows98 CD. I still have my registration number, and even though my burned copy is technically illegal (as I understand the law, if it isn't made from the original copy, its illegal), I feel that I'm not hurting the company.

    As for your other software, I must say I never pirated any office software, and I sit in front of a window's box for most of my computer time. As a student, I had the oppertunity to buy a copy of Office2K for a very low fee (about $50, IIRC), probably due to the high amount of student piracy, but I was (and still am) very happy with my copy of Star Office 5.2. Other free software that I use (cost is free, other restrictions may apply) are LeechFTP, Opera, Gimp (win32 binary), Real Player, Winamp, and a slew of smaller apps for specific tasks, such as DUNtray, Swapsee, TweakUI, Editpad, Lynx (win32 again), WarFTP, mySQL, Apache + PHP (win32 still), Dirsize and many other programs that I can't recall at the moment. For a windows environment, I have found that I can do all I need to do with free programs. Now this might change if I was in an office with up-to-date always cutting edge versions of corperate programs and we were sharing files in their proprietary format, but that isnt' the case.

    [ Parent ]

    So, I own a Mac (4.00 / 13) (#38)
    by weirdling on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:47:53 PM EST

    I like to show people my MacOS 9 install every so often. Just pop it up, answer some questions about the machine, configure the install, and hit go. No annoying serial numbers to lose, no annoying restrictions on whether you can install it on a new machine or only upgrade...
    So, while I've *never* personally bought an MS OS product, I've bought the last four releases of MacOS, because, when I'm ready to install, it isn't a pain.
    Let me explain: the last version of Windows I owned was hacked. The install disk and the CD were both modified so it would install on *anything*, instead of restricted to that idiotic oem/upgrade schism Win95 used. Now, I might have bought 95 if I could have found a copy that would *always* install, but since no such copy existed, I wasn't going to buy a broken copy.
    IBM and Apple both don't use serial numbers that I know of. I can install my *legal* copy of VisualAge without any of those shenanigans.
    In the end, pissing off the user base is more of a detriment to your bottom line than software piracy because, as anyone who has ever used an Irix box knows, the more effective a copy-protection scheme, the more likely it is to interfere with the productivity of your customers, as a hard drive crash turned an expensive SGI into a door stop for three months while SGI sorted out their idiotic liscence.
    It doesn't stop real criminals, but it sure does piss off the average user, and some of us take action.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Does Apple care if you copy their OS? (4.90 / 10) (#40)
    by Ricdude on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:18:07 PM EST

    After all, they sell the hardware it runs on, and that's awful hard to pirate...

    This leads to one of the fundamentally screwy details about M$ and their situation. They only sell software. Every other commercial OS vendor (that excludes, Linux, BSD, etc.) also sells the hardware the OS runs on. Sun, HP, SGI, and IBM always have hardware to sell you. In such a business model, the OS is really a loss leader for the hardware sales.

    Nobody *uses* an OS. We use *applications*. We *do stuff* with our computers, and I don't mean copy files around directory hierarchies. We balance our checkbooks. We play games. We listen to music. We watch movies.

    Microsoft is forced into a fundamentally unstable business model because all they can sell you is software (mice and keyboards don't count). Arguably, the only *useful* piece of software they sell is Office. The sooner they realize their OS is an overpriced loss leader for Office (or IIS) the better the IT industry will be.

    [ Parent ]

    Scary though, that (3.33 / 3) (#54)
    by scruffyMark on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:37:51 PM EST

    their OS is an overpriced loss leader for Office (or IIS)

    An overpriced loss leader for IIS - that's a scary one alright.

    [ Parent ]

    BeOS (3.33 / 3) (#63)
    by tofuhead on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:09:09 PM EST

    Great post.

    It's interesting to me that Be has been trying to emulate MS in the same way you mention; after the early EOL of the BeBox, Be Inc. has been in the predicament of trying to sell software for platforms (PPC, x86) that they don't themselves develop or sell.

    It's unfortunate, but telling, that Be has had to refocus their attention towards the embedded market. It's also noteworhty that there is now a beer-type free version of BeOS. I think they found that without the size and reputation (!) of a company like MS, they had no guaranteed market for the BeOS. That's a problem that other commercial OS vendors like Sun and Apple can worry less about.

    < tofuhead >

    [ Parent ]

    MS wasn't forced into this model. (4.33 / 3) (#66)
    by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:11:29 PM EST

    Why am I reminded of Brer Rabbit? "Sure, you can boil me in oil, but, Please, Please don't throw me in that briar patch!" :-)

    MS deliberatly chose its business model. And the industry suffered for it, IMHO.

    In the "early" days of PCs, there were many PC OS vendors and products - Digital Research's CP/M, CP/M-86 and DR-DOS, MS-DOS, PC-DOS, Concurrent DOS, IBM's OS/2, Mark William's Coherent (an early UNIX clone), UCSD's P-System and probably a few others. In this list, only IBM made hardware too.

    What happened? Why are there no viable commercial PC operating systems any more except for MS's? Because, IMO, MS's licensing schemes forced PC vendors to pay MS for a copy of MS-DOS whether it was used or not in order to get the best price on DOS. With volume licensing agreements like this, MS was able to drive everyone else, even mighty IBM, out of the PC OS business.

    As such, I really don't think that MS feels that they have a fundamentally unstable business model by continuing to sell their OS. You might want to review Joachim Kempin's remarks in a 1997 memo to Bill Gates at Exhibit 365 at the US DOJ site.

    Quoting it:

    OEM division revenue growth over the last 8 years has depended heavily on volume increases and a trend to higher priced OS. During that time ASPs [average system selling prices?] have stayed stable or have gone up which made it easier to ride the wave and get the value we deserve. We have shown larger then [sic] 40% growth rates annaully and expect in the future that OEMs will take a very hard look in how to avoid paying us more $$ per system in order to hit most aggressive price points. Will this lead to significant higher volumes and thus allow us to relax some prices while gaining share where we need it? The danger does exist that more PCs might get shipped without an OS and we should not take this lightly! [are my comments]

    There are also comments in that memo about moving toward a subscription model, as they're starting to put in place with WinXP.

    There are other exhibits there by Ballmer, IIRC, which talks about 40% of MS's profits coming from DOS as late as the mid-90's, IIRC.

    MS, IMHO, certainly isn't interested in giving up on its OS monopoly. MS's isn't at the mercy of wild market swings in RAM prices, risks of overcapacity in the hard drive business, risks of not having the fastest graphics chipset, difficulty in keeping up with Moore's law in microprocessor power, etc., etc. They're exactly where they want to be. The OS is still the source of their power. People aren't going to be running MS Office on their G3 mobile phone, but MS wants to be sure they will eventually be running a version of Windows...

    Cheers,
    Scott.

    [ Parent ]

    apple serial numbers (none / 0) (#160)
    by charliex on Sat May 05, 2001 at 08:07:33 PM EST

    Apple encodes serial numbers into all motherboards. Are you sure they aren't sending your info ? Did you read all the license agreements, go through all the docs for updates etc. If you registered your mac online what did it send, what info is going back and forth during software updates ?

    At least MS are directly telling you what they are doing.

    Also the generic non upgrade version of win95 installs anywhere. OEM versions come with new computers for that computer, nothing else, upgrades upgrade an older version, the full version has neither restriction.

    What is a real criminal ? is there a magic number of ripped off copies of software you use before you become one ?

    if you don't like it, don't buy it. Since you've already said you don't buy it anyway why do you even care.


    [ Parent ]
    Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics from the BSA (3.90 / 10) (#39)
    by jayfoo2 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:01:55 PM EST

    Great Article.

    The one thing I'd like to noodle about is the statistics from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), who according to the article say there is a 25% piracy rate for software.

    I hope we all do realize the BSA is an industry trade group, Microsoft iteslf is a primary sponsor. I personally have trouble believing that statistic.

    I really think we need to step back and ask ourselves (as we have been here this week) what rights should come with a software license. And to whom the burden of proof for enforcement of the license should fall upon.

    Basically windows activation would make it impossible for me to ever use the software, especially on my servers. I would never allow a situation where there is a risk of my business getting shut down by accident (since I pay for my software). And I don't trust Microsoft (or any other company) not to make an accident.


    What percent do you know? (2.00 / 2) (#71)
    by provolt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:06:24 PM EST

    I agree that is seems suspicious that an industry group supported by microsoft just *happens* to have stats that support microsoft's position. However, I would say 25% is accurate or possibly low. Honestly, just about everyone I know (techies and non-techies) has some pirated software on their computer.

    [ Parent ]
    How (wrong) BSA calculates piracy rate... (4.00 / 1) (#119)
    by infraoctarine on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 07:49:48 AM EST

    This is how the BSA (Business Software Alliance) calculates their members' losses:

    Losses due to software piracy are estimated by assuming that for each new personal computer sold there will be a set of accompanying software sales. For instance [...] operating system, and [...] a set of productivity software. On this basis, the shortfall between expected and actual sales must be due to software piracy[...]. (Source: Communications of the ACM, Vol.43, No. 12 p. 88)

    Pardon for quoting myself from an older K5 discussion ( original post also contains a short rant about this method :)

    [ Parent ]
    Piracy is forced .. (3.28 / 7) (#42)
    by dvNull on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:25:22 PM EST

    Well by allowing piracy Microsoft has done a great job in making sure its Marketshare is large enough that is they attempt to force people to upgrade every 30 days for $100 using nazi copy protection schemes, it might actually work for them.

    They can also make sure than backwards compatibility is a little less than optimal so people need to upgrade so they can still exchange documents with one another. Ohh they can also tack on a need to upgrade as well (i.e by upgrading the OS you need to upgrade a certain word filter which in turn requires you to pay $100 for the xxxxp version). They can do all that and have tried similar things in the past (Office 97 and Office 95 come to mind).

    While I dont agree with piracy, I dont think its proper to have a huge monopolistic company like Microsoft dictate how we use our computers. While projects like OpenOffice, KOffice etc exist most of the current world uses Microsoft Office. Microsoft can always decide to make the filters incompatible.

    And $600 for an office program .. whats up with that ?




    If you can see this, then the .sig fell off.
    I don't like, you don't like it, but someone does. (2.00 / 2) (#70)
    by provolt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:00:38 PM EST

    I agree that I don't really like how much power Microsoft wields in the software world, but no one is forced to use their products. Microsoft documents are the de facto standard in industry, but that doesn't mean you have to use it.

    Take a stand. Don't use Microsoft products. Encourage others to do the same. But if you decide to be a wuss, don't bitch about paying for windows.

    [ Parent ]

    How about "other countries" (3.00 / 1) (#77)
    by osama on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:20:26 AM EST

    I live in a country where there is no microsoft representative, what about us? we will have to dial an international call to activate windows???????

    We are also forced to use windows, since other no other PC OS supports our language.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: How about "other countries" (5.00 / 3) (#94)
    by F8alist on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:32:54 PM EST

    "no other PC OS supports our language"

    Then MS has done you a favor. They allow you to use your PC in your own language. This does not place any obligation on them to make it easy on you to use. If it isn't better than having no OS at all, then don't use it. If it is, then use it and play by their rules.

    Libertarianism: The absurd notion that an individual is capable of running his own life, and that the government has anything but his best interests at heart
    [ Parent ]

    There is always an alternative. (1.00 / 1) (#129)
    by provolt on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:43:31 PM EST

    You ALWAYS have alternatives. Here are some that I can see:
    • Deal with it and make the stupid international phone call.
    • Convince Microsoft that it is to their advantage to open an office in your country.
    • Use older versions of the software. Windows 98 doesn't require the silly registration. You may not be able to use all of the really new software, but that is the price of not having to use the registration.
    • You obviously speak english so I'm guessing that you should be able to find at least one PC OS that supports English.
    • To help those how don't speak english like you do, take a distribution of your favorite OS and start translating it. It'll give you a warm feeling inside and help your countrymen out.
    • Write your own OS. It's been done before. I don't think this is the best option but it's definately do able.
    • Don't use a computer. Computer use isn't mandatory to live. If you don't like what you have to go through to use them, then stop. You can exist without a computer.
    These are just some of the obvious things that I see. I'm sure there are other solutions to your problem.

    [ Parent ]
    MS products (none / 0) (#98)
    by smokedjam on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:07:30 PM EST

    Take a stand. Don't use Microsoft products. Encourage others to do the same. But if you decide to be a wuss, don't bitch about paying for windows.

    Absolutely! At home, if I can't get a readable copy of a file, I have no use for it, I do not have ms office or word.

    Another situation for me, is that since I now buy used computers for my own use, I'll probably never buy Microsoft again, as I'll simply be too far behind the technology curve. As Microsoft will need registered, by the time I can afford the hardware sufficient to run any given Microsoft product, they will have moved on to some even more demanding product, and will in all likelyhood never again produce software that I as a poor guy can afford hardware for. (Actually, I've never even owned a currently released Microsoft product, as for my only new pentium bought some years ago, I opted for a previous version of windows.)

    Hopefully hardware, even new stuff, will stay open enough so that alternative OS's can be installed, but there is a chance that, with the 'trusted platform' initiatives of the various intelectual property interests, even this could go away. Fortunately, that still looks to be some time down the road.

    [ Parent ]

    Actually (none / 0) (#168)
    by dvNull on Thu May 10, 2001 at 07:03:44 PM EST

    I dont use Windows, I use openoffice and Applixware. A microsoft product hasnt been installed on my machine in quite a while.

    I send out my basic documents as rtf, and so far I havent had to send out very complex spreadsheets, so wk* format works for me and ppl with Excel or Quattroi Pro(does it even exist now?) can read it =)


    If you can see this, then the .sig fell off.
    [ Parent ]
    Author makes a dangerous assumption (4.75 / 12) (#43)
    by RandomPeon on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:49:35 PM EST

    that the WAP will always work correctly. Experience tells us that Microsoft has never prized quality control in their consumer OS. What happens when (not if) WAP fails to function correctly? What happens when a particular install CD fails to function (are the CDs all unique, like PS2, or do is the key printed somewhere)? What happens when I can't find the key or the person responsible for the keys can't find it (assuming its on a CD case or something).

    With the previous products that were key-protected, (games) these were issues, but they didn't have serious effects - Half-Life is broken, I can't reinstall until I find the key - life will go on. Worst case, I can't play Half-Life until the store opens tomorrow and I can buy another copy. With an operating system, this is a different story. I can't type/access a [business proposal | court filing |term paper |other important document] until I fix the problem with the install process, or I buy another copy of the software.

    I've said this before, there are people who consider immediate word-processing a mission-critical task (attorneys are the group I'm most familiar with). They are scared shitless by anything that might decrease the chance of them being able to type a document. You're throwing these people to Linux.

    Reliability issues aside, I think this will backfire tremendously. A large segment of gamers have accepted CD keys because they offer the added benefit of net play. There's no added functionality to this process.



    I forgot (4.00 / 5) (#45)
    by RandomPeon on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:53:26 PM EST

    to mention Microsoft's recent 48+ hr Internet outage. Another issue, you have to trust Microsoft to respond to activation queries. Imagine trying to call the helpline during that time period.....

    [ Parent ]
    or not! (none / 0) (#164)
    by SirRobin on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:08:12 PM EST

    Actually, just M$' name server went down. www.microsoft.com didnt work, but the IP address still did. So most likely the XP dialin process would still work. Not that I like it. I think M$ is a predatory monopoly that writes worse and worse software that takes advantage of the consumer more and more.
    Where is God you say? ask Him. or ask me.
    [ Parent ]
    An analogy with CD keys and netplay (3.33 / 3) (#58)
    by pin0cchio on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:48:40 PM EST

    A large segment of gamers have accepted CD keys because they offer the added benefit of net play.

    What if Windows didn't have the key system, but Winsock did? This would be similar to the situation with games. AOLers want their AOL and are willing to pay dearly.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Is this really about piracy or control? (2.87 / 8) (#47)
    by cable on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:10:08 PM EST

    What is to stop Microsoft from encoding time limits in the registration keys so that after three years your key no longer works and you have to buy a new one? Or what if they can disable your key via the Internet, forcing you to buy a new one?

    What happens to those companies using a program like "Norton Ghost" to create new workstation installs? Will they all have the same registration key? Will techs have to phone in on every install to get a different key for each workstation?

    I think that having the registration key is more hassle than it is worth to own the software. Pay $300 for Windows XP, $600 for Office XP, and then pay more to get a new key when the software doesn't blow its nose right? Time for Linux and StarOffice! Do we really need to upgrade our OS and Applications every 2 years? That is like $1000 every 2 years, or $500 a year! D'oh!

    Hey, Pop-Quiz Hotshot! Did you know that even if Linux is an Open Sourced OS available for free downloads that people still pay money to buy the CD distrobutions? What is up with that? I guess the old Open Sourced model actually works, just not as profitable as the Commercial model?

    Microsoft will either control the whole planet, or the DOJ is going to bust their chops for creating this method of control over consumers.



    ------------------
    Only you, can help prevent Neb Rage!
    What's to stop them? the EULA (3.00 / 2) (#57)
    by pin0cchio on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:45:25 PM EST

    What is to stop Microsoft from encoding time limits in the registration keys so that after three years your key no longer works and you have to buy a new one?

    The EULA would probably spell out the terms of key revocation.

    Will techs have to phone in on every install to get a different key for each workstation?

    Site licenses may have custom on-site keyservers, similar to the license management for expensive UNIX programs.

    Time for Linux and StarOffice! Do we really need to upgrade our OS and Applications every 2 years?

    You have to if your client sends you a file in a proprietary format supported only by the new software, and you don't want to turn away six or more figures USD of business.

    But I'm concerned about what if a company (other than Microsoft) uses a similar product activation scheme but then goes out of business? Because you rely on the company's assistance to install the software, the software is a service, not a pure good, and should be budgeted as such.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Every two years? (none / 0) (#121)
    by xdroop on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:51:35 AM EST

    Do we really need to upgrade our OS and Applications every 2 years?

    I'd like to see what you are running. My main system's OS is two years old (a RH6.0 -- kinda -- gratutious patches have been applied), but the only day-to-day application that I use that is of that vintage is Netscape. Everything else is newer.

    Sure, we don't need to do it, but I bet most of us do it anyways. Why be surprised that some people are willing to pay money for this, and that other people are willing to take money to give people the opportunity to do it?
    ---
    xhost +
    [ Parent ]

    Not to mention the new hardware (none / 0) (#147)
    by cable on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:20:29 PM EST

    needed with a new Windows and Office Suite upgrade. It seems that new systems need hardware upgrades to run the new stuff from MS as well.

    But yeah go with Linux, and even that four year old Pentium 133Mhz system looks speedy. :)

    ------------------
    Only you, can help prevent Neb Rage!
    [ Parent ]

    Not the same as Q3A or HL (4.16 / 6) (#49)
    by Dwonis on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:40:53 PM EST

    I'd point to the fact that various other key based systems, including Half Life and Quake 3 have yet to be cracked. It seems entirely possible Microsoft can find a way to make WPA very hard to crack.

    What the author fails to realize is that the Half Life and Quake 3 keys aren't even needed to install or play Quake 3, they're needed to get onto uncracked multiplayer servers. This is much different from WPA, which is desighed to keep you from using Windows at all without their key.

    The Quake 3/Half Life key system works because it devalues the game substantially (not being able to play multiplayer over the internet on normal servers), but Windows is a standalone OS, for the most part (though Microsoft wants to change this), so you won't lose much value if you run it "single-player".

    In my opinion, anything more than trivial copy protection is a waste of the money you pay to have it designed and implemented, because copy protection is simply impossible. There's copy deterrance, but that's all it'll ever be.

    Standalone OS? Don't think so (2.75 / 4) (#55)
    by pin0cchio on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:38:12 PM EST

    Windows is a standalone OS, for the most part (though Microsoft wants to change this), so you won't lose much value if you run it "single-player".

    Windows ceased to be a "standalone" operating system as soon as Windows 98 was released with a shell that shared code with its web browser. It became a system designed for access to the Internet. If Microsoft were to emulate id Software, Winsock would require a CD key, checked periodically on Microsoft's server. This means no DUN or Ethernet for pirates.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Hmmm... (3.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Miniluv on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:28:17 AM EST

    Have you taken the number of desktops in service in the US, multiplied by the percentage running Windows, and then subtracted from that the number of households with internet access?

    Do that, then multiply by $65 for the standalone OS and see if you then understand why Microsoft wants copy protection to work.

    It's too much effort to be offensive.


    [ Parent ]

    The difference... (4.00 / 2) (#97)
    by kataklyst on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 01:51:02 PM EST

    is that contacting the Microsoft authentication server is not an important part of using Windows. With Q3A, connecting to the server you know will do authentication is the whole point. With Windows, you lose nothing by hacking your client to not really contact the authentication server.

    [ Parent ]
    they screw us (4.69 / 13) (#50)
    by winitzki on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:12:25 PM EST

    I agree that Micro$#!t is entitled to put conditions on use of its software which is licensed to us. Licensing doesn't make software belong to us.

    But they screw us. It is clear that their only purpose is to get our money: they don't care about quality of their OS as much as they care about marketing. Windows "activation" is not their main weapon.

    I have bought a new computer in 1997 and it came with a separate CD with OEM version of Windows(TM) 95 OSR2, Certificate of Authenticity, setup.exe, CD key, and that great "User's manual". So far, so good.

    My girlfriend has bought a new computer in 2000 and... it didn't come with a Windows CD. Instead it came with Windows 98 preinstalled, and two "rescue CDs" which do not contain an installable copy of Windows. The rescue set contains some huge files and a program to format the disk and restore it to initial factory configuration. In fact there is no way to reinstall Windows if it stops working. (Or, I should perhaps say, when it stops working...) The only option is to restore the whole computer to factory configuration. Of course, the restore disks do not run on any other computer except on that one.

    Effectively, she does not have a copy of Windows, although it may look like she does, at first. all she paid for was an opportunity to have a factory preinstalled configuration of Windows.

    This is a serious limitation of functionality that has been quietly introduced on new brand-name OEM computers recently. This makes computers behave like black-box appliances. Well, we don't buy a separate "dialing system" to go with a telephone set. But computers don't have to be that way.

    I'm sure that a lot of cases of "home piracy" cited in the article occur because people don't have the installation CD for their version of Windows, when they should have.

    For OEM's and Micro$#!t, it's a lot better to sell computers with preinstalled versions of Windows. First, they make sure you buy Windows every time you buy a computer; second, nobody will actually find out how hard it is to install Windows on a computer with a clean-wiped disk; third, they can screw you and not allow you to transfer Windows on another computer.

    As for me, I use Linux on the computer I bought in 1997, and I feel quite entitled to give the Windows CD to someone else when they need it. They have paid for their Windows already.

    Hidden partition (2.00 / 2) (#139)
    by Cameleon on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 06:58:53 PM EST

    My mother recently bought a new PC, with windows ME, and it didn't come with a CD. No cd whatsoever. As I understand it now, it comes with a disk that allows you to access a 'hidden' partition on your hard disk, where you can find the windows installation software (or perhaps the 'restore factory defaults' image).

    I found this very disturbing. Not only does it indeed make sure that you need to buy Windows with every new computer, it is also not very convenient. And if the HD dies for whatever reason, you're screwed and have to buy a new version of windows for a couple of hundred bucks.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Hidden partition (none / 0) (#154)
    by Ig0r on Tue May 01, 2001 at 09:20:09 PM EST

    It also wastes several gigs of space on that HD you paid for. When you order a 20 gig, you're probably only able to use 17-18 out of the box.

    [ Parent ]
    Squeeze Hard, Microsoft!!! (3.40 / 5) (#56)
    by mkc on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:38:36 PM EST

    The tighter Microsoft squeezes its users, the fewer Windows users there will be. Sounds good to me. Keep up the good work, Microsoft!
    -- Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a day. Give him a patent on fishing and he can enjoy watching everyone else starve every day.
    The hole (2.50 / 4) (#62)
    by joecool12321 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:57:19 PM EST

  • Large organizations will reject WPA due to deployment overhead of activation.

    Microsoft in the past has offered versions of Windows specifically for volume licenses, partly due to the deployment problems faced with hundreds of unique product keys. I am sure they will continue to offer an easy way to register products. Either by not requiring it at all or allowing deployment tools that makes the process automatic. If they don't, this will be a very real problem with WPA and will make opposition of it very valid.

  • First, let me say that it would be good to cut back on piracy. But I don't think you will be able to change people's actions without changing their mentality

    That being said, the problem with trying to be user-friendly (like this passage) creates severe limitations regarding security. If the above is true, then the business registration will be the code distributed.

    Perhaps Microsoft will revoke a business license if they see it floating around in the public domain



    Is Lying on free registration forms 'piracy'? (4.66 / 9) (#64)
    by TuxNugget on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:33:23 PM EST

    RMS has argued that IP lawyers and their corporate clients have warped the meaning of piracy. Piracy is a naval crime often involving a watery death for the unlucky victims - what is actually going on with copying of copyrighted products is closer to shoplifting. I guess "softlifting" doesn't sound as bad as "piracy", does it?

    Now what happens when the price isn't in terms of money? The price of many kinds of "free" information is personal information about yourself. Yet, this "deal" is often not phrased contractually but is implicit in a site's design: the newspaper that requires registration to read, the netscape plug-in finder that wants your name, email, street address, etc... As should be expected, people often lie on these web forms to get what they want without paying the price of giving up their personal information.

    Is this 'piracy'? From the IP viewpoint, yes - definitely. From the users' viewpoint, the issue is privacy.

    No doubt, a corporate lackey can always find some 'spin' or other valid corporate reason for requesting the information besides selling it or using it for targeting advertising (we want to better serve our users; we have a lot of hacking problems and want to identify troublemakers; etc). The extent to which the government buys into this should prove interesting for determining your rights in the future.

    So, why can't I buy microsoft's products without giving them my name, street address, CPU ID number, and other personally identifying information?

    Because it's part of the price. (2.25 / 4) (#68)
    by provolt on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:42:49 PM EST

    So, why can't I buy microsoft's products without giving them my name, street address, CPU ID number, and other personally identifying information?
    Basically, if I understand Microsoft's scheme, it isn't about gathering personally identifiable information about you. It gather identification for you your computer. That information about your computer is part of the price. No one is forcing you to use any software (or even a computer for that matter). If you don't like having to give up your information, quit using stuff that requires you to do so.

    Software isn't the only thing that requires you to give up information about yourself. If you want to own a car, you have to register it with the government. You have to buy insurance for it, and to get insurance you have to give personal information to the insurance company. That doesn't mean you should steal the car.

    [ Parent ]

    Softlifting vs. Piracy (4.00 / 5) (#75)
    by phliar on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:07:33 AM EST

    RMS has argued that IP lawyers and their corporate clients have warped the meaning of piracy. Piracy is a naval crime often involving a watery death for the unlucky victims - what is actually going on with copying of copyrighted products is closer to shoplifting. I guess "softlifting" doesn't sound as bad as "piracy", does it?
    I would argue that "softlifting" is an even weaker crime than shoplifting. When you shoplift (call it steal) item X, you are depriving someone of the benefits of item X. When you copy program Y from someone (regardless of whether or not it is with their consent) you don't deprive them of the utility they get from program Y.

    That is what makes software so different from physical objects. RMS talks about this much more eloquently than I ever could; go read www.gnu.org.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    RMS is not a piracy advocate (none / 0) (#148)
    by Carnage4Life on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:11:49 PM EST

    RMS was against restrictive IP and to get around it he encourages people to refuse to use closed source products and use or come up with Free (as in speech) alternatives. He did not encourage the large scale w4r3zing of software by claiming that "copying bits around does not harm anybody".

    It is interesting that yourself and the people that rated your post highly seem to believe that the straw argument of "you don't deprive them of the utility of program Y" justifies stealing software that costs thousands of hours and billions of dollars to create.

    If you don't like it, use something else.

    Stealing software or music and then trying to defend yourself with strawman arguments does suddenly make you a crusader for Freedom like RMS, it makes you a theif.

    [ Parent ]
    not piracy, but not stealing either (none / 0) (#157)
    by ethereal on Wed May 02, 2001 at 02:29:47 PM EST

    I agree with your point that people should pay for software if those are the terms under which it is made available. But I don't agree that failure to do so is stealing, or makes someone a thief. This is again a morphing of terms - for me to steal something, someone else must be missing it. I agree that unauthorized copyright infringement is bad and usually illegal, but it is not stealing, and just saying so more and more loudly doesn't make it so.

    --

    Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    [ Parent ]

    Piracy is a legitimate term (2.50 / 6) (#78)
    by squigly on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:11:03 AM EST

    Piracy has become so entrenched in modern language that everyone associates it with unnoficial duplication. Its been applied to model kits, grey imports of branded goods, and unlicenced radio broadcasts. It really doesn't mean the guys with eyepatches and parrots anymore. It's a useful term so I don't really think it should cause problems.

    [ Parent ]
    Piracy != Copyright Infrigement (4.00 / 6) (#79)
    by earthling on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:39:21 AM EST

    Which sounds worst?

    "Pirates are stealing our software! We must do SOMETHING!!!"
    or
    "People are infringing on our copyrights! We must do SOMETHING!!!"

    Did you ever read Owell's 1984? In that novel, the governement suppressed the term "freedom". How could one scream for liberty or even think of that concept if the word didn't even exist?
    That's why many of us are fighting this battle to prevent this usurpation of the term piracy by software corporations. Maybe you'll think we're simply being anal-relentive, but copyright infrigement is a whole other ball-game than thievery, much less piracy.


    -Earthling
    "I'm sorry, I had to; the irony was just too thick."
    [ Parent ]

    Strength of the words (2.60 / 5) (#82)
    by squigly on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:49:28 AM EST

    Stealing is the key word here though. "Pirate" has been usurped, adopted, and devalued. I really think that pirate and counterfeiter would have the same weight in that first comment.

    Did you ever read Owell's 1984? In that novel, the governement suppressed the term "freedom".

    No. Is it any good?

    Seriously, I realise that words have a lot of impact on people's perception of things. I just don't think pirate gives a negative impression anymore. There haven't been major incidents of naval piracy in the past couple of centuries. The most recent important group to be called pirates were radio stations in the 1960's. I wasn't around at the time, but I get the impression that they were quite popular amongst the public.

    [ Parent ]

    There is still major piracy on the seas. (4.50 / 2) (#124)
    by acceleriter on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:54:29 PM EST

    There haven't been major incidents of naval piracy in the past couple of centuries.

    That simply is not true. See this article and anothe article, the first two relevant hits in a Google search on "piracy high seas africa."

    [ Parent ]

    image of piracy (3.00 / 2) (#85)
    by thejeff on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:04:23 AM EST

    RMS has argued that IP lawyers and their corporate clients have warped the meaning of piracy. Piracy is a naval crime often involving a watery death for the unlucky victims - what is actually going on with copying of copyrighted products is closer to shoplifting. I guess "softlifting" doesn't sound as bad as "piracy", does it?
    It may not be just the IP lawyers and corporations that push the piracy usage. Many of the pirates themselves might prefer it. Sure the original usage of piracy is a much more horrible crime, but it also has a very romantic image. Conjures up images of Errol Flynn and Treasure Island. I can easily see why someone might want to call themselves a "pirate" rather than a copyright infringer or even "warez dude".
    Someone below mentioned pirate radio and that was certainly trying to evoke the romantic image of piracy not the reality.
    thejeff

    [ Parent ]
    Hurrah! (4.33 / 9) (#69)
    by phliar on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:53:03 PM EST

    No, I'm not happy that Microsoft will make more money. (In fact I don't think they will.)

    But this will make ordinary people realise why I rant about free software. Because until now, Windows was free to them.

    I want to see MS-Windows, MS-Office, Photoshop, Illustrator etc. with some sort of strong copy protection. I want Fraunhofer to enforce the MP3 patent. That is what will make ordinary people see how cool Linux/*BSD, The Gimp, Ogg Vorbis, KDE etc. really are.

    I think this is what will break the MS chokehold on the public. And in the long run it will cost MS money. If I were MS I would not be doing this.

    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

    Hmm... (3.00 / 5) (#73)
    by Elendale on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:27:50 PM EST

    While there isn't much information out there currently about how these ID's are obtained from your hardware, my theory is they are a collection of PCI vendor ID's, possibly combined with other information obtained from the BIOS.

    First off, i don't know how WPA is going to work. From your guess (which is very well possible) i would have to say this is a Very Bad Thing- at least, for myself. You see, i've had enough of the OEM stuff. For about the equivalent prices (sometimes even less) i can scratch-build my very own machine. The machine i'm on right now, in fact, was made by myself. Its stable, its powerful (even at 6 months old, i've never layed my hands on a more powerful machine) and if it breaks i can fix it. I know all the internals of the machine, they were assembled by myself. I know all the parts, because i chose them. I know many gamers and other geeks do the same thing. For someone willing to invest the time, PC building is the hardware equivalent of Linux.

    But, its not OEM. Does this mean WPA will be non-functional on my machine? If, indeed, MS is cooperating with OEMs to create these product keys then what about me? I'm certainly not going back to the bland world of pre-built machines. What about smaller OEMs? Will there be a fee involved- if so, will this fee crush mom&pop operations? Forget re-installing Windows, i won't even be able to install Windows! Nor will many gamers.

    Think that's no big deal? Think again. What are the three big things that drives windows: Games, "end user" (by that i mean word processing, surfing the net, checking email, and other things J Random Luser does) programs, and big business. The last won't be affected- it would be highly impractical already for them to be! J Random Luser won't be either, nor will many gamers. But the hardcore gamer will be. The user whose machine already contains a pair of 1.6 ghz Athlons, a 15kX 10 disk SCSI RAID5 array, and a GeForce 3 will (understandably) be very upset if MS doesn't want to let him/her onto the next version of windows over something like that- yes, i realize this theoretical machine is at the upper 1 X 10^-12% (as in, there might be one but i doubt it) of all machines but the gaming crowd typically uses more hardware than any except the most dedicated OEMs (think Alienware and friends) will be able to offer. No new Windows for them. Think new games will be able to require XP when the hardcore crowd doesn't support it? Maybe. Games like "Redneck Deer Huner Pro" likely won't be affected, but what about Doom3? You may think i'm being spurious here, but honestly: how many of you still have a windows partition to play games in? Gaming is the only thing Linux doesn't really do. Sure, Star Office is slow (though, for the aformentioned dual 1.6ghz athlon machine, stuff like Star Office is a speed bump) but this could be a blow MS will regret having made.

    Of course, this means MS would have to do something completely retarded for something like this to happen so of course it will never work out that way.
    Personally, i'm not planning on buying any more Microsoft OSes (not the word: "buy") until they start treating users like consumers instead of pirates again.

    One note of irony. Why is the pirating of Windows so high? Because MS can ignore market pressure. If Microsoft lowered non-commercial liscenses to reasonable levels then i suspect much of this so-called piracy would disappear. But this isn't going to happen, is it?

    -Elendale(</sarcasm>)
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    PCI vendors not PC vendors.... (3.00 / 2) (#116)
    by kvasir on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:26:25 AM EST

    If you look carefully at the comment you quoted, it mentions PCI vendor IDs, not PC (OEM) vendor IDs.

    It looks to me, as if Microsoft will be taking a list of ID codes from the cards in various slots, and a motherboard/processor ID code. Whether you build your own, like you and me both, or buy from Dell, these PCI vendor IDs will still be there on the cards available for XP use.

    Not that I am condoning Microsoft's evil plan of the week or anything, just clarifying a point.

    [ Parent ]

    One "point" you forgot to mention... (3.62 / 8) (#76)
    by rabbit on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:34:17 AM EST

    Microsoft has a monopoly. This is fact. (The only question in regards to their monopoloy status is whether or not they attained it through legal means and whether or not they keep it through legal means.)

    Why is this important?

    I don't chose to live in a windows world, but sometimes, I must interact with it. Most of my boxen are linux boxen. But I have a couple of dual boots because of DVDs and whack ass clients that send me files in weird formats.

    I will not pay for the privilege of having my computer crash whenever I try to do something productive, and I will not pay for the privilege of having my privacy and security continuously violated.

    Until Microsoft begins behaving in an ethically conscious manner, they can take their WPA and shove it up their collective asses.

    --rabbit

    -- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
    good point (3.50 / 2) (#100)
    by Ender Ryan on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:11:29 PM EST

    Microsoft DOES have a monopoly. For most people who do any work with computers at all and interact with the rest of the world, you _WILL_ have to use windows at least now and then. There is no way to avoid it for most people, they simply _HAVE_ to use windows.

    Personally, I think it is completely unethical to sell software in closed form as it could contain privacy invading code etc., which, many companies have done including Microsoft(except for maybe entertainment purposes). But what I consider really violating is having to accept their terms. I am forced to use their software, but I have to do so on their unethical terms, what a slap in the face.


    -
    Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

    We are Kuro5hin!


    [ Parent ]

    "Monopoly" (3.00 / 2) (#108)
    by Arker on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:42:11 AM EST

    Sorry. As much as I dislike MS and take every opportunity to expose them, they are NOT a monopoly.

    There are many alternative OS. There is Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, BeOS, FreeDOS, etc.

    Microsoft has no monopoly - Microsoft has mindshare. This is a very different thing.

    Microsoft cannot stop you from installing another OS on your box. There is no monopoly here. Just a situation where a company that's real good at deception has deceived a great number of people into using their crap. Are they unethical? Yes, very much so. Are they powerful? Hell yeah. Are they a danger, a threat, to free men everywhere? Yes they are. Do they have a true monopoly position. No, they do not.

    I honestly think your statement, and that of the first person to reply to you, are nothing more than rationalisation for laziness. Don't run a 'doze box to read those emails - earn your consultants fee by teaching those silly clients how to find the "save as text" option in word.

    Repeat that last bit of advice for all relevant variations. That's all there is to it, really. I personally DO run a windows box - and I paid for my copy, after thinking long and hard on whether or not it was worth the price. For the time being, it is (assuming you buy it in a store and don't sign any contracts) and so I use it. Not for any serious work, no, but there are some things it's decent at (like letting my nearly 60 year old roomate browse and read email and the like) and I use real operating systems on the boxes that have serious jobs. Hell, you can even get emacs ported to it, so it's possible to do some limited real work on it.

    In the end, all any of us really have is our own integrity. Whatever else you do, try to retain that - use 'doze, don't use 'doze, but don't pull out some bullshit about a supposed monopoly that simply doesn't exist to justify your own choices.



    [ Parent ]
    You apparently misunderstand Monopoly. (5.00 / 2) (#120)
    by Another Scott on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 08:52:18 AM EST

    Monopoly has a legal meaning. It doesn't mean 100% market share. It doesn't mean no alternatives.

    Thomas Penfield Jackson found, in his Findings of Fact, that Microsoft has a monopoly in PC operating systems.

    Findings of Fact in HTML (the page is about 400 KB)

    33. Microsoft enjoys so much power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems that if it wished to exercise this power solely in terms of price, it could charge a price for Windows substantially above that which could be charged in a competitive market. Moreover, it could do so for a significant period of time without losing an unacceptable amount of business to competitors. In other words, Microsoft enjoys monopoly power in the relevant market.

    34. Viewed together, three main facts indicate that Microsoft enjoys monopoly power. First, Microsoft's share of the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems is extremely large and stable. Second, Microsoft's dominant market share is protected by a high barrier to entry. Third, and largely as a result of that barrier, Microsoft's customers lack a commercially viable alternative to Windows.

    (The "barrier to entry" is Microsoft's control of the Windows APIs. This makes development of a good-enough Windows emulator nearly impossible. A self-evident proof is the lack of a fully compatible WINE system.)

    If you wish to argue that Microsoft isn't a monopoly, it would be good to (re?)acquaint yourself with the FoF and attempt to counter Jackson's findings. Legally, it's very difficult to discard findings of fact as I understand it, but IANAL.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

    [ Parent ]

    wrong (none / 0) (#173)
    by jchristopher on Wed May 16, 2001 at 05:54:24 PM EST

    Sorry. As much as I dislike MS and take every opportunity to expose them, they are NOT a monopoly.

    Wrong. You need to look up the definition of monopoly.

    It does not mean 100% market share, or no choice. It means that they can roughly maintain their level of sales without having to compete in the market on price. i.e., you can raise the price, but still sell the same amount.

    Markets which are absent of monopoly conditions don't work that way - you can't just raise your price and expect sales to stay constant.

    It's not illegal to be a monopoly - however, once you are a monopoly, there are certain behaviors which are illegal under monopoly conditions.

    [ Parent ]

    A method of attack... (4.57 / 7) (#83)
    by B'Trey on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:18:14 AM EST

    It's been touched on below but nobody really went into detail. Q3 and Half-life come with a product key. To run the game in single-player mode, you must have a valid product key. There are easily available key generators out there that will produce product keys valid for single player games. The code which checks the key for validation is on your hard drive. It's been reverse engineered to find out what it looks for, thus generating a valid key is trivial.

    The problem comes up when you want to play an online game over the internet. When you try to connect to an internet game server, your key is sent to a central server for validation. This server is owned and controlled by the software companies. The code which validates the key is on that server, so hackers can't reverse engineer it to find out what it looks for. This makes it much more difficult to crack the validation scheme. The same key which validates just fine for single player games will fail for internet games.

    In effect, Q3 and Half-life are doing a product activation every time you play an internet game. If MS implements the same scheme, you'll have to have an internet connection EVERY TIME YOU RUN THE PRODUCT!

    Even this isn't uncrackable, however. It works in Q3 and HL because the server is necessary for what you're trying to do. You need the server in order to play an internet game. One solution is to hack the server itself. The server is provided with the game; anyone can run a server. The software is therefore available to be reverse engineered, and indeed you can find cracks which will modify the server so that it doesn't check for a valid key. This is of limited use in Q3 and HL because it only works for that one server. The vast majority of the servers out there are honest, and if you want to play on them, you need a valid key.

    This does, however, open up avenues for addressing the WPA scheme. The WPA may first do a local check of the product key for validation. If so, the code for the validation is locally available and can be reverse engineered. A crack to generate locally-valid keys is relatively easy. Next, the WPA goes out over the internet and talks with an MS server. The MS server validates the product key and sends a response that tells the local machine that it is validated. A couple of points here. First, the machine has to know where to go to talk to the server. That means that the IP address or the URL of the server has to be stored locally. If it's stored locally, it can be modified, redirecting the WPA code to a different server. (Depending upon a number of factors, it may be as simple as adding an entry to your local host file.) Indeed, the server could even be running on a different port on the same machine! That server can be set up to return a valid activation signal regardless of what input it receives. Even if the return signal is checked locally, THAT validation code is local and can be reverse engineered to find out what it's looking for. Rather than breaking the WPA scheme, you simply do an end run around it. This type of crack would very likely be easier to implement and more effective.

    Doesn't work (3.00 / 1) (#89)
    by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:41:55 AM EST

    because the authentication scheme can use a public-key system whereby all the data is signed by the server (the MS private key), and must be decrypted using a MS public key, available on all the machines).

    Note that the MS private key will be on MS servers only, and is not easily reversible, mathematically.

    Granted, you can crack that whole scheme, but in that case, why not just crack it so it doesn't even do authentication in the first place?

    [ Parent ]
    Public key... (5.00 / 2) (#92)
    by B'Trey on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:03:16 PM EST

    If the public key is stored on the local machine, you replace it with your own. If it's stored remotely, you change the location where it looks for it.

    If the software only looks for authentication in one particular place, it may very well be easy to crack it. If there are calls spread throughout the code which checks for authentication, it may be quite difficult.

    [ Parent ]

    Well (none / 0) (#146)
    by Anonymous 7324 on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:21:45 AM EST

    same deal. The point is that you'd be modifying the OS. Like I said, if you're actually going to be modifying the OS, then the point is moot.

    [ Parent ]
    i'm confused (3.00 / 2) (#111)
    by kubalaa on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:27:05 AM EST

    Obviously the central validation server to which you refer isn't the same server that comes with the game. Shouldn't it still be possible to listen in on the activation signal received from the keyserver, then patch the binary to contact a different server which you've created which returns an okay no matter what?

    [ Parent ]
    Sorry if I wasn't clear... (4.00 / 2) (#126)
    by B'Trey on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:17:08 PM EST

    There are two different servers in question - the game server and the key validation server. Billy Bob buys Q3. He want's to host a game, so he sets up a dedicated machine with a high speed connection and runs the game server, which he calls Billy Bob's House of Quake3. You fire up Q3 and tell it to look for internet games. It comes back with a list of game servers, one of which is Billy Bob's. You connect to Billy Bob's. Billy Bob's ask you for your key, which you send encrypted to prevent eavesdropers from stealing your key. Billy Bob's then contacts the validation server and sends it your key. The validation server checks your key, finds out that it's valid, and tells Billy Bob "Yeah, that key's good." Billy Bob's then tells you "OK, you can play now." (There are a couple of ways this could actually work. Billy Bob's could contact the validation server and pass it your IP address, which would then contact you for your key. That way, Billy Bob's never actually HAS your key, even in encrypted form. The validation server could then call Billy Bob's and tell it that your IP address is kosher, let it play. I haven't dug into the details that much, so I'm not sure exactly what method id uses. I do know that the game server gets permission from the validation server for you to play.)

    The only way around the system is to patch Billy Bob's server. However, Billy Bob bought the game and is spending his own money to run the server. Alternately, Billy Bob may be a company donating spare cycles or trying to develop good will in the Q3 community, etc. In any event, Billy Bob has no incentive to patch his server so that you can play with your warez version of Q3. Additionally, it's relatively easy for id software to detect that Billy Bob is running a hacked server. Thus, most hacked servers are private servers that are run for a small group of people.

    [ Parent ]

    So Q3 is a service (3.00 / 2) (#128)
    by acceleriter on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:42:00 PM EST

    What Id's doing, if I understand correctly, is essentially allowing (not the same as tolerating) warezed copies of Q3. However, if one wishes to play on a Quake server, this Kerberos-like authentication scheme comes into play. This works because Id is selling a service--access to game servers. If there were no interest in the service, there'd be no reason to contact a Q3 server, and thus no reason to have one's key validated against Id's database.

    With Windows XP, the consumer has allegedly bought a perpetual (for now) license to use the software on one machine. There is no service component (unless Windows Update counts)--so there's no reason for a user to have WinXP "call home" once it's installed. So, once it's cracked (and it will be cracked), the game's over, because MS doesn't have the carrot that Id does to get people to go out and actually buy a copy.

    Like others here, I hope this causes MS to lose what few sales actually did come from non-OEM and non-corporate sales. I have been routinely referring to Win XP to associates who ask my advice on upgrading as "Windows NT with the Big Brother™ expansion pack." (I wish I had been the one to think of that.) They generally understand, and stay with Windows 98/NT/2000 for now.

    [ Parent ]

    Q3 is both... (4.33 / 3) (#130)
    by B'Trey on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 07:23:41 PM EST

    ...a service and a product. Q3 has local copy protection as well. You have to have a valid key and the CD to play a single player or (non-internet) network game. A copy of the CD won't work. However, there are key generators and cracks for the CD thing all over the net. Its not so much that they're allowing or tolerating warezed copies as that they know that there really isn't any way to stop it. No local method is uncrackable. They made a reasonable effort with copy protection, but they were well aware that it'd be cracked before the boxes hit the shelves. They were also well aware that online death matches were wildly popular, so they implemented a second, online protection method that has yet to be cracked.

    Cracking WinXP may be more of a tast than a lot of people seem to think. Most games have a few hundred kbytes, maybe a couple of megabytes, of executable code (Graphics and data make up the bulk of what's copied to your drive). Plus, the protection check is one of the first things that happens. Tracing through the program and reverse engineering the check is straightforward and relatively simple. A lot of times, you don't even have to reverse engineer anything. You just find the entry point to the code which does the checking, find out where it goes after a succesful check, and put in a jump to that point. IOW, you just jump over the protection scheme. WinXP, however, will have huge amounts of code. I strongly suspect that MS will have checks spaced throughout the code. Just tracing through it will be a nightmare. Of course, there will probably be a LOT more people working on it than there are working on cracking the latest game from id. And I agree that it'll be cracked. But it might be much simpler to spoof the registration process than it is to remove activation altogether.

    [ Parent ]

    d'oh (2.50 / 2) (#112)
    by kubalaa on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:28:44 AM EST

    I posted before I even finished reading yours, and I guess it shows. <g> So why don't they do what you described with Quake et al?

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps now I can stop being a software cop (4.40 / 10) (#84)
    by Joat on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:00:42 AM EST

    Like DeadBaby I work in IT too. Our shop has a lot of Linux, but also a lot of Windows. Many of the users only run Windows occasionally, and only run it to read Word documents or view Visio diagrams from the... err... non technical staff.

    Thus, I get a lot of "can I borrow the Visio CD? I just need it for a week or so", or "can I upgrade to Windows 2000? Win 95 keeps crashing". Often I'll tell them sure, I'll buy you a licence. "But I need it now, can't you just give it to me?"; "Aw, c'mon, I only need it for a week, then I'll remove it." This often gets combined with Management pressure to just hand out the CDs with a promise that I can order a new license, which they may or may not approve later.

    I don't like MS, or MS products, or MS licence agreements (I've been through one MS audit already, and it's not fun - did you notice that condition in the agreement?), but I do feel that if a licensing restriction is present, it should be respected. If you write GPL software and MS steals it and includes it in a product, you can't whine about it unless your own practices with *their* licensed software are above reproach, whatever you think of their software or their conditions.

    Right now, I'm effectively part of Microsoft's software police. Only I stand between compliance and wholesale abuse of MS licenses. I could even theoretically be held legally liable for licence abuse, or at the very least lose my job if Management ever needed a scapegoat. I hate that. I hate being in that position. I'm really glad that MS have taken this new course, and that soon I'll be able to say "No, I can't give you the CD, because you'll need a key. We *have* to buy one. No, there's nothing I can do about it." And I'll think to myself: "Screw you, now it's *your* problem, not mine."

    Software Cops (4.50 / 4) (#107)
    by Arker on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:13:00 AM EST

    I'm in a similar situation to you, except my place of work uses all MS crap. (I'd love to find a better job, but for the time being this is the best thing around - until I move, or someone with a clue starts a tech business in the rural area I am residing in at the moment.)

    Dealing with licensing "issues" on this crap wastes a good part of my day. While I don't believe that a click-through EULA that one encounters AFTER buying the product should have any legal or moral force at all, large installations do sign REAL contracts with MS for this junk, and real contracts should be honored. I deal with the same problems you do. I have NEVER been complicit in copyright infringement (as I understand it, given that I don't hold the EULA to be valid in any way, but have always held the contracts my employers actually signed as valid,) but I doubt very much many in my position can say that.

    "Software Piracy" is of course a horrible and loaded misnomer, but assuming the article refers instead to copyright infringement, I believe the numbers given are fairly close. IMHOP (speaking as someone that has used and supported MS products, albeit grudgingly at times, since DOS 3) this "piracy" is the secret of microsofts success. For many years now they have made their software trivially easy to "steal" - and I believe this has been intentional. If it were not the case, MS would not have been so dominant. MS sells because "everyone else uses it" and a very large share of "everyone else" doesn't buy it, and wouldn't buy it. If MS had used reasonable anti-"piracy" measures from the start, they'd just be a footnote in the history of computing.

    You may have gotten the idea I don't like MS. That's a valid impression. And that's why I am 100% in favour of making it harder to "steal" their products. There is no better way to encourage people to use better products.



    [ Parent ]
    "Use Linux" (2.00 / 3) (#86)
    by arodland on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:53:57 AM EST

    Of course I'm going to use linux, I already use linux, etcetera. The issue is not about being able to afford windows, or piracy, it's simply about one more step on M________'s quest to become the root of all evil. The issue is privacy, freedom, etcetera.

    I agree - these measures are the user's fault (4.14 / 7) (#87)
    by phaze3k on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:07:56 AM EST

    But not for the reasons given in the article (ie everyone pirates Windows).

    People dismiss those such as RMS for their hardline on Free software, but the fact of the matter is that under licenses like the GPL, issues like this simply cannot arise. People who are prepared to hand over their freedoms to corporations should expect exactly what they get - ie to be shafted. Microsoft has always made it clear that they intend to make money by selling closed software, and that they wish to make sure that people pay them the money they feel they owe for using it.

    It's still bullshit. (3.30 / 10) (#88)
    by theboz on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:31:24 AM EST

    My stand on software is that once I buy it, I can do whatever I want with it. This includes putting it on all of my computers. I don't care if it is against the meaningless laws that are on the side of software manufacturers, I will do as I wish with what I pay for.

    With all that being said, I agree with those who say free software is better. I may use Windows ME for my home destkop OS (as well as linux and FreeBSD) which came with my computer, but most of my software was free. I like Gimp for graphics, OpenOffice (StarOffice) for working on my resume, and plenty of other things out there that are free and useful. It does make things a lot easier when you don't have to think about stupid licensing issues.

    In any case, I still think licensing is wrong. When I buy a hamburger from McDonalds they don't force me to eat it with my right hand (I'm left-handed) and they don't tell me that I can't give a bite to someone else. After I buy it, I can throw it on the ground outside and stomp on it. I can simply throw it away, or I could give it to a homeless person. Why should software be different than everything else?

    Stuff.

    Why is software different (1.50 / 2) (#141)
    by Cameleon on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 07:35:58 PM EST

    In any case, I still think licensing is wrong. When I buy a hamburger from McDonalds they don't force me to eat it with my right hand (I'm left-handed) and they don't tell me that I can't give a bite to someone else. After I buy it, I can throw it on the ground outside and stomp on it. I can simply throw it away, or I could give it to a homeless person. Why should software be different than everything else?

    Because with a hamburger, when you give it to someone else, you don't have it anymore. If you buy a hamburger, and give it to your friend, you're still hungry. However, if you buy a computer program, and give your friend a copy, you still have it. Notice the word copy here. If that would be legal, only a couple of copies would be sold, and the rest would just be available for free from friends, friend's friends, or just some nice people who'd give it to anyone who'd ask for it.

    And while that might look like an ideal world, it would remove the incentive to create new software. If there is no money to make with it, why would you do it?

    [ Parent ]

    So that everyone has quality free software? (3.00 / 1) (#144)
    by evilpete on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:24:45 AM EST

    I would hope most people at k5 can see the obvious answer:

    A world full of people with quality working software can be worth substantially more than the combined salaries of the people that assembled it.

    If you remove your artificially imposed barriers on duplication then you create value. You get people using the software that would otherwise be barred from doing so.

    This is one of the reasons there is so much quality Free software about - people think writing it is worth it even if you don't get paid.

    [ Parent ]
    Ask the right people (none / 0) (#174)
    by ubernostrum on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 03:38:12 PM EST

    "And while that might look like an ideal world, it would remove the incentive to create new software. If there is no money to make with it, why would you do it?"

    Well, why don't you ask the people who maintain and support Linux, BSD, the GNU project (especially the GNU Project)...they seem to produce an awful lot of software that doesn't make much money (from sale of software licenses, as you no doubt intended to say, since there will be a way to make money from software for approximately as long as there are software users, just ask tech support folks).




    --
    You cooin' with my bird?
    [ Parent ]

    Thing is... (none / 0) (#162)
    by jynx on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:18:04 AM EST

    ...when you buy a product like Windows, you aren't buying the software, you buying the license to use that software on 1 machine.

    Effectively, Microsoft say "You can buy this software so long as you you agree to our conditions. If you don't agree to our conditions, don't buy our software". Much as I hate MS and their products, I respect their right to do this.

    IMHO, your justification for piracy is fairly shallow.

    --

    [ Parent ]

    All You Need is... (2.50 / 6) (#90)
    by hav on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 10:34:10 AM EST

    ...a packet sniffer and a firewall/router capable of NAT. Check this out: The MS authorization server(s) is going to have to have a known port and IP or hostname that doesn't change. When an MS product connects to the authorization server, it's going to send a bunch of crap (hardware id, keys, etc) to the server and wait for a response saying that it's OK to start up. So, you use a packet sniffer to figure out exactly what data the authorization server sends back to your machine. Then, you write a simple daemon that runs on a local machine and responds to any requests with the exact same info the MS authorization server sends back to your one machine. You instruct your firewall to DNAT requests that would normally go out to the MS authorization server to instead be sent to the local machine running the little authorization daemon and to SNAT the response from your local auth machine so it looks like it came from the MS auth server.

    This isn't very useful for a home user but it could prove to be extremely useful for a small business. Since most small businesses already have some kind of firewall in place, they could run the daemon on an existing file server, web server, or even a workstation.

    I'm not sure if you'd actually need to crack the WPA code for this to work. The response from the MS auth server may be dependent on the hardware key from the machine. I suppose if all your machines were identical, it still wouldn't matter.

    What I can't wait for is when the MS authorization servers get DoS'd off the face of the earth by the neighborhood script kiddies and no one in the world can use any MS products utilizing WPA.

    I agree with everyone else who believes that this will not seriously deter the hardcore software "pirates" and will only serve to inconvenience legitimate users.

    It doesn't have to activate every time you startup (3.66 / 3) (#93)
    by GreatUnknown on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:29:51 PM EST

    WPA doesn't run every time you start your computer, only once when you install Windows (you have to give it a key that corresponds with your hardware). Once you've activated it, your copy of Windows is fine until you next reinstall (or possibly upgrade your hardware...not sure if you need to re-activate it then...)

    Can you imagine the load on MS's servers if every Windows box had to go request permission to activate every time they booted? Who need's the "neighborhood script kiddies"? :)

    [ Parent ]
    Probably not practical, but how about cribs? (3.00 / 2) (#104)
    by FuzzyOne on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:55:04 PM EST

    The response from the MS auth server may be dependent on the hardware key from the machine.

    If it weren't dependent upon the hardware key, then it would be easily defeated as you point out. But from everything I've heard, the key is unique to the config, so this wouldn't work.

    But what if you sniffed data from 1000 or so PC registrations? Would this give you enough information to crack the algorithm and create a daemon service that could respond to any request? Would that be enough of a crib to crack the code? A brute force attack on a single machine wouldn't work (unless XP installs take less than a millisecond), but given a large enough database of response/replies, it might be conceivable that someone could defeat the protection.

    [ Parent ]

    Doesn't matter... (3.00 / 2) (#127)
    by B'Trey on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:25:12 PM EST

    It can still be fairly easily defeated. Why? Because the WPA code has to be able to validate the return. That means that you simply reverse engineer the local validation code to find out what it's looking for.

    [ Parent ]
    not so simple (3.00 / 2) (#110)
    by kubalaa on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:22:04 AM EST

    You really think Microsoft's servers just send an "OK" back? They're bound to have designed it so it doesn't return the same signal every time.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: All You Need is... (3.00 / 1) (#137)
    by Ronin SpoilSpot on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 05:52:19 PM EST

    If we assume that Microsoft are not completely incompetent, they will use a protocol that is safe against replay attacks (what "recording what <someone> said and send it again" is called in protocol theory). Since they have (possibly) unique information for each transaction, the hardware ID, it is easy to make the rest of the transaction dependent on that, and even lacking unique information, the client could always start out by generating some random number, and expect it back encrypted by Microsoft's private key. Ofcourse, you could probably hack the windows client to always send the same id or something, but then you might as well hack it to not need to ask at all... it requires a client hack as well to make an authentication server emulation work. /RS
    "This space intentionally left blank"
    [ Parent ]
    Like an IRS spokesman at a Republican convention (2.00 / 1) (#155)
    by John Milton on Wed May 02, 2001 at 12:29:53 AM EST

    I can guarantee you that their authentication server is going to be the DDOS target of choice for every l33t h4x0r. :)


    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


    [ Parent ]
    Information cannot be owned (3.25 / 4) (#95)
    by arr0w on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:50:14 PM EST

    Okay, maybe this is too obvious, and I'm just missing the point, but it seems to me that either:

    * information can be owned, and in order to protect the owner's property rights, we have to inevitably give up freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc.; or

    * information cannot be owned, and we can do with it what we damn well please.

    Seems like a clear choice to me. What you call "software piracy," I call "civil disobedience" -- as long as you don't try to cover it up with an excuse or hide it or turn a profit from it.



    why not sold then? (3.00 / 2) (#102)
    by Delirium on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:36:49 PM EST

    What you call "software piracy," I call "civil disobedience" -- as long as you don't try to cover it up with an excuse or hide it or turn a profit from it.

    Well, if information cannot be owned, why would you balk at allowing people to turn a profit from it? If the original author really has no claim to owning the information, why would it be illegal for me to sell "his" work, since I therefore have as much claim to it as he does?

    (Note that I support allowing authors exclusive license to their ideas in nearly all cases, which has an end effect of making them virtually equivalent to property, though I personally don't consider them property per se. My question is clarifying why you're adopting an intermediate sort of position - why, if information cannot be owned, is only "non-commercial piracy" acceptable?)

    [ Parent ]

    sold is okay, sold fraudulently isn't (3.00 / 1) (#106)
    by arr0w on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:46:54 PM EST

    I should have spoken more carefully. What I should have said was, as long as you don't turn a profit from it by lying; i.e., copying not only the idea, but the packaging, logo, etc.--basically selling knockoffs.

    I might support giving authors exclusive license to their ideas if it were really the authors getting the license. Since the rights generally go to a corporation (which, by the way, is then often compelled to force the work onto the market whether it works or not, to recoup its investment), I say pay the author up front for his/her time, and make the results available for everyone. Here I'm thinking not only of software and music, but also things like the oppressive licensing agreements that the big pharmaceutical and agrichemical companies have been trying to use to exploit developing countries. Wouldn't it be better if a consortium of countries/governments/foundations/whatever funded the research collectively up front, with the understanding that anyone could use the results to make a product?


    [ Parent ]
    author-rights (3.00 / 1) (#115)
    by Delirium on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:03:30 AM EST

    The problem is that the rights are licensed to the authors. Then the authors sometimes license the rights to other people (and sometimes keep the rights for themselves, as many punk rock musicians do). Are you arguing that the authors shouldn't be allowed to sell or license their works to a publisher?

    This whole "the corporations are making money, not the artists" argument smells fishy to me - the corporations only have the rights because the artists sold them.

    [ Parent ]

    rights (none / 0) (#150)
    by arr0w on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:44:05 PM EST

    Whether or not there was a way to guarantee that the creator of a work was the sole beneficiary of it, I don't believe that we should attempt to sustain a system where "rights" of distribution are attached to information. Inevitably it leads to abuse. Furthermore, I don't think the world can afford any more restrictions on the spread of knowledge.

    I believe (and I write code for a living, and will put my money where my mouth is) at the most fundamental level, that people should get a fair price for the time they spend creating information/knowledge/art, but that once the creation is done, it is not property, and can be distributed by anyone, in any way. Is there a moral obligation to credit the creator of the work? Yes. Should there be a legal obligation to reimburse one and only one party whenever the work is reproduced/used/shared? No. I can talk all day about examples and slippery slopes, but at the end it comes down to my belief, and that's it.

    I believe at a practical level that a system that assembles resources to compensate creative people for their time, based on their potential, with the understanding that the results of the work will be available to all, will in the end result in getting more knowledge to more people.

    [ Parent ]
    View Pro-MSFT Comments with suspicion! (2.90 / 11) (#99)
    by bediger on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:45:01 PM EST

    I feel the need to remind people that pro-Microsoft views are often the product of Microsoft Public Relations. Microsoft has paid for nominally independent think tanks to publish pro-Microsoft position papers, Microsoft has paid for people to post pro-Microsoft views in even trivial on-line forums, and Microsoft has financed "grass-root" letter writing campaigns.

    Currently, there's an obvious disinformation campaign by Microsoft mouthpieces (ZDNet) to discourage people from calling M$ FUD M$ FUD. This article just might be a piece of that.
    -- I am Spartacus.
    Very True (3.75 / 4) (#103)
    by eclectro on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:54:08 PM EST

    Businessweek online had a profile about such a company operating out of Texas a couple of years back. Their specific job was to make sure that the company's perspective (their client) was well represented in newsgroup postings. I call them "board whores" It's very clear that MS operates board whores over at zdnet. Also, there are a legion of MSCEs that are ready to jump to MS's defense. (And this poster is probably the latter).

    All my copies of windows are legitimately bought copies. But I do know of a couple of mom and pop shops that will probably be most affected by this, and that this poster does not address. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that that is the source of 70-80% of illegal copies of windows in the US. The other 10-30% is from families trading it amongst themselves.

    The WPA is A Good Thing (tm) for a couple of reasons. People will be forced awake to the issues involved with UCITA and the DMCA. Also, the availability of linux resources will increase as will it's userbase. I for one am moving to linux - window's 98 is the last purchase I'll make from MS (and I feel guilty for even spending money on that). As sys adm for my family, I've also put them on notice that I will no longer be supporting their windows machines.

    The people over in China will probably be the first out with XP cracks - When the cost of Windows is equivalent to two month's wage, they aren't going to buy it.

    I do resent this troll;

    I simply feel that people who advocate freedom of speech, freedom of distribution in the form of open source licenses such as the GPL or the BSD license should also respect other laws and other license agreements. Legal procedures are how you disagree with license agreements, not a FTP site full of stolen products.

    So what does this mean?!?!?! This is a typical MS FUD line - that if you run linux you must be a pirate.

    Let me counter - I simply feel that those who advocate product authorizations and obedience to shrinkwrap licenses would have honest business practices and would not introduce incompatibilities in their software to prevent interoperability. I do wish that Microsoft would honor and respect anti-trust laws and consent decrees also.

    [ Parent ]
    you're overreacting (2.66 / 3) (#109)
    by kubalaa on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:18:34 AM EST

    The only part of the article which sounded FUD-like was the anecdotes about rampant piracy, and really that had nothing to do with the core point. Which was, that piracy is illegal and Microsoft has every right to stop it. And that we still live in a capitalist society, and you're free to take your money elsewhere if you don't like it.

    As for the "if you run linux you must be a pirate", I think you're reading too much into the original. The poster was just pointing out that piracy is not a valid form of protest against closed-source.

    [ Parent ]

    You're only free if.... (2.50 / 2) (#117)
    by deaddrunk on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 04:27:25 AM EST

    You build your own PC and install something else on it. Try getting a home PC without Windows or harder still, with your choice of OS. It can be done, but not easily, especially here in the UK.

    [ Parent ]
    Quit misrepresentin' (3.00 / 3) (#133)
    by vinay on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 03:00:52 AM EST

    That's totally not what the article said. He said:

    I simply feel that people who advocate freedom of speech, freedom of distribution in the form of open source licenses such as the GPL or the BSD license should also respect other laws and other license agreements
    Basically, if you don't like windows, use something else. You don't change a company's business practices by stealing from it. You do it by not using their product. If you don't like M$, don't use it. At no point did the author state, "Linux users are pirates."

    Besides, even from a practical standpoint, piracy isn't a very good method of "standing up to a company." Pirating will do one of two things:

    1. Drive the company out of business - which is not likely to happen.
    2. Show them that their product is highly desired.

    -\/


    -\/


    [ Parent ]
    WPA is better than UCITA (3.60 / 5) (#101)
    by redelm on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:50:19 PM EST

    Hey, it's Microsoft's code (probably with big chunks of BSD mixed in, but they don't mind) and they can licence it however they wish. I wonder how they will deal with people who buy the product, but don't accept the hidden terms. At least they get a choice rather than not under UCITA.

    I'm really amazed that Microsoft's marketing arm accepted WPA. Some customers will balk. Others will get irate when the phone support gets overloaded. They won't look good.

    I thought that it was proven time & time again that copy protection is self defeating: you annoy legitimate customers and hardly slow the illicit copiers. Some people also think that if they're going to be treated as thieves, they might as well steal.

    But I do object to the term piracy applied to illicit copying. Real piracy is a heinous act of unspeakable violence often involving murder. Fortunately, very few people are capable of perpetrating it, and when they are caught they are dealt with extreme prejudice by naval forces. Software copying is much more widespread, and doesn't raise anywhere near the outrage as true piracy. The victims, if there are any, are only the shareholders of software publishers.



    Abuse of the system... (4.40 / 5) (#105)
    by MrSmithers on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 10:14:08 PM EST

    Okay, let's assume for the sake of argument that Microsoft is a perfect little angel and never ever uses their license key system for anything but fighting the evil evil pirates.

    There's one thing I haven't seen mentioned here yet. Remote deactivation is an necessary part of any license key system. After all, what use is requiring people to validate the license keys if they can still use the system?

    So now what happens when (not if) Joe Cracker reverse engineers the protocol used? He can then spoof the response from the MS server with various man-in-the-middle attacks and make anybody's copy of Windows unusable. Sweet. Just aim at a large company's netblock, fire away, and watch their stock price plummet when production grinds to a halt... They might even have to call MS and get new license keys for everything to get up and running again.

    Not even a firewall will protect you because you have to let the communication to MS's server through the firewall or you shiny new copy of Windows won't work at all.

    It may not be that simple in practice, but the point is that if there's a backdoor in a piece of software, especially a highly visible one, somebody will crack it and abuse it. This has been proven time and time again in the security industry.

    Something on this scale reminds me of a recent post on Bugtraq, where a backdoor in a certain Xerox printer's web server (that can't be disabled) allows anybody to remotely cut power to the printer without properly emptying the ink reservoir, clogging it up when the ink cools, and physically damaging the printer. Yikes.

    If this goes in I'm not letting anybody at my company upgrade past Win2k purely due to security concerns...

    Unix: Where /sbin/init is Job 1



    And those people without a modem and/or drivers? (3.20 / 5) (#118)
    by ryancooley on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:50:04 AM EST

    One side most online people don't think about, is those that aren't online.

    So if I don't have a modem I can't install windows?

    You know Microsoft is going to get legally killed by this very soon. The US Government has not yet restricted the power of software companies (they've only restricted the power of consumers) but I predict that this will be the thorn in the side that causes people's eyes to open and government to see the cr*p that's going on in unmistakable clarity.

    Very soon shareware will not appear as you know it because it will be illegial for software to make changes to your system that it does not undo at uninstall.

    Things are changing, but nobody's got the guts to sue the bastards and change the world for the better.

    Oh, and if you think I'm an upset software pirate,'d just like to mention that I'm running Slackware Linux 7.1, and have been free and clean of microsoft products at my home for over a year.

    Oh great, now I'm going to sound pro-MS (4.33 / 3) (#122)
    by Eimi on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:22:30 PM EST

    One side most online people don't think about, is those that aren't online. So if I don't have a modem I can't install windows?
    No, you just have to call their 800 number and give them various information, after which they tell you the key over the phone. Not really any different from what the online system does (we can only assume; no easy way to know exactly what it reports back), just a little less automated.
    Very soon shareware will not appear as you know it because it will be illegial for software to make changes to your system that it does not undo at uninstall.
    Do you have any source for that? I've never heard of any such thing. Personally, I'm not sure I'd even be that against it; how hard is it to write a proper uninstaller? I can't tell you how much crap is in my registry from programs that my family installed that I've never quite tracked down how to excise properly. Why would it be harder for shareware authors to get this right than anyone else?
    Things are changing, but nobody's got the guts to sue the bastards and change the world for the better.
    Can't we have progress without lawsuits? Can't we just win because we're better?

    [ Parent ]
    Shareware (4.20 / 5) (#131)
    by F8alist on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 08:40:36 PM EST

    "Why would it be harder for shareware authors to get this right than anyone else?"

    Shareware that limits the number of days you can use it free often keeps track of when you first installed the program and doesn't remove this information on an uninstall. This is to prevent you from simply uninstalling and reinstalling the program when it expires.

    Libertarianism: The absurd notion that an individual is capable of running his own life, and that the government has anything but his best interests at heart
    [ Parent ]

    How to excise registry cruft. (4.00 / 2) (#135)
    by synaptik on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 02:45:10 PM EST

    I can't tell you how much crap is in my registry from programs that my family installed that I've never quite tracked down how to excise properly.
    Before you install a suspect program, launch regedit and export the entire registry to a text file. Do this again after you've installed the program, and then use a diff utility to compare the two exported files. This'll tell you exactly what changed. Hope that helps.

    --synaptik
    warning C4717: 'WORLD3D::operator=' : recursive on all control paths, function will cause runtime stack overflow
    [ Parent ]

    Regedit (3.00 / 1) (#153)
    by ryancooley on Tue May 01, 2001 at 03:37:31 AM EST

    Actually, there's a wonderful program from www.sysinternals.com that monitors writes, reads, and changes to the registry. That still doesn't take card of detached DLLs and confiuration files spewed across your system folders. But besides the point, I'm long past my Windows days. I use OpenBSD, along with Linux and nobody can do a damn thing to my computer that I don't explicitly tell it to do. Get rid of Windows and you'll lead a happier life (once the shock wears off!). I think we need to have schools using Unix based free OSes. People learn whatever they have used when they are younger, and this would save schools a great deal of money as well.

    [ Parent ]
    Shareware (4.00 / 1) (#152)
    by ryancooley on Tue May 01, 2001 at 03:31:37 AM EST

    how hard is it to write a proper uninstaller? I can't tell you how much crap is in my registry from programs that my family installed that I've never quite tracked down how to excise properly. Why would it be harder for shareware authors to get this right than anyone else?

    Actually, Shareware authors put extra junk in your registry, and configuration files on your hard drive so that you can't just uninstall a program after it's expired, and reinstall it later.

    Can't we have progress without lawsuits? Can't we just win because we're better?

    In the USA, the only way to stop companies from their evil practices is to sue them, set the precident, and then noone will do it again because they realize once the precident has been set, they will loose any future lawsuits. Congress could also pass some laws, but Lawsuits are consumer's only means of challenging companies.

    [ Parent ]

    Why XP Anyway? (2.00 / 2) (#123)
    by digitalh2o on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:23:16 PM EST

    The question is why do we want XP anyway? I know I certainly don't.

    Some of us (3.00 / 1) (#138)
    by Elendale on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 06:30:25 PM EST

    Like to play games that don't have Linux versions yet. Of course, our current Windows will work just fine for that- for now at least, it'll be a problem when i feel the obsolecense closing in again and can't find any non-XP windows.

    -Elendale
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    [ Parent ]
    WAP is bad for a number of reasons... (3.00 / 3) (#125)
    by Erik Osterholm on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:12:20 PM EST

    all related to current US software laws. Right now, any EULA is pretty acceptable. There are obvious exceptions, such as when the EULA would cause you to break the law, but for the most part, they can do whatever they want. Now, right now, in the Win2k EULA, you have the right to install that copy of Win2k on *one* computer period. They don't explictly define "computer" so upgrading your mouse is not likely to cause a problem...however the problem comes when/if you buy a new machine. Legally you are not allowed to delete your old machine's hard drive and then install Win2k on the new machine. You *should* be able to--after all, you purchased a license to use Win2k. You aren't pirating it. You aren't robbing M$ of money. You just want to transfer that copy of Win2k to a different machine. And yet, under the current EULA, you are violating your TOS to do that. Now they have a method to enforce this insanity, long after they've tied the market to their products. No one can escape M$, simply because they've had marketshare for so long. Oh sure, you can run Linux and get away pretty well, but the first time you want to play a game besides solitaire you lose out big-time. Not to mention the fact that these licenses are simply absurd. The law needs to change, and change fast, before it's too late.

    viewer.read(WPA.getInfo()); (2.75 / 4) (#132)
    by vinay on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 02:50:06 AM EST

    Check out this link below over at [H]ard|OCP. It's a good talk about WPA, and should clear up most misconceptions that appear in this discussion & article (which was very good btw :-)

    "WindowsXP, You, & Privace"

    -\/


    -\/


    Microsoft is simply being hypocritical. (3.00 / 3) (#134)
    by SmileyBen on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 01:22:45 PM EST

    The thing I really don't like about this whole affair is the hypocrasy of Microsoft's position. Why is it that they are only now starting to really crack down on piracy? I think if you think about it in light of the findings of the court case you'll understand. The simple fact is that Microsoft are now cracking down on piracy because they are in much better a position to do so, whilst being lax previously. A court has found that Microsoft abused its monopolistic position, but how did it get that position? If the figures are correct and piracy of Windows is so rampant, then think whether Microsoft would have wanted to stop it earlier. If they had cracked down earlier, there would have been 25% fewer Windows users in the US (and far fewer elsewhere), which certainly means a lot fewer copies of Outlook, et al sold. The fact is that Microsoft is surely very glad that they have had an image of 'too expensive to pirate' or 'they don't need any more money', since that has contribute to the monopolistic position they now hold. So should we really turn round and cry with Microsoft that people are pirating software which they are locked into by practices that have been deemed illegal, and which partly arose because of piracy in the first place?

    And no, I don't think I'm a Microphobe, or a conspiracy theorist, it just seems a little ironic to me.

    This is great news! (2.00 / 2) (#149)
    by Xchris on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:32:58 PM EST

    I hope that MS Engineers can develop an encryption protocol for their products that is extremely difficult to overcome. Why? Because as soon as most people realize that they must shell out dineros for every simple product, upgrade, and ridiculous addon MS has, the soooner they'll start using something new. MS ( like most companies ) largely re-markets exsisting technologies developed through various Computer Science research that can be had for free. Albiet in a command line tool or something without a MFC interface or written in C#. Now when I say free dont get the wrong idea. The government (your tax dollars), State and Federal, that help fund University research, along with private industry, have spawned most of the concepts and initial development behind the software your using. If MS wants to refine these concepts into an integrated package and charge users up the wahoo for that point and click interface, more power to them. I have nothing against propietary software. This step by MS will only quicken the pace of Open Source and altrenative proprietary systems development. People will, in the end, use what gives them the most bang for the buck. With the increasing high quality of most Open Source, this move may cost them much more then the pirated losses do.

    Just Control Yourself (4.50 / 2) (#151)
    by Commodore Sloat on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:12:02 AM EST

    I also know that the simplicity of pirating software has caused me to steal a wealth of software over the years. It's obviously hypocritical of me to blame anyone for doing so as well but that's a major reason I support WPA. It's just too tempting and easy to pirate software yet I've found software I cannot come by any other way I will gladly buy. Maybe others have more self control than me but I suspect I am not alone, by a long shot.

    Let me get this clear: You support limitations on the functionality of technology because you can't learn the self-control necessary to stop yourself from doing things with it that you consider immoral or simply deleterious? That seems horribly unfair to those who do exercise self control.

    Activation (5.00 / 1) (#156)
    by dazk on Wed May 02, 2001 at 09:10:27 AM EST

    Hopefully one will never be able to crack or fool the activation procedure. That way MS will loose a lot of "market share". That way other OSes will have much better chances of spreading further. Why are people using windows anyways? Basically it's just because it has the widest software base. But why? Software is developed for windows and often windows only because most people have it.
    I now have some old OEM Version of Win98 running on my machine. Of course my machine is not quite the same anymore. I upgraded quite a few components. It probably would not be accepted as the same machine I got the OEM for anymore. Why would I have to buy a new Windows? If I buy a car, get license plates and tune it a hell of a lot, I won't have to relicense it either. I still have my set of plates for the one single car. This licensing policy is a pure rip off.
    Then think of what you get for the large amount of money you have to pay. You get an often crashing system that has to be reinstalled every few months, maybe even weeks depending on what you do with it. Just think about that registry chaos and you know what I mean.
    As I mentioned before, I hope poeple will have to pay for their MS OS. Then they will probably consider other OSes more easyly. Companies like SUN go out and offer their OS for free for noncommercial use. Microsoft goes a step backwards and forces you to buy it every time you do a major upgrade of you machine. If you don't have to buy it, you have to reactivate it at least.
    I really hope people will not accept that. Just for the sake of companies developing apps for other OSs. I will certainly not buy a new MS OS if I don't get it OEM with some hardware and for a fair price. It even gets worse if you look at the prices for MS-Office. Thank god there is StarOffice wich was fair priced while it was commercial (I bought 5.0 and the upgrade to 5.2) and with Open Office it's even better. Good look MS, hopefully you learn finally.
    ----- Copy kills music! Naaah! Greedyness kills Brain! Counter: Bought 17CDs this year because I found tracks of an album on fileshare and wanted it all.
    Stealing is simply cheaper (2.50 / 2) (#161)
    by captain soviet on Sun May 06, 2001 at 05:37:13 PM EST

    That's the reason, I use only pirated versions of Windows, games. I have a couple of Gigs of pirated mp3s and divx movies. - Why? I don't have to pay and the danger I get caught is nearly zero. If you find a dollar lying somewhere in the street, you don't ask who's dollar it is, you don't go to the police and say you have found a dollar and you don't know who's dollar it is, you don't make flyers with a picture of that dollar with "Who owns this dollar" printed on it, you keep the dollar. Get what I mean? This is a bad world. Microsoft is not the well-fare and neither am I.

    Piracy stats (4.00 / 1) (#163)
    by dnomura on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:49:19 PM EST

    This is my take on questions 1 & 5.

    IMHO, anyone who takes the stats on piracy at face value needs to get their head checked out. Of course, any company that sees a pirated copy of their software around will believe that every time someone grabs a copy, it is losing revenue. This is simply not the case. The only time that a company loses revenue from piracy is when a person chooses not to buy a product because they can use a pirated copy instead. This is not the same as a person using software that they never had any interest in buying in the first place. The media don't want to make this distinction, because it is impossible to put numbers on the first scenario, so they use the general case, regardless of its validity.
    I think that there should be one more distinction, but it is more philosophical than legal. I think that the true pirates are the people that use stolen software for financial gain. That can either be selling the software outright, or using it as part of a business.
    Is software piracy a problem? Yes. Will deceiving people help? Certainly not, especially for the people that you're trying to reach (the "pirates").
    On a different note, if I needed to use Windows for personal use, I would not buy it because I don't want my money to fund a predatory monopoly. Conversely, I have paid for lots of great software made by great companies. Call it capitalist karma. You'd be surprised at how many feel this way.

    my 2 Canadian pesos

    I Have Not Seen Software Piracy So Far (3.66 / 3) (#166)
    by moshez on Wed May 09, 2001 at 09:15:27 AM EST

    I assume that by "software piracy" you mean software people, or people using software, to board ships on the high seas, kill the men, steal the loot, and if by any chance there are women aboard, rape them and reduce them to sex slaves before you kill them.

    Well, I have been fortunate enough not to witness such acts, and I most certainly did not participate in such acts. I don't know of any friends of mine who did this, and I assure you that if I did know, they would be friends of mine no longer, and I would report them to the law-enforcement agencies.

    To tell the truth, I am horrified to see you confess to commiting software piracy yourself. Have you no shame? I sincerely hope that if you are not a troll and indeed commited such atrocious acts, you will be properly dealt with according to the full measure of the law.

    However, if you call by that vile term violating EULAs, which (I might care to remind you) are contracts *nobody* *ever* signed, and which are enforced by a law so antiquated it has long been reduced into a corporate rod for harassing the common people, well, it sickens me to see you violate the memory of all the victims of piracy.

    [T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
    We've all bought it! (none / 0) (#171)
    by jchristopher on Wed May 16, 2001 at 04:59:53 PM EST

    On the consumer side of things, personally I know very few people who own Windows. It's a bit of a joke among most computer geeks that no one buys Windows

    What!?! EVERYONE buys Windows. It comes preinstalled on the prebuilt computers that 98% of the population uses. We've ALL bought it!

    In 3 years it will cost $19.95 for each key (none / 0) (#172)
    by jchristopher on Wed May 16, 2001 at 05:07:25 PM EST

    First, it sucks because I don't want to waste time calling, waiting on hold, reading off a bunch of numbers, etc. It's probably a 20 minute process I bet. Second, if they make you call in every time you get a new key, how long to you think it will be before it's $19.95 every time you need a new key? Wake up.

    Anti-Piracy XPeriment (none / 0) (#175)
    by Bo102010 on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 06:24:36 PM EST

    Being a geek, I reinstall and reconfigure my systems quite a bit. It will be a pain for me to call every time I set up Windows XP, and I'd really rather not (I'd pay more for a copy if I didn't have to call each time).
    If it prevents piracy, though, it won't be all bad. I paid for WinZip, for chrissakes. And mIRC... All of my computers are running legitimately licensed versions of Windows (and one with just DOS... Heh heh)
    If anything, it's an experiment. If it works out, more companies will jump on the anti-piracy bandwagon. If it doesn't, they'll figure something else out.
    And if you don't like it, don't run Windows XP. Problem solved.

    Anti-Piracy or Anti-Privacy? Windows Product Activation | 176 comments (165 topical, 11 editorial, 2 hidden)
    Display: Sort:

    kuro5hin.org

    [XML]
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
    See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
    Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
    Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
    My heart's the long stairs.

    Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!