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Whistler "Anti-Piracy" Tools Tie OS To Machine 547

Dredd13 writes: "According to this Yahoo!News article [note: the same story is also being carried at MSNBC and ZDNet] , anti-piracy features in Whistler "won't allow the use of the customer's product key on a PC different from the one originally activated"... which means that if you have that older computer and decide to try and move your Whistler license (that you buy at a retail outlet like Best Buy or wherever) to your new whiz-bang fast model, you'll be completely boned. The code won't actually activate without authorization from a clearinghouse first. So much, also, for high security installations (where any connectivity, whatsoever, with the outside world is verboten)... without the ability to connect to the clearinghouse to "authenticate" the product key, they too will be unable to use their license. Part of me is happy because this is obviously a Bad Move by MS and will hurt them, but what if other software vendors start to think that this is a Neat Idea? {yuk!}" It's not a new idea, and lots of software is already sold this way -- but this time it seems to have caught a lot of people's attention. Windows' ubiquity, and Microsoft's history of mostly looking the other way when it comes to illegal copying of their OS, may mean that a lot of eyes get bigger, soon.
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Whistler "Anti-Piracy" Tools Tie OS To Machine

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  • If I get a program needing a dongle or anything like this, it gets automaticaly sent back. The sales department has to meet my requirements, not the other way around. It makes the salesman squirm and do the hard sell that I have to have it. I ask who is their compitetion? It's suprising how many times you can get a revised edition at a favorable price, but be prepared to use the alternate.
  • I had an Olivetti PC with such a disk, from about 5 years ago. You booted off a floppy and it would reformat the FAT partition, then copy all of Win95 onto the machine. The CD contained an encrypted image of the hard disk, and the copy program decrypted each file as it went. The copy program appeared to look for a particular BIOS signature, as I later tried to install the same CD using another motherboard without success. The installation process took around 40-50 minutes to copy and decrypt all files.

    What really annoyed me about this CD was that the Windows installation it provided was really badly configured. DMA had not been configured on the IDE interface. Applications were installed incorrectly (eg. Corel Photopaint could not open images) and file associations were often set up for the wrong applications. It also contained a lot of obsolete Win3.1 applications, and even a Win3.1 Fax driver.

    Olivetti also bundled another Windows CD-ROM containing all the files of the standard CD except for SETUP.EXE, meaning that you had to install via the recovery CD.

  • Current MS OEM licenses define the machine as the CPU. Move the CPU, the license goes with it. Junk the CPU, you junk the license.

    It is, of course, an arbritary definition, other OEM licenses sometimes associate with other things. And OEM licenses are very restrictive in general.

    What I always wondered is, if I buy a Quad-CPU box and split them up.... ;-)

  • by weave ( 48069 )
    Despite the status of MS as a monopoly, people can choose lots of options, (1) dont upgrade, (2) upgrade to linux/be/freebsd/etc, (3) or upgrade and pay market price.

    Many businesses and individuals do #1. They don't upgrade, and this hits Microsoft's bottom line pretty bad. That's why they are moving to a subscription based model. You will HAVE to upgrade, or at least keep paying and paying for it whether or not you install the latest version your subscription entitles you to...

  • That's the other thing. A lot of my parents' friends have their children install software for them. Many of these children are WELL below legal age, and are thus unable to agree to a contract. How does that work? Are children not allowed to install software? Do you agree to the license when you buy it, no matter who actually does the installing? (Even shakier legal ground...)

  • Well, if you ask someone to do something for you, and you know of legal implications, you're (in most cases) taking the same responsibility as them.

    If you buy a computer that has Office 2000 installed, you didn't see the EULA and even if it was binding, it wouldn't affect you.

    But, if you buy Office 2000 and ask your friend to install it (and the judge would think you had reason to know there was an EULA) then you'd be bound by that. (Assuming once again, that it was a valid contract.)

    So, if you ask your kids to do it, you're as good as doing it yourself if you knew what to expect.

    But, EULAs aren't binding and have no hope at all of being binding, by regular contract law. That's why companies are pushing for the UCITA, it'd make an end run around contract law and make contract binding even if you didn't know about them, if the wording changes without your knowledge, etc. Basically the UCITA would support everything the companies already claim the EULAs can do.

    It's proof, in my mind, that those companies are headed by thieves. They're bribing politicians to pass unjust laws that basically allow them to steal.

    Oh, if only 'campaign contributions' were illegal in the US/Canada like that are in so many other countries. I'll love to see politicians get thrown in jail for taking bribes, but it's legal here. Even Mexico has the decency to make it illegal.
  • Good point... However, many minors also install software on their parents computer of their own choice. The parent(s) sometimes give out money for the software, but the kids do all the actual work of installing it. And given the technical literacy of most people who would ask their kids to install software in the first place, is it really reasonable to assume that they could anticipate the terms of the EULA beforehand?

  • First, how is it horrible, if a company takes measures to preserve their copyrights?

    First, because it's a big lie. There is nowhere near the level of piracy that justifies this. This "feature" is going to make for M$ hundreds or thousands of times the money they are losing from piracy, maybe way more.

    Second, MS isn't so stupid as to make it impossible to move the license from one machine to another. It's a given, that people will upgrade machines, and reload systems from time to time. They know better than to prevent that. No matter how much you disapprove of their business practices, nobody has ever accused them of being that inept at marketing things.

    How would they do that? So I upgrade my machine to the new whizbang Ultrapentium 8 and give my ratty old P-III, freshly loaded with Linux, to my nephew. How are they going to determine if I upgraded, or am trying to pirate? The only way I can see for them to do that is if I have to stay connected all the time to use it. Then that brings in their .NET conspiracy.

    Thirdly, by and large the users here have been quite supportive of the thought of MS getting split into pieces. If OS's are split off to a separate company, it's definitely in that companies interest to tighten controls on the OS products. They won't have the oceans of Office license money propping things up. So did anyone ever consider, that this might be a move being engineered with a split in mind?

    I've personally not called for a splitup of Microsoft. I don't think that remedy is justfied.

    Lastly, slashdot is rumored to be a bastion of Linux users. And MS users, are far and away a minority here. What do you all care, if us few MS users, are inconvenienced in some way.

    Many Linux/BSD users occaisionally use MS Windows. Many, like myself, could very well go through 2 or 3 complete hardware changes by the time WIndows needs to be used again. That means because it already can't function when the drive is moved to a new machine, I have to do a full re-install. The anti-piracy lock will just make that worse.

    Of course, we're getting closer and closer to not needing MS Windows at all. Everything I've needed to do in MS Windows I can now do on Linux or Solaris, with one exception (Visio) and there may well be a solution to that soon, anyway. So perhaps in the end it will be just the heavy MS users like yourself that are affected.

    But I suspect it gets "press" coverage in slashdot just because it provides Linux users more information to help try to get some businesses to quit making so many committments to Microsoft, if not outright begin the transition to Linux.

  • Probably not. In the case of the kids doing it on their own, I think the contract is standard for a minor (ie, only binding as long as the minor wants it to be.)

    Even if the parent knows the kid is going to install software with an EULA, if the parent isn't asking them to so it's not their problem.

    The only way EULAs will ever be enforced (without an unjust law like the UCITA) will be against businesses. But even then it'll just be the threat of a lawsuit and years in court, without having any real legal weight.
  • Though a MAC address is supposed to be unique, I have friends that have actually come into contact with duplicate MAC adddressed cards. Beyond simply being a script kiddie, it shouldn't cost more than $5 to make a fake NIC card with a programmable address so as to foil the system. Hell, you could possibly even write a fake NIC driver that did this for you.

    The next issue is one of requiring people to have NIC cards. I realize that more and more services are requiring the presence of a NIC card, but Windows is ubiquitous; everyone will eventually have at least NT consumer (in whatever form it ultimately takes). Granted, all new machines will have to be built with a NIC card for the OS to be installed properly, but upgrades will be virtually impossible because they'll require people reading the directions in order to make the phone call, etc. Plus you have little chance of grandma (without a NIC card) installing the OS upgrade so that they can use that neat multi-media tool.

    What happens when we move to gigabit ether in the home or via faster ISP? Do we have to re-validate our machines? What about those of us with too few PCI slots yet we have a home-network (none NIC) card? Maybe they have compatible MAC addresses, maybe not (As I understand it, modems get assigned a virtual MAC address).

    I don't mind something like this from SUN, or HP where they have more control over their systems (plus they are predominantely networked). But a not on a monopolized OS that people's live depend on (and thus depend on easy upgradibility, etc).

    My guess is that a minor version of the win95 hardware upgrade madness will ensue. People will buy new machines out of convinience or give lots of business to CompUSA / BestBuy, etc.

  • I printed the CD key as a barcode on the box. Use a modified Cue Cat free from Radio Shack to scan the key to save typing. Works great. I knew there was a good use for these!
  • So what is it that you switched to that does not require you to learn about the internals to keep the damn thing running?
  • just install and enjoy.

    Thank god for the Internet! Until today, I had never heard of anyone enjoying Windows 95.

  • Hmmm. I thought when I installed Linux it was an upgrade. Oops, your are right, I had to spend 24.95 for my favorite flavor, but not to Microsoft.
  • DAMN IT! Don't give them ideas!

    Next thing you know the power company is gonna want me to pay every time a turn on a light (or a computer). The phone company will want me to pay for each phone call I make; more to further away places, too. And then the cable company will want me to pay for each view of major movies.

    All that would totally suck, so please, don't give them any ideas!

  • if what you said is true, then it will be a piece of cake to crack, all one has to do is trap the traffic that is sent to whoever, and modify the PID and MAC. with sligth modification to natd plus libnet, this can be thrown up in an hour or less. :-)

  • Welcome to the world of Microsoft my dear.

    When they do shit like this it is only to make you buy something.

    MS has released a network licence manager recently. So I guess you will just have to go an buy it ;-(
  • Only the MS version anyway. Dr DOS for non commercial use and free dos are free for the download.
  • Im sure there will be a crack for this within a few days of its release. If not before..
  • by mr.nicholas ( 219881 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @12:51PM (#518821)
    Define "same" machine? What if I upgrade the CPU? Would that invalidate the current license? What about upgrading the motherboard? What about flashing the BIOS? Certainly some sort of machine fingerprinting would have to be done for this to work. And if so, what level of fingerprinting?
  • by Nemesys ( 6004 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @12:52PM (#518822)
    Tying the OS to a particular machine is a problem for users of that OS ... I need to use Windows occasionally, so it'd be a minor inconvenience for me if I lost my original install CD (assuming one can still get such CDs for Whistler).

    Where this becomes dangerous is if the hardware manufacturers start making motherboards which will only run a particular Windows licence. Then Linux and the other free OSes are frozen out completely.

  • What if I have N exactly identical machines? This is possible to do with plex86 and probably even vmware.

    Oh look... the guest OS is trying to get the CPU serial number, or the NIC MAC address, or the PCI device list. Oh look... all these parameters are specified in the virtual machine config file.

  • MS doesn't care here. They would like to not sell to end users. They sell to OEM's and let them handle the end users issues. This will hurt the DELL's and Gateways much more than Microsoft. Wanna bet Dell, HP, & Gateway increase support for Linux? Support costs money and this is part of why they provide little support to non MS OS'es. With much increased MS support costs, alternates become viable.
  • So, when my NIC breaks and I install a new one in the same computer, I can't reinstall windows, right?

    If your NIC breaks, and you replace it, why would you reinstall Windows? It's just the NIC. Your hard drive is fine.

    This clearly sucks. Btw, many NICs allow the MAC-address to be changed :-)

    At which point, you're not a "casual copier" anymore, are you?

    Folks, it all comes down to the same reason that Nintendo went with cartridges as their main form of copy protection for the N64. (Yes, I know there are OTHER reasons, like controlling manufacturing, and recouping their investment in their fabs, but I'm talking STRICTLY about the copy protection facet, so back off.) The cartridge format makes it more difficult for the casual copier to make a copy of the game with little effort. It's all about keeping the honest people honest.

    That's where Sony screwed up with the original PSX. It was WAY too easy to just drop a CD into a burner and get a working copy of it. Hell, when I bought my first CD burner, copying a PSX disc was the FIRST thing I did, just to see if it worked.

    Micrsoft understands that determined pirates are always going to find away around the copy protection. Microsoft is just making it so that the act of copying the software can't be mindless.

  • Do they have the right to say I can't upgrade or replace broken parts on the machine by claiming it's a new machine needing a new copy? Have you ever replaced a motherboard because the keyboard port died? Have you ever decided to upgrade it at that time because the original is no longer available? At what time does it become a "new machine"? On many machines the NIC and video are part of the motherboard. Keeping the old one is not an option.
  • I'm not sure about other OEM's, but with the new Dells here at work, the Windows 2000 CD is an actual Windows 2000 CD, but it will only install itself on Dell computers. I'm not sure if they're reading something from BIOS/CMOS or what, but they refuse to install Win2000 on a Gateway. They do work on older Dell boxes though, so as long as your friend has the same manufacturer as you, you can still pirate to your heart's content...

    Microsoft has actually encouraged me to pirate software with this stuff. The lock-out that takes place with Office 2000 really pissed me off. My legit copy of FrontPage 2000 refused to let me install it after wiping my machine last spring, I called Microsoft, and they said they could give me the code to unlock the software, but would only do this a maximum of ten times.

    Now that I'm running Windows 2000, that's not quite as inconvenient, but with Windows 98/ME, it wouldn't be uncommon for a power user to have to reformat every couple of months.

    My solution? Just bring the CD home from work, we've got the MOLP editions, which don't have these lame-brain schemes coded into them.
  • Find me a mobo manufacturer or a second-tier OEM that ships systems with PCI-64. Or a fuzzy SMP board like Olivetti used to make. Or will give me a nice soft BIOS like Compaq, allowing me to override the onboard BIOS on some expansion cards. Not going to happen. But convenience and hardware support are the major reasons. If my mobo starts flaking when I add a second processor, I don't want to have to play phone and email tag with Asus or Abit for weeks to be told there's a BIOS issue.. I want to be able to call the manufacturer and say 'this is fucked, this is the configuration, now unfuck it.' Nuff said.
  • If your NIC breaks, and you replace it, why would you reinstall Windows?

    You didn't understand his question. Here's the full version:

    1. You get a PC with Whistler
    2. 6 months later, you replace (or upgrade) your NIC
    3. A year later, Whistler breaks and you try to reinstall it. BZZT! You're screwed
  • Doesn't work. The server is the one that authenticates the key, if the key doesn't match, the server doesn't let you on.

    Now, the server can run that hack, and they often do, because many people (myself included) don't like the idea of a product that you can't use without permission, even after you paid for it.
  • It is a USB joystick... However, should I have to upgrade my entire ($90) OS just to use one joystick? My system came with a pair of USB controlled speakers. I didn't have to upgrade to Win98 to use them. And its not like a joystick is a terribly complex device that needs anything beyond basic OS USB support (which Win95 OSR2 has, btw.) Take a look at the Sidewinder USB driver for BeOS. It's OSS, and simple enough to understand that I was able to make it support my Presicion Pro after looking at the code for 15 minutes. It's *not* a terribly complex piece of software.
  • Right. This is why I own several hundred dollars of MS stuff. (Mice, keyboards, joysticks, Windows NT, you name it.) I didn't pirate Windows 98 because I hate MS (I'm the biggest fan of NT4 and DirectX that you'll meet). I didn't pirate it because it had features that I needed (It didn't) I pirated it because I gave MS $90 for a product, and it ended up not working with an MS product that I'd already (indirectly through Dell) paid for. It wasn't because Win95 OSR2 didn't support USB (it does) it wasn't because there was a compatiblity issue (there wasn't) it was because MS tried to screw users over by playing an upgrade trick. I don't like being screwed over. It's not about free stuff not working (I haven't reinstalled NT since I hosed NTFS) its not about wanting more features than I'm willing to pay for, its about not being screwed over when you are an otherwise loyal MS customer.
  • It was a 1 year gap between the release of OSR2, and the release of the Precision Pro USB. The *functionality* difference was even less. Win95 OSR 2 *supports* USB. My speakers are USB and they worked fine under OSR2. I would have been perfectly happy paying for new features. (And I did when I bought NT.) It was an artificial trick to get me to upgrade.
  • Let's be realistic about this. Probably less than 1% of computer buyers realize that they have the option of buying a box without paying for a preinstalled OS. Heck, lots of Linux users don't realize they can buy a box without paying for a copy of Windoze that they'll just erase.

    This is not going to motivate people to switch away from Windows when they buy a new box, because the new box is going to come with the latest Windoze.

    What about people who are thinking of upgrading a preexisting box from Win x to Win x+1? Will they throw up their hands at this and switch to Linux instead? Probably the reason they need to upgrade from Win x is that their favorite game (or other software) requires Win x+1. Unless their game is available for Linux (which it probably isn't), Linux isn't going to work for them.

    For most people, it's not Windoze versus Linux, it's Windoze versus MacOS. Sorry, but you can't switch your x86 from Windoze to MacOS.

    MS are the masters of forcing people to stay on the upgrade treadmill. This is, unfortunately, a very smart move.

    The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:17PM (#518860)
    > > You will just have to call MS and explain why you are doing so (basically they will be able to relicense the copy).
    > will it be a 900 number? or will i be put on hold for three hours?

    Yes. To both of your questions.

  • by rkent ( 73434 )
    sure, my copy of win2k is not exactly legal, but i have piles of software that IS legal...

    See, this is what I find interesting. Probably some of that other legal software is MS, too, right? Or do you prefer lower-priced alternatives? I, for one, am still using an academic copy of WordPerfect 8 I got when I was an undergrad.

    And it made me think. I wouldn't mind upgrading to the newer MSOffice stuff, especially since it would make it easier for me to interact w/ people at work that way. But there's just no WAY i'm going to pay $299 or whatever it is for that relatively minor convenience. $60, maybe. $40, more likely. $30, almost certainly.

    See, MS software is aimed at businesses. But we're not all businesses. So why don't they have a pricing scheme for the Rest Of Us? It's like some seats on airplanes are first class, and some are coach. And moreover, if 3 or 4 of the coach seats don't sell for full price, American (or whoever) essentially auctions them off to standby customers because, hey, a seat filled for half price is better than an empty seat.

    And I guess I just don't understand why MS won't do the same thing. They're trying to make everyone fly first class, but we just can't (or won't) afford it. It seems like it would be to their advantage to develop a much more stratified pricing structure, perhaps based on differences in customer support and application features, so they could fill those coach seats.

  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:19PM (#518864)
    Currently, when you purchase a name-brand PC (Compaq, HP, Dell, etc..) this technology is already in use. You will receive a "Restore CD" instead of a Windows install CD. In addition to installing a bunch of garbage and AOL software, these Restore CD's are hardware specific. For example, If I were to purchase a HP that has Windows ME and later, I were to purchase another PC with Windows 98 on it, I could not use the Windows ME "Restore Disc" to on the other machine. Manufacturers built a little bit of room to install upgrades. For instance, I could upgrade the processor or the RAM and the software should recognize that I'm still using the same machine with a few modifications and allow me to proceed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:19PM (#518867)
    By a stroke of luck i happen to be involved with the company thats supplying the fingerprinting code for microsoft.

    I too had the same questions, its been tried before a few times and its not been so great, either the id, mac address etc (lemmings was an example)..

    This ones based on lots of different things and has redundancy built into it, so if you change a number of components the machine will still be valid. Obviously there is a limit to the number of parts you can change before it becomes a new machine, and then you ought to have almost enough bits to make two of them.

    There is a large number of unique ID's in PC's these days, that can all be read.

    Typically you can transfer a nodelocked license, but its usually tough to do, and the reason for that is surely obvious to everyone with a modicum of common sense.

    Also there is currently a large bounty being offered to anyone who can crack the encryption algorithm being used with it. Unfortunately its only open to the closed set of developers working with the product, at least currently.

    I don't know why anyones suprised by this, all software developers have a right to protect their work, first it was CDs, then serial numbers etc. all of them are cracked and copied heavily, its only to be expected that someone will come up with an extremely difficult to crack algorithm.

    Especially since it looks like a depression is coming along, that will reduce software sales and increase piracy ( as it has done before ).

    Whistler is also going to be a professional OS and not really meant for the home user. Generally most businesses do not upgrade individual PC's significantly, perhaps more ram, or a bigger HD but thats usually it, so a fingerprint with a large amount of redundancy will still be ok.

  • by GC ( 19160 )
    Heh... I had a burning desire to play an old DOS game recently (Elite: First Encounters) problem was, I didn't have the floppies, nor the game anymore. (Yes I did buy both DOS and the game previously)

    I had a look around on the Internet and not only did I find three Image files containing the disks to MS-DOS6.22, but I also found the three disks for the game (and the patch that was later released)...

    It just goes to show.

    As for this "feature" in Whistler. I doubt it will apply to the OEM packaged version, more likely just the retail version.
  • Hey VAXGeek, just who are you? I swear I didn't see your post first, and it's damn scary that we think that much alike.

    In fact the more I think about it, I'd better head for the hills right now. *Shudder* :^)


  • My GF's computer, a brand new Dell laptop, had the serial # on the case. My company recently bought a bunch of used IBM machines, which had the serial number on the case. I've seen recent vintage Gateways and Compaqs with the serial number... seems to me that they at least are getting customers ready for it.
  • But the system is going to be non-invasive, and all of the arguments we're having have already been had within MS.

    While that may be so, the motives of the arguers here and those at MS are almost certainly quite different. It's rare for MS to care about the same things as its customers.
  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:50PM (#518882) Journal
    Microsoft does not want us (or anyone) to buy Windows, or Office, directly from them. As other posters have said, who's really going to pay $600 for a new copy of Office? Or $300 for Windows? Can you imagine paying a fucking GRAND just to word-process your resume, or send an email? Neither can anyone else.

    What Microsoft does want is for us to get all this software from OEMs. Think about it (you know they've thought about it, and they're not stupid) - every move they make, every change, makes it more difficult for Joe Consumer to buy a few parts, build a computer, and load M$ software on it. Why?

    Like many, I know that one of the biggest advantages of building my own boxen is upgrading cheaply to stay on the curve, rather than spend $2,500 every couple years on a new Dell. M$ wants to stop this.

    Short-term money isn't the issue with them, and it never has been. More than most US companies, M$ thinks long-term, and long-term for them is one and only one goal: domination. They want every piece of hardware that boots to boot into some flavor of Windows, and run some suite of M$ apps. The best way to do this is to remove any user choice at all - you buy a new machine, you get it with Windows. OEMs are easy to control (the "Make them an offer they can't refuse" type of control), and they only have to control a few to control the industry.

    IMNHO, this attitude will bite them in the ass, and hard. They're saying, in effect, "We don't care if we control every computer, but we'll damn sure control every computer with our software on it." Even M$ isn't big enough to do this, espectially with Apple making a comeback and *nux heating up.

    Ob. Princess Leia quote: "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers."

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • by dvd_maximus ( 207956 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:25PM (#518886)
    .... Micrsoft has specifically told us not to get our panties in a bunch ... most of the internet reports are WRONG (including mine above) in some form or another ... no one has it right yet, and not to believe them. We'll have more info closer to Beta 2. But the system is going to be non-invasive, and all of the arguments we're having have already been had within MS.

    Well that's a relief. I'll stop worrying about it then.

  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    MS' consumer pricing model;

    get an unbreakable lock on the business market, let the consumers migrate to Linux if they want. Who cares about those cheap ass bastards anyway?
  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:54PM (#518895)
    I think you have it backwards. Most people only assume that they need to have Windows at home because they saw it at work first. And since it's pretty much impossible to buy a non-Apple PC that doesn't already have Windows installed, they don't really have a choice anyway. Then what they do is borrow the CD from work so they can install Office at home. All MS is doing, since they've pretty much sold someone a licensed copy of their OS with each machine that leaves the computer superstore, is making sure that no one upgrades for free.
  • Now, in the Beta newsgroup, Micrsoft has specifically told us not to get our panties in a bunch ... most of the internet reports are WRONG (including mine above) in some form or another ... no one has it right yet, and not to believe them.

    A more effective course of action might have been for them to use this newsgroup to disseminate accurate information, rather than trying to squelch half-accurate rumors.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's all just bits and bytes and copying hurts nobody.

    Doesn't matter. The original poster's intent is simply juvenile. Don't like MS? Don't use the software. Can't do something with Linux or BE that you can under Windows? Too fucking bad: code it yourself or go without. Isn't that the whole point of the Open Source movement?

    Or is it "Steal from anyone we don't like because the free stuff isn't good enough"?


  • In order to "activate" it, a customer will send data about the installation, such as product ID number and hardware identifier, to a Microsoft-run license clearinghouse.

    How? Snail mail? Carrier pigeon? Or will Whistler's initial install boot into a "limited mode" that can access MS.NET with a modem to deliver the ID# and "hardware identifier" (what exactly do they mean by that?) to some remote server, which transmits the required key back?

    It seems to me there'd be holes large enough to drive a truck through if they do it over the net, and delivering keys via mail would piss customers off to no end. ("I bought this shiny new MS software and I have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for the key to arrive so I can USE it?") Or maybe they've forsaken the market for ordinary users with WinXX who'd like to buy an upgrade off the store shelves, yet have no Net connection or a really awful 14.4 modem. "Whistler 2001! Only OEMs and large businesses have the resources to get it installed reliably!"

    You'd think they'd learn from the N+1 previous copy-protection disasters. It doesn't stop the 31337 KR4CK3RZ one bit, and it irritates normal users. I have a feeling this is just a scary fluff piece, designed to draw hits to ZD/Yahoo/MSNBC and such.

  • I was wondering how this would impact VMWare users, but it seems to me this is another reason to us it, since basically you can install IDENTICAL virtual PCs on as many Linux (or Windows) boxes as you want.
  • I think it's a bad move not because they lose something, but because they're forcing people to move to linux for a free OS. I use Win2000 because I could get it for free and it is so well supported. It detected all of my hardware and installed the drivers without me having to touch anything, while the Mandrake install I tried last year on the same machine catapulted me into hardware hell. This is only one of the reasons why I think windows is better, but no piece of software is worth $200, especially from a company that has so much money that they have to research ways to get rid of it faster in order to avoid taxes. I'm sure that they would rather have me use a free copy of win2000 rather than switch to linux and join their opposition. Now that they've pulled their head out of their ass when it comes to NT, i guess they think that they're place in the software market is secure no matter what.
  • What if it checks the MAC address on every reboot?

    Given the frequency of reboots associated with Windows machines, all of your unlicensed installations will stop working in a day or two.

    Ah. Now I see. Forced rebooting is an anti-piracy feature too!
  • >I already promised myself before WindowsME came out that I'm sticking with Win98SE.

    Me too.

    My Winboxen run 98SE, and all boot to DOS, not 'Doze. I can swap hard drives on removable racks between a 486/66, a P166, a couple of I-Openers, and my C550. They're like big-ass floppies whenever I want to shovel files from one box to another

    Advantage 1: I never have to worry about plug-and-pray "detecting" new hardware when all I want to do is move some files.

    Advantage 2: Backups and reinstallations are trivial. Norton Ghost under raw DOS, or dd under linux.

    Advantage 3: I've seen a friend's box unable to boot due to registry corruption. Me? I'm always guaranteed to have access to the 4-5 copies of USER.DAT and SYSTEM.DAT stored in the SYSBCKUP directory. And I'm guaranteed that they'll never be overwritten because DOS doesn't know they exist!


    Disadvantage 1: Hide DOS (taking away the only "good" thing about W9x as far as I'm concerned)

    Disadvantage 2: "System Restore" means "your hard drive thrashes and is one hell of a performance bottleneck" (or "you can't actually do anything to your own box until you disable it")

    Disadvantage 3: Lessee, more DRM crap in WinMediaPlayer, more bloat in the browser...


    All the WinME bugs, plus "phone home" copy protection, plus (I forget whether this went into Win2K or not) all that crap about "certified" drivers as part of the efforts to keep me away from the WAV data on my sound card... feh. I can't be bothered anymore.

    For that matter, WinME sounded so lame I couldn't be bothered to pirate it just to satisfy my curiosity. Whistler sounds like more of the same. My home Winboxen will stick with 98SE, and my future boxen will just migrate to Linux and FreeBSD.

    Just read a post on the subject:
    give M$ better options []

    Agreed. This isn't about piracy, it's about privacy.

    Give away a smartcard reader and a serialized smartcard with every install. And (well, this is the problem with closed-source, ain't it?) require the presence of the card for activation without phoning home.

    It'd also be a major step towards market acceptance of smartcard technology at the consumer level.

    And unlike the guaranteed-privacy-invasive "clearinghouse" idea, at least the smartcard idea is capable of being implemented without compromising privacy.

  • by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @02:13PM (#518935) Homepage Journal
    I think protection of this sort will cut down most on small to medium businesses pirating MS products and that's a damn good thing.

    Individuals who want to use windows will resort to downloading dodgy cracked copies and suchlike, while businesses will be loath to use something which could say, for example, have a trojan or orifice in it, and for which they have to actually (shock horror) search for on sites with porny pictures.

    I work for a small software company, writing case-management software for solicitors, and the companies we write software for, despite being in the legal biz think nothing of buying one copy of win2000, 1 copy of office 2000, then installing them on 100 or so workstations. This is downright fucking theft!

    What particularly makes me sick about their behaviour is that these companies have an annual turn-over of millions of pounds- they can easily afford to buy the requisite number of licenses, but they're too tight. This annoys me *almost* as much as those companies who keep junk faxing us with offers of microsoft cds and licenses which turn out to be pirate. (Their licenses turn out to be just colour photocopies!).

    I am not biased. I like certain MS products, true; I love windows 2000, and I love Office 2000, I think DirectX (from a standardization perspective) was a damn fine idea, also COM/ACTIVE-X is phenomenal. (yeah so you have corba in linux but it's nowhere near as widely used). Visual Studio.NET (esp. when C# is used) is the best thing MS have EVER written- it blows any linux development environment/library/language out of the water and into near-Earth Orbit.

    I also however love linux. Linux is different to Win2000, but I love both. There's actually nothing I need Linux for, since I play games, do office stuff and program in win32, but I appreciate the beautiful architecture of linux- treating it like a text-only adventure game as I discover the wonderful world of pipes which work, a decent command shell and so on.

    So, if you don't, like me love lots of things MS have done recently, and don't want to use Windows, then don't use Windows- use linux or QNX or Plan9 or whatever, just don't bloody moan on about MS' evil world domination- you're not forced into it. And especially don't bitch about how much you hate microsoft, but then download a dodgy copy of Whistler anyway, and go round with a bloated head because you're so damn clever you get one over on MS, you're so 3l337. yeah.... whatever. And to all those people who moan on about "Windows Tax" on new machines, well duh! Build your own machine you idiots! If you're qualified enough to choose linux over windows and think yourself clever enough to be able to use it, then what's hard about plugging a few components in a mboard and fitting it into a case? Even a cappuchino (sic) monkey can put a GeForce in an AGP slot.
  • I too have some pirate software, and prolly all of it is MS.

    I look at it this way: Do you know how much friggin' money they've extorted from me through the OEM? "No sir, we will not ship this system without Windows 3.11/95/98/NT. In fact, your particular configuration comes with Office 95/97/2000 pre-installed at no extra charge. No, you can't change that either." So what do I get? Stacks of worthless copies of NT Workstation.

    They owe me enough money through their predatory practices with OEMs and through their insane 'We will not refund money, even as prescribed by the EULA' policy that I don't have any qualms about my piracy. I like to look at it as 'seizure of goods for nonpayment of monies due'.
  • i forgot the part about marketshare:

    with the marketshare that microsoft has right now, and with alternative OS's becoming a real factor in the game, the best thing that they could do is give the product away for free, officially or not. now, please disregard your intelligence, and pretend you are Joe Bestbuy (you don't see any problem with AOL) you want your son/nephew/girlfriend/etc to build you a computer. today, chances are that your son/nephew/goldfish will just take a windows CD that's been used more than a free hooker in a nursing home, and install it on his new computer. Joe Bestbuy doesn't have to pay anything. Joe Bestbuy is happy. Joe goes to the store, looks for the windows logo on all of his software and hardware, and makes all sorts of money for microsoft. Microsoft retains marketshare, linux loses, microsoft is happy. Now, in the event that well worn windows CD becomes unusable in future versions, Joe Bestbuy's son/nephew/paperboy, while making his computer, will probably say something really good sounding like "hey dad/uncle/mister, there's an operating system that is free, easy to use, robust, unlike that shitty windows that will cost you 200 dollars. wanna try it?" Joe Bestbuy at that point might say yes. Whether he says yes more often than not isn't the issue. if half of all Joe Bestbuys decide to try another OS even temporarily, just to try it out, there's a good chance that alot of them will stick with it rather than pay microsoft, because that's just the way people are. In that event, the OS is free, Joe Bestbuy is happy. Joe doesn't buy microsoft software, microsoft hardware, microsoft loses mind and marketshare, microsoft loses.

    sorry for the rant.

  • If I were planning to pirate software which would only install on a particular computer, I would use a virtual or emulated pc (plex86 or bosch) to fake the correct pc underneath the new installation on each machine. If the CD itself looks for a certain MAC address and CPU ID locally, just give it the right numbers. If it wants to connect over the internet to a microchip embedded in Bill Gate's big toe to get authorization, then the virtual/emulated PC has to look at the key outgoing traffic, and run a little web-proxy like service to emulate Bill's toe.

    So what you would do is distribute copied images of the target software, along with a second CD that had the trimed-down, minimal linux which immediately boots the virtual PC with the right configuration.

    (Some people will note that it is probably easier to install the software to 650 MB partition, and edit and modify the parts of it that do the various checks, and then simply distribute images of that partion. They are right; but the nice thing about emulating, is it should always be able to work, thus arguing that copy protection is always doomed on an open architecture like the PC. I mean, I wouldn't encourage anyone to use any copy of a microsoft product, anyhow; I just want to make the point.)

    It's not always simple of course -- similar to emulating one of those hardware serial port keys in software, you may have to crack a scheme, in terms of figuring out exactly what the microsoft central server should be sending back. But if you observe it happen once, and you are emulating the entire world of the computer, then you can set the time on the virtual machine to the same time as the first time, and just replay the transaction.

    Of course that emulation or virtualization software can introduce bugs or be very slow, another potential problem.

    The conclusion I draw from all this is, since I'm no genius, obviously a lot of people at microsoft understand this too. So they are probably aware they they will not stop the industrial scale operations with resources to invest in setting all this up. So they know that the benefit from them comes from encumbering their product to the point where honest people have to buy more copies than they needed to.
  • by The Dev ( 19322 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:36PM (#518946)
    What happens when the authentication server no longer exists? Do you still own the software? Did you ever?
  • If MS really makes it extraordinarily difficult to pirate software, this will only drive people to software which is easier to pirate, or is free, such as Linux and *BSD. This will be a good thing in the end. It will make Windows people either stick with older products or suffer some annoyances, which will hopefully cause them to look at alternatives. I think this could make for a much more competitive OS market, meaning more cross platform programs and platform independent solutions. I think this will be a good thing.
  • Ummm. I hate to point out the obvious, but using Half-Life on two different computers with the same CD key is illegal. It's called piracy. This is EXACTLY the reason why we have all this crap in the first place. People installing one copy of the software on multiple machines without paying for the license. And no, you can't play on with two computers using the same CD key at the same time.
  • Slashdotters should not fall into the BSA/SPA trap of viewing piracy and theft the same way. In order for it to be theft someone has to be deprived of something.

    Before you say that Microsoft was deprived of money, think about whether that's really true. If the /.er with the joystick could not have pirated Windows 98, would he have paid another $90 for it -- so that his joystick price was approaching $200? I doubt it. He would have probably boxed the joystick up and returned it -- which, ironically, would have cost Microsoft a sale.

    There is an ethical difference between copying software that you would never have paid for and copying it to keep from paying for it. In the former case, no one has been deprived of anything.

    P.S. If you show me a way to steal a Ford truck without depriving anyone else (individuals or organizations) of one or having any reasonable likelihood of being caught, I will be driving one tomorrow.

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:38PM (#518960)
    From my understanding, Q3A, Elite Force, and Half-life and others require you to enter a CD key before you play online (so at this point, we've guarenteed that we have net connectivity). The first thing those engines do is send off that CD code to a clearinghouse server to check to see 1) if it's valid, and 2) if it's in use. It's my understanding that unlike the Blizzard/Warcraft/Starcraft problems from 3 years or so ago when the same mechanism ALSO sent your IP and other identifying info back to a server, these CD number checks do NOT do this, it's an anonymous test. If either test fails to pass, then you can't play online. Generally 1 isn't a problem unless the ink on the CD case gets smudged, but 2 is. These CD's are only covering 36^16 combinations (ok so that IS large), but all you need are a few good script kiddies that combine a large database of these, grok what values are important and start to push out tons of valid CD numbers, most which have never been printed, but certainly a good number that have. And if they start playing with that number, which happens to be the one on the back of your legitimate CD case, you are SOL. Which is why nearly every gaming site, manual, and chat room scream "NEVER GIVE AWAY YOUR CD KEY".

    Even if the solution is as simple as you've said MS promises, they cannot avoid the few that will try to grok the license number, and abuse it for their own gain. What if you install a legal copy of Whistler, and use it for 6 months, then decide to reinstall on the SAME machine (no change in MAC address), but just days before you install, some script kiddie guesses or obtains your PID, uses it to install Whistler (after calling MS to reactivate it), and then when you the denied message, you call MS and they question why you need to reactivate that PID on a different MAC? This case can be defeated if MS does collect personal information about you such that they can verify that it is you that is doing the reactivation, but then you lose the anonymosity and raise more questions, putting them right back into Blizzard's position.

  • I think this will hurt Microsoft less than it seems. Most new computers ship with the OS anyway, and Windows already was so cumbersome to install that few people bothered. I think this is mainly something to address the problem of dealers using the same license for multiple units that they ship.

    However, I think this is altogether a good thing, because it takes the wind out of Microsoft's argument that every new PC must ship with Windows because otherwise it can only mean piracy. Ultimately, this may help non-Microsoft systems.

  • by PD ( 9577 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:39PM (#518966) Homepage Journal
    >Paying for software sucks.

    Yah, and paying for food sucks too, but you gotta eat.

    You have two choices: Go to the grocery store (Microsoft), or plant a garden (Linux, BSD, etc.).

    I am not sure why it's such a bad thing for Microsoft to lock their software to a single computer. Of course, customers should be told this *up front* and they can decide.

  • by Fervent ( 178271 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:39PM (#518968)
    It's only in beta and it's likely to get axed, especially after corporations show the difficulties it will cause in rolling systems out. Chill out.
  • That's a worthless solution. What if I don't want to run cracked software? What if i just want to use the software I pay for the same way I do now.

    I think it's unfair that I should have to buy two licences just because I have a laptop. This is ridiculous and I won't go for it.

    I don't care what the license agreement says, when I buy software I'm also buying the right to use the damn software.

    Jon Sullivan
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @02:56PM (#518975)
    If you have built a new machine, and need to install it, you've have a toll-free number to call where you can re-activate the PID.

    I had reason to call such a Microsoft number two years ago. I was on the road and I toasted my Windows partition. I had the Windows CD with me but it refused to install without its id code - but gave me a toll free number to call: 1-800-RULEGIT. I am *not* making this up. I felt bad but I called the number anyway. After 5 minutes on hold I hung up in disgust, and have never since installed a Microsoft OS on anything, and I am now the proud owner of a number of unopened Windows OS's, waiting for the day when Microsoft will give me my money back.

    This experience turned out to be exactly what was required to move me entirely off windows. Up till that time I had been dual-booting Linux and Windows 98, but my disgust with the way I was treated that day by Microsoft motivated me to solve all the remaining problems I had with Linux that kept me going back to windows: getting online, getting sound to work, usb, etc. Thinking back on it, none of it was that hard (but harder than now, where you basically just stick in the CD and go). But it was psychologically hard to kick the Windows habit. Thanks, Bill, without that one last kick I would have probably continued suffering for another year.

  • Quick, read the EULA and tell me whether you can distribute a flyer created with MS Word!

    Microsoft and the rest of the PC industry have made fantastic inroads by allowing people to easily pirate (their words not mine) software. Because most people don't have to pay attention to the legal agreements when they install (just click I agree) they don't mind having their rights taken away.

    When MS _forces_ everyone to pay the full fare it only increases the value of libre software.
  • Depends. Some of the AXP platforms use standard PCI hardware.

    Some software on AXP I've used ran a system configuration utility and listed the relevant items to a file. You took a copy of this and phoned the supplier and they gave you the licence code over the phone. This worked ok for a small supplier who probably didn't get that many calls.

    Can you imagine the hit that MS will get when their multi-million machine install base hits the license reg line? Their support system is bad enough already. This may break their system entirely.
  • I'm not worried - most of those who actually pirate (though maybe not those pirated for) at least have the skillz to figure out how ghost computers or something of that sort. (so it would be necessary to check on boot, but it might be a huge mess to switch around if it's done wrong now)

    Also, mass-manufacturing of computers will not be possible if any unique identifier is necessary to boot/install windows. That's all there is to it. If there is a common identifier in a manufacturer's computers, they will get lots of business for raw hardware (I wonder why...), with MS wondering how so many people are running it unlicensed.

    Anything the good guys have (a tool that can make the keys with a script or something running on an in-house server) the bad guys will obtain or make. That's all there is to it.

  • Ha ha ha. Keep telling yourself that. DOS came free with the machine. And if it didn't happen to come with the machine (Which almost never happened) it was easy enough to get free from another machine. Just copy format, fdisk, pkunzip and onto a floppy and make a new system. Arrr! And Microsoft didn't mind the piracy. Oh they said they did, but they didn't often go after anyone. Not for DOS. It was to their advantage that the OS was "Free." THAT's what made them what they are today.

    Now that they've mercilessly crushed all non-free competition, they'll start doing something about OS piracy.

    Personally I never liked DOS, having started on UNIX, and would wipe it off my system as soon as I got it. I shelled out for OS/2 and later downloaded 50 some odd slakware diskettes. I've been Microsoft free for years and years now. I guess in a way I'm some sort of balancing agent. All the MS licenses I was forced to buy that I never used probably karmically balance out some of that piracy somewhere in the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What MS doesnt seem to understand is, popular software and piracy go hand in hand, the 2 are linked always have and always will be. Anything and everything that is popular has some form of piracy attached, be it pokemon, MS, film, music you name it, if its popular it has some form of piracy.
  • by unicorn ( 8060 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @02:27PM (#518986)
    about nothing. The vast bulk of the readers here, seem to think that MS wanting to make it more difficult to pirate their software, is some horrible conspiracy against god and man.

    First, how is it horrible, if a company takes measures to preserve their copyrights?

    Second, MS isn't so stupid as to make it impossible to move the license from one machine to another. It's a given, that people will upgrade machines, and reload systems from time to time. They know better than to prevent that. No matter how much you disapprove of their business practices, nobody has ever accused them of being that inept at marketing things.

    Thirdly, by and large the users here have been quite supportive of the thought of MS getting split into pieces. If OS's are split off to a separate company, it's definitely in that companies interest to tighten controls on the OS products. They won't have the oceans of Office license money propping things up. So did anyone ever consider, that this might be a move being engineered with a split in mind?

    Lastly, slashdot is rumored to be a bastion of Linux users. And MS users, are far and away a minority here. What do you all care, if us few MS users, are inconvenienced in some way.
  • Let's assume for a moment that Microsoft breaks up voluntarily into 2 companies, The Windows company for the Operating Systems and Internet Explorer and The Microsoft company for the rest, essentially a spinoff of the OS division with Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and most of the real brain trust washing their hands of Windows. What is there to stop MS from buying Be Incorporated [] to rebuilt MS as we know and mostly hate. After all, BEOS [] is not profitable, and their stock and OS can be had cheaply and is much superior to anything Windows has and can be ported to easier.

    Would Microsoft 2.0 with a more stable OS gather the same type of evil as MS 1.0? The answer to this Mary Jo Foley [] type question will go a long way towards your feelings on MS potential actions.

  • So, MS, make up my mind - do I have a *license* to use the product on one machine, in which case I shouldn't have to pay full price a second time for the product if I want to get a second CD of it for redundancy, or do I *own* my copy, in which case it's my damn decision which computer I want to put it on.

    And what happens when the NIC fries and I have to get a new one - do I have to pay you for a second license now, in addition to replacing the fried hardware.

    Any company not already in a majority position would never be able to get away with tactics like this. Users would say, "What? Those license terms are unacceptable, I'll take my business elsewhere, thank you."

  • Ya know...first of all I will be completely honest and say I don't know which came first. But, from this statement you sound like one of those saps who thinks Windows comes *free* (as in beer) with your PC when you buy your...well..based from this statement...HP Pavilion? Sorry if I misunderstood genius for ignorance. -E
  • Ford makes good trucks

    They sure do. My F150 XLT doesn't crash twice a week or require restarting after I adjust the rear view mirrors. And if the time ever comes that I want something else, I have a legal right to sell my Ford truck to someone else.

    The key that came with my Ford is for my own good, not the Ford Motor Company. My key protects me from wrongdoing from those who for some reason would want to take my Ford. I can make copies of my keys, hand them to my family, or my neighbors if I so please.

    Microsoft's key is akin to shackles at the ankles. What if I want to go somewhere else today? I had better call my parole officer at Microsoft with my plans, otherwise my information pipeline is cut off.
  • Thats a crappy argument.

    MS can charge whatever they want for an OS. Value is determined by what people are willing to pay for a product - not by how much some arbitrary person deems it to be.

    Despite the status of MS as a monopoly, people can choose lots of options, (1) dont upgrade, (2) upgrade to linux/be/freebsd/etc, (3) or upgrade and pay market price.

    Lots of people actually like MS software. Last i heard it was something like 80% of computer users were satisfied with Windows. Thats a high number. So why should they charge less for a product that people like and are willing to buy? Would you?

  • I steal trucks made by Ford. I have no qualms about it.

    OK. Lets explore this analogy a minute. You wouldn't, for one second, entertain the notion that although you paid for the steel and labor, you don't own the truck - Ford does. Likewise the notion that you ought to pay Ford a fee for each use of the truck. "But", you say, "I just have to move it across the street. Odd-even parking is in effect from November-March, you know." Tough shit. How about this one - (for Millenium Edition haters) no matter how often you reprogram the autotune.bat and config.sound buttons on your Ford's radio, everytime you start the truck the buttons revert to Ford's default presets. Stations which just happen to be owned by a Ford broadcasting subsidiary.

    I declare this analogy officially brain dead.

    "I will gladly pay you today, sir, and eat up

  • Let's be realistic about this. Probably less than 1% of computer buyers realize that they have the option of buying a box without paying for a preinstalled OS. Heck, lots of Linux users don't realize they can buy a box without paying for a copy of Windoze that they'll just erase.

    Can you even do this? This guy [] tried to get a computer without an operating system 2 1/2 years ago with no luck. Has the situation changed?

  • does this change anything?

    they keep on coming up with new ideas to shaft us, and millions of people across the globe keep buying their software, their updates, and hardware with their stuff pre-installed.

    of course, somehow, somewhere, someone will come up with a random number generator that gets a new and valid serial number

    next they'll have us sign our validation key with some biometric information so that you'll need a license per user per cpu and that each biometrically different user will have their own licenses.

    i can't wait for the future.
  • by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @02:28PM (#519009) Journal
    How about everyone who's got a licenced copy of W2K+1 updates their hardware (swaps NICs, etc) every day and hassles MS manually for a new ProductID.

    How long before they stop with this sh1t?
  • Companies such as Autodesk have been going after used sales of AutoCad for awhile now, and some license agreements do not let you resell it. And even if you do resell it, the software would probably not be complete, i.e. with support and all.

    Unfortunately this is a trend in software that is gaining momentum. That's why I love open source software!
  • >[buyers of Dells, Compaqs, etc] will receive a "Restore CD" instead of a Windows install CD.

    Can anyone with one of the name-brand PCs clarify what's going on under the hood? (Yeah, I know, anyone who's likely to be able to describe it isn't buying name-brand... but maybe you've got some less-clued friends? ;-)

    My guess is that the "restore CD" is a bootable CDROM that basically copies stuff off a hidden partition on the hard drive. That is, you get the preconfigured box with a copy of a drive image on a hidden partition. Your "restore CD" is a glorified "run Ghost and get your partition back" device.

    (I'm coming to this conclusion from the other end, because it's similar to how I restores hozed windoze installs. For each 'doze box, I burn a CDROM for each box with two disk images: "W98SE as it installed itself right out of the box", and "after I install sound and video drivers and the basic set of DOS and 'doze apps and utils I can't live without, and after I nuke the 10-20M of crap like that advertising they put in the "oobe" directory, and the umpteen megs of media sounds and other dreck, and with all the registry tweaks like disabling the low diskspace annoybot, that I think are essential." In short, one for "start from scratch and save an hour" and one for "start from a good base install and save two hours".

    I then have a generic boot floppy with DOS, FDISK, MSCDEX.EXE, Ghost, and real-mode drivers for the umpteen CDROMs and DVD-ROMs I have on the various boxen.

    Going from "I just bought a blank hard drive" to "I'm up and running" takes 15 minutes.

    Anyways, it sounds like what Dell and other name-brand guys are doing is "stick the Ghost image somewhere on the hard drive and lock it to the hardware, so we can do quick reinstalls of Windoze". It's just that by sticking it on the hard drive, they're terminally screwing anyone whose hard drive blows up... of course, what does Dell care about that? (And in fairness to them, the end-luser would likely "send the computer back" in such a situation, rather than "restore from backup" implies an awareness of "backup", and if they knew what *that* meant, they'd never trust a "restore CD" in the first place...)

  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:45PM (#519025) Homepage
    How hard would it be for a manufacturer to start selling NICs with a custom MAC address (if this doesn't exist already)?

    Most do this already, although the instructions for setting MAC addresses are not commonly available. Why would someone like 3COM want to manufacture all their cards differently ?

    They want to make all their cards identical, and use the easiest possible technique to set the MAC address.

    But anyway, this strikes at a very critical issue. When I buy as licence of Whistler, do I have an intrinsic right to use that software on any machine I feel like, whenever I feel like ? Provided of course the software runs on only one machine at a time. Or does Microsoft have the right to dictate how and when I can use their software ??

    Software is protected by copyright. This is akin to saying I can use the copyright in any one place.

    Suppose we apply this analogy to books. Is it possible I would have the right to read a book at home, but not anywhere else ? And that the book would magically become pixie dust if I tried to read it at work instead ?? It is really quite silly. I have the right to read that book wherever and whenever I like. I can even make copies as long as I keep them to myself. I can even give that book to my friend, as long as I give him all my copies too. That is copyright law applied to books. But for software, somehow the rights are completely different.

    Microsoft is perverting copyright protection into infinite time patent protection through schemes like this one. Copyright was never designed to offer such protection, and the patent system actually expires after some time.

    It is really quite silly. Microsoft cannot devise a copyright protection system that also protects consumer rights. They want to protect machine exclusive licensing (which I believe to be illegal if ever challenged). Then they will go to a strict licensing model. Then they will tell you to bend over.

  • You can reinstall those games without problems. You don't have to be connected to the internet to do so.

    The only thing that the Half Life and Q3A keys prevent is playing on-line with a pirated key, as you have to authenticate with the master server to join an on-line game.

    Single player is no problem. Hardware upgrades is no problem, installing the software on multiple computers is no problem... but only one can play on-line at a time.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • It was noted on another website that I saw the news on that they will have a version for corporations/etc that won't require this (or gets around it another way) for their installations (site licensed). Hatch
  • AIX, Solaris, H-Pukes, OS/390, OS/400, and numerous others all have versions that are hardware matched. They read the CPU ID and only work on one machine. Nothing new.

    The people that get screwed by this are those who like to tinker or play. Sure I own a Win98 CD and I've installed in on 5 or 6 machines (one at a time, of course) and I've rebuilt machines. Most people don't do any of that though. This is only a hiccup for us geeks who would actually delete windows and then put it back on there.

  • Just out of curiosity, be-fan, What is the model number of the joystick you just purchased. Is it a USB joystick? USB didn' exist when Win95 was written so it only makes sense that you would need to upgrade. I don't see this as so much of a stunt, rather than useful innovation and support of new products. I only wish Linux had better USB support.
  • This has been the norm for at least ten years on *nix software. Most high-value stuff has been licensed by a scheme like FlexLM on Solaris, HP-UX and so on. The license server is tied to a server and can dish out up to n floating licenses to whatever workstations request them. When a workstation stops using a license, it can be used by any other on the local network. You can use as many as you've paid for, but no more.

    Most large commercail users of software love this scheme because they can't accidentally use more licenses than they've paid for -- saves them from suffering sleepless nights waiting for the software police to call.

    However, I realise that most /.ers have real trouble with the principle of paying for software, particularly Microsoft's, so they obviously won't like this.
  • I have it in the know (mainly because I work there) that there are multiple ways to obtain your "activation code" - one of which is through the Internet clearinghouse, but you can also get your code over the phone.

    Just an FYI - do a little more research before discounting "high security" installs.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @03:12PM (#519041)
    >Also there is currently a large bounty being offered to anyone who can crack the encryption algorithm being used with it. Unfortunately its only open to the closed set of developers working with the product, at least currently.

    s/to anyone/on anyone/g

    OK, there's the "external" version of the bounty program ;-)

  • You claim this will hurt MS? How?

    The majority of casual software pirates are just that - causual. They wouldnt do it except it's so damn easy. Same with Napster-types, etc etc.

    Add just a little difficulty and that will end the vast majority of copying. OEM numbers were a good start - but this is the logical next step.

    Remember, most people use MS software and dont think twice about it. Ohh, I have to pay $95 for an upgrade? Okay, not a problem. Ohh, this requires that I pay a $175 dollar fee with my computer, okay.

    Remember, most people like and use MS software just cause. Agree or not, its true. Ask your average Joe computer use if he thinks MS makes the best OS. Whats an OS?

    Reallistically, this isnt going to hurt MS one bit. They dont want the pirate market - they'd prefer those types to use linux anyways. What they want is the average honest hard working American market. They have it, and this latest move wont stop them from retaining it. It will drive the dishonest, criminals into using Linux. Ohh well, chances are that not too many of them will be script kiddies...

  • by gtx ( 204552 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @12:55PM (#519070) Homepage
    although i can understand where they're coming from...(i don't know anybody in real life who actually owns their copy of windows, nor do i know anybody who owned a copy of win 3.11 or even dos for that matter, they just seemed to "appear" on burnt cdr's or piles of floppies)

    it just seems that microsoft has so much more to gain by giving their OS away free, even if they do it unofficially (by looking the other way when it comes to piracy). sure, my copy of win2k is not exactly legal, but i have piles of software that IS legal, and alot of windows only hardware made by manufacturers who had to pay for that nice little "designed for windows" emblem on the boxes. microsoft does get alot of money from me, just not directly. now if i'm forced to pay for windows (especially with so many rules involving use and non-transferability) in the future, that NTFS partition on my hard drive is going to go away.

    i was going to say something about giving the razors away and making money on the blades, but i forgot how it went :)

  • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @04:28PM (#519075)
    " It's easy to fall out of compliance ... this should stop that."

    The open source community ought to full heartedly embrace and celebrate the birth of any technology that prevents people from copying software. If people actually had to pay for their copies of software they would be encouraged to investigate lower cost alternatives and free software.

    Right now too many people (billions outside the united states) are using MS operating systems and office software because they don't have to pay for it. As a result of this widespread pirating of MS software, lower cost and free alternatives don't get a chance to gain market share and MS software becomes the "default".

    Imagine a world where every person who uses a computer is faces with the following dillema.
    Do I pay $400.00 for MS-Office, $99.00 for Wordperfect office or $0.00 for star office?
    Imagine a person in Africa, China, or El-Salvador making this choice.

    A significant percentage (if not most) would choose to pay less and this would once and for all break the MS hegemony in software and more importantly file formats.

    The open source community ought to be helping MS achieve better copy protection methods and encouraging them by any means possible. Feel free to call every person who pirates software a thief, liar, coward or bum or whatever. Maybe they'll switch out of shame.
  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @03:28PM (#519089)
    But (unless you're rich or have one of those auto-upgrade leases) you don't upgrade your car every year or two - the average lifespan is more around 4-10 years (depending on use and abuse level)

    Now...what MS has done is say - "Thanks for buying MS tires for your 2000 Ford Explorer - We appreciate your business" - then turn around, after you upgrade from the 2000 model to the 2001 model "We're sorry, but you can't put those (bought/paid for/perfectly good) tires on your new 2001 Explorer, even though they'll fit - instead, you have to buy four new tires from us"

    This is a fairly logical extension of the current licensing policies - where even though you have gone to a store, paid money, and brought home a physical object, YOU DON'T OWN IT -- this kind of thing *shouldn't* be legal - in the above case, you paid money for a product - you should OWN it. Extending this a bit further gets us to this issue with Whistler - where not only don't you OWN it, but you can't USE it if you get a new computer - or even upgrade certain parts of your current computer.

    We used to joke about the "MS Tax" on a new computer because of the restrictions MS used on vendors such as Dell or Gateway - forcing you to buy a copy of Windows with your new computer, even if you didn't plan on EVER running Windows on the computer.

    Now they want to implement this on a larger scale - tying Windows to the hardware you have in your system at install-time. Change some major aspect of your system - pay the MS tax - ditch one computer for another one - pay the MS tax.

    If we don't find some EFFECTIVE way of fighting bull$#!^ like this, we'll get stuck with more and more of it. It's even getting to the point that US not buying it isn't going to dent their bottom line. Getting Dell or Gateway or Compaq to stop buying it - that might hurt 'em a little more. The question is how the heck do we do that? (and email/letters don't seem to work on something as big as this - the shareholders want $$$ - Dell/Gateway surely think that the only way to keep making $$$ is to acquiese to MS - as the big corporate buyers want windows...

    So now we've identified the target as the corporate buyers - how do we tell them this is a bad thing? Moving to a new OS requires extensive training (especially for all-MS shops who have "standardized" on MS Office, Outlook, Exchange, NT, ASP, etc...) -- most pointy-haired types don't go for that very well.

  • by ledbetter ( 179623 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @03:29PM (#519101) Homepage
    Before you make a fuss, and think that your days of pirating MS software are over, take a closer read at the article:

    "Microsoft plans to deliver WPA in all 32-bit versions of Whistler except those sold to volume-licensing customers and the so-called "Royalty OEM initial install images" provided to PC makers, said sources close to the company. Microsoft is expected to add similar anti-piracy technology to Office 10 and Visual Studio .Net, sources said."

    This "volume-licensing" program is called Microsoft Select, and it's what huge corporations get. The versions that come on those Select CDs don't need product keys at all. So, anyone want to take a guess at how long it will take people to start passing around ISO's of the Select versions of these products? (Hint: they don't call it "0-day warez" for nothing!)

    Everyone can see that this feature is going to be a huge annoyance, even Microsoft. And they especially don't want to annoy their major customers, so there will always be a way around it.
  • by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:00PM (#519150) Homepage
    It's getting blown WAY out of proportion. No one except folks at Microsoft knows how it works, and it was quite quickly removed from the 2410 build.

    Reportedly, it's going to work like this. (I don't know for sure ... I've never seen it, and I haven't installed this build.) The MAC address of your NIC is trasmitted with your PID when you register. That's ALL. If you try to install the software with the same PID on another machine, and the MAC address doesn't match up, you're denied. If you have built a new machine, and need to install it, you've have a toll-free number to call where you can re-activate the PID. This same number can be used to register the PID if you don't have a modem line.

    Now, in the Beta newsgroup, Micrsoft has specifically told us not to get our panties in a bunch ... most of the internet reports are WRONG (including mine above) in some form or another ... no one has it right yet, and not to believe them. We'll have more info closer to Beta 2. But the system is going to be non-invasive, and all of the arguments we're having have already been had within MS. Personally, while I don't LIKE the idea, I understand why it's being done. They've let casual copying go WAY too long, and many small companies are not license compliant. Mine just bought over $100K in licenses that we owed through several buyouts. It's easy to fall out of compliance ... this should stop that.

  • by MostlyHarmless ( 75501 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:01PM (#519176)
    Not everyone has Internet access, you know. And out of those that do, many of them pay by the minute or hour for their calls, adding to the price of the (already expensive) software.

    This is even more troubling for Pissler than for Visual Studio.NET and Office, since the machine is so dependent on the operating system. What happens if the customer has a strange network setup that Windows can't detect on install? Is he still allowed to use Control Panel and the like before activating the software? Or is the user stuck with a dead operating system until he can mail in a form? (allow several weeks for processing and delivery)
  • by VAXGeek ( 3443 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:03PM (#519216) Homepage
    I steal trucks made by Ford. I have no qualms about it. They charge obscene prices for low quality trucks, and constantly change the workings of the engines. For example, when I wanted to have a new (1998) engine put into my old '46 Ford, I couldn't. I had to get a new Ford Explorer to have a new fuel injected engine. If they wouldn't pull stunts like this, there'd be much less truck stealing. Well, someone will figure out an easy way to steal trucks, so all hope isn't lost.
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  • by DaveWood ( 101146 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:07PM (#519252) Homepage
    I'm not sure how this will play out, but my guess is that the only reason the invasive, ridiculous conditions of the existing, standard software license (espoused by the industry groups and, of course, Microsoft) is still around, is because they've never tried to seriously enforce the conditions of the license. Having software that forces you to purchase a new license or go through an extravagantly annoying transfer process just to switch machines, or that actively prevents transfer of ownership, has always been nothing more than bluster on your fine print - and largely without legal basis at that.

    For them to push in this direction tells me that MS has been told some encouraging things by the incoming administration, in addition to being emboldened by the success of DMCA and UCITA. (shudder)

    If they're serious about this, then they've just created a dramatic barrier to entry to Whistler, et al. Of course, if they see older alternatives are eating into their Whistler sales, they could stop selling new Win98/2000 licenses. People would then be in a nasty bind... but signs of strife that significant might send people scurrying to Apple and Linux in droves.

    When push comes to shove, I'd guess Microsoft will realize that they've already become the richest fucks in the world via the old ("rampant piracy") system, and almost certainly back down from rocking the boat. See Intel and their CPUID fiasco.

    An effort to force a massive and fundamental change in the way software is licensed and used would probably require an effort on the scale of a massive conspiracy. At the moment I don't give MS and Co. that much credit.

    In the meantime, we have some more breathing room to discover a new intellectual property doctrine that actually works...

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.