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Paul Thurrott's WGA Woes Solved 250

Posted by Zonk
from the egg-on-faces dept.
David Horn writes "Last week Slashdot ran an article regarding the trouble Paul Thurrott had with WGA. It turns out that after talking to Microsoft, he was actually running a pirated version of Windows, legitimately purchased from an online vendor. Paul admits that 'the truth is, I just made a mistake. If we learn something from that mistake, fantastic, but I wasn't trying to set up a life lesson for anyone, let alone myself.'"
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Paul Thurrott's WGA Woes Solved

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rjhubs (929158) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:36PM (#15808430)
    What kind of self-respected techie doesn't realize a pirated windows disk when he sees it? This story doesn't add up.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BushCheney08 (917605) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:45PM (#15808476)
      Seriously. I read through the article, and he goes on about how he doesn't remember the details about installing it. Then he goes on to mention that the version he installed used a known pirated key and required an altered winlogon.exe. I find that humorous because the pirated copies I've come across require the user to swap out the winlogon.exe file themselves. Something I'm sure he'd remember doing. No, his story really doesn't add up.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zemran (3101)
        No, his story really doesn't add up.

        As he says, they were looking for a way out and he handed it to them. I do not see that this story clears up or changes anything. This guy is an M$ fanboy and he got caught in their trap. I think that he is enough of a fanboy that he gave them an excuse for their mistake when it was discovered.
        • I told you. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by marcello_dl (667940)
          If it wasn't a PR operation from the start.
          That's what I said in a related comment [slashdot.org] when this story broke out.

          Anyway it's either another debacle of Microsoft (is this news? :) ), or [wears tinfoil hat] the guy is about to follow up on the story saying that he resolved the issue in no time and that WGA is not as bad as people are led to believe by anti M$ trolls.

      • by vena (318873)
        haven't winlogin related cracks been nonfunctional for a while now? MS has disabled whole crops of crack methods and key classes through updates several times, i can't believe he received this copy so long ago that he can't recall anything about doing so and yet this is the first time a windows update has caused problems with it. it's just HIGHLY unlikely. he would have been fully aware of the bootleg status of his install by the second time he'd visited windows update.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jeremyp (130771)
          And yet, when the problem first came up he wrote an article about it and posted it on the Internet. That's not the action of a man who knows he is running pirated software.
          • Also consider... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kadin2048 (468275)
            It might be the actions of a man receiving a sufficient paycheck from a corporation, eager to demonstrate that their dubiously named "Genuine Advantage" program actually detects and makes the user aware of a "counterfeit" copy of Windows that they might have bought unknowingly, when in fact it's widely perceived to be nothing but obnoxious spyware, of no tangible benefit to the consumer at all.

            Just tossing that out there as a possibility. People trade dignity, self-respect and the respect of others for mone
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RonnyJ (651856)
        What I find interesting is that he says that it used a modified version of "winlogon.exe". To fix it though, he says he just changed the key - no mention made of fixing winlogin.exe.

        Also, if he had bought it from an online retailer, wouldn't he and Microsoft want to investigate that? No mention of it though.
    • I agree. Something is awfully fishy here.

      It seems like MSFT is doing _anything_ they can to preserve credibility of their Brand (including Paul as the fringe).

      That sure rings of a captain trying to keep his passengers calm as his ship begins to sink.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by compm375 (847701)
      It really doesn't make any sense. The original article also says he obtained the copy of Windows through MSDN, so is Microsoft the shady vendor that gave him an illegal copy of Windows? (Or do I not understand how MSDN works.)
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:35AM (#15810049) Homepage
        Your MSDN key (For XP in this case) is unique to you, and must be specifically requested. It's good for activation on up to 10 machines in theory, though i've personally used mine for 14 or so. Perhaps he'd run out of activations and there was an obscure bit of the system which flagged it as pirate?

        That said, he's breaking the ToS anyway if he's using an MSDN key as his personal machine. You can use them for development machines (Hence the D = Developer) but not for commercial or personal use.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhunkySchtuff (208108)
      Yes, Until recently, I thought so too - I mean, how can you mistake anything else for the flashy Microsoft hologram CD and their glossy printed packaging?

      I came across a bunch of Windows XP Pro boxed copies recently that are 95-99% perfect copies of the real thing.
      How do I know they were dodgy? Small things like some typos in the manuals, that would never slip through on the genuine article (eg: Microsoft Ply Ltd) and the hologram CD, while it looked pretty damn convincing (all the pretty pictures and all)
    • My sister's Dell (which came with XP) was recently displaying the WGA warning. It turned out that her clock was set to October which was causing the problem. Setting it back to the correct month fixed the issue.
  • by kosmosik (654958) <{ten.kisomsok} {ta} {sok}> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:38PM (#15808443) Homepage
    If some company would sell me invalid copy (pirated) ofo software on purpose I would post EVERY DETAIL on that company that I have.

    Just to make others safe from that company. He didn't that leads to conclusion that he is full of shit. Also posting such insult requires me to be real about it since if I wouldn't the resseler would sue my ass.

    Now after reading (yes I did read that crap) a bit lenghty article on how MS is great, how they suprised him with their support and kindlyness, how it can happen to anyone, blah, blah, blah. I just see MS marketing bullshit in it and the guy getting kind of rich from just blogging what MS suggest him to blog.

    It is too obvious. I am not a language expert but I can even see different style of writing/expressing in discussed post that in his other works.
    • I bet the Microsoft representative was named "Lucius Lavin [gateworld.net]".
    • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:33PM (#15808693) Homepage Journal
      If some company would sell me invalid copy (pirated) ofo software on purpose I would post EVERY DETAIL on that company that I have.


      I've been down that road. I went to one of those computer shows a few years ago to look for some now-esoteric equipment like SCSI cases, various SCSI connectors, and so forth. I checked out the software deals, bought a bunch of Norton Antivirus licenses (legit) and Quickbooks Pro. Turned out the Quickbooks CD was counterfeit and wouldn't register/activate. I called Intuit and learned it was a counterfeit. Everything appeared legit to me, but I haven't studied their typefaces or anything. Turns out the "Quickbooks Pro" silkscreening was slightly flawed, and the serial number/install key sticker was a totally different style from what was supposed to be there. The manual and packaging seemed real enough though. Anyway, Quicken met me halfway and gave me a great deal on new legit licenses - three seats (which basically came to three seats for the price of two), when they could have been real jackasses and not give me any discount at all. What I did for them was give them the name, number, and (claimed) address of the dealer from whom I purchased Quickbooks, and checked various show schedules to find the next few they'd be attending so that Quicken could send reps to to bust then. If they fucked me out of $179 with very real-looking packaging, chances are I am not the only one they're ripping off. All in all Intuit was damned courteous when they owed me NOTHING for my inconvenience.

      The fact that their software is badly architected and requires admin privileges though, is not so forgiveable. :(
    • If some company would sell me invalid copy (pirated) of software on purpose I would post EVERY DETAIL on that company that I have.

      Why all the vindictiveness and personal effort? Are you really that morally outraged that M$ did not get a large portion of your purchase price? The copy fooled you, can't you understand it fooling the person who sold it to you? The retailer got it from a regional wholesaler who got it from an even bigger wholesaler. If you think having a message about "legitimate" softwa

    • I like how you guys accepted his initial report unquestioningly, because that report was in keeping with your Microsoft hatred. You had no problems applying 100% credibility to the initial report. You had no problems attaching 100% credibility to that initial report's author. But now that he's amended that report with new info, you guys are saying that he's full of shit, because the new info isn't in keeping with your Microsoft hatred.

      One day he's your hero, a sage, an oracle. The next he's full of shit
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It was a setup from the get go. Microsoft paid the author in advance to do the whole thing. First the outrage against WGA and then the mea culpa.

        Everyone here who spotted it from the time of the first article gets +5 perception points.

        The people who think Paul really did buy his Windows licenses from some guy in a dark alley... get -5, eh, dupe points.

        Microsoft is setting themselves up as the "great source of truth and trust" as it is one part of their strategy to keep their franchise strong. In case you do
        • Microsoft is setting themselves up as the "great source of truth and trust" as it is one part of their strategy to keep their franchise strong. In case you don't know, Microsoft's franchise is providing governments and other agencies direct access to anyone's desktop, datamining, composite usage statistics, etc. Every single Microsoft app and OS has been extensively wired with backdoors and spyware. This we know.

          Got any cites or proof for that?
        • Everyone here who spotted it from the time of the first article gets +5 perception points.

          Being cynical, isn't perception. IT'S ALL IN YOUR MIND.

          Remember that and keep an open mind instead..
      • by dtfinch (661405) * on Sunday July 30, 2006 @01:07AM (#15809383) Journal
        I accepted his initial report because it was perfectly consistent with my own experience. I have a system at work that has always validated as genuine. After I installed the update, it displayed the annoying and accusational WGA counterfeit notifications. Re-validating on Microsoft's website and rebooting a couple times made the notifications go away, and their MGA diagnostics tool confirms that it's genuine. Microsoft's WGA notifications update was buggy, and erred on the side of accusing legitimate users (at least myself) of piracy, despite that it was correct in Paul Thurrott's case.
      • by ClamIAm (926466)
        I like how you guys accepted his initial report unquestioningly, because that report was in keeping with your Microsoft hatred. You had no problems applying 100% credibility to the initial report. You had no problems attaching 100% credibility to that initial report's author. But now that he's amended that report with new info, you guys are saying that he's full of shit, because the new info isn't in keeping with your Microsoft hatred.

        And you have proof that the same people are posting both opinions? Newsf
      • > I like how you guys accepted his initial report unquestioningly,

        I don't want to speak for everybody but as for me I just didn't care about initial report at all. What striked me with his (apparently not his) are few things:

        - he didn't state the name of company he bought fake Windows copy - if somebody ripped me of like that company did to him I would post details of this company from three reasons: to get satisfaction, to warn others that the company is not worth buing from and to get everybody to know
      • We accepted his initial report because he had no reason to lie. Why would he? He's percieved as a Microsoft fanboy, and he'd hardly make up stuff to discredit them. After noticing the general reaction and schadenfreude, and after talking with somebody at Microsoft, he changes his direction, and the 'Slashdot crowd' regains their typical mistrust of him. I see nothing inconsistent with that, and while I don't necessarily think they're right because I generally avoid conspiracy theories, they are at least
  • by Pvt_Waldo (459439) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:39PM (#15808447)
    Time to straighten out all those knees that jerked a while back. Time for everyone that gleefully [slashdot.org] thrashed [slashdot.org] Microsoft [slashdot.org] to eat a little crow and basically admit the system did exactly what it was supposed to do - block an illegal copy of Windows.

    It's classic debugging to know that when you try to solve a problem and keep thinking, "But this HAS to work!" you are making an incorrect conclusion somewhere. In this case, trusted person who knows how it is supposed to work has (he incorrectly assumes) a legit copy of Windows, Windows says it's a copy, nobody believes it is a copy. Many jump on anti-Microsoft bandwagon (the knee jerk helps with the jump) and just assume it's evil Microsoft. Did anyone ever post in the thread, "Gee maybe he has an illegal copy?"
    • No - this is exactly the kind of problem everyone was afraid of: I've legitimately purchased a license of windows that turns out to be pirated and now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to get everything straightened out. I'm not eating crow.
      • I've legitimately purchased a license of windows that turns out to be pirated and now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to get everything straightened out.

        Worse than that, you can't possibly tell if it's "pirated" or not. In the end you have to take M$'s word for it and fork over the cash if you want to keep using your computer the same way. M$ has not always told the truth in the past and others have gleefully defended such "sharp business practices." I wonder how gleeful they will be

      • No - you legitimately bought a fake license for windows.

        If you buy an illegitimate ticket to a concert, do you really expect to be allowed in to see the show?

      • No - this is exactly the kind of problem everyone was afraid of: I've legitimately purchased a license of windows

        No, you have not purchased a license for Windows. You have purchased a counterfit product. It's as if you purchased concert tickets from a scalper that turned out to be fake - they are not tickets to the concert, they are a forgery.

        now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to get everything straightened out. I'm not eating crow.

        You puchased a fradulent product and now Microsoft is prev

    •   No. It is not my job to police Microsoft's marketing force, and it is wrong for me to be impacted by their marketing force's incompetence.

        This would never happen with my copy of SUSE 10.1, or OpenOffice.
    • Yes, people did post "Maybe he has an illegal copy."

      Anyway, it's irrelevant. The real person who needs to eat crow is Paul Thurrott.
    • Considering not one bit of either his original story, nor this story, is verifiable to third parties, I think you'll be having a dinner by yourself.
  • The Real Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:40PM (#15808450) Homepage Journal
    This is a great lesson in a new problem we'll all increasingly face. How do I know, when I buy a copy of some content (movie, song, app, OS, whatever) that it's "legitimate"? How do I know it's not bootlegged? For years I've wondered this about music records. How do I know that Italian import 1972 Pink Floyd show is a bootleg, and not just some label I never heard of? How am I supposed to know that the Uruguayan vinyl of Hendrix at the Isle of Wight is just the product of some latenight mixing by Jimi of not enough multitracks and too many contracts?

    Microsoft has made a nuisance with its "Certificate of Authenticity", but something that actually works like that seems necessary here. We deride the "broadcast flag", but what about a "copyright hash" that lets us know our transaction was made with the legitimate grantor of even limited copyrights (for our consumption)?

    So much DRM is just a hassle or a ripoff that the publishers have poisoned the debate. How do we do what we need to do with DRM, without hanging ourselves from all the extra red tape it creates?
    • Tell you what. Every time you buy a copyrighted work from someone overseas, immediately send the RIAA, the MPAA, and anyone else you can think of, a check. That way you know you've taken care of your repsonsibilities.

    • Re:The Real Thing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      How do I know, when I buy a copy of some content (movie, song, app, OS, whatever) that it's "legitimate"? How do I know it's not bootlegged?

      Why do you care? Its not your problem who gets paid.

      what about a "copyright hash" that lets us know our transaction was made with the legitimate grantor of even limited copyrights (for our consumption)?

      The only way this can work is with personalized copies and phone-home schemes. Everything else is just bits that can be duplicated. I'm sure not ready to sign up for s

      • You apparently didn't read the article we're discussing, which shows how this problem can be your problem, not just the publisher's. And you're not considering how the artist's problem can be my problem, when I depend on them.

        You also don't seem to understand digital signatures, but that's the least of your problems. Especially if you want others to know the authenticity of the bits you publish.
        • I did read the article we are discussing and the only reason it became his problem was because MS has pushed their bootlegging problem onto him. If his bootleg version never called home, he would never have been locked out.

          You also don't seem to understand digital signatures, but that's the least of your problems. Especially if you want others to know the authenticity of the bits you publish.

          I am well aware of how digital signatures work. In fact, I am particularly confident that my grasp of digital crypt

    • by twitter (104583) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @11:07PM (#15808823) Homepage Journal

      How do I know, when I buy a copy of some content (movie, song, app, OS, whatever) that it's "legitimate"?

      You can't. There is no difference between the "legitimate" copy and any other copy and that fact demands a rethink of copyright laws designed to protect dead tree publishing.

      Copyright law in the US was formed a devil's bargain from the beginning. The founding fathers understood the purpose of such laws was the promotion of creative arts. They never wanted people to own ideas, which they correctly understood as something other than property. They did not even want people to own their publications forever. The goal was to encourage as much expensive publication as possible so that as many people as possible could be exposed to the country's current thoughts. They liberated their presses in a way the old world refused. The goal was to share. Exclusive franchises were established because that sharing was fiercely expensive.

      Today the cost of information is now entirely in it's creation. A worldwide network has been built where it is possible to transfer entire libraries without significant cost. The marginal cost of copies is neglegible. There is no reason anyone should be without any knowledge. Once the knowledge is create, it should spread without bounds. People will continue to solve problems and create knowledge because they must if they want to get things done. Most people want that knowledge spread in their lifetime.

      The problem comes not from the creators of knowledge but from those who would own it. Large publishers and others, long used to being gate keepers of information, want to retain that position. Windows is an example. The code was acquired though means both fair and foul. Much of it has been used to suppress rather than express as the death of Word Perfect, OS2, Palm and a host of other superior "competitors." In a few cases, such as Netscape, the code was liberated. In other cases, like Fastback and other backup programs, the code was discarded. Outside the computer industry things can be even worse. For every book you see at the major chain stores, there are hundreds in warehouses and thousands that never saw publication. For every song you hear on the radio, the story is much the same. Music, writing and other arts are part of human nature which preceded and will outlast the growing tyranny of IPA ownership. People are trying very hard to get around these would be owners to share and profit from that sharing. The current owners are not offering any share of those profits and will be routed around eventually. In the mean time, they are encroaching further and further into our basic rights to maintain their position.

      Copyright needs a complete rework. Strong protections and exclusive franchises are no longer required to promote the creation and spread of the usefull arts. Strong "IPA" laws are now the largest barrier to the innovation and education they obsessively promote.

      • Software's an odd case.

        It in fact -could- be different, in deliberate, subtle and dangerous ways. One could produce a version with a particular security holes preinstalled... with software that gets anywhere near valuable data or systems, trust is indeed an issue.
        • with software that gets anywhere near valuable data or systems, trust is indeed an issue.

          Do not confuse authenticity (is the copy identical or tampered?) with legality (legitimate copy or bootleg copy). An authentic bootleg copy is just as trustworthy as an authentic legit copy, they are exactly the same bits after all.
      • I agree that copyright needs a complete rework. But the Constitution's provision for temporary artificial monopolies on information products to protect inventors (and authors) is still relevant. Just instead of lengthening the term, it should be even shorter. In no case should it be longer than 17 years, or a human generation, after which "content" becomes "folk art". Which is even more necessary to a working society than is payment to inventors and artists.

        There is also the cost of finding the right conten
        • But the Constitution's provision for temporary artificial monopolies on information products to protect inventors (and authors) is still relevant.

          Proof? Twitter put in about two entire paragraphs building a logical case based on facts for his ultimate conclusion which you dismiss with the wave of your hand. You should at least try to make a case for your claim.
          • It's still relevant because the original problem is still real. The cost of inventing puts the inventor at a disadvantage in the subsequent costs of exploitation, while competitors can just copy the disclosed invention and start spending to compete. There's a lot more to competing to recoup return on investment than just distribution. Including promotion, one way to address the problem of finding content in the plenty.

            It's also still much better for our society to disclose invention details, rather than kee
  • by DirePickle (796986) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:48PM (#15808497)
    "Say, these are awful nice kneecaps. It'd be a shame if, y'know, something were to happen to 'em. And accidents do happen... like accidentally installing pirated versions of Windows."
  • End result? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catwh0re (540371) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:03PM (#15808569)
    Well it seems the end result was that Paul's computing experience got distrupted, and Microsoft gets to catch a vendor who is pirating (maybe by accident?) their Windows product...

    I don't see any win here for the consumer, it's not like the price of Windows is going to come down as a result of this, the only thing we're going to see is this possibly helping Microsoft's bottom line at the expense of disrupting their users.

    Wouldn't it be preferred if MS used another method to find their lost revenue? Instead of relying on end users to go through the confusion (and possible further consequences of WGA). Afterall, how many end users are going to call Microsoft to report that their vendor is selling pirate copies of windows(or even realise this, a basic user won't understand) versus just buying a new code online from MS right away.

    • They aren't Microsoft's users. MS is within their right to deny owners of pirated copies. MS didn't collect a penny after all.

      It is always the case that, when you buy stolen goods, you risk losing your money and the product. Ignorance is beside the point.
  • by KU_Fletch (678324) <<ude.uk> <ta> <1samohtb>> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:30PM (#15808682)
    MS Rep: That's a real nice website you got there Mr Thurrott.
    PT: Thanks.
    MS Rep: It would be a shame if it was accidentally got blocked by IE 7 for being unsecure.
    PT: Now how the hell would that happen?
    MS Rep: You know. Things happen. Websites get added to lists. Thumbs get accidentally broken. It's a funny world.
    PT: Come to think of it, I think I'm using a bad serial number.
    MS Rep: Atta boy.
  • by hendridm (302246) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:38PM (#15808712) Homepage
    So I had to figure out a way to post articles, preferably from within Vista.

    Firefox? Opera? Was it not compatible with anything but IE 6? Sounds lousy.

    My main machine dual boots between XP and Vista, but it's a pain to reboot just to post an article or two. So I decided the best thing to do would be to use one of the XP-based VHDs I had and post the articles using IE 6 from within a virtual machine. I grabbed the smallest one, which happened to be Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and installed it on the PC ... I ended up switching out the XP MCE 2005 VM for a Windows 2000 VM, because it's smaller (and thus boots up and goes to sleep more quickly) and the version of IE 6 included with Windows 2000 can save Web passwords.

    1. So which one is smaller then?
    2. I find it amazing that Windows 2000 has a faster startup and shutdown time than anything. Am I alone here?
    3. "The version of IE 6?" Correct me if I wrong, but I believe my IE 6 on Windows XP/SP2 saves web passwords?!?

    • 3. "The version of IE 6?" Correct me if I wrong, but I believe my IE 6 on Windows XP/SP2 saves web passwords?!?
      Translation:

      Paul has turned off the saved form information feature on his XP install, forgot he's done it, and can't figure out how to turn it back on.

      After all, you don't get a manual with pirated software.....
    • You forgot to correct on #3... Windows 2000 comes with IE 5.x (IIRC) Installed, XP comes with IE 6 by default. That alone says to me he's full of shit. Pretty sad when you don't know what comes installed by initial default on the OS you run.
    • Hmm, I am not surprized at all. If we think about it w2000 essentially was NT4SP6a with USB support and new explorer interface (and a few nifty networking additions that essentially were rewrites from broken implementations in NT4).

      And NT4 was - well, respectable. Despite being Microsoft'e and of course nothing is perfect, but I still consider it to be most successfull workstations OS for the masses of the last few decades :)
  • Microsoft was (or still is?) giving away free licenses to people who were sold pirated copies of Windows XP without knowing it was pirated.

  • by spacemky (236551) * <nick@ary f i . c om> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:51PM (#15808771) Homepage Journal
    With the WGA program, Microsoft says a user who unknowingly purchases a counterfit version of Windows will receive a free copy of Windows XP, if they report the seller.

    Details [microsoft.com]

    Perhaps Mr. Thurrott should persue his copy.
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:52PM (#15808774)
    . . . confiteor. Best not to have columunists with an audience complaining that WGA is screwing over legitimate purchasers, so after a a little quid pro quo, his copy conveniently became "inadvertently pirated." Hogwash.
  • This is bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534)
    Everything else on the planet requires you to register and logon. But MS in it's infinite wisdom decided that making it 'transparent' would be better. And in the real world this translates to making it more error prone, fragile, complicated and generally unsupportable.

    HEY MICROSOFT: IF LOGONS ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS RELATIONSHIP WITH AMAZON THEN IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR $79 OPERATING SYSTEM, YOU FUCKING RETARDS !!!!!!!!
  • by fermion (181285) * on Saturday July 29, 2006 @11:20PM (#15808893) Homepage Journal
    The real problem here is that MS has lost control of it's supply chain, and as a result has been reduced to forcing the customer to act as an uncompensated QC agent. I see no overall benefit to the enduser, it is not like these things can't be checked at registration, and I see not program like 'your purchase is free if you get no receipt.'

    No, all that is happening here is MS creating such a complex system of distribution and prices, with registration codes that are long and difficult, all while trying to personalize a commodity product. Start with the first item. MS fought for regulations that mean that any manufactured PC must, for all intents and purposes, have Windows installed. So, even if a site license exists, you are still paying for windows. Yet even in light of this, MS still insists on selling upgrade and full products, even though the percentage of people who have not bought a previous copy of windows is small. Of course a copy of windows is linked to a machine, which is another senseless complication. Such complications as upgrade versions, home versions, pro versions, etc, simply allows the crooks an opportunity to manipulate the already confused end user.

    Which leads to the second issue. MS Windows is now a fully commoditized product. It owes it's success to being part of fully interchangeable system, which allows beneficial cost reductions for all concerned. The problem is, of course, that MS does not want MS Windows to be a commodity, and therefore treats it as a vertical market application. So, I can't take my copy of MS windows and choose to install it on a single given machine. I am told which machine it belongs to. This does not happen with any other component of the system. OTOH, every copy of MS Windows is all but identical, so the machinations necessary to create this leads to a rube goldberg machine.

    If MS would just sell MS Windows for $100 and get over all the hubris that somehow MS WIndows is a special thing would go away. If they want to continue the fantasy that somehow MS WIndows is not a cheap commodity, then they should do something like individualized DVDs, each encoded with their own ID.

  • I have a Compaq laptop that I bought online from HP's e-commerce site. So I assume they're using "genuine" WindowsXP. Recently, I began to get a little popup from my task bar suggesting that I might have a non-genuine version of Windows and to "click here to find out how you can fix this" or somesuch. I just chuckle and close it, but I suppose I should figure out what is really happening at some point. Fortunately, it's my old laptop that is used infrequently (but has up to date patches).

    • I was bitten too. Got it fixed pretty quickly, but I'm still a bit angry about it. Try reinstalling the WGA notifications update [microsoft.com], revalidating, and rebooting. Seems to work for a lot of people. If it doesn't, download and install the MGA diagnostics tool [microsoft.com] and see if it reports "Genuine". If it does, and you're getting the notifications, post the output to Microsoft's WGA forum [microsoft.com]. In my case I just had to revalidate and reboot.
  • 3/5 = 100% (Score:3, Interesting)

    by novus ordo (843883) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @11:45PM (#15809024) Journal
    "Microsoft sent me a WGA diagnostic tool, which generates a text file with the results, which include, among other things, the final three portions of the five-part Product ID used to install Windows. I sent this file to Microsoft and awaited the results...Their preliminary findings were surprising. The key I had used to install Windows was a known pirated key, and required a modified version of winlogon.exe. This surprised me, naturally, since I don't pirate software..."
    So either the first 2 portions of the "Product ID" are useless, or they can't claim if the key is pirated.
    • So either the first 2 portions of the "Product ID" are useless, or they can't claim if the key is pirated.

      Or, more likely, the key is in the last 3 portions and the first two are a checksum for it. That's how you prevent people from entering any random key.

  • The coercion having to buy a piece of hardware in order to use a particular piece of operating software on existing hardware is called a "loophole"?

    Good newspeech!

    How can a software company get away this this at all?

    How would it be with the "loophole" plugged? Whenever a new OS is released, forced to buy it with a full system, so the software can be branded by a hardware key and not be moved off that box?
    Maybe that was the idea.

    Will Ballmer ever burn out?

  • by erikdotla (609033) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:40AM (#15809909)
    As an MSDN subscriber and software license manager at my company, I actually read the EULAs that govern the use of MSDN licenses for products like the OS, Office, and everything else. It is not legal to use them for commercial purposes.

    Leave Paul's little 'oversight' with MCE 2005 aside. He states in his article that he generally uses MSDN for all of his software. Given that he runs a site about MS stuff and is clearly a big user of their software, it stands to reason that he uses Windows servers, XP workstations, SQL, Frontpage for site authoring, Office for email and all sorts of other things. None of this is legal under the terms of the MSDN license.

    I don't have the EULA handy, and there are many subscription types, but all that I have seen clearly state that it cannot be used for commercial purposes, or to develop/maintain your own IT systems.

    Just thought I'd point this out.
  • GM makes crappy cars, the one I got recently smashed into a tree, and I only had 2 drinks!
  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:29AM (#15810345) Homepage Journal
    IE 7 is incompatible with the Web site I use every day to post articles to WinInfo. So I had to figure out a way to post articles, preferably from within Vista. My main machine dual boots between XP and Vista, but it's a pain to reboot just to post an article or two. So I decided the best thing to do would be to use one of the XP-based VHDs I had and post the articles using IE 6 from within a virtual machine.

    For one site that he can't use IE7 on he's decided the best course of action is to run WinXP in a VM so he can use IE6. Do Firefox and Opera not run on Vista? Or are they also unable to post to WinInfo?

    This guy, his favourite OS and the sites he is affiliated with are poster childs for stupidity.

  • If you go out and buy someting in good faith, you really didnt make a mistake. You were ripped off instead.

    Now, id like to see what happens if one of us little people had that problem ' you got the error, screw you, go buy 10 copies or we sue you'.
  • by Strolls (641018) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @11:02AM (#15811134)
    I find this whole retraction story very, VERY hard to believe.

    When you buy a legitimate OEM copy of Windows - from someone like Dabs.com or NewEgg - it comes in a cellophane wrapper with a hologrammed CD inside and a license sticker on the outside. There's also a scantly little booklet in there entitled "Welcome to Windows XP" or somesuch.

    I could understand Thurrott not expecting the hologrammed CD if he's never bought a separate copy of Windows before. Windows 98 & 2000 used to come with a screen-printed CD, and I guess many PCs with Windows pre-installed still do; for some reason if you're a small OEM then you get the full pack of hologrammed CD, sticker & leaflet that I describe above, but it seems that if you're a major-volume OEM like Dell or Packard Hell then you're allowed to buy the stickers separately & stamp your own "restore CDs" or (as many big OEMs are now doing) offer to let the user burn their own restore CD. I guess they get a discount for this.

    But does Thurrott really expect us to believe that he doesn't know what an OEM sticker looks like? When he purchased this alleged copy of Windows, the license number must have been printed on something! Wouldn't you be a little suspicious in this day and age if you were buying an OEM copy of Windows "just like all the PC manufacturers use" and the license key was hand-written on a scrap of paper? Ok, I'm exaggerating, but everyone knows what an OEM sticker looks like - Thurrott must have bought a laptop with Windows pre-installed; he may build all his own PCs, but he must have worked on a friend's PC, or handled an OEM-built PC in someone's office. All these computers will have a proper OEM licence sticker on them - stuck on the underneath of the laptop, for sure; on many PC towers I see nowadays the sticker is on the top of the PC, right at the front, but they're rarely hard to find. Microsoft deliberately make these stickers distinctive and hand to fake - the one I have here even has hologramming along the edge.

    If Thurrott bought this copy of Windows for an article then he would have kept the receipt to claim against tax. And I concur entirely with Kosmosik that if he was burned by a retailer sending him a dodgy copy in this way then he'd be shouting their name to the rooftops! Also, as a tech-savvy computer professional * cough* there's no way he'd throw away the original disk and license number that they sent him - it's obvious that you might need it to reinstall some day, and it's no effort at all to drop the disk in a file or folder with all your other software licenses.

    So something here really doesn't add up. He might not be prepared to admit that this is a copy he pirated because he didn't have the MSDN subscription disk handy at the time, but that's the only conclusion I can come to.

    Stroller.

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