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Linguist Tweaks MS For Redefining "Genuine" 346

Posted by kdawson
from the words-mean-exactly-what-i-want-them-to-mean dept.
crazybilly writes, "The Language Log, home blog for several professional linguists, posted a story a few days ago about how Microsoft is redefining the word 'genuine' (as in the 'Microsoft Genuine Software Initiative') in an attempt to increase public sympathy for their anti-piracy efforts. From the article: 'An unlicensed copy of Microsoft Windows is perfectly genuine. It has exactly the same functionality as a licensed copy and was made by the same company... I suspect that Microsoft is attempting to redefine "genuine" because it has had a hard time getting sympathy for its actual complaint, namely unlicensed distribution.'"
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Linguist Tweaks MS For Redefining "Genuine"

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  • Genuine? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mkosmo (768069) * <mkosmo@gmail.com> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:43PM (#16122336) Homepage
    From Dictionary.com:
    genuine
    -adjective
    1.possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real: genuine sympathy; a genuine antique.
    Thus, Microsoft I guess has some legitimacy in using the word Genuine. However the word leaves some room for pirated copies to qualify. Perhaps Microsoft shou ld have chosen a better word for their test? It seems unfair that a private com pany should be able to bend language to their will to mislead consumers... which should be illegal. On the other hand, "origin"... manufacturer? I think it su its well enough as-is. Otherwise the definition of "Genuine" will be as long as the MS EULA.
    • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:48PM (#16122354) Homepage
      Thus, Microsoft I guess has some legitimacy in using the word Genuine.

      Yeah, I think this guy is using an outdated version of the word. Like when people use the word "ask" instead of "ax", or "Christmas" instead of "X-Mas".
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Christmas and Xmas are completely equivalent. Note that the 'X' is actually a Chi. I actually had an ignorant Christian tell me to go fuck myself over that point, but I was backed up by an actual Catholic Priest who indicated that they all write Xtian and Xmas in the seminary. I'm am getting the last laugh in that argument... right now.
    • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rackhamh (217889) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:50PM (#16122360)
      I'm surprised you didn't quote the second definition of "genuine" from Dictionary.com:

      Not spurious or counterfeit; authentic.

      And the definition of counterfeit?

      To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud; forge:

      Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine. It doesn't take a linguist to understand this. Just goes to show you that claiming authority in a given field doesn't make it so.
      • Re:Genuine? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:04PM (#16122414) Journal
        I would also add that, since one of the commonly given(though not necessarily true) reasons the Business Software Alliance et. al. will tell you not to use illegal copies is that it might not be a *genuine* copy of the real thing, and thus not work properly. Thus, from MS's perspective, trying to make sure everyone using it has a licensed copy would constitute a "Genuine Software Initiative" in that they believe it will ensure people use the "genuine" version. So the linguist really is making a hissy-fit over nothing. I generally don't object to a usage unless I can think of *no* usage that would fit, or that usage causes confusion, rather than object the moment it doesn't fit the one I'm thinking of.
      • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 42Penguins (861511) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:20PM (#16122463)
        However, the word "counterfeit" was not defined in an age with computers and software that could be EXACTLY copied. A counterfeit Picasso is different, content-wise, from a real one. A "counterfeit" copy of Windows XP has the same content and MD5 hash as a "real" one.
        • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:36PM (#16122509)
          If you steal the plates, paper, and inks that make 100 dollar bills and you roll off several thousand of them for yourself, are those bills genuine or counterfeit?

          Process is every much as much part of geniuneness as material. At any rate, the certificate and license key that comes with an unauthorized copy of windows isn't genuine, no matter how you slice it.

          Methinks the intellectual rigor of our cunning linguist friend doesn't quite meet Webster's second definition of genuine: Free from hypocrisy or pretense.

          • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rackhamh (217889) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @10:00PM (#16122580)
            I imagine the parent was modded down for the last sentence. It's too bad, because the second sentence was actually quite insightful. Counterfeiting is in the process. The resulting product may be physically IDENTICAL to the original on which it is based, but that doesn't make it any less counterfeit.

            And the previous argument doesn't even take into account the second part of the definition of "counterfeit," which reads on intent -- namely, the intent to commit fraud.

            Taking my chain of definitions one step further, what is fraud? According to the thesaurus, fraud is...

            An act of cheating

            Anyone care to argue that pirating software isn't cheating?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by phoebe (196531)
              The linguistics of the English language vary with region to region and hence the ongoing tet-a-tet with English versus American English. I would propose an alternative reasoning to the parent threads who are suggesting an exact copy is a counterfeit. The exact copy is a copy, identical to the original, so it cannot be a fake because the primary definition of a fake is a copy that is misleading, i.e. looks genuine but is not. The second proposal is that the act of unlicensed copying is counterfeiting, whi
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hey! (33014)
            If you steal the plates, paper, and inks that make 100 dollar bills and you roll off several thousand of them for yourself, are those bills genuine or counterfeit?

            I think that's a bad analogy.

            (1) If Microsoft were in the business of selling CDs, then you would be correct: unauhorized copies are not genuine. What I mean by "in the business of selling CDs", is that a significant part of the value lies in the fact that it is a Microsoft CD, not an undetectable copy. This is like the difference in value betw
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by E++99 (880734)
          However, the word "counterfeit" was not defined in an age with computers and software that could be EXACTLY copied...A "counterfeit" copy of Windows XP has the same content and MD5 hash as a "real" one.
          Yes, and a forged $100 bill using plates, paper stock and ink stolen from the US Treasury contains the exact same content as a genuine $100 bill. So what? The authorized "copies" are still genuine and the unauthorized copies are still not.
      • Re:Genuine? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:32PM (#16122495) Homepage Journal
        If I copy Hamlet to a CD and give it to my friend, he is receiving a GENUINE Shakespearian play. No question about it. Since the English word "genuine" makes no distinctions based on public domain, if I burn a copy of the latest Harry Potter book and give it to my friend, he is still receiving a genuine Harry Potter novel. That's because the original is the *text* not the pages it is printed on. The original of Windows is *software*, not the CD it resides on.
        • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timeOday (582209) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:44PM (#16122530)
          So what about forged currency, such as the excellent fake US currency [wikipedia.org] North Korea is said to manufacture? So long as you can spend them, they are functionally equivalent to those printed in the US. So would you call them "genuine" bills as well?
          • Re:Genuine? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Vicissidude (878310) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @10:19PM (#16122625)
            The difference between the fake currency and the software copies is that an expert can determine whether a dollar is fake or not. That is because the fake currency actually comes from North Korea and not the US Mint. However, the software code of both Windows and that copy of Windows both come from Microsoft. Once installed, no expert would be able to tell the difference between the two copies because each is an exact duplicate.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rackhamh (217889)
              The difference between the fake currency and the software copies is that an expert can determine whether a dollar is fake or not.

              Pure drivel. Do you think that if somebody were to produce an absolutely perfect replica of a U.S. Mint hundred dollar bill, the government would stop caring? Believe it or not, the government's reasons for pursuing counterfeiters are not aesthetic.
              • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Vicissidude (878310) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @10:44PM (#16122747)
                Please stay on topic.

                The actions of the US Government or Microsoft against counterfeiters doesn't matter to this discussion. The fake bills are NOT from the US Government, so they are NOT genuine. However, the copied software code IS from Microsoft, so it IS genuine.

                What Microsoft wants to do is attach the idea that their license is what makes Windows genuine or not. That IS a departure from the traditional definition of genuine.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by rackhamh (217889)
                  The fact that I disagree with your definition of genuine doesn't make me off-topic.

                  Your interpretation of "genuine" is inflexible and ignores all logic being presented to the contrary. You are repeatedly ignoring the "intent" component of counterfeiting.

                  Think about it. Your definition of "genuine" would also abolish all trademark law, simply by passing an original logo through a copy machine (analogous to a CD burner). Somehow I don't think that's really the direction you want to go with this.
                  • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

                    by Alef (605149) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @11:06PM (#16122851)
                    Suppose I buy one license of windows, and get an install CD with it. Then use the CD to install windows on two computers. You're saying one copy now isn't genuine. Which one is the counterfeit?


                    Remember, the discussion isn't about whether I should be allowed to do that or not (that is where you would be going off topic). It is about semantics.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by rackhamh (217889)
                      Suppose I buy one license of windows, and get an install CD with it. Then use the CD to install windows on two computers. You're saying one copy now isn't genuine. Which one is the counterfeit?

                      The second one is counterfeit -- when you installed the first one, you were still within the bounds of the EULA. But you knew that you were breaking the EULA by installing the second one. Therefore, going back to the link between counterfeiting and intent, the second copy is the counterfeit.

                      Remember, the discussion
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Vicissidude (878310)
                      No, both installations of Windows software are genuinely from Microsoft. One installation may be legal or not, but that does not change the fact of who made the software.

                      As freedumb2000 said [slashdot.org], "a stolen BMW is still a genuine BMW and nothing can change that. I could even remove the BMW emblem and hammer out the serial number from the motor block. It will still be a genuine BMW. And a pirated/stolen copy of Windows is nothing else."
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by belmolis (702863)

            Analogies based on currency are false analogies because of a special property of currency. Currency gains its value by fiat, in contrast to money with intrinsic value, such as gold and silver throughout most of known economic history. A $100 bill has an intrinsic value of maybe a few cents (I ignore, for expository purposes, the cocaine residue:); the fact that it is worth $100 is due to the fact that the US government says it is. If the US government suddenly declares that that bill is no longer legal ten

      • by k98sven (324383)
        Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine. It doesn't take a linguist to understand this.

        Well, it seems the argument he's making is that somethign is not counterfeit/fake (and thus genuine) if it has certain properties:

        An unlicensed copy of Microsoft Windows is perfectly genuine. It has exactly the same functionality as a licensed copy and was made by the same company. In contrast, if you buy a "Rorex" watch, it is not genuine because it is not made by the Rolex comp

        • by belmolis (702863)

          That said, if the guy really is a linguist, I find the attitude rather strange. Most linguists I know are about as far from the "spelling/grammar/definition-Nazi" type of person as you can get

          You've missed the point. (I know for sure because I am Bill Poser.) My Language Log post is not a lament about how the language is going to the dogs because "genuine" is being used "incorrectly", that is, in a way that deviates from whatever I think the standard should be. The point is that Microsoft is using "genu

      • Re:Genuine? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dirtside (91468) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:57PM (#16122571) Journal
        Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine.

        I disagree. Say I buy Windows XP, and then make a backup copy of the CD, so that should my original CD be destroyed, I still have a CD I can install from. Is that a genuine copy? There's no intent to defraud, and dictionary.com's definition of "counterfeit" (sense 3, the only noun sense that's not marked as "archaic" or "obsolete") is "an imitation intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine; forgery." A backup copy is quite definitely not intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively.

        And it's also not a forgery. "Forgery", according to the esteemed dictionary.com, has a few senses which might apply. Sense 3 is "something, as a coin, a work of art, or a writing, produced by forgery." "Forgery" in that sentence refers to sense 2: "the production of a spurious work that is claimed to be genuine, as a coin, a painting, or the like." Does that sense apply? I'll be generous and assume that "or the like" could cover digital information such as software. Is a burned copy of a Windows XP CD a "spurious" copy? Since it's indistinguishable, and preserves (in an information theory sense) 100% of the information in the original, it can't reasonably be called a "spurious work"; it IS the original work, by definition.

        Now imagine, six months later, I lend that backup copy I made to a friend so that he can install XP for free. He knows I bought XP, he knows I made a backup, and he's under no illusions that he has the legal right to install it. Now is it a counterfeit copy? If it is, then you're claiming that whether or not something is "genuine" can change depending on what someone does with it, irrespective of the nature of the object itself. A genuine Picasso can never become a counterfeit, even if I were to steal it from its owner and sell it to someone else. It's still a genuine Picasso.

        But a copy of Windows that was previously "genuine" can suddenly become "counterfeit" merely because I give the copy to someone? I reject that on strictly linguistic grounds. And I'm not even a linguist.

        The general problem is when people take metaphors that apply to physical objects and then try to apply them to the replication of information. The specific problem here is that MS touts "Windows Genuine Advantage" as if it's somehow advantageous to you to confirm that you have a "genuine" copy of Windows. It is not even remotely so; it is only to Microsoft's benefit.
        • Speaking of which, how can you have a "genuine copy" of anything? Depending on how you look at it, it's a complete oxymoron, or means nothing, since anything that is copied is a genuine copy. The only thing that wouldn't be a genuine copy is an original, or something that wasn't a copy of it.
        • by rackhamh (217889)
          Now imagine, six months later, I lend that backup copy I made to a friend so that he can install XP for free. He knows I bought XP, he knows I made a backup, and he's under no illusions that he has the legal right to install it. Now is it a counterfeit copy? If it is, then you're claiming that whether or not something is "genuine" can change depending on what someone does with it, irrespective of the nature of the object itself.

          YES. Congratulations, sir, you are a winner. Ironic, considering that you wrot
      • by Jerf (17166)

        I'm surprised you didn't quote the second definition of "genuine" from Dictionary.com:... Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine.

        So, your argument is, if a word has two dictionary definitions, and the way the word is used matches one, but not the other, the word is unacceptable.

        This is an incredibly bad argument made in bad faith.. Your entire post, this post, and nearly every written and oral communication ever, fail that standard. You pre-ordained your conclusion

      • by belmolis (702863)

        Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine.

        Both the protasis and apodosis here are questionable. First, since when are pirated copies of Windows "fraudulent"? If I sell you a CD that I claim to contain Windows and it actually contains Knoppix, that is fraud. If I sell you a CD that I claim to contain Windows and it actually does contain Windows, there is no fraud, even if the sale violates the licensing conditions, unless I make false representations to you regardi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pop69 (700500)
      It seems unfair that a private company should be able to bend language to their will to mislead consumers


      Where have you been ? It's called advertising and it isn't just private companies that do it. You'll find that political "spin doctors" are doing exactly the same thing.
    • When someone makes an imperfect copy of something, how can it be called "Genuine"? I know some of you are thinking that the pirated copies of Microsoft Software and not imperfect copies. However, there is a whole industry that forges legitimate looking physical copies of Microsoft Software complete with forged holographic logos. It is hard to imagine that this falls under the definition of a geuine copy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Toby_Tyke (797359)
      I agree, MS are more than justified in using the word "genuine". I don't really feel the need to jump through semantic hoops to defend the choice either. I know what they mean when they say genuine, and it's a hell of a lot easier than calling the service "Windows Copy Produced In Accordance With The Prevailing Copyright Laws In This Jurisdiction Advantage" (WCPIAWTPCLITJA for short. Trips off the tongue huh?).

      On a slight side track, I really do despise these language conservatives. The meaning of words c
  • by XorNand (517466) * on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:44PM (#16122340)
    The line for all the "cunning linguist" jokes starts right -----> here.
    • Well, if the definition of "cunning linguist" includes the likes of folks like Carl Rove, then yes. It should come as no surprise that anyone who can define the terms of a discussion, controls the discussion. That's why words are important, kids.

      "War on Terror" by itself is meaningless and mostly a non-sequitor, but it sounds a lot better than "Invade countries and overthrow rulers." Similarly, "stealing" is more effective than "copyright infringement". And "pro life" does have a nicer ring to it than "
      • by Jerf (17166)

        Well, if the definition of "cunning linguist" includes the likes of folks like [K]arl Rove, then yes. It should come as no surprise that anyone who can define the terms of a discussion, controls the discussion.

        Karl's really the repudiation of this semi-myth; he learned it from the Democrats, who learned it from the English professors, who got it from philosophers. (I'm not intending this as a political slam on the Democrats. Everybody tries to control the debate in every way they can think of, and that's no

    • ...is somewhat disingenuous.
    • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @01:35AM (#16123361) Homepage Journal
      I've often pondered how odd it is that one must have excellent oral skills in order to be a master debater, and yet one can be a cunning linguist and perform all of one's work entirely by hand.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:45PM (#16122346) Homepage
    If that bothers him, it sounds like he would have a field day with "Ginuwine" [wikipedia.org]. And shortly after, "Ludacris".
    • I dunno ... seems kinda "rediculous" to me.
    • The worst thing about this artist is people think that is the proper way to spell ludicrous. I've had two students turn in papers where they spelled out "ludacris" when they meant "ludicrous." I'm sorry, but that's just ludicrous!
  • by rm999 (775449)
    "Genuine" Italian food has the same ingredients and taste as something made in my asian friend's mom's kitchen. That doesn't mean her cooking is genuine italian food.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      if she is making italian food, it's genuine whether or not she is italian

      if it was something based on italian food but made differently or made with additional non-italian food in it then it would not be
      • by rm999 (775449)
        No she is making italian food. According to your definition, the word genuine adds nothing to that first sentence.

        Genuine *does* mean something!
      • by Jeremi (14640)
        if she is making italian food, it's genuine whether or not she is italian


        Wouldn't genuine Italian food be food that was made in Italy? Otherwise it's only Italian-style food...


        (thus sayeth the pedant ;^))

    • by Al Dimond (792444)
      Just to clarify, you're saying that in order for it to be "genuine" Italian food it has to be made in Italy, right? Meaning that a dude from Italy cooking a delicious lasagna in his kitchen in Canada wouldn't be making genuine Italian food either. But a dude from China making scrumptious blueberry pancakes in Sicily would be? Or as a French woman making Channa Masala in Torino?

      Excuse me, I have to go eat something now.
  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @08:59PM (#16122395)
    A print of the mona lisa is the genuine article. It was still painted by the artist and it looks identical to the real thing! Anyone want to buy the genuine Mona Lisa off of me for $800,000,000?

    The logic of the article is just flawed. Even assuming a counterfeit version has an authentic CD, serial numbers have to be unique if it's being used by lots of people this serial has been COPIED. An unauthorised copy = counterfeit.

    • No, the linguists have a legitimate point. It all depends on how you define "Windows". If you define it as a "valid license", as opposed to the software itself, then you would be correct. But most people do not define it that way. A genuine Windows CD, whether purchased in a shrink-wrapped box or from a suitcase on a corner in New York, is still genuine. Regardless of its legality.

      Even a burned copy of a CD can be genuine! Consider a corporate site license which doesn't have a separate holographed CD for ea
  • Does anyone outside of a marketing organization use the word "Genuine"? Let the marketeers bastardize it any way they want.
  • *sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CXI (46706)
    This "expert" in language fails to make the technical distinction between the license for a product and the product itself. The counterfeit license is definitely not genuine and was not "made (or sold) by the same company" to the end user. It gets to the root of all of the problems with digital products. People do not understand the implications of a creation that can be duplicated at will with little effort, and how or even if to control it.

    Furthermore, must we have such useless ego-stroaking stories on sl
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Cydonian (603441) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @11:04PM (#16122838) Homepage Journal

      Nope, it's not him that's not making the distinction, it is Microsoft itself. Here's the original quote that LanguageLog had a problem with:-

      In the month of May, 38,000 customers purchased genuine Windows software after being notified that they had been sold non-genuine software. Customers recognize that the value of genuine is greater than ever.

      The question here is if a copy of Windows, albeit gotten with an, shall we say, illegal licence, is less genuine than one with a legal licence. Bill Poser seems to think otherwise; because functionality is the same, the product is still the same, even if the licence isn't genuine, as you rightfully said.

      So yeah, it is not him who's confusing between 'licences' and 'products', it is Microsoft. Microsoft isn't trying to sell genuine Windows software here through their "Microsoft Genuine Software Initiative" programme, it is merely trying to sell genuine licences. Microsoft doesn't seem to think this distinction is important, but the good linguist (who, despite your apparent disdain, is actually very highly respected in linguistic spheres) does.

  • Obviously the answer would be to pass a law that specifically states that computer programs cannot be copyrighted.
    • I'm all for that! It would stop people from suing over GPL violations!
    • by rackhamh (217889)
      So... some people copy copyrighted software, so no software should be copyrighted?

      Some people steal cars, too -- should cars be illegal?

      Actually, you know what? Some people kill other people. We should make people illegal too, so they can't be killed.
  • by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:04PM (#16122410) Homepage Journal
    I'm tempted to subscribe to Slashdot for a day just so I can demand my money back in outrage.
    • Brilliant!
    • by Andronoid (816502)
      yep...regardless of dictionary definition issues this is a bit like trying to trying to argue "Burger King" is trying to redefine the word "King." I mean come on they're not really the King of burgers?
  • Nice Try, But No (Score:5, Informative)

    by Effugas (2378) * on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:05PM (#16122415) Homepage
    A couple years ago, we saw the first "pre-infected" Windows CDs show up on peer to peer networks...they had extra keys added to the cert store, so essentially attackers could come in remotely and securely authenticate against pirated builds of Windows. Apparently, this has become much more common, with many builds on P2P networks going so far as to be pre-infected with malware.

    On the flip side, some of the pirated DVDs floating around out there are well known for just being very fast and easy to install on random hardware; especially for system builders, going from nothing to a completely installed Windows system with XPSP2 and Office in twenty minutes is a big deal even if the system is ultimately shipped with legitimate licenses.

    Ultimately though we're talking about the use of the word Genuine. Sinec there's a tangible and measureable difference between the legitimate builds (less likely to be pre-0wned, more likely to be easy to install) vs. the pirated editions, I'd say there's a hat to hang the "genuine" phrase on, at least from a linguistic perspective.
    • by Jaime2 (824950)
      I could meet both of your conditions to be pirated (more likely to be pre-0wned, less likely to be easy to install) while still being genuine under Microsoft's definition. Microsoft encourages corporate clients to tweak installation CDs to be easier to install on their hardware and that same process could easily be used to put nasty stuff on the CD. Through Remote Installation Services, third party software like Ghost, or through Setup Manager that automates the installation process, I could easily modify
  • by futuresheep (531366) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:11PM (#16122436) Journal
    I would think that the way they've redefined the word "Advantage", as in "Windows Genuine Advantage" would be a bigger worry.

    But that's just me...
    • Microsoft is very careful not to clarify who's advantage their talking about. The program is *VERY* advantageous to Microsoft. In that sense, it is even a "genuine" advantage.

      Cheers,
      Dave
  • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:14PM (#16122443) Homepage Journal
    They are fighting against counterfeit copies of Windows, so their use of the word is correct in a literal sense. This is not redefining a term. It sucks though, because they make it impossible (or difficult at least) for Linux users to download patches to take to client sites.

    If you want to discuss redefining terms, how about discussing Microsoft's definition of downtime vs. the rest of the industry's definition of that term.
    • by Dirtside (91468)
      They are fighting against counterfeit copies of Windows, so their use of the word is correct in a literal sense.

      Except that a "counterfeit" copy of Windows is identical in every conceivable way to a "genuine" copy. Whether a copy is "counterfeit," according to Microsoft, depends entirely and ONLY on whether you paid Microsoft what they charge for a copy. In all other respects, they're indistinguishable. That's why it's a linguistic clusterfuck.
      • by rackhamh (217889)
        Except that a "counterfeit" copy of Windows is identical in every conceivable way to a "genuine" copy.

        No it isn't. The physical medium wasn't prepared by Microsoft or one of its legitimate manufacturing partners.

        Having a fake hundred dollar bill that's identical right down to the fiber doesn't make it any less counterfeit.
        • by NMerriam (15122)
          No it isn't. The physical medium wasn't prepared by Microsoft or one of its legitimate manufacturing partners.

          But the physical medium is not what makes Microsoft Windows, the medium is essentially just packaging for the software. Microsoft Windows is the same product whether it comes on a CD, a DVD, a download, a disk image pushed over a network, etc.

          Having a fake hundred dollar bill that's identical right down to the fiber doesn't make it any less counterfeit.

          No, but having a real $100 bill that is legally
          • by rackhamh (217889)
            But the physical medium is not what makes Microsoft Windows

            You're missing the point. We're not arguing whether it's Windows on the CD, we're arguing whether it's a GENUINE copy of Windows.

            No, but having a real $100 bill that is legally not supposed to exist (ie, it was heavily worn and exchanged by a bank for a new bill, after which it was supposed to be destroyed) does not make it less genuine. It is illegal, but not counterfeit.

            Pointless analogy, since the copies of Windows that we're talking about ARE c
        • by belmolis (702863)

          Actually, in many cases a "pirated" copy of MS software was prepared by Microsoft. One of the kinds of pirating that Microsoft is concerned with is one in which a single, legitimate, Microsoft-produced CD is used to install MS Windows on a bunch of machines. Only one license has been purchased but multiple machines have been set up, so Microsoft loses money. Another scenario with which they are concerned is one in which CDs intended to be used only by OEMs are sold at a discount to end users. Here again, t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dirtside (91468)

          No it isn't. The physical medium wasn't prepared by Microsoft or one of its legitimate manufacturing partners.

          The "copy" is the data, not the medium it's on. If I (illegally) download a Windows XP ISO from the Internet, and burn it onto a CD-R, I still own the physical CD-R, just not the copy of Windows on the CD-R.

          What if buy Windows XP legally, and rip the CD to an ISO image, as a backup? Legit and legal, yet the physical medium (my hard drive) was neither "prepared" by MS or one of its "legitimate ma

    • It is the redefining of a term. A software copy is an EXACT duplicate. The copied code came from Microsoft, just like all those official Windows CDs which Microsoft copied in their manufacturing process. There is no difference between the copied code and the original. The copied code is genuinely from Microsoft.

      A counter-example would be a fake Rolex watch. A copied watch is NOT an exact duplicate, because it came from a different manufacturer than Rolex. In that case, the fake Rolex is not genuin
  • Oh yeah? C'mere a minute!
  • A pirated copy genuinely does not come with the same support from the publisher that a properly licensed copy does. It's that simple.
  • by HairyCanary (688865) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:21PM (#16122466)
    It's fear. Whether or not the word "genuine" is being used for its dictionary definition is not really relevant. They want to use terminology ("genuine", "advantage") that communicates to Joe User that a pirated copy of Windows may contain malware, spyware, etc. You have no idea what it has, so you better not install it on your computer. Pay us $$$ so you can be sure you are getting safe software. (and of course, that last bit is a whole 'nother discussion).
  • While I can understand that there is a slightly dubious use of the word "genuine" with MS, I don't believe its as big a deal as all that. For the most part it does fit given definitions. However, every day we twist language to our own use in an attempt to communicate. MS adding a bit of branding is their attempt to fulfill a dual function. One is marketing, and the other is to attach an every day term to validate our purchasing software instead of pirating it.

    That said, every marketing campaign aimed at bra
  • The linguist ought to object first to using an article without a noun. From the automatic update tool:
    The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows is not genuine. If your system is found to be a non-genuine, the tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows.
  • Come on. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1310nm (687270) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:51PM (#16122555)
    This is genuinely a word-mincing exercise to discredit Microsoft. Is this really suitable as /. news?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by westlake (615356)
      This is genuinely a word-mincing exercise to discredit Microsoft. Is this really suitable as /. news?

      It's Saturday night. It's a chance to take a shot at Microsoft? What else is there for a Geek to do?

  • I already wondered when "trustworthy" changed its meaning to the opposite.
  • One needs to remember that microsoft is not selling you the software, it is selling you the license. The software just comes with it, and the license makes it legal to use the software. So in effect, it is not the software that is genuine, but it is the license. And you cannot deny that there is less hassel and better support from microsoft if you have a "genuine" windows license for your windows software.
  • Microsoft's Warning (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slowbad (714725) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @10:35PM (#16122701)
    (and) prevent "the latest harmful and unwanted software from running on your computer"


    Every week, Windows Defender repeats the above pledge. There are two problems here:

    I am not sure that Microsoft's definition of unwanted software is the same of mine; I *am* sure that my definition of unwanted software includes things that Microsoft is doing that are not in my interests.

  • genuine advantage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krunk4ever (856261) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @10:49PM (#16122762) Homepage
    genuine
    -adjective
    1. possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real: genuine sympathy; a genuine antique.
    2. properly so called: a genuine case of smallpox.
    3. free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere: a genuine person.
    4. descended from the original stock; pure in breed: a genuine Celtic people.


    If I made a copy of my favorite CD or DVD, would that copy be genuine/authentic? Would it have the same value as my original CD/DVD? Some may argue that the material itself is different. What if I can get the exact blanks and even stamp them instead of burning and even apply the correct cd cover. I mean, it's just bits right? What if I photocopy every single page out of a book? Would that book be an authentic copy? All the words are the same and I can even use the same paper and cover. To me, an genuine software isn't just the bits, but comes with the manual, the box, the support, the warranty, etc. I personally wouldn't call any of these home-brew copies authentic or genuine, but that's just me.

    As for the word advantage, I noticed some people were saying how that's being redefined too. Let me ask you this. Do you think there's an advantage to having free support and updates? Do you think any company should provide free support and updates to people who stole from them?

    Just my 2 cents.

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