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Aero To Be Unavailable To Pirates 630

An anonymous reader writes "Users thinking of pirating the next version of Windows may have a surprise in store: no Aero for you. The upcoming Microsoft OS will run a check to ensure the copy was legally purchased. If it comes up short, the shiniest part of the OS will not be available." From the article: "At first an optional program, the piracy check eventually became mandatory for many types of Windows XP downloads, but was not required to run any aspect of the operating system itself. Microsoft has identified reducing piracy as a key way for the company to grow its sales of Windows, which is already used on more than 90 percent of personal computers. But it's not just pirates who will be blocked from Windows' fanciest graphics. The Aero display also won't be available to those who buy Windows Vista Basic, the low-end consumer version of the operating system."
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Aero To Be Unavailable To Pirates

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:26AM (#15120285) Journal
    I guess this will merely separate the real pirates from the need pirates.

    I'm not going to hide anything, I pirated Matlab and Mathematica in college. But I wasn't selling them or making a profit off them, I was simply installing old versions of them so that I could get my homework done without having to go to campus and be restricted by lab hours. I have since uninstalled them and don't feel wrong for using them to accomplish assignments.

    I think there are a lot of pirates here in America and overseas that just want a functioning OS on which they can install their games and quicken and other such Win32 software. Even I would prefer a Windows "Lite" over Windows with Aero. The last thing I want is some fancy pants CPU hog with Rosie O'Donnel sized memory footprints running around in the background!

    I would really like to see a free Windows OS "Core" kernal system that doesn't have any features but can be downloaded and installed easily. You could purchase more and more expansions or just buy the loaded omgwtfbbq$999 version of Windows right off the bat with everything from Office Suite Complex SP8 to Windows Media Player with more skins than an 18th century fur trader.

    The real pirates are going to try everything to be able to crack and sell these advanced copies. They'll do it regardless of what features Windows has. There's already speculation on how to do it [].

    If you're making one version more secure than another, you're simply admitting that you're not too concerned about the minimal package being pirated but you cannot afford to have Aero pirated. I think that says a lot about how you really view the core operating system and how it's becoming recognized more and more as a necessary tool and not some software bonus. Many software models have developed into being very successful by offering a "Lite" version of the software product for free and encouraging an upgrade to more features by buying a full fledged license from the homepage. The very piece of software I'm using right now to author and spellcheck this post (Textpad) is marketed in this manner.

    So I welcome this new news that only the rich, powerful & non-collegiate will have Aero. Let them have their bells and whistles!
  • by windowpain ( 211052 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:26AM (#15120289) Journal
    Every majoy piece of software is going "phone home" from here on out.
  • by Zephyros ( 966835 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:27AM (#15120290)
    How long before the Corporate Edition gets leaked?
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:27AM (#15120292) Homepage Journal

    FTA: With the new operating system, Microsoft is offering plenty of new graphics tricks, including translucent windows, animated flips between open programs and "live icons" that show a graphical representation of the file in question.

    Many 'pirate' copies currently run on less-than-optimal hardware, yes? Microsoft's plans will make this 'pirate edition' less of a resource hog so for many it actually sounds like a pretty good upgrade over the legit version.
  • by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:28AM (#15120305) Homepage
    Somebody please correct me if I have been mistaken.

    I understand and respect Microsoft wanting to be able to ensure that as many copies of their software is legit as possible, but from what I understand, Vista is going to *require* signed drivers for it to work, which I would also assume plays some part in the Windows Genuine Advantage program. I would assume that it costs money and requires licensing and such to get a driver signed. Doesn't this qualify as a form of extortion and abuse of Microsoft's monopoly? By requiring signed drivers, they're effectively forcing everybody to pay them an "extortion fee" in order for other companies to be able to make hardware for users to run their systems. Doesn't this present problems for Microsoft? How can they be allowed to do this, considering their monopoly status?

    I really don't like the idea of Microsoft forcing me into using signed drivers and such in order to take advantage of the software I legally purchased. There's countless reasons for this, but I would think that Microsoft's monopoly status alone would be enough to stop them from abusing these sorts of practices.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:29AM (#15120311) Journal
    Really, thank you. You have now given me the final reason NOT to upgrade.

    As a poster in a previous article said, I'll keep my copy of W2K running as long as I can and when, for whatever reason, it is no longer useful I will devote my time and resources to learning how to use Linux though Apple might come first.

    Thank you Microsoft. Your ineptness will be your undoing.

    I can't wait to see what happens when businesses realize the cost to upgrade to your latest abomination and all the attendant problems that will occur.
  • by GroeFaZ ( 850443 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:31AM (#15120335)
    1) Is Aero relevant to Vista's inner workings, i.e. is it a real limitation to its functionality if missing? If yes, how severe a limitation?

    2) How does Aero differ from numerous attempts at 3D desktops that are already out there? Why will users really miss it?

    3) What are the chances that Aero will stay off-limits to "pirates" for any extended period of time?
  • by mcai8rw2 ( 923718 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:36AM (#15120379) Homepage
    Two things...

    1. Haven't microsoft tried this 'validation' thing already with downloading copies of directx? That didn;t appear to work very well.

    2.I don't care what people is still expensive. If windows was more affordable to the average user, maybe piracy wouldn't be such an issue.
  • by BitterAndDrunk ( 799378 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:37AM (#15120388) Homepage Journal
    It's a fantastic program, I think I've sold 4 different clients on it.

    There's a whole slew of consultants in my field who always beg me to get JDeveloper up and running in their dev environments and I always recoil in horror and start asking pointed questions of "Why?"
    Huge footprint, doesn't play well with the products I develop for, and has crashed more than once. Give me the simple elegance of TextPad any day of the week; I can program my own debugging lines and watches into it if I need them. -1 offtopic.

  • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:37AM (#15120389) Homepage
    I only know enough about law to tell you this:

    No one gives a shit about enforcing anti-trust laws in the current administration.

    Sadly, that is not the biggest of our concerns. If we make it to 2009 without nuking someone, I will be happy. We can worry about corporations raping the public after that.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:37AM (#15120391)
    Aero is optional, therefore the removal of choice is not an "upgrade" no matter how hard this news is spun.
  • by Disavian ( 611780 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:38AM (#15120397) Homepage
    If they designed Vista correctly, they could have any number of graphical systems, and all it would take is to unload one and load in another. It's not really about bloat, it's more about code design. I have a feeling that MSFT's at least trying to use some good code design.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:39AM (#15120400)
    Microsoft has identified reducing piracy as a key way for the company to grow its sales of Windows,

    If there were compelling reasons to upgrade, Microsoft wouldn't have to look at other means to grow their Windows' sales, the upgrade sales would carry them forward.

  • Predictions? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:40AM (#15120414) Homepage
    My prediction is that someone will be clever enough to write a daemon that will intercept the "phone home" activity and provide the response that the OS requires. Add some names to the hosts file along with the appropriate challenge-response and I'm thinking that'll just about do the trick.
  • by schabot ( 941087 ) <> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:41AM (#15120424) Homepage
    Have you seen screenshots of Aero Glass? It looks like the short films of a first year computer animation student o%20Glass%20-%20Contacts.jpg []. It is for this same reason Luna in XP gets very old very fast, and anyone wanting to get some serious work done turns it off.

    Or, did anyone consider the fact that these all look like crap because they can be turned off--they are only add-ons to the plain style that was introduced with Win95. They get in the way. Would anyone even consider turning off Aqua, even if you could. No, because it is part of the system, part of your work flow. (Disclaimer: I have Win2000, OS X and Ubuntu machines)

    Besides, as people have noted, most individuals who are installing pirated versions have computers that can't handle Areo Glass anyway. Any computer capable enough will come with Visa pre-installed, whenever that happens to be. The rest of us be thankful that we can get the garbage out of the way, even if you believe that Visa will be able to do some real work. Me, I'll keep Windows 2000, because really haven't seen any real innovation since then--it is stable and uncluttered, which is about as good as Windows can get.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:44AM (#15120449) Homepage
    ...Mr. and Mrs. Consumer, see a row of machines in Best Buy all sporting the spiffy Aero look and read a barrage of publicity about how great the new system is. ...They buy a cheap machine at Costco with Vista Home preinstalled, fire it up, and think they've been cheated or given the wrong OS because it looks just the machine they dropped off at the annual hazardous waste disposal day; ...Call Microsoft to find out what's wrong and get barraged by a hostile cross-examination about the provenance of their system.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:45AM (#15120454)

    It's a good solution, seriously. Think about it. Just don't allow the thing to dial home. Unplug it from the net. Run your games or uber-business apps on it, and have a $300 Linux box for web/email. It's an optimal solution even today.

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:47AM (#15120472)
    XP is nice and snappy and stable when you make it look like 95!

    And what's really cool is that it looks better too!

  • And when you realize the shinyness of your desktop doesn't reflect it's usefulness go jump on the Gentoo bandwagon and be part of a winning team for a change.

    As much as I hate MSFT for being a monopoly and industry stiffler I hate Apple for being prima donnas.

    My Dell laptop is just fine. It's sturdy, works in both winxp and linux, has good battery life, is fast, etc, and costs much less than the standard issue G4 laptop at the time (even though my Dell has a 3yr warranty, larger battery and HD than the standard G4).

    If Apple could realize that their outsourced third-world construction factories are no better than the third-world construction factories Dell uses ... they could charge appropriate prices.

    Though since they ditched freescale and went Intel I don't see the motivation. If I wanted another Intel laptop I'd go to PPC had some merit mostly because it was a different architecture which if followed through more heavily could give x86 a run for the MIPS/Watt ratio.


  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:53AM (#15120512)
    in the future more and more things wil be tied to the web. Office applications like writely and ajaxWrite. Photo librarys. Maybe even your music and TV. You won't want to unplug to run the OS.

    On the otherhand I like this solution to piracy. If it detects a piarate copy it hobbles the OS but does not shut it down. That makes it safe to use in case it glitches on you and mis-detects it's lic status.

    I'd take it one step further and change the mouse to an oversized hot pink X with a desktop that says "Liscence key not valid". Anyone seeing that on someone elses computer would know it was stolen and there might be social pressure to pay for what you can steal.
  • Re:Predictions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:54AM (#15120522)

    That approach is pretty much guaranteed to fail. How would you spoof a Microsoft response if they take the obvious step of using asymmetric cryptography? Any crack would have to avoid the challenge in the first place or change the public key before the challenge is sent.

  • "While it's great to suspect some extortion/conspiracy theory, the signed driver requirement is in place so that it'll be much harder for Hacker McPhee to install that driver rootkit on your machine."

    Yes, I'm sure that's what they told you. Oceania has always been at war and all that shizz, you know?

    Hackers will find ways to bypass these restrictions easily enough. Security holes (old AND new) will allow dishonest people to do whatever they want anyway.

    That's not even counting on the possibility of hackers getting their spyware signed. Remember when people managed to get keys signed in Microsoft's name? You REALLY trust Verisign with this? I sure don't.
  • by slashnik ( 181800 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:05AM (#15120621)
    While it's great to suspect some extortion/conspiracy theory, the signed driver requirement is in place so that it'll be much harder for Hacker McPhee to install that driver rootkit on your machine.

    But it won't do anything to stop Hacker McSony
  • Re:Predictions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:09AM (#15120667)
    This can be prevented by the most basic cryptographic challenge-response.

    Assuming MS does it right.
  • by starm_ ( 573321 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:10AM (#15120679)
    Hehe, so true,

    MS is shooting itself in the foot in doing that.

    The only reason everyone uses Windows is that everyone uses Windows.

    I use Windows because I want to be compatible with everyone else. Companies write Windows only software and drivers because they want to be compatible with the majority.

    Force a fraction of society to switch to a cheaper alternative, and you will precipitate another big chunk into doing the same.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:19AM (#15120756)
    I would guess that we're not too far off from it refusing to run if it can't make that call home. Then unplugging it doesn't do much. Heck even today I firewall off apps that have no obvious need to connect to the net. Nero? Thumbsplus? ANY media player? There's no way I'm gonna let them through the firewall.
  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#15120789) Journal
    Think about it. Microsoft can't afford to seriously crack down on piracy... not with the new Mactels, not when distros like Ubuntu are making such giant strides for Linux noobs everywhere. At the same time, they do want to prevent piracy of their OS from becoming (more) mainstream. Hence, they allow us the ability to pirate their core OS, while blocking all of the glitter. We might not care about the glitter (though I must say I don't understand why everyone here prefers to look at gray on gray all day. Yes, XP on default is Fischer Price, but that's a hell of a lot better on the eyes than gray on gray), but your average consumer does. Your average consumer won't give a shit about the techincal advances of Vista; they'll just want the eye candy. Your average consumer is also the least likely to want to jump ship to something that's harder, less flashy, and/or less compatible with their favorite software.

    So, Microsoft is putting the squeeze on those customers they know won't jump ship by leaving out the glitter, thus reducing their incentive to pirate, while simultaneously leaving the door open for the tech-savvy (who are generally much less impressed by glitter) to pirate Vista-sans-glitter, thus reducing their incentive to jump ship to OS X or Linux.

    Too bad it's all going to fail miserably. I've got $1000 that says Vista-with-glitter will be pirated within the first month. Any takers?
  • Re:Predictions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#15120791) Homepage Journal
    My prediction is that someone will be clever enough to write a daemon that will intercept the "phone home" activity and provide the response that the OS requires. Add some names to the hosts file along with the appropriate challenge-response and I'm thinking that'll just about do the trick.

    Not on the host system you won't. To do this you would need to run in kernel space. Now remember the announcement from a few months ago 9232 [].
    The new Windows kernel will no longer run unsigned drivers. Face it, you don't own a personal computer anymore. You lease a Microsoft appliance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:26AM (#15120810)
    I would be more worried about that $20 gameboy usb link cable that some guy made, and sold less than 1000 units of. He probably started the project as a hobby, and once it worked, figured he could share his results with others.

    Too bad he couldn't even start programming his usb device driver. Maybe he should go do something useful with his time, like watch a DVD or buy a new game.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:34AM (#15120859)
    Jack Valenti, one time head of the Motion Picture Association of America, once said:

    Just because technology lets you do something doesn't mean you should.

    He was talking about illegal copying of DVDs, of course ... but the comment is still valid in this context. Just because you can easily connect a user's copy of your software to your servers doesn't mean you should.

    I know, I know ... Jack Valenti. But he did have a point.
  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:44AM (#15120940) Journal
    You all miss the point. All 2nd/3rd party applications will sooner or later start depending on Aero.

    That's just silly. Aero is a theme, not a technology. How many applications require the use of the XP "Luna" theme and refuse to run in "classic" mode?

  • by PhYrE2k2 ( 806396 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:51AM (#15121010)
    The last thing I want is some fancy pants CPU hog with Rosie O'Donnel sized memory footprints running around in the background!

    I'd argue that offloading the graphic generation from the CPU/RAM to a video board and video memory might be a good thing. It could mean a more responsive GUI, less bogged down processor, and a better user experience.

    The real pirates are going to try everything to be able to crack and sell these advanced copies. They'll do it regardless of what features Windows has. There's already speculation on how to do it [].

    Don't make it 1K and you'll be in business. Take Adobe's offerings for example. 1600-2000USD for Production Studio ( n.html [] ). They're obviously targeting business and TV stations that can afford such a thing. Meanwhile, students and home users looking to have some fun making neat videos are of course going to pirate. Macromedia Studio 8 (Flash and Dreamweaver) - $999USD. The home user wanting to make a cool Web page suffers.

    Pricing always leads to pirating. Make it a pain in the @$$ and offer it for $50 for home users, or sell groups of licenses (4 computers per street address) and most people will buy. Make it $500 and people won't. Windows XP is $200USD, Word in itself is $180USD! It's a question of value. These days the OS costs as much if not more than a new PC!

    Sell high to enterprise, and low to home and small business. Get people hooked on Office, so that if they go to a place of business, they're pre-trained in it. Make it cheap and attainable for home users and few-man office shops.

    If you're making one version more secure than another, you're simply admitting that you're not too concerned about the minimal package being pirated but you cannot afford to have Aero pirated.

    I don't think this is it. If an organization is pirating Windows, which is extremely common in businesses, then they'll stand out like a sore thumb as I'm sure the 'basic' version won't be a corporate offering. It's like a call-home. The 'Microsoft Police' come in and will very simply see what computers look crappy and which don't. You know where the licenses are right away. You can't assume a license is there, as you'll see it. As a user in a University, you'll see right away which PCs are legit.

  • by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:54AM (#15121028)
    Not only that but in order for companies to get the most from their programing dollars they will write their programs for the largest group of users. From the sounds of things that will be those running the stripped down consumer version of windows.

    Microsoft probably won't realize this until after they release the full blown version (sometime in 2015) but by splitting their users in this way most companies will not bother to use the enhanced capabilities of the more expensive OS since only a small percentage of users will have it. Expect to see people continue to use XP for many many years to come since upgrading won't provide any need to have features.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:14AM (#15121188)
    These software packages OF [COURSE] fit the description of a major piece of software, intended for businesses

    No they don't. A major piece of software is one that a business selects all the rest of their components and utilities around. It's the critical piece, and all those other little things would be replaced by something else were the situation to change. Those other things, while being business software, aren't *major*, they're auxillary.

    Also, most of those smaller pieces of software, the ones that get used anyway, don't actually call home, If they do, they typically have a way to work without calling home too. Hardware dongles are still very popular.
  • by Colonel Angus ( 752172 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:20AM (#15121240)
    But Macs are far from free.

    I think the Linux adoption will continue to be slow. I've got Ubuntu running on my laptop that I use at work. I was running it with KDE at work last week. It's got a snazzy desktop, nice icon theme and one of my co-workers strolled into my office to ask me a question, noticed my screen and asked how I got Windows to look like that. I told him it was Linux. And that it was free... as was all of the software that I have on it. I showed him OOo, Firefox and the FirstClass client (uck, I hate FirstClass, but that's what we use) and he was shocked that there was an alternative to Windows. He's interested.

    So people will see someone using something other than Windows. It will look nice (especially with Xgl), will be free and someone will see it and be interested in it. They might try it. Then someone else will see their system and be interested... and so on.

    It's slow. But I think that that's the way it's going to happen if it happens at all. The smallest fraction of Windows users even have a clue that anything else exists. And I would say that Linux is capable of handling Joe Home-User's computing needs quite well.

    My parents are using Ubuntu. I set it up. I got it working. All they do is keep it updated when it prompts them. It browses the internet just fine. It IMs just fine. OOo does everything my dad needs and they've not been happier.
  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:22AM (#15121262) Homepage
    Is MS shooting itself in the foot? Or merely trying to maximize revenue?

    If MS can detect that your Vista is pirated, why not just shut down the Vista altogether? Instead they're just turning off eye candy.

    MS wants money, but on the other hand it must realize that a user on a pirated Vista is better than a user on Linux.

  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:32AM (#15121373) Homepage
    Drivers aren't signed until they are tested and certified by Microsoft, right?

    No, this isn't the case. You can sign drivers yourself if you have a code signing cert from Verisign and have registered with MS to get a cert signed by them. The manditory signing is only on x64 versions too.

    This means "beta" drivers will be signed by their developers and runnable on Vista. The net effect of the code signing is it just raises the bar a little on who can write drivers for the system, and potentially causes headaches for open source drivers like ext2 and winpcap (which is where I see the main problem).
  • by Vandre ( 828567 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:58AM (#15121640)
    As much as I don't like Microsoft, parent post is a troll and should be modded down. He contradicts himself: a) Assuming that he was planning on getting a pirated copy, since he mentioned that he is running W2k (i.e. no fancy graphics) it really wouldnt make a difference b) If he was planning on getting a legit version, then what's the problem? voila! you get your fancy graphics
  • I assume you've never built anything for which you need to write drivers.

    The idea of paying for a cert for my TG-16 to serial connector is absurd. Freedoms are being removed.
    Granted, they are being removed legally and from a software I choose to use. Legality and right doesn't always imply ideal or freedom.
  • by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:18PM (#15122451)
    But without the "eye candy" is there any reason to pay for the more expensive version of vista? If this actually happens then most programmers won't write anything that uses any of the "eye candy" because most users won't have it and won't see it. Why spend time fiddling with stuff that no one uses?

    It also begs the question of why would anybody let alone a company pay for "eye candy" when that is not needed to get the job done?

    Expect people and companies to continue using XP for the next couple of decades instead of spending money to upgrade to vista. From the sounds of it there is nothing in vista that are "must have" type features. And the programers will follow the market and continue to turn out their applications to work on the largest common denominator of systems/users out there.
  • by Fanboy Troy ( 957025 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @02:13PM (#15122947)
    Today it would be near impossible. But by 2015, you're right, that could become a reality. But as I have replied to you in the past, the best way to defy such a future is to make that 2% a considerable 10% by actually 'showing the finger' to TPM and using linux or any other non-tpm platform. This is why you (as a developer if I sensed right) should be striving for a TPM-free future and not 'get stuck on' a scanner. ;)

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson