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Vista's EULA Product Activation Worries 439

Posted by Zonk
from the stands-for-excused-user-laceration-activities dept.
applejax writes "SecurityFocus is running an article regarding some concerns about Vista's activation terms. Do you have the right to use properly purchased but not validated software? What happens if Microsoft deactivates your OS that was legally purchased? The article goes into some detail about Vista's validation and concerns." From the article: "The terms of the Vista EULA, like the current EULA related to the 'Windows Genuine Advantage,' allows Microsoft to unilaterally decide that you have breached the terms of the agreement, and they can essentially disable the software, and possibly deny you access to critical files on your computer without benefit of proof, hearing, testimony or judicial intervention. In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy of the operating system from Microsoft just to be able to get access to your files, and then you can sue Microsoft for the original license fee."
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Vista's EULA Product Activation Worries

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  • by toby (759) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:21PM (#16933870) Homepage Journal

    For those who sleepwalked through past adventures in "keeping you and your data apart": This "feature" exists only for the purpose of DEACTIVATION, so let's be honest and call it that.

    Switch to something that's AlwaysActivated(TM): Linux, OS X, BSD, Solaris 10. Then we can talk about genuine advantages. As in "genuine" and "advantageous", rather than "marketingspeak" and "sure to bite you in the ass".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BronsCon (927697)
      Troll! err... Wait. No, it's true. I've never seen a pirated copy of XP get snubbed by WGA but I've sure seen what happens when it goes wrong in a corporate environment, where I know all they keys are avlid becasue the stickers are still on the machines (though the keys have been maticulously cut out of them).
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:32PM (#16934150) Homepage Journal
      Switch to something that's AlwaysActivated(TM): Linux, OS X, BSD, Solaris 10.


      I just know I'm gonna get modded down for this, but who cares?

      Wait. Who said that OS X is 'always activated'? That's true if you run OS X on only Apple hardware, but switch to some non-Apple hardware and your 'AlwaysActivated(TM)' turns into 'NeverActivated(TM)'. OS X should work with any hardware, just as Solaris does. (And, yes, Solaris Sparc will work on Sparc-based clones that are not manufactured by Sun)

      Why do people want to give Apple a break for exhibiting the same behavior that Microsoft gets lambasted for?
      • because it doesn't (Score:4, Insightful)

        by toby (759) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:42PM (#16934396) Homepage Journal
        Apple don't sell it to run on whitebox (unlike MS). There's no comparison.

        (Personally, I don't think it would be good for anyone if they did.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Apple don't sell it to run on whitebox (unlike MS). There's no comparison.

          So?

          I buy a MacIntel. This gives me a legitmate copy of OS X.

          3 years goes by, the MacIntel is beginning to become obsolete and I need something newer.

          I could either whitebox the machine and save money, or buy Apple's latest offering.

          With OS X's DRM, I'm locked into Apple hardware. That's right vendor lock-in. Without OS X, I won't be able to get at my data, either.

          Now what's the difference between Apple's behavior and Microsoft's, e

          • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#16934690)
            With OS X's DRM, I'm locked into Apple hardware. That's right vendor lock-in. Without OS X, I won't be able to get at my data, either.

            You're locked into your existing hardware and possibly your existing OS (if newer versions of OS X won't run on your old Mac). No one is threatening to render your old Mac unusable.

            -b.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by drinkypoo (153816)

              You're locked into your existing hardware and possibly your existing OS (if newer versions of OS X won't run on your old Mac). No one is threatening to render your old Mac unusable.

              If the mac dies, and I don't have another one, and I need to load up the OS to get my data, then how am I going to accomplish that? The only reason I can't just move the disk to any wintel machine is that Apple has deliberately made it incompatible.

              Just another reason why, though it may take twenty years or more, FOSS will

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by b0s0z0ku (752509)
                The only reason I can't just move the disk to any wintel machine is that Apple has deliberately made it incompatible.

                If you're worried about that, choose UFS instead of HFS+ when initially installing the OS. UFS is readable by a lot of BSD and Linux boxes. If you ask me, Apple has bent over backwards to make things compatible - they could have just locked everyone into their proprietary HFS+ system. But not only will OS X read UFS volumes, it will even boot from them.

                -b.

          • by RealSurreal (620564) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:07PM (#16935042)
            Of course you're not locked in to OS X. You're quite to welcome to move to another OS and take your data with you. Where are you imagining this DRM?

            And don't start whinging about not being able to reinstall your copy of OS X on new hardware, you can't do that with an OEM copy of Windows either.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by GeffDE (712146)
            FUD.

            3 years go by and while that MacIntel is going to be "obsolete" it will still work. You will still have access to both it and all your files on it. Additionally, you can throw that sucker on the network and get at it with *NIX (via ssh), or windows (SAMBA, puTTY, whatever). Hell, you can even make it into a glorified FireWire external hard drive. So you can buy a whitebox and...get all your files off it! Sweet Jesus, where did all the vendor lock-in go? Now I suppose a guy like you is anal, and
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Splab (574204)
              Not sure about newer versions, but I once recovered files from an iBook with a gentoo livecd. You have to point the mount in the right direction but from there on it was an easy ride.
          • by Reaperducer (871695) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:43PM (#16938752)
            With OS X's DRM, I'm locked into Apple hardware.

            I'm with you, brotha. I legally purchased Leopard almost a year ago, and I'm STILL unable to install it on my Commodore 64. Apple says it's not supported hardware!

            When will these multi-national corporations understand that I have the freedom and right to use the software on any machine I see fit? Greedy short-sighted companies like Apple don't understand that they'd made a TON of money if only people could use OS X on a GameCube or a PSP or a toaster. Think about how many toasters there are in the world! There's a HUGE potential market for OS X unbundled from Apple hardware!

            Lock-in sucks, and I won't support any computer company that doesn't put forth the money, time, and effort to make their software run on every possible combination of electronics hardware in the world.

            They're stifling my constitutional freedom of liberty!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
            Now what's the difference between Apple's behavior and Microsoft's, except that Apple happens to sell hardware?

            That's the entire difference.

            I just spend 10 hours trying to get ATI's fglrx drivers running on my 1-year old ASUS Pundit-R based entirely on an ATI chipset. ATI: "go talk to ASUS" - ASUS: "Go talk to ATI" - me: "Go talk to nVidia".

            Apple doesn't compete in this space.
        • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#16934944)
          Apple don't sell it to run on whitebox (unlike MS). There's no comparison.


          It shouldn't matter. If I go and buy the complete OS X product in a box, I should be allowed to run it on my toaster if I can figure out how to do so. Whether or not Apple would be keen to support my toaster configuration is another story. But to have licensing restrictions as to what I can do with a product after purchasing it is counter to basic consumer rights.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by P. Niss (635300)

        Why do people want to give Apple a break for exhibiting the same behavior that Microsoft gets lambasted for?

        Perhaps because Apple is not exhibiting the same behavior in this case? I hope you can appreciate the difference between 1) Windows Vista may stop running on a PC it was intended to work on because Microsoft decides that you're running a "non-genuine" copy; and 2) Mac OS X never works on a machine that no one, most relevantly Apple, ever said it would work on.

        OS X should work with any hardware, j

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          so tell us all the advantages to being forced into overpriced hardware that dies just as fast as any compusa crap in a lot of instances? why is it a good thing to not be able to use any hardware?
    • by paniq (833972) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:49PM (#16934560) Homepage
      You mean the Penguin Advantage?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'd love to see people do this, but the biggest problem is that we are talking about a Desktop O/S, and most businesses (and average home users) aren't ready to start using a Linux based desktop instead of Windows. Microsoft has pushed their activation and licensing schemes in the past, and have typically backed away due to user backlash. I suspect we'll see the same scenario repeated over the coming year.

      I doubt we'll see a large desktop migration to Linux just because of Vista, but we'll certainly se
  • Upgrade (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Non Dufus (265187)
    This is why I'll never upgrade
    • Re:Upgrade (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:34PM (#16934210) Homepage
      Same here. Does anyone want to start an official boycott or anything? No Vista or Office 2007 until Microsoft gets rid of some of these anti-consumer "features"?
      • by mspohr (589790)
        Why bother boycotting?... just switch to Linux. You'll be much happier in the long run (and the short run).
        • Re:Upgrade (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:13PM (#16935222) Homepage

          I use Linux where I can, and where I can't I try to use OSX rather than Windows. Still, there are times where I have to use Windows. I have no choice.

          In the end, I'm not on a quest to end closed-source software, or even get rid of Microsoft. I just want Microsoft to stop doing crappy things to hurt their own customers, and if they won't, then I think their customers should organize a formal boycott. We should make an example out of them for other software companies to see: Pull something like this activation/WGA crap, and your customers won't put up with it. Microsoft isn't the only offender, and all the activation, forced registration, dongles, etc. in the software industry is ridiculous. It hurts customers, but real pirates just find a way to circumvent these restrictions.

          I'd like to start a website where people can voice their annoyance, sign a petition, see others' opinions, and generally organize a formal boycott. I'm sure lots of tech-savvy Windows users will not be upgrading anyway, but I think it's important to send a message to Microsoft as to why. However, I'm sure that there's someone out there who is more militant and web/tech savvy than I am, who'd do a better job setting it up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lord Apathy (584315)

        Don't boycott it. This is really a non issue. Mickeysoft will release their program will all its activation and DRM bugs. And someone will just come up with a patch that will fix it for them. It was the same way when they released that genuine advantage bug, someone came up with a patch to fix it. The activation bullshit in windows XP/x64/2003 was the same way. I have half a dozen patches that fix that bug.

        Even then there might not be no patch needed. Sometimes there is a hole in the bug that you

        • Re:Upgrade (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:49PM (#16936144) Homepage

          Meanwhile, you're still paying money to businesses who are putting their resources towards efforts to make your life harder, rather than efforts to make your life easier. For every "fix" or "work-around", you're still exerting extra effort where you just shouldn't need to. You're making your software buggier, and your music lower-quality for what it essentially 0 net-gain for anyone. And by buying the products that do this, you're sending the message to these companies that it is acceptable behavior, and that their efforts are good.

          If you buy Vista, even if you crack it, you're telling Microsoft that their product is good. Buy pirating it and cracking it, you're telling them that their product is good, but that their "piracy protection" isn't good enough, and that they should put more resources on that front. But the only way to tell them that these "features" are unacceptable is to refuse to buy it or use it. And what will you have lost anyway, by not using Vista? What does Vista actually give you that Windows XP doesn't? Incompatibility and the need to buy new versions of the software you've already bought.

          If Microsoft isn't servicing your needs, then you need to let them know. Even if we all simply refuse to buy it, Microsoft will claim that the reason Vista isn't selling is due to piracy, and their lobbyists will put forth a case that this means we need more restrictive laws on software use. It's important that, instead, we make a public case that Vista is not a good product.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Crayon Kid (700279)
        Does anyone want to start an official boycott or anything?
        "Boycott" with your wallet. Don't buy it if you don't like it. When enough people have done that and told others why, Microsoft will feel it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by postmortem (906676)
      On contrary, this is why I would never pay a penny for it.

      Seems that being a pirate there's really nothing to lose. In all other situations, you lose.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xtracto (837672)
        And moreso, being a pirate gives you several advantages:

        1. Get rid of all the annoyances that cripple the software (there are REALLY GOOD WinXP distributions out there in torrent sites which come patched to fix the WGA problem).
        2. Get the software FAST (torrent distribution technology is really fast)
        3. Get a better value distribution (Have you seen those WinXP distros that provide common applications like nero burning rom and lots os bundled drivers for scsi and the like?, oh and the Service Packs) and elim
    • Who said they won't call your license invalid on some threadbare excuse somewhere in the future?
  • Does the EULA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlebrech (810586)
    Does it mention Vista being the only os?? Or you must agree not to use Vista in order to reverse engineer the executable format or clone the libraries?
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:25PM (#16933978)
    Putting "bombs" in software that you create is generally frowned upon by the law, if only because it comes dangerously close to extortion. If MS starts deactivating legit copies of Vista after the fact or demanding money, I suspect that there'd be legal hell to pay. In the same sort of way that if you're in the mafia and you get caught saying "pay up or I'll burn your store down" you'll probably end up in jail.


    -b.

    • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:28PM (#16934044) Homepage
      Microsoft has broken the law before, and been found guilty. Nothing substantial happened.
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:32PM (#16934168)
        Microsoft has broken the law before, and been found guilty. Nothing substantial happened.

        MS has never tried something like *this* before. If they deactivate, they're probably overstepping some hitherto invisible line. Just wait until some gov't agency's or some Federal judge's copies of Windows get deactivated. I think that using extortionate tactics like this will get MS into some deep legal shite.

        -b.

        • by spellraiser (764337) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:41PM (#16934364) Journal

          I'm willing to bet both arms and both legs that Microsoft has this one covered legally. The writing of EULAs has become a finely honed art. They will cover this in the EULA, and there won't be a damn thing that people who have agreed to the EULA can do about it.

          The only real escape is not to use Vista.

          • And now for those countries where EULAs have been found to be meaning jack in court. Yes, there are still countries where it's illegal to present a contract only AFTER you have bought something.
          • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

            by Silver Sloth (770927) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:22PM (#16935432)
            From TFA
            The UCITA also provides a procedure for "electronic self-help" - that is, the termination of access or use of the software without a court order. The first thing to note is that, in Maryland at least, the law expressly notes that, "electronic self-help is prohibited in mass-market transactions." Microsoft's EULA is undoubtedly a mass-market transaction, and therefore Microsoft may be prohibited from exercising self-help in Maryland. Moreover, even in non mass-market transactions, before you can resort to self-help, the contract must provide notice that self help will be used, who will be told about the exercise of self help, and provide other notice. The Maryland law also provides that "electronic self-help may not be used if the licensor has reason to know that its use will result in substantial injury or harm to the public health or safety or grave harm to the public interest substantially affecting third persons not involved in the dispute."
            This is just a short extract. TFA is quite clear that in Maryland and Washington there may well be situations where M$ have opened themselves up to punative damages. IANAL - but the guy who wrote the article is.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by griffjon (14945)
            Obviously, I'll never move to Vista, and I'll never allow my organization to move to Vista. It's time for me to move on anyhow, so if there's some organizational/executive push to move, I'll take the opportunity to upgrade myself right out the door.

            That said, the first time BigExec or Mr.Senator gets his product accidentally deactivated, well, it probably actually won't change anything, but it'll make headlines and hopefully reduce the number of people moving to Vista. I wonder how long Dell will allow peo
        • by rucs_hack (784150)
          is it extortion if it involves possibly deactivating a product you suspect someone doesn't have a license to use?

          Unfair business practice perhaps, violation of rights by denying people access to their data maybe, but I don't think extortion is the right term.

          Is 'uncaring barstards' a legal term? That might fit....
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)
      Add in the fact that Microsoft is selling an antivirus to fix software you've already purchased, as well as changing formats every so often to force users to upgrade, and it seems like they're getting dangerously close to racketeering.
  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michrech (468134) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:26PM (#16933988)
    Or, I could just not purchase Vista and not have to worry about it.

    Problem solved!
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Or, I could just not purchase Vista and not have to worry about it.

      The problem is that a certain number of business will purchase Vista/Orifice 07, if only because it comes with new computers. Then will come the pushes for "standardisation" and "interoperability" which will cause more businesses to upgrade. And what about the latest games that will be Vista-only in 2008. You will be assimilated, sadly.

      Best move is to switch to MacOS (less restrictive licensing, since the hardware essentially is the d

      • The problem is that a certain number of business will purchase Vista/Orifice 07, if only because it comes with new computers. Then will come the pushes for "standardisation" and "interoperability" which will cause more businesses to upgrade.

        "standardisation"? Which internationally recognized entity publishes the human-readable exact definition of a conforming Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel file? Real standardization is ISO/IEC 26300, the OASIS ODF spec. With "ISO" being a buzzword (even in Tetris [tetman.com]), bus

    • I installed Vista and longhorn over the weekend to test them out. Well, I should say I tried to install Longhorn...it would get to the end of the install and then crash out every time. Vista being the main subject though, I will stick to that. I spent several hours with it exploring the features and trying out different operations I might do in a typical day. Overall it felt like a recurring nightmare...the nightmare that was Windows ME. Much added bloat with little material gain. Like windows ME, it
      • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by michrech (468134) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16935292)
        I installed Vista and longhorn over the weekend to test them out. Well, I should say I tried to install Longhorn...it would get to the end of the install and then crash out every time. Vista being the main subject though, I will stick to that. I spent several hours with it exploring the features and trying out different operations I might do in a typical day. Overall it felt like a recurring nightmare...the nightmare that was Windows ME. Much added bloat with little material gain. Like windows ME, it adds out of the box support for some additional hardware that previous versions didn't. Like Windows ME, it consumes more resources then previous versions (for no appearant reason). Like Windows ME its highly unstable so far (I had Explorer crash countless times doing things as mundane as browsing a network share or checking my e-mail). The one thing it does "better" then Windows ME is that it actually breaks driver support for alot of current hardware (couldn't get the embedded sound working on a motherboard that is only a year old or use my printer). I have trouble imagining how feature-poor the lower editions will be, but the Ultimate edition has little more then XP did. The only good things I can say about it are the included support for iSCSI, addition of a pretty good chess game, and inclusion of a DVD authoring program. Given the pricing of the Ultimate edition, its not at all worth it (buy a 3rd party chess program, iSCSI driver, and DVD authoring software and you will come out ahead financially)

        My experiences with Vista are rather different from yours. I like a good portion of how the interface has changed. I don't like how much has changed (re: the control panel, or how they split lots of the configuration options up into spearate windows, cluttering up what was once rather tidy (but could have been improved further)). It's never crashed on me (not even once!), though it did take a few betas before it supported the onboard sound in my HP z2308wm laptop. ATI has yet (to my knowledge) to make their graphics driver support OpenGL, so I have been unable to play City of Heroes/Villains in it.

        In my job, I've also been running it on a Dell GX280 (P4 3.6, 1gb RAM, 80gb SATA) with little problems either. Very soon we'll have our Vista Enterprise edition for me to load up on the PC to evaluate how soon we are going to switch (lets just say it's not going to happen at *least* for the coming year).

        Oh, by the way...I was running on 2Ghz athlon64 with 1gb of ram, Gamer's video card and SATA hard drive and performance was abysmal. Turning off the Aero features made clicking between file browsing windows a little less painful, but still not very responsive. I didn't see any benefit to the Aero features for the average user anyway. Based on this experience, I am declaring Vista the most skippable Windows version since ME. Hopefully, MSFT will come back and redeem themselves with a truely worthly OS like they did with Win2K.

        Either your computer is screwed up in some way, or you used a fairly early beta (and, if that is the case, you really should try a much more "final" version before being so venemous while speaking of the product). I'm sure it has it's problems, but it's not quite *that* bad.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by udowish (804631)
      Wrong, this is the first step in "renting" software. Soon when Service Packs come out there will be an upgrade fee etc etc Just another way for Microshaft to screw the average consumer and leverage their product. Once I buy software I expect to be able to use it on any machine at anytime with no further input from the manufacture or developer. Until they start doing that I won't pay for any M$ products...period. I can run my hacked copy of XP until I die. Or until a nice hacked copy of Vista arrives.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:26PM (#16933996) Homepage Journal
    is this water getting toasty, or what?
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:26PM (#16934000) Journal
    I've seen this on a lot of non-open source software, not just windows. Even free-as-in-beer non-open-source stuff. Just something to consider. By pointing out Windows as some kind of oddball case, it just tells me they don't read most of their EULAs
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:52PM (#16934628) Homepage

      This is true. Largely, the reason for EULAs is so that software companies can claim full rights over everything and no responsibility so that they can absolve themselves from lawsuits no matter what happens on your computer. Whether they cause a problem by accident, purposefully, or not at all, they don't want to be sued.

      The problem is, when you pair this with something like Microsoft's activation/WGA scheme, it means that they can cause otherwise working software to cease to work for any reason whatsoever and the user has no recourse.

      Personally, I think that Congress should pass some laws that would replace a basic/general EULA, i.e. software makers aren't responsible for most things unless they make claims to the contrary or cause purposeful damage. Instead of EULAs, we should have a general consensus of what rights/responsibilities/powers we generally grant to software authors vs. their customers. Then we should allow EULAs in certain circumstances where they're merited, but not allow other terms to be in EULAs. For example, no EULA should grant spyware and virus makers to take permanent control of a user's PC.

      However, my point is that EULAs are stupid. It's an issue that should be worked out by lawyers and law-makers, because it makes no sense for end-users to be entering into legalistic license agreements, different individually for every piece of software they run, when nobody understands what the terms actually allow.

      And in no case should Microsoft be allowed to cause my computer to stop working because an automated system is suspicious that my license might possibly be invalid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      I've seen this on a lot of non-open source software, not just windows.

      The inactivation of most software won't render the computer almost totally unusable. OS's should be held to a higher standard. At least there should be an option that copies all data in the C:\Users (the replacement for Docs & Settings) folder to an external drive given an admin. password if Windows gets deactivated.

      -b.

  • Windows Vista? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eno2001 (527078)
    Hmmm... I think I've heard of that once or twice. I guess it doesn't affect me since I use an OS free of restrictions: Linux. Ballmer can bite me.
  • never get that far (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1@NOsPam.verizon.net> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:28PM (#16934038) Homepage
    In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy of the operating system from Microsoft just to be able to get access to your files, and then you can sue Microsoft for the original license fee."


    I'd be willing to bet that it would never get this far and MS would just take care of it. They wouldn't be afraid of someone suing them over a license. That's petty to them. Maybe if a company sued because their software was legal and got a false positive on being illegal and it caused down time, now that's something to sue about. It's a shame that Microsoft doesn't care about their customers enough to make sure things like this wouldn't happen.
    • Maybe if a company sued because their software was legal and got a false positive on being illegal and it caused down time, now that's something to sue about.

      Even then, how many companies have the resources to sue Microsoft? The US government and EU can't get Microsoft to concede on simple points, and you think a small business owner in Des Moines is going to be able to bring a substantial fight against MS's army of lawyers?

    • I agree. It will be very amusing to watch what happens when this license checking software screws up some major corporation's data network and invalidates their licenses, thus rendering their corporate websites unavailable, disallowing users to do their work, etc.

      The average home user probably will never do much to the operating system after initial purchase and activation. If all they ever do is run their Windows Update, the only time they'll get screwed is when WU hoses their computers, or if they chang

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:29PM (#16934070)
    I guess "Microsoft deactivated my Windows license last night, I couldn't finish my paper." will become a common and valid excuse.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:29PM (#16934072) Homepage Journal
    I wonder about the software functions which are there to enforce these bits of the EULA. How secureare they? How easy do you suppose it will eventually become for anyone to point a script at a Vista box owned by someone they don't like, and send instructions for the box to shut down with extreme prejudice and turn the user's data into chunky salsa?
  • by 47001foo (464040) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:30PM (#16934118)
    I have learned some valuable lessons regarding my data. I keep all my stuff on my external drives. Hope it will not be affected in case I decide to use Vista.
  • O rly? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:30PM (#16934124)
    and then you can sue Microsoft for the original license fee.

    I thought the new vogue in EULAs nowaways was a clause stating that by using the software, you give up the right to any litigation?
    • Re:O rly? (Score:4, Informative)

      by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:50PM (#16936166)
      They can say whatever they want in the EULA, but what they can actually enforce in court is another matter entirely. It is not possible to use contract law to abrogate other laws which have higher precedence and grant rights in the legal systems of the United States many other countries. Also, it is the responsibility of the company to enforce their license terms in civil court, so unless you are engaging in large scale criminal infringement you can violate the EULA all you want and nothing is likely to happen. Microsoft knows this and that is why they have begun to implement technical measures to enforce their contracts outside of the court systems.
  • Other options (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:34PM (#16934220) Journal
    This is why I use my Linux box more and more every day. By the time M$ requires the Vista upgrade, I won't need it anymore. Besides, AIGLX, XGL and Beryl are so much cooler than Aero.

    Check out Sabayon [sabayonlinux.org]
  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:36PM (#16934272)
    This is almost word for word what the fear mongers where saying about XP. Yes software activation is a pain. But so are pirated copies of windows sold as being legit. Which is what this is trying to stop. Yes there will be cracks and work arounds, there allways are. But if your mom buys a computer from the corner store, this will check to make sure that its legit. Microsoft can not remove your access to the files unless they're doing on the fly encryption. They also have no reason to do that. Much like the XP activation, in the case of an illiegal copy Microsoft has been very good about working with the end user to find a resolution.

    Bottom line, if you dont like it dont use it. For the non geeks this is a good thing as is the whole bundle of software signing and certs that Microsoft is trying to get out there. People dont want to have to understand how the computer works, they just want to download software and have it do its thing without sending porn spam to half the country. If things like this worry you or you think they're not needed. Then perhaps Windows is not the right OS for you.
    • by blcamp (211756)

      Microsoft had best find a way of NOT blocking LEGITIMATE COPIES then.

      Because false positives will lead to negative perceptions, not just among the usual MS-bashers but among the masses of the unknowing average consumer as well.

      If that happens, it's going to take a long time to repair MS's reputation... and that's assuming it can be salvaged.
    • by ratboy666 (104074)
      Bottom line... Microsoft is doing "on the fly encryption". That is what signing of kernel modules is all about.

      Bottom line... Microsoft will not be selling Vista, simply licensing its use. The ability to disable Vista will be there.

      Bottom line... I hope that this does help stem unlicensed Windows installations, and makes Microsoft more profitable. After all, I am a shareholder.

      Bottom line... I won't trust any of my data to Vista. Indeed, I only have a single instance of XP firewalled and secured for some sp
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        I hope that this does help stem unlicensed Windows installations, and makes Microsoft more profitable. After all, I am a shareholder.

        Except that if it stems unlic'd installs, it might make MS *less* profitable since the people who were previously using pirated copies will just move to something more free and less obtrusive. Thus lowering MS's market penetration.

        -b.

      • I think there is only supposed to be one bottom line.
    • by mochan_s (536939) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#16934672)
      This is almost word for word what the fear mongers where saying about XP. Yes software activation is a pain.

      Not. It is not.

      Even if you run a non-genuine version of XP, Microsoft cannot turn off your XP. They will deny will some updates in the Microsoft Update but not deny you access to your computer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrCopilot (871878)
      This is almost word for word what the fear mongers where saying about XP. Yes software activation is a pain. But so are pirated copies of windows sold as being legit. Which is what this is trying to stop. Yes there will be cracks and work arounds, there allways are.

      We were not fear mongers, we were MS customers who went to tech shows and heard/read the proposals for WGA and reacted appropriately. I give credit to MS for at least backing off those tactics due to customer disgust (At least in the OS, they

  • No doubt there's going to be thousands of consumers with legitimate beef for having their licensed Vista terminated by some hiccup in MS's license system. Its only a matter of time, so what happens then? Is Microsoft equipped to be judge, jury and .EXEcutioner for a large part of its user base or will they simply give up the daunting task of sorting legitimate claims from false claims? Will they care enough to deal with legitimate claims or pull the old "New Standard" line out of their bag and claim that th
  • To be honest (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:38PM (#16934314)
    I see having two (three) computers going forward.

    1) A linux box that I use for important data - tax records, personal documents, any think like mp3's, etc.

    2) A windows box that I use for entertainment (certain games) and at large companies. Since computers have been powerful enough for home use since about 2000, I can't see paying more than $499 for this and then $200 for a video card. The hardware would cost me $400 to scratch build (and $200 for the card) so I guess the OEM is splitting the $99 with Microsoft. Going forward, i'm less and less likely to use Windows computers for anything important. I'm too concerned about snooping, losing access to my own data, etc.

    3) And a console for pure gaming on my big screen TV.

    ---

    To reach this point, I've converted about 99% of my software to java, open-source applications.
    Openoffice
    Audacity
    Gimp
    Azureus
    Firefox
    and a few other minor programs.

    I have two documents that I have to use Word for. I'm considering splitting them down into smaller documents.

  • This is why.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drachenfyre (550754)
    This is exactly why I bought a Mac. Because I understand the underlying nature of the operating system. I know what is and isn't on the thing. I know what DRM is installed on the thing. And I know that by purchasing the hardware I am granted a license to run the Operating System. And I don't need to worry about apple disabling my computer down the road. I'm sure someone will point me at the tyrannical and cyncial nature of OS X's Eula as well (And yes I know about the broad ranging data sharing) but t
  • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:39PM (#16934322) Journal
    What happens when somebody in the Redmond Bunker mistypes something and deactivates Sally Jones instead of Wally Jones? Or what if some enterprising young hothead cracks his way into the validation servers and starts deactivating people at random? What if they go out of business? What happens to my data then?

    I won't allow some company in some foreign country to control whether I have access to my data or not.
  • I'm disappointed by the summary's FUD.

    I don't like MS as much as the next guy, but proclamations like this just make MS look good.

    They just wouldn't revoke an OS license for many reasons:

    1. ANY copy of the OS in use is a win for MS. They don't want to make it impossible to steal. Just hard enough so fewer people can steal it. As protection schemes are cracked, they have to come up with another. They have to keep up appearances.

    2. Revoking the wrong desktop/server will generate too much fear and drive no
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)
      Not trying to invoke Godwin untastefully, but "They wouldn't do that" has been a fallacy a lot of times before.

      1. Any copy WAS a win, 20 years ago. They already are number one. You already have to have their OS (for most applications). You will not choose an alternate system if you can't steal it. You will buy. Nobody I know chooses Linux because he can't pirate Windows (people choose it for the increased liberty).

      2. Revoking will essentially generate nothing. People have been writing about DRM/TCPA/Palladi
  • What happens if Microsoft deactivates your OS that was legally purchased?
    Uhh, nothing! You are hosed. I am pretty sure Windows XP Pro already does this, thanks to that Window Genuine Article(?) update. After I installed a LEGAL XP copy windows went to validate and it said, sorry, you are SOL because it was already registered (I had installed it on another machine that died). I had to find another copy to use, which I happened to have because I installed Ubuntu on another machine the OS CD came with...
    • by Itninja (937614)
      I have had this happen many times. I just had to call the little 1-800 number in the activation dialog and jump through the hoops to get a new activation number. I was a PITA, but it always worked. I just used the magic phrase 'my hard drive failed', and it was done.
      Usually the situation would come about because some over zealous user think his/her system is 'running slow' and decides to re-install the OS. Of course, they use the CD from a different users system and cannot activate.
      • by s31523 (926314)
        Thanks! I figured I could have jumped through some hoops, but I was lazy and had another copy lying around. I wonder if the Vista tech support will be as forgiving? So what did the tech do, just hit a magic key and your copy could then authenticate?
  • Who owns it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Budenny (888916) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:43PM (#16934426)
    "The first problem is, you may think you bought a copy of the operating system. Actually, the OS is still owned by Microsoft."

    Not at all sure this is true. Not that, maybe, it makes all that much difference in practice in this particular instance.

    If they own it, its an asset, it must have value, be on their books, be depreciated. None of which is true. But it is on your books, and you can depreciate it, write it off against taxes and so on. If we're saying, it is theirs, you have licensed it, by a one time payment with no further obligations to them, how does it differ from a sale except in name?

    I suspect that legally what is going on is that you have bought your copy alright. Its just that what you have bought is a product with certain features/limitations, of which activation is one.

    This probably doesn't matter when it comes to the present situation, because product activation and so on are just part of the product. But if it were a case of stopping you from moving it from machine A to B to C, it might. If they were to tell you what machine to install it on, it might matter also. Or, whether you can run it under Wine. In all those cases the difference between them and you owning your copy might matter a lot. But not in terms of what features it has.

    All the same, I think you bought your copy, and you really do own it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      If they own it, its an asset, it must have value, be on their books, be depreciated. None of which is true.

      False. Not all assets depreciate; furthermore, assets such as the Vista code do not have a set value, as it is completely dependent upon sales. Finally, it's not a physical asset, so no physical inventory can be taken; therefore, no asset depreciation can be calculated according to standard practices.

      But it is on your books, and you can depreciate it, write it off against taxes and so on.

      Well, that

  • "The terms of the Vista EULA, like the current EULA related to the 'Windows Genuine Advantage,' allows Microsoft to unilaterally decide that you have breached the terms of the agreement, and they can essentially disable the software, and possibly deny you access to critical files on your computer without benefit of proof, hearing, testimony or judicial intervention. In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy

  • "The terms of the Vista EULA, like the current EULA related to the 'Windows Genuine Advantage,' allows Microsoft to unilaterally decide that you have breached the terms of the agreement, and they can essentially disable the software, and possibly deny you access to critical files on your computer without benefit of proof, hearing, testimony or judicial intervention. In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy
  • First, you rarely if ever buy software. You license software.

    Second, MS is screwing up. I probably like MS more than 90% of the people here.
    Piracy is helping MS not hurting it. If they stomp out piracy they
    are going to stomp out some of their user base.
    Losing that user base will hurt them badly in the future.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:09PM (#16935082) Homepage

    This needs to be expressed as a TV commercial. An entire business shut down because something went wrong with Vista licensing, with people on the phone to Microsoft support. Listening to music on hold.

    Or some guy in a strange city with a laptop that won't work, unable to get help. He calls Microsoft and gets the "visit us on the web at www.microsoft.com" pitch, and he's frantically getting coins from a cafe owner to feed into a pay phone while on hold.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:24PM (#16935496)

    Worried about all that activation crap? Unplug your Windows box from the net! I did, and you can too.

    Here's whatcha do.

    • Disconnect the Winbox from the net. Yank the damn cable right out of there.
    • Load VMWare on your Winbox.
    • Buy a USB to network converter, like this one. [lycos.com]
    • Do not install the driver for it on your Winbox!
    • Make a Windows VMWare image. Back it up.
    • Run that.
    • When it's running, move the unidentified USB device to the VMWare image.
    • Install the driver on the VMWare image.
    • Whenever you need network access, just run that image. If it gets pWn3d (by hackers or MS genuine advantage or whatever), just overwrite it with your backup image.

    Doesn't really work for online gaming yet, but it will just as soon as the guys at VMWare fully support DX9.

    Enjoy!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The law differentiates between general public viewing and private 'electronic mail' to minors.

      Yeah, but if you're going to be running Windows in a VM, why run it as the host OS as well? You might as well run it on Linux or OS X and then you have the application sets of both OS's. I use OS X as my base OS on my laptop and run Windows and Linux in VMs on top of that. This provides me the capability to use a wider set of applications and features. I sometimes even run OpenBSD in my VM to test a simulation o

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Weaselmancer (533834)

        Only compelling reason is that Direct3D acceleration only works if both the host OS and the guest OS are both Windows. Info here. [vmware.com]

        But yeah, if you're not interested in DirectX games your setup is ideal.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Trelane (16124)
          Only compelling reason is that Direct3D acceleration only works if both the host OS and the guest OS are both Windows. Info here.
          I think you misunderstood the sentence "Experimental support for Direct3D applies only to Windows 2000 and Windows XP guests, on hosts running Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Linux." [emphasis mine]
  • by Il128 (467312) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:46PM (#16936042) Journal
    Than this for years. The problem with licensing software is that eventually the customer will under the license they areee to have no rights at all. Most online games already have the right to take your money and give you nothing in return. Many online games already do that "take your money and good-bye" on a whim. See the latest rounds of bannings from World of Warcraft as an example. I'm sure some of those people were innocent and had just forked over $175 for a six month subscription. "No refunds and no software because we can." - the future of software licensing.
  • by Tired and Emotional (750842) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:36PM (#16938600)
    This http://www.ucita.com/pdf/PitfallsOfUCITA2002.pdf [ucita.com] contains an interesting discussion of this problem in the context of UCITA. Its a really bad problem that needs legislation either at the state level (what the article calls a "bomb shelter" law) or preferably federally to render such clauses void and either criminally actionable or else not subject to contractual limitations on damages. As the linked article points out, civil penalties are not going to work here because you generally have to waive the kind of damages involved when you accept the license.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

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