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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 Hellad ( 691810 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:30AM (#15120319)
    Doesn't this seem to hint that Vista is bloated? I may be dumb, but if they can just take out Aero feature that means that they left a second graphic system in place. I am just curious what sort of resources are being wasted on the duel setup...
  • Hold up... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ViX44 ( 893232 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:39AM (#15120399)
    Have they ever gotten around to telling us why we want Aero-glass? First thing I do whenever I'm on a XP machine, including other peoples' because I'm rude, is disable the XP theme system and get back to something useful. I don't want the close button on a window to be large because that makes it easy to hit by accident. GUI design 101, and XP fails it hard.

    So, what makes bubble buttons and transparency effects something I should want? Is Microsoft trying to bank on GUI wiener-size competition to get people to pay hundreds of dollars for a legtimate installation of the OS?

    Oh, yeah...they're going to try to stick it in the gamer market by making everyone upgrade for DX10...which will likely only give you full performance on Trusted Hardware, just like the high-res video bunk.

    Let's hear it for Microsoft. 1) My GUI looks better than yours. 2) DX10 is so much more efficient, it almost makes up for the performance lost by binding 70% of your system resources to the GUI that looks better than yours. 3) We don't like your installation of Linux on your other partition, so we're using Oklahoma power to reach in and delete it all, and install this cool IDE device driver from StarForce. 4) You're welcome!
  • by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:39AM (#15120405) Homepage
    I have more than tripled that uptime on Windows XP without disabling much of anything. XP really is a pretty stable OS, contrary to what Microsoft booboys what you to believe.

    The biggest killer of my uptime for Windows XP has been the security updates that require a restart in order for them to be installed. If it wasn't for these, gawd knows how long my uptime would be.
  • Corporate version? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bernywork ( 57298 ) * <bstapleton@gmail.cMOSCOWom minus city> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:39AM (#15120406) Journal
    Umm, How will this affect corporate versions? Will the release of Vista require your computer to talk to another computer on your corporate network which then talks back to Microsoft to ensure that your copy is legitimate?

    If Microsoft starts demanding activation from corporate customers, I think things will get interesting and amusing all at the same time.
  • Still won't work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by barthrh2 ( 713909 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:40AM (#15120410)
    A lot (most?) of the piracy drives off of corporate copies. These typically don't call home. I can't imagine how you could force a corporation to grant internet connections for the purposes of licensing. If Vista corporate licensing still doesn't phone home, then the problem is far from solved. If they wish to force corporations to allow phoning home, they are going to have quite a stuggle getting companies to upgrade. The no-net workaround, calling in for an authorization code, is even worse when you have hundreds or thousands of computers.
  • by farnz ( 625056 ) <slashdot AT farnz DOT org DOT uk> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:53AM (#15120515) Homepage Journal
    The package you're thinking of is vrms, the virtual Richard M. Stallman []. It only scans your dpkg database though, so doesn't catch manually installed non-free software, only the non-free stuff installed via apt or similar mechanisms.
  • Sadly, that is not the biggest of our concerns.

    Some time ago, I might have read that to mean that we as a nation had bigger concerns, and thus the administration had bigger concerns, and that the concern was over the people getting away with antitrust violations.
    Now, however, it is the administration that is the concern.

    In your heart, you know he might []
  • by EraserMouseMan ( 847479 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:04AM (#15120615)
    Very creative. But I bet you don't use Windows now. And I bet you had absolutely no intention of using Windows when Vista is released.

    And besides, if you're a "customer" who only uses software he can pirate, I'm sure MS will really miss having you as a customer.
  • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:05AM (#15120630) Homepage
    It will be interesting if MS checks whether a Mac is running an OEM version of Windows (or for that matter Office).

    As Apple isn't installing OEM versions of the Windows OS, any OEM version running on a Mac has to be illegal. The Genuine Advantage check could easily determine if the OS is running on a Mac and if the OS is an OEM version. If so, it could flag that the version is not correctly licensed.
  • by sgbett ( 739519 ) <> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:13AM (#15120708) Homepage
    Class post! +1 Underrated! Only sorry I never get mod points - I am one of the untouchables !
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:14AM (#15120714) Homepage Journal
    I take pretty good care of my gear. I'm not too concerned about Hacker McPhee. I've not had a virus in over 8 years despite running Windows without A/V protection. It's outfits like Sony--"legitimate manufacturers"--that worry me more these days.
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:19AM (#15120759)
    My problem with requiring signed drivers is that you won't be able to run "beta" versions of drivers to potentially fix problems with the release version. I've had to do this on more than one occasion and I'm not even a regular Windows user. Drivers aren't signed until they are tested and certified by Microsoft, right?

  • Stick with Win2K? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:37AM (#15120885)
    I don't think Win2K has any activatation cr@p. And none of this home-version vs pro-version vs other-version, stuff either.

    It will run practically everything that XP will run, and does not have that cartoon interface by default. Win2K also takes slightly less resources. I also think Win2K works well with Samba.

    My guess is: it will probably be supported by hw/sw vendors for a few more years, at least.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RenatoRam ( 446720 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:41AM (#15120919)
    And... well... last time I checked, WINE passed the Windows Genuine Advantage test as a "genuine windows install".

  • by heinousjay ( 683506 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:50AM (#15121002) Journal
    I'm confused - was that some sort of terrible justification for piracy, or your reasoning for not using Windows at all?
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:52AM (#15121014) Homepage
    Then I guess you've never been to college, not even attended a single quarter or semester there.

    The "educational" and "non-profit" excuses are VERY meaningful. They were original exceptions to this whole robber baron mentality that seems to pervade creativity these days. The idea isn't to be a Rockerfeller wannabe even if you happen to be in it just for the money.

    These overhanded ideas are wrongheaded even for those of us that make money off of all of this.

    Alternatively: needlessly forcing people to "do without" is also undermining your own future marketshare. You gain NOTHING in the immediate term and may actually lose something in the long term.

    Most real creative people realize this.
  • by spxero ( 782496 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:56AM (#15121041) Journal
    What I've found to be effective is to run a third party software firewall (such as ZoneAlarm) in which I can specify which apps get to access the internet.

    This is helpful because it limits the amount of software trying to access the internet. I mean, does Word or Excel seriously need to access the internet every time it starts up? No!

    I think I'm going to wait this one out for a bit- until I can ensure that my data isn't going anywhere I don't want it to.
  • by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:09AM (#15121140)
    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.

    But they don't want that. Microsoft has never really tried to cut off illegal users in all these years, although it could've done so at any point. They were content with that fact that piracy made their products spread and made them a de factor standard.

    They cannot afford to actually hurt Windows users, even non-paying ones. The very fact that they're starting to do things like this now has a clear meaning for me: their sales are going down.

    Their revenue is starting to take a turn for the worse to the point they have to start tightening the knot. As long as money was coming in thick they could afford to ignore the pirates. They don't ignore them anymore. Think about it. Why not? Dunno, it's just a speculation, but it makes damn good sense.

    As for the pink bunny screen, no sane software produced would do that in a million years, for exactly the reasons above. You can be pretty sure that someone you embarass like that will NEVER buy. A MAYBE is better than NEVER. As long as there's a chance in hell of a purchase, they'll let the pirate be, no matter how loud they cry "thief" via BSA and all that.
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:21AM (#15121249)
    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.

    It's an interesting way of looking at this. But I would be surprised if that is ENTIRELY the intent. Why? Commoditization.

    Microsoft seems to be doing a lot to try and avoid the perception that an OS is a commodity. A hardware platform that became a commodity environment meant IBM lost control of the market. And that is the real threat from the likes of Linux, *BSD, etc. The last thing Microsoft wants is for a perception that the entire platform - hardware and OS - is immaterial or at least a very distant second to an application. Remember that this was the mantra Netscape liked to push before Microsoft performed its historical turn-on-a-dime strategy shift. And one might even note that the vast majority of consumers are almost to this point anyway (how many average users really understand the implications of an OS).

    Now - its entirely possible that despite Microsoft's best efforts, the market is pushing in that direction anyway. This may be a slight capitulation to this kind of pressure. But I would not expect Microsoft to do anything that would drive home the commodity perception until well after it has already taken hold of the market. I doubt the market is at that point yet.

    If anything, this is simply part of Microsoft's attempt to avoid their OS becoming a commodity. It started with WinXP. Before then, who really cared about "piracy"? After all, the major players (OEMs, business, etc.) already pay. The "Linux Refund Day" exercise showed what a consumer Windows license is worth. Up to a certain point in history, accepting "piracy" helped ensure Windows continued to proliferate as a common environment while not getting in the way of paying customers. Introducing rudimentary copy protection didn't happen until commodity OS platforms started to really gain attention. And even then, it didn't really do much to stem "piracy". But it did drive home the point that Windows wasn't a freebie - keeping it out of the same mental pigeon-hole IT managers stick "freeware" commodity platforms... specifically Linux.

    Aero is not an important component. But it is the more visceral piece - it's prominant in screenshots and marketing. Linking copy protection to this component continues to push the message that Windows is something special. And if for some reason a paying customer runs afoul of that copy protection and Aero shuts down, they will likely still be able to limp along doing their important activities until the situation can be resolved - perhaps only annoying them instead of really upsetting them and producing more fodder for various switcher campaigns.
  • by courtarro ( 786894 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:24AM (#15121295) Homepage
    I want to respond to all the comments that reduce Aero to a simple extension of the goofy Luna theme from XP. Aero is not a skin; it is a completely different way of conveying GUIs to the user. Everyone knows by now that it's rendering the "eye candy" parts of the system with the graphics card in 3D mode - that's Big Deal A, which I see as a big feature but everyone has committed themselves to discounting. However, what seems to be missed is Big Deal B: rather than every component of each program's UI being rendered as bitmaps, it is now possible to build your entire interface as a vector.

    This means that you'll no longer have Windows' ugly "Large Fonts" mode for high-dpi monitors (like those on a laptop that display 1600x1200 in a 14" LCD) - rather, you'll simply tell Windows the DPI of your monitor and it will be able to scale the entire system UI to fit - from icons to text to graphical elements in the GUI. Instead of having to choose between a) everything being really small, b) using a lower, non-native resolution that causes your LCD to become blurry, or c) putting up with "Large Fonts" mode, you will now simply enjoy the same-sized interface but with greater clarity.

    This seems like a minor point, but it removes a huge barrier that, in my opinion, has plagued applications since day 1: dependence on pixel size. This is the most important aspect of Aero, and it really is something MS can be proud of if they pull it off. Licensing, pirating, and "activation" issues aside, the Aero interface in Vista will be something that every teenage girl and geek alike will want, in the end. It will make our computing experience just a little bit better.

    Check out this video if you want to understand why Aero really is something important: 94 []

    Vector icons: []

  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:26AM (#15121312) Journal
    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.

    So for about two, maybe three weeks "pirates" won't get Aero but the honest guy can't afford to pay full price never gets it?

    Yep, that sounds like the M$ I know and love...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:41AM (#15121466)
    That happened to us because Microsoft had a fight with our parent company. They invalidated our key despite the fact that it was different from our parent company's key. As a result, we put Debian Linux on every computer in the main office just so we could keep business going. We had bought every user in the office a 20G iPod the month before but hadn't yet distributed them to the employees. It was very simple to put Debian on the iPod and get the PC's to boot off of it. It was very easy to connect four iPods to my computer with USB to copy the files to multiple iPods at the same time. I didn't even have to open-up the case on any of the computers. Also, since the user's files and settings were on the iPod, the users were now able to travel from office to office without losing anything. Of course we had an end of shift script that did an rsync back to our server.

    That all worked great until the iPods started failing. According to Apple they don't have enough cooling for the harddrive for that type of use since it is mounted in rubber to protect it from shocks. That was annoying, but the iPods did get us through a tough couple of months.

    For the other offices since we didn't have as many UNIX guys at them, we ended-up having to buy new copies of Windows for them. I really hated to have to give Microsoft money twice for screwing us over, but we didn't have enough manpower to do anything differently.

    As a result of Microsoft's unethical and illegal actions, our CEO of over 20 years was fired due to problems with lost sales, late shipments, and upset customers. It was sad to see a 30 year employee lose his job like that because of Microsoft.
  • No kidding! Like yourself I have been very careful about exposing my PC and (touch wood) have not been hit by a virus for about the same amount of time as yourself. I just bought a brand new Dell and I can't believe the garbage that is installed. It took me an hour just to uninstall and delete the garbage software I did not want! The hackers are not the problem (ok they are), but software companies are just as much of a problem.
  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by psu_whammy ( 940612 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:25PM (#15121945)
    Nevermind a validation crack. What happens if there's an exploit in the wild that can infect a computer before you can get it up and get patches and such applied to it? Remember when XP came around, and the conventional wisdom was "unplug your network cable/modem cable before installing"? What happens when the OS needs to call home to make sure you're not Pirate Pete?
  • by aaronl ( 43811 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @02:36PM (#15123146) Homepage
    That certificate costs several thousand dollars. There will likely be additional fees from Microsoft.

    What this means is that low-volume hardware becomes instantly more expensive, and amateur driver developers are locked out. You won't even be loading a test driver into your system without getting it signed. That should make driver dev a whole lot of fun.

    What do you get out of this? Why, DRM, and nothing else, of course.

    This is yet another reason that I *must* avoid Vista in my organization. Some of the software that is critical here uses unsigned drivers. Some hardware is out of production, and the latest driver is years old. I'm not throwing out my infrastructure just because Microsoft decided to sleep with Hollywood; I'll be throwing out Microsoft, because it's far less expensive to do.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban