Update on 'free' TechNet subscription

Yesterday Neowin posted instructions on how to obtain a free Microsoft TechNet subscription.

It's now clear that the free subscriptions were meant for a small and limited amount of people as part of an offer from Microsoft. Unfortunately this was not clear at the time of posting and the sign up links were public on Microsoft owned servers. We apologise that the possibility Microsoft had made a mistake wasn't highlighted more in our article until we updated it later when it became clear. Microsoft has currently disabled all accounts that were created using the method posted.

Thanks to Neowin member Kristan Kenney's blog we may have a final confirmation on how Microsoft will handle the keys produced from these subscriptions. Kenney spoke to a Microsoft TechNet spokesperson today and they supplied the following statement:

"The Microsoft TechNet Consumer Service Pilot program was intended for use only by those invited through the ITAC program, in which you had to fill out a survey and be accepted as a member of ITAC before being sent an invitation to the TechNet Pilot program.

All of the subscriptions that are listed under the TechNet Consumer Service Pilot have been taken offline and placed "under examination". Any subscriptions created by legitimate ITAC members with valid contact information will continue to have a valid subscription. For those who are not a member of ITAC and signed up directly with the web address will have their subscriptions revoked and any claimed product keys will be placed on a blacklist with Microsoft Genuine Advantage and Product Activation to prevent against software piracy."

When Kenney pushed the official for what would happen to those who planned to share their product keys the spokesperson confirmed "we are able to see what product keys have been assigned to a subscriber, so in that situation we can track down which subscriber the product key originated from."

We contacted Microsoft on several occasions yesterday and the company is aware of the situation but has not issued a full public statement on the matter. It appears that Microsoft will be revoking subscriptions and blacklisting keys obtained. Once we get further correspondence from Microsoft to confirm/deny Kenney's findings we will update this post.

Update: People in the UK are reporting their subscriptions have been re-instated. Still no word from Microsoft. What's going on here?

Update 2: Accounts for those in the UK appear to have been revoked again. I have spoken to Microsoft UK today, their official response so far "We are currently tracking down a statement for you from Microsoft and hope to have something for you shortly. We will keep you posted".

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382 Comments

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Chipshop said,
they will never sue, it's not even an option. Revoking the accounts and blacklisting the keys will be the worst that happens.

How can they sue for something their fault?

How can such an upfront and huge company like Microsoft take so long when releasing a statement? its ridiculous and unprofessional if you ask me!

it's because they are trying to figure a way out how they can turn this around and have reason for us not to have it. turning it around by maybe getting us to buy it as well as free advertisement of the service. thats what i thnk

UPDATE 6 (06/05/2009, 7:33 PM EST): After speaking with a customer service representative at Microsoft TechNet, they have reaffirmed what we already know. First off, they still do not have an ETA on when an official statement will be released regarding this issue. Legitimate ITAC members will be getting their subscriptions re-enabled at some point in the near future, however anyone who signed up through a direct link and was not a part of ITAC will not be getting their subscriptions reinstated. Also, any product keys claimed by illigitimate subscriptions are reportedly going to be blacklisted, however this has not been finalized by management.

You have 3000 computers? You either didn't understand the question or someone is lying. Either way congrats, you stole hundreds of worthless keys that will be blacklisted and face possible prosecution from Microsoft yet you seem to be proud of it. Yeah you're really smart.

Why obtaining 300 keys when you only need 1 for yourself, its cause of people having a stupid behavior like you that MS did close it.

I would hide myself instead of posting crap.

TRC said,
I don't know, because you're an immoral, inconsiderate crook?


I don't know whats more stupid, the fact that he sat at his desk clicking get another key until he got 300 for each produt or that he came here and publicly
announced what he did.

lol ! so much drama for for :
A - MS not securing its stuff.
B - A stupid blogger posting the famous link on the interweb.
C- Tons of geeks trying to get something that usualy cost at least 350 bucks for free when they shouldn't be allowed to.

The solution :
Let MS close and blacklist ALL keys/accounts that weren't supposed to be created ( i.e. : the ones that didn't received the survey or the ones that created their accounts after reading Ars or Neowin. End of story.

P.S. : Anyone that created an account illegally ( without receiving the proper email ... ) that complains about MS using the ban hammer is STUPID ! And if someone is planning to sue MS over this deserve an award for Uber Stupidity.

P.S. 2 : anyone blaming "Neowin" about this is just plain STUPID too.

MS issued a TechNet Plus Order Status -- Order Number: xxxxxxxxxx for the subscription by email with a link in it to check the transaction and get the Benefit Access Number (subscriber ID) in order to enable the subscriptions.

It is a bit difficult to reverse an offer for a select group of people, but to deny others the right to service if they find out. They could have done a select email or mailing campaign. This would have been legal. Opening up the backdoor and than shutting it after they have been raided is likely a violation of international law on their part. It really doesn't matter though because they have the "creative lawyers" that can spend days coming up with a solution to this.

For all of those laying blame on Neowin for reporting a Microsoft mistake, I propose a little scenario for you.

A car dealership owner tells his manager "we're going to give away free cars to some customers" the manager takes that to mean all customers so he puts the keys in the cars, leaves the doors unlocked, and puts a sign out front that reads "free cars, get 'em here." The local TV, newspaper, tabloid, etc. gets wind of this and runs an article on it and the car lot gets flooded with people coming in, filling out some brief personal info forms, and driving off in their free new cars. The dealership owner returns to find his lot emptying and immediately closes the gates and notifies the DMV that all of the cars that were mistakenly given away are not to be licensed preventing the recipients from using them.

And you want to blame the media? lol, good one.

Shane Pitman said,
For all of those laying blame on Neowin for reporting a Microsoft mistake, I propose a little scenario for you.

A car dealership owner tells his manager "we're going to give away free cars to some customers" the manager takes that to mean all customers so he puts the keys in the cars, leaves the doors unlocked, and puts a sign out front that reads "free cars, get 'em here." The local TV, newspaper, tabloid, etc. gets wind of this and runs an article on it and the car lot gets flooded with people coming in, filling out some brief personal info forms, and driving off in their free new cars. The dealership owner returns to find his lot emptying and immediately closes the gates and notifies the DMV that all of the cars that were mistakenly given away are not to be licensed preventing the recipients from using them.

And you want to blame the media? lol, good one.

Except that would never happen, there's a clear line between leaving car doors unlocked with keys in the ignition to the employee that lacks the due diligence to verify that there is something not entirely right about this situation.

Budious said,
Except that would never happen, there's a clear line between leaving car doors unlocked with keys in the ignition to the employee that lacks the due diligence to verify that there is something not entirely right about this situation.

Microsoft made a mistake in allowing any person access to the subscriptions, but that does not mean that those who signed up broke any laws or agreements. None of this software was stolen. Microsoft made contracts with users by mistake, but it made them just the same.

These really are two different situations, but even if they were similar, shouldn't it also be the responsibility of the media (investigative journalism) to contact the dealership owner for comment before publishing the article? That would be responsible journalism, but then again, should we expect anything more from a place that has the moto, "Where unprofessional journalism looks better."

The question is, does it really look better?

Budious said,

Except that would never happen, there's a clear line between leaving car doors unlocked with keys in the ignition to the employee that lacks the due diligence to verify that there is something not entirely right about this situation.


How is anything stolen when the user is going through the required steps (at that time) to obtain it as laid out by Microsoft?

Shane Pitman said,
For all of those laying blame on Neowin for reporting a Microsoft mistake, I propose a little scenario for you.

I don't lay total blame on Neowin, but this site did not verify what they were posting *. No, you can't verify everything, but when a FP article says that Neowin doesn't know if the deal is legit or not, but to get it while you can, they do share in some of that blame. It's the same with Ars and other sites that posted links.

* It took people that wanted to look all of 5 minutes to find out that you had to do a 2.5 month survey to qualify for and to keep that Technet account.

Shane Pitman said,
For all of those laying blame on Neowin for reporting a Microsoft mistake, I propose a little scenario for you.

A car dealership owner tells his manager "we're going to give away free cars to some customers" the manager takes that to mean all customers so he puts the keys in the cars, leaves the doors unlocked, and puts a sign out front that reads "free cars, get 'em here." The local TV, newspaper, tabloid, etc. gets wind of this and runs an article on it and the car lot gets flooded with people coming in, filling out some brief personal info forms, and driving off in their free new cars. The dealership owner returns to find his lot emptying and immediately closes the gates and notifies the DMV that all of the cars that were mistakenly given away are not to be licensed preventing the recipients from using them.

And you want to blame the media? lol, good one.

This is so far away from this situation it makes me want to cry. Neowin reported something as factually correct when it simply was not. This is inexcusable of a site this size. In your example, the media reported something that was factually correct, but the company screwed up. Ok sure, Microsoft shouldn't have left a 'back door' to this, but to say Microsoft "offering free Technet" is just outright wrong.

Best bit of advice i can offer is to be mature admit MS made a mistake and that it is fully within their power to rectify that mistake, I'm not to hot on law and legal issues so i shall leave that to someone who is, I know have a much better understanding of what Technet is and its purpose and how it works.

My small company normally reviews software using betas or *gasp* "other means" before committing to a license but browsing through the Technet downloads, library etc made me far more aware of the value of the service.
MS may have inadvertently gained itself a few new subscribers... maybe they may want to thank Neowin

Neowin didn't do anything wrong. Microsoft is to blame for making the subscription process accessible to anyone instead of just the ITAC members it was designed for. Microsoft should hold itself accountable and not the people who signed up.

UPDATE 5 (06/05/2009, 9:54 AM EST): I have spoken with Microsoft TechNet Customer Service and there is no new information at this point in time, however the agent said there may be a solid answer by tonight, so I'll try calling again at that time. It would appear that subscriptions in the UK have completely dissapeared for most people again.

Thing is, i thought in the original article it stated only persons from the UK,Australia and USA where eligable, so only people who signed up using legit details, didn`t go stupid and reside in said countries have any reason to feel aggreived.

They disabled all accounts that signed up through those links. Whether the person downloaded anything or generated keys at this point is irrelevant. The question is will anyone get their accounts back to keep.

I voted no. what if Microsoft didn't revoke those account. who would you guys thanks for? are you goign to thanks to Neowin for posted a great deal? I just don't know why microsoft reinstall account for some of the users in UK but not for other countries such as USA, CAN. Let wait and see what Microsoft going to do.

Different laws probably. The laws in the UK protect the consumers while the laws in the US tend to protect the corporations.

Gee...neowin posted something before it was confirmed......and everyone goes bonkers trying to get something
for nothing......who'd thunk it?

My account has now gone too, it was working this morning with correct dates (2nd June 2010). To be fair I knew it was too good to be true and have not used any of the keys I generated just incase. It will be interesting to see the legality of it all. I'm sure everyone just pressed "agree" to the T&C like me without reading them ... I wonder what they said ... anyone know if you can still access the T&C?

something i find interesting is the number of people claiming that they are now signing up to technet legitimately since this debacle. If you're an IT worker, SURELY you knew about technet/msdn already? I find it a bit worrying you're so out of touch with the industry that it takes a global exploit to expose something that's existed for years.... :S

Not all of us work in ICT.

Yes we have know of this for some time.

However some of us cannot afford to wack out a huge sum.

Though, now my family needs a laptop each and our circumstances are

changing, then this would be an ideal source on saving some monies.

you shouldnt be using technet licence keys to supply your family with laptops! the licence is for evaluation only, i.e. test builds and development machines

leesmithg said,
Not all of us work in ICT.
Though, now my family needs a laptop each and our circumstances are
changing, then this would be an ideal source on saving some monies.
It's ******** like you that will end programs like Technet. That's not what it's for.

leesmithg said,
Not all of us work in ICT.

Yes we have know of this for some time.

However some of us cannot afford to wack out a huge sum.

Though, now my family needs a laptop each and our circumstances are

changing, then this would be an ideal source on saving some monies.

Hope you get caught and locked up. Then how well off will your family be?

Caught doing what?

Buying 4 laptops from Argos, is that a criminal offence?

Oh I read what subscriptions entitles me to, lets see, I can legally download and install an operating system and try out future releases for nada.

You only goto prison in Britain for non-payment of council tax and tv licence, I pay both!

zoonyx said,
Hope you get caught and locked up. Then how well off will your family be?


Breaching the terms of an EULA is hardly a prisonable offence... It's not even illegal. At worse, it's a civil issue that MS would never bother to take to court.

leesmithg said,
Caught doing what?

Buying 4 laptops from Argos, is that a criminal offence?

But wouldnt those 4 laptops from Argos already have Windows installed?????
and also didnt you know that Windows 7 RC is a public release??

he'll probably expect them to not install windows because he got 4 nada copies and demand they give him a full refund off the cost of the laptops..LOL

surely all this goes against the UK trading standards? they offer a product for free send a reciept.... are they really allowed to just revoke the account? doesn't it break trading standards?

It would if that was MS real intent, however it's blindingly obvious now that the offer/link was associated to those who had participated in a survey, which none of us, through no fault of our own, were aware of.
No doubt MS lawyers are digging deep into the implications of this and we'll get answer one way or other in good time.

lazieye said,
It would if that was MS real intent, however it's blindingly obvious now that the offer/link was associated to those who had participated in a survey, which none of us, through no fault of our own, were aware of.
No doubt MS lawyers are digging deep into the implications of this and we'll get answer one way or other in good time.

Intent has no place in a contract. If you make a contract but you intended to make another one, tough cookies. The contract is there. In this case the contract is a bill of sale for $0.00

Well, I can't necessairly say it was a bad thing that it happened, but then again, Microsoft shouldn't have been so stupid to make the link obvious.

They should have made it session key based.

Looks like MS are currently sorting it out. This has come up when I signed in (UK)

Scheduled Maintenance

Duration (GMT-8): Friday, June 05, 2009 5:00:00 PM To (GMT-8): Saturday, June 06, 2009 5:00:00 PM

Last Updated (GMT-8): Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:21:10 PM

Benefit or Service: Impact: Affected Customers:
Benefits entitlement
Subscribers will not be able to access benefits
Volume license customers
Retail customers in Asia

User Action:
Please try again after the scheduled maintenance.

Looks like an outcome wont be coming this side of the weekend.

As a longtime MS supporter I am absolutely disappointed in their behavior in this case.
The fact is, a lot of people "joined" in good faith and now all but a few countries' residents have had the rug pulled out from under them. The fact that those folks' subscriptions are being reinstated because their LAWS provide for it is irrelevant.

MS should reinstate ALL subscriptions, not because they are forced to by law, but BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

Actually... I beg to differ. Pretty much everyone here is a techie of one form or another and are MORE than smart enough to realise that the whole thing was an error and that they were just exploiting it.

I think it was pretty obvious that the subscriptions and all keys would end up redacted once MS realised what was going on.

FloatingFatMan,

Its not all of us who did over exploit it, i only generate key for one software and i did not download anything when my subscription was active.

gonzo68 said,
FloatingFatMan,

Its not all of us who did over exploit it, i only generate key for one software and i did not download anything when my subscription was active.


Oh I'm not saying people DID over-exploit it (apart from that guy in the thread that had generated about 300 keys), but I am saying that we can't really complain now that MS appear to have caught on and are terminating the accounts.

I'd fully expect ALL keys to be blacklisted within the next few days...

Lets get it straight...it was a "too good to be true" offer which most of us signed up to, it was only as time went on it dawned on us that something wasn't right. For the majority there was no ill intent and I just as gonzo68 just generated 1 key for Vista SP2.
Sure, some have taken full advantage of this, but most did think it was one of those once in a lifetime offers.

Microsoft made a mistake and illegal or not most of us did use it to register in a legal way providing them with our real name and address. The invoice was $0.00 and we accept and process it using their secure page.

It sounds to me that microsoft action of removing subscription without any notice is more illegal than what we did.

gonzo68 said,
Microsoft made a mistake and illegal or not most of us did use it to register in a legal way providing them with our real name and address. The invoice was $0.00 and we accept and process it using their secure page.

It sounds to me that microsoft action of removing subscription without any notice is more illegal than what we did.

I used my real address, and yes, Microsoft have made a mistake, however; by first giving access then taking it away and then a day later giving it back again and removing it a few hours later is really taking the p*ss! we should be given back access to technet and Microsoft should learn from their mistake and be more careful next time....

surely ordering a product (at whatever the price) and then taking it away is illegal in some way?

I emailed ms about it and got a reply;

Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for contacting TechNet Plus. We are currently researching your query and will respond within the next two business days.

Pugal said,
2 business day..it's tooooo long...so tell them to respond it 2day itself....


But unfortunately that will also take 2 days

It looks like it has been taken away again!! Grrrrr! but my downloads are still running.....

this is a real ****-up from MS and they should let us keep our 1 year subscriptions, are they breaking UK law for what they are doing?

what do they think they are doing???they are just playing a hide and seek game on us!!!they gave to uk..but not to other countries....they did a mistake....and they shouldn't apologize like this....they got 2 options..either give us the subscription or don't blacklist the key...thats it...

I tried activating my subscription again with the benefit number but it doesn't do anything, it just goes back to the subscription page which is pretty much blank.

all it says is;

TechNet Subscription Management


Microsoft TechNet Subscriptions are an essential resource for IT professionals planning, implementing and supporting Microsoft solutions. It is your personal library of Microsoft software, Knowledge Base articles, service packs, security updates, Resource kits, and technical guidance.

Already a subscriber? You can associate subscriptions with your Microsoft Passport by using the Add New Subscription link.

b*gger.

Yep same here. Mine was re-instated now its gone again. Tried what you did but got the same result. How many more c**k ups are MS going to make?

I'd rather you guys were on the absolute forefront of the news and get it wrong on occasion than being weeks behind.

nowhere on that page did it say you had to fill in an application form to get it therefore its false advertising and against UK law, they must sell the goods for the price stated i.e £0.00.

It's not just UK law, that is pretty common in laws around the world. Once the management at Microsoft comes to this realization, they will either have to reinstate the accounts or face massive class action lawsuits over this. They screwed up, plain and simple, and should have to face the consequences.

the only vista ultimate sp2 iso's on there seem to be "checked builds" which include debugging code or something, there are enterprise images that arent checked build ones, anyone know if its possible to download a proper ultimate sp2 integrated image off technet?

Received this 4 hours ago:

Thank you for your email.

To all Invitees we apologise for the delay, this is due to the Huge unauthorized applicants

The TechNet Plus team ran a survey program, for someone to get a free TechNet Plus Subscription as part of the program, he/she had to participate in an initial survey. Only participants of the survey program are entitled to a free TechNet Plus subscription. Those participants are not only participating in the initial survey, but also in several other surveys throughout the subscription year. The subscription is given to those participants in exchange for their assistance in this program, and only these persons are entitled to a free subscription.

If you are not part of a survey program then you are not entitled to use this free subscription, to enable us to resolve your issues with the pilot scheme, please issue us with proof that you are part of the above scheme

We would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to ensure this issue is resolve shortly. But have suspended all access at this time.

We thank you for your patience.

Should you have further questions please feel free to contact us again.
Kind Regards,
Microsoft TechNet Program
mailto: technet@eu.subservices.com

For future contacts please use our webforms at https://microsoft.eu.subservices.com/techne...ailcontact.aspx or for information about your subscription visit http://eu.technet.microsoft.com

7:19 AM EST in Canada and my account is inactive. I can't generate any keys or download anything from TechNet's subscriber download page. Perhaps the reinstated UK accounts have something to do with UK laws regarding paid items.

Likewise. Hope it stays up, but I suspect I'll end up buying a subscription anyway when 7 comes out as its hugely useful.

For Canadian and US take notes the timezone. UK and Australian office are opened but not there yet so if they will correct the situation they will in a couple of hours

yeah no luck here either, registered with real details from within the UK. I find it hard to believe they're checking accounts one by one but you never know.

UK signer here still getting the greyed out keys and downloads, maybe it`s a timescale thing or just wait till they check where IP is from. Didn`t take the Michael and get loads of keys, just 1.
Are you guys who now are sorted (UK) loging in from the email received or direct?

got all my keys back and downloads back on the technet Offer (UK)

SubscriptionType: Retail
Subscription Status: Active
Expiration Date: 6/2/2010

and on the muppets blaming Neowin for posting this....errr stfu......go shout at MS for being incompetant.

THANK YOU NEOWIN, you have gained MS 2 new Technet+ subscriptions due to your news post (paid for by employer)

Look, guys, to be honest, we can't really blame Neowin much. I mean, yeah, sure, they should have checked out a couple of sources before posting something like this - that would've been great and loads of us would probably still have our accounts. But regardless, it was a very minor mistake on their part and it's just unfortunate that that led to such major consequences (us having our technet accounts taken away). Anyway, I'd just like to thank the Neowin community - Thanks guys, I've finally gotten a chance to check out Technet, now I think I might just buy it in a couple of months because man, it is awesome.

I clicked the Get key button and no key showed up but it had then changed to Get More Keys so I clicked it a couple of more times, then all of a sudden I had 6-7 keys. I only needed 1-2 (at most). I've only used one key and only activated that one key once (for a VM). Which I'd certainly consider a "testing and evaluation" situation, in spirit with the TOS and EULA.

OK, I am from the UK, my account was dead yesterday but after reading this this morning I logged back in and it has my expiary date as June 2nd 2010 instead of the 1900 date Also I can see all the keys again. I can confirm it has nothing to do with how many keys you requested as I have 10 or so on quite a few where I kept clicking them :)

Interesting Microsoft ... very interesting ... I wait to see what happens

Update which i found in a blog:-It's already mention in the top.I got this updates from Kristan's blog...Thanks to him...

UPDATE (06/04/2009 7:50 PM EST): I have been in touch with Microsoft TechNet Customer Service once again and was provided some updated information. At this point, management are still deciding whether or not any of the product keys claimed through these subscriptions will be blacklisted, as well as any legal implications and ramifications there may be in this event; the rest of the above information has not changed (this offer was only for ITAC, and that the subscriptions have been revoked).

When I asked them what would happen if someone were to share or otherwise sell the product keys obtained, the agent informed me that it would be handled appropriately as they would with any other product key leak.

UPDATE 2 (06/05/2009 2:50 AM EST): Users in the United Kingdom and Australia appear to be able to access their benefits once again and their subscriptions have been reinstated. Perhaps this is due to different laws in those countries?

UPDATE 3 (06/05/2009 2:59 AM EST): I have been informed by Bryant that some accounts in the United States are being reinstated as well, however it seems that accounts that requested several product keys are being investigated. I will get in touch with Microsoft TechNet when their contact centre opens for business this morning to find out if there is any new information.

UPDATE 4 (06/05/2009 3:34 AM EST): Bryant has reported that access for United States subscriptions is intermittent. I can also confirm that there has been no sign of reinstatement for accounts created in Canada. Again, as I hear more information I will pass it along to you.

well after many years reading Neowin without registering I thought I'd comment..

I can't see why this is Neowins fault, I did suspect it was an error and that it would get pulled pretty quickly (took longer than I thought) but I did sign up for the deal anyway.

I've used it to nosey around technetplus (without downloading anything) and am probably going to subscribe as I like the elearning benefits.
Mainly because I could get it working for a charity in the UK from CTXhange for £15 +vat for the year.. **

** the reason we haven't already is that we'd hit our "quota" for the year of purchases through CTX already before technet was offered.
That time period coming to an end soon, I will probably sign up. Even at such a low price, working in charity at the moment you have to justify everything. Obviously if my account gets reinstated from this sign up then it'll be a bonus!

I'm still frozen out (UK user also who registered with personal details & associated with Live account) but I'm wondering if it's because I inadvertently generated about 10 keys. It kept erroring-out when I tried to generate them but when I got onto the key management tab thing I found they'd actually been generated after all...

We'll have to see what happens I suppose but at the moment, I'm not optimistic for my account.

Don't think so, I did the same and got 7 or 8 keys I think, but also know a couple of people who didn't get any keys and haven't got their account back yet. I expect they're going through addresses etc and enabling any that are correct and closing ones that have "fake" addresses. Probably also checking IP addresses to ensure they signed up from where they say they did.

Cheers for that Mike, hope you're right and that sounds more encouraging. It could be they're simply overwhelmed by people who subscribed and are working their way through them... I'll give it a few days before I give up entirely.

I notice Technet Plus is on offer for a reduced price in the UK and US (or so it seemed when I was browsing earlier) so this may well create a lot of extra business for Microsoft anyway due to the interest it's generated.

Shaun_ said,
I'm in the UK and don't have my account restored yet. :cry:

Don't have mine back either - I only requested 1 xp key and used real details (apart from phone number, which I never give out to things like this :p)

Shaun_ said,
I'm in the UK and don't have my account restored yet. :cry:

Same here, and for some reason I have a feeling it won't be either

Willeh said,
Anyone in the UK and not have had their account restored?


Yes we already told you this, read my post I am from England.

leesmithg said,
Yes we already told you this, read my post I am from England.

I'm sorry? I thought your account was restored.

Mine however, has not and I too live in the UK.

I wrote it had been reactivated, I knew of this at around 04:00 this morning.

Maybe you didn't give them a kosher billing address or maybe you need to try again.

I am also on their questionnaire mailings and anything else they have to offer, so maybe thats another reason.

leesmithg said,
I wrote it had be reactivated, I knew of thisat around 04:00 this morning.

That's strange, alot of people from the UK have had their accounts reactivated.
Mine however hasn't, I live in the UK and I didn't even download much / request that many keys :P
Guess I'll wait and see what happens.

a guy in the office here in the uk had to click the original activation link again to bind the offer with his passport account. he did that this morning and his subscription was enabled with an end date. Maybe this will help people in the uk with no reactivation?

affy1977 said,
Im happy to report the my account has been restored and has an expiry date of 2 June 2010 :)


Thats brill me tooooooo, so maybe windows 7 for free he he

XChrome said,
I will be ****ed if the UK and AUS people get the accounts back and we don't here in the homeland.

Well it's your laws that are the problem, commonwealth nations simply have better laws for things like this.

Mine has been reactivated, TYVM Micorosoft, original poster and Neowin owners and subscribers.

I now have 5 keys for 32 and 64 bit vista ultimate, which means I can buy 3 laptops very soon.

32 bit and 64 bit keys are the same.

I had actually (as I probably mentioned) upgraded my broadband to unlimited as to take advantage of this.

I will also buy a subscription when this runs out as it seems like money well spent.

:)

willdev said,
I am also thinking about buying a subscription after this runs out! :)


I actually tried to renew my subscription just now as I see good value in TechNet (I'm UK, was also re-activated with an expiry date of 2/6/2010), but it won't let me - tells me I have no active subscriptions on my account. Sucks.

my account now has a proper subscription with an end date. All downloads are enabled and so are the keygens. I'm in the UK.

Will wait and see what happens now. Given that they sent me a receipt for £0.00 and we've both agreed a contract, i'm not sure this can be reversed under UK law by MS unless i violate the EULA. I have no intention of selling keys and so far i've generated one Win7 RC key.....

The pages currently says "Scheduled Maintenance" and that subscribers will not be able to access benefits during this time.

I am in the UK, I can login OK but and it says scheduled maintenance to do with benefits entitlement, but I can't access key or any downloads. I did grab an iso of Vista 32 sp2 yesterday which will handy when I do reinstalls of customer PCs.

Will be interesting to see what they do from here. I'm pretty tempted to buy one of these subscriptions, either that or an MSDN subscription (for the developer tools).

Not to bothered about them blacklisting the keys - haven't used any of the ones I got anyway, more interested in the Vista ISO with SP2 integrated.

Mine has not come back yet, even though I did register it from my UK address. I'm not to fussed if it doesn't, would be nice if it did though

Mine is up and OK too.. Though I didn't actually generate any keys before, just grabbed an ISO of Vista x64 SP2...

I quite like what's on there though... I'll be subbing up properly at some point.

Im from Sri Lanka. So guess bad luck for me. Cant a Subscriber invite others ? like inviting with a Coupon Code or something..... man i really need one. if you can pls PM me

Those that have there accounts back what is your expiry date?

mine is 6/2/2010, so looks like its a year long :)

also mine has changed from pilot to TechNet Direct (Retail)

Viktimized said,
And you guys followed that link? This is strange.


yep i signed up on the 3rd using the details from here

MikeBuzz said,
Those that have there accounts back what is your expiry date?

mine is 6/2/2010, so looks like its a year long :)

also mine has changed from pilot to TechNet Direct (Retail)

Mine too :-)

does this mean we can get hold of Windows / when it goes RTM?? fingers crossed....

If your account has been reinstated then your product keys should be fine, as far as I am aware (as your subscription is now valid).

The last I spoke with Microsoft, they informed me that the product keys may or may not be blacklisted for revoked subscriptions (management was still looking into it and also looking at the legal implications of this matter). This hasn't been updated on the Neowin post, however I am providing updates as I get them on my blog.

Mine is also back. Not sure what's going on here. Is everyone getting their accounts back, and then if you use any of the keys you get stuffed?

I'm sure if they didn't want you to use the keys they wouldn't reinstate the account. At this point my best guess is because of the laws in the UK that protect the consumers from having their subscriptions revoked.

They probably aren't reinstating them all at once. I'd guess they are investigating them first to see if the person did something fishy like generating 300 keys. I'm just wondering if people in the US will get theirs back also.

Again, nobody generated "300 keys". The subscriptions allow one key per product. Period.

The keys are good for multiple activations. Once a subscriber requests a key for a particular product, that key is posted on a listing within the subscriber site. It can be re-used within the terms of the subscription, but it cannot be re-requested.

I don't know what the limit actually is but it's way more than one (although it may only be one for certain products). One person said they got a dozen keys for Vista for example (which is completely ridiculous in my opinion). I think that would probably raise some eyebrows at Microsoft.

As for the 300 keys thing there was a guy on here back when this all started claiming he had or intended to make multiple accounts so he could get 300 keys. Whether he really did that or not I don't know but I just wanted to poke fun at him a bit.

As I say, when you have a membership, you only get one key per product, good for multiple activations (you can do up to 10 concurrent Vista installs, but they all use the same key).

And, yes, I saw buddy's "300 keys" post. He was just trying to wind people up, and it looks like he succeeded.

Thunderbuck said,
Again, nobody generated "300 keys". The subscriptions allow one key per product. Period.

Not true...I'm sure it was limited so that 300 per product wasn't possible (probably 10 or something rather low) but I know for a fact that you can get more than one key per product.

In the US and my account remains deactivated. Won't be surprised if it remains that way...or if MS does blacklist all US keys...seems to me that the chance of them doing that would go up with them reactivating UK and Australia accounts...limit the damage and all.

Hope they just admit they screwed up by not properly restricting access to the offer and leave the keys that were generated alone.

What a smug, self-righteous tone among some posters here.

First, Microsoft posted this as a public link. They did not have to, because the targeted participants were already registered with MS for their survey. That product page could have been secured to be available only to selected users via their Windows Live ID. The very fact that this could be reached by anyone suggested to me that it was open to anyone. This isn't just the case of the inadvertantly unlocked back door, it was a deliberately unlocked back door, with a sign that read "welcome, feel free to take what you want".

Second, Neowin was not remiss in reporting this. They were relaying a post and links that originally appeared on ArsTechnica, which is a site that enjoys a reasonably good reputation in its own right. Neowin's tone was no more opportunistic than AT's. I see no way in which they owe anyone an apology.

I suspect many users will be able to keep their accounts, particularly if they've used established Windows Live IDs to link to them (ie, they didn't do a new, scam account just to take advantage). And as long as users abide by Microsoft's EULA, I don't see why they should feel bad keeping them.

Just wanted to say, that I TOTALLY support Neowin, becuase Neowin it´s not only the backstage staff, but it is a complete community -including us the forum users around here and the regular readers-. I believe our staff just wanted to bring the good news to all the members and regular readers around here with good will, faith and passion. They did it for us, the community. For those who are complaining, nobody around here forced you guys to access the site and make a Technet account. I mean, we´re all enough grown up to make up our own decisions and take the best route of action for us.

The one responsible about this mess around here is Microsoft, and why I understand we´re all humans and mistakes are common of us -they didn´t do this just to mess up with the people-, I´m not happy of how they´re handling the situation. I'm currently a registered partner with them -with an Action pack suscription- and an MCP and I believe MS not only is being rude revoking the access to those who haven´t abused the account (300 keys anyone?) and opened an account navively and without malice or any kind of ill will. It is also being rude to us, Partners and MCP´s by not notifying us about this offer first, or making an exception when checking up accounts (all my MS related programs are linked to the same passport account) pertaining to MCP´s or Partners; after all we´re their most loyal user base and the one whose actually spread the word and -most times- legally buy their products and spend time and money learning and "evangelizing" their technologies.

In the case of Ars and Neowin, they have been loyal sites and channels to openly advertise MS products and technologies without paying out a dime, so, MS should acknowledge those aspects and embrace both sites and their communities in some way to at least repay them a little.

Just my 2 cents...

Moe Szyslak said,
So what about us Americans getting our accounts back or do we have no chance at all?

The US law in this case supports MS, the commonwealth supports the people.

Might I suggest to the Neowin team that next time there is such a story, by all means report it and post source links; but don't post the links like the ones to the subscription page in this story.

That way, you still get the story, but don't risk getting into any trouble.

I think we'll definitely try to be more clear in future on these kinds of things as the feedback has been mixed in this thread alone but you have to understand we, like everyone else, were unsure what was being offered and could only go by what was stated on a Microsoft owned domain. Nevertheless this has been a lesson for all including us.

Oh sure, I completely agree with you. Hence I'm not pointing any fingers here. You guys had no idea of the legitimacy of the links, so you just posted what you thought was OK.

I, for one, would NOT like to see you guys at Neowin get in trouble with the likes of MS for innocently posting a news story that other sites were also carrying.

If I gave out a link that could convert a normal Neowin account into a Subscriber^2 account, what would Neowin do? What would happen to all the user accounts that were converted before the admins and moderators found out about it?

Why would Neowin place such a link on a page that the public could reach?

If you devised such a link on your own, and published it as an exploit, that would be a different matter.

Tom W said,
That wouldn't happen because we wouldn't supply a link publicly without some kind of protection.

Yes, you wouldn't knowingly. But the question is, if 500 members abused such a link to create accounts, what would the reaction be?

I feel like I am going round in circles. We wouldn't supply a link publicly without some kind of protection, so that wouldn't happen. Also Subscriber 2 accounts are approved manually. Nowhere would we have a link stating that it was free or that the cost associated was $0. Your argument is flawed like most people who have replied in this manner.

Tom W said,
I feel like I am going round in circles. We wouldn't supply a link publicly without some kind of protection, so that wouldn't happen. Also Subscriber 2 accounts are approved manually. Nowhere would we have a link stating that it was free or that the cost associated was $0. Your argument is flawed like most people who have replied in this manner.

You're only going around in circles because you refuse to entertain a scenario in which Neowin is placed in a situation similar to the one Microsoft now finds itself in.

The TechNet creation link was either not meant to be publically accessible, or was priced incorrectly. People used it to create an account (or in some cases, many accounts) for free, when they should not have been able to. Neowin aided in this process by posting relevant links.

I'm not interested in saying that any of this was right and wrong. I'm curious as to how Neowin would react if a large number of users took advantage of a mistake and became subscribers without paying. If that were to happen, should Neowin allow the accounts to continue for a year, or simply take them away?

There's an excellent chance that Microsoft will let this pass. It provides a whole bunch of people with an evaluation of TechNet Direct that they might never have know about, and as long as individual users don't do stupid s#it like distributing their keys, MS is probably cool about it.

Well it looks like my subscription is no longer. It was good while it lasted. I managed to try out Windows 7 semi-legally which was cool.

TRC said,
Well it looks like people in Australia and the UK are getting their accounts back.

It only appears to be those in the United Kingdom and Australia, perhaps due to consumer relations laws that are enforced in those countries (where if you have been invoiced for a product it cannot be revoked etc).

TRC said,
Well it looks like people in Australia and the UK are getting their accounts back.

Does this give me the green light to use the keys? I live in the UK.

thealexweb said,
Does this give me the green light to use the keys? I live in the UK.

If your subscription has been restored then as long as you abide by the Microsoft TechNet EULA you should be alright to use the product keys. If it's an option, you could ask the Online Concierge (I'm not sure if they're available for customers outside of the US and Canada?)

I read that some people got their accounts back and checked mine instantly. Sure enough my subscription was back. Weird thing is, my address says I'm from the UK. I must have accidentally put the UK instead of the US when I signed up or something. Would be awesome if I get to keep it for a year!

Nighthawk64 said,
If your subscription has been restored then as long as you abide by the Microsoft TechNet EULA you should be alright to use the product keys. If it's an option, you could ask the Online Concierge (I'm not sure if they're available for customers outside of the US and Canada?)

Hang on I can access my product key page again, what does this mean? I actually see all the keys I claimed.

thealexweb said,
Hang on I can access my product key page again, what does this mean? I actually see all the keys I claimed.

I can download new stuff again to.

TRC said,
Well it looks like people in Australia and the UK are getting their accounts back.

I got mine back, UK user here

My only thoughts on this whole thing is, im glad they posted it quick, it was a mistake by all of us all around. I just wish that neowin having numbers to reps and emails, they would have updated things quicker. let us know that they are trying to contact someone to see what this is, but here is the post, go to it at ur own risk.

Tom W said,
We did update the post quickly, 3 times in fact.

Im sorry, i didnt say things how i thought them in my head. I wish more announcements like "we are trying to do this..., and contact these people on that.." In this case i would have liked to have seen something like. We contacted -insert name-. all they were able to tell us was.... and said they would get back to us within a day but we were told that people should not be doing this. Maybe i am being ignorant about how information flows from microsoft reps, cuz they were being contacted on this, right?

We don't like to mention people's name publicly who we have spoken to as that would be unfair to them and there's no need. When a PR person from any firm responds to a request they always ask that it is contributed to a un-named spokesperson generally and Microsoft is the same. Information flow from Microsoft can be varied and as this is complicated (multi-national) there are different laws and issues so making a global reply instantly isn't in their interests until they have the full facts. I am sure once they do they will reply and clear it up for everyone.

It's helpful for having stuff delivered or having them contact you if you use your real name and address. Newegg wouldn't be worth a cent to me if I told them my name was Art Vandelay and I lived in Burma.

hahaha so what happens if you used this to upgrade Vista Home Premium to Ultimate? Since the activation keys are blacklisted and will be seen as pirated versions basically, will you have to do a clean install, losing all of your data?

have a question why is every one freaking out about the windows keys when you can just go on the internet and find a couple slp keys and oem certs?
the last time i checked you can activate windows whenever you want and and as many times as you wanted with those... any version too

No, not legally you can't. Why compare downloading leaked, stolen keys with what people thought was a genuine offer from Microsoft? The issue here is that people thought this was legal. They signed up and Microsoft gave them a valid account, then revoked it because it wasn't really intended for the public. It's too bad that the signup page did not make that clear at all though. Totally Microsoft's fault, and the person that leaked the link saying it was for the public.

see thats what I'm thinking. You can't just illegally acquire keys. I thought these were legal keys. So if I use these now, they won't be valid, right?

There is one thing I think Microsoft should do as a result of this whole mess. If they're going to hold on to the personal
details of all those that unwittingly signed up to this, they should invite us all (or as many as they realistically can) to
take part in future surveys, so we can be entitled to sign up legitimate free short-term trial Technet subscriptions.

This would of course be subject to strict Non-Disclosure Agreements to prevent a repeat performance of this fiasco.

If anything, it'd create some good PR for Microsoft, and perhaps ultimately, a fair bit of extra money from those
that decide to renew their Technet memberships once their free short-term trial subscriptions are due to end.

your technet account is still going to be active, just they took out download access...I can still get into my technet account, i just can't download anything except garbage, like win 7 RC

How can selling me something and then taking it away be legal? I have a receipt of the transaction sitting right in front of me, and there were no stipulations mentioned on the website about completing any survey. At no point did I break any agreement which I was presented.

Memnochxx said,
How can selling me something and then taking it away be legal? I have a receipt of the transaction sitting right in front of me, and there were no stipulations mentioned on the website about completing any survey. At no point did I break any agreement which I was presented.

they didn't sell you anything. If their eula is like any other eula, i'm sure there is a line there that says they can change it at all if they see so fit and you pretty much agree to it. I know it didn't read the eula and I wish people on here would stop acting like they did.

don't get mad at Microsoft or Neowin for this.

Well to be fair it was handled as a sale, even though it was for $0 and a receipt of sale was mailed out to those who signed up.

TRC said,
Well to be fair it was handled as a sale, even though it was for $0 and a receipt of sale was mailed out to those who signed up.

Ok that's true, but again people on neowin need to calm down. nobody in this site lost any money whatsover and if anything most of us gained something, and people are still complaining.

Oh I don't really expect them to honor the accounts, and I did get a Vista SP2 DVD out of it (and I do have a Vista license so it will be handy for doing fresh installs). It would of course be nice if they honored the subscriptions, but I'm sure that isn't going to happen.

WARNING: Using the trick above to subscribe to TechNet Plus without participating in the research activities is in fact illegal, and the subscription may be revoked and made inactive anytime (proof from 1/1/1900 expiration date

Once there, click on "Buy" button (make sure it's zero 0 cost), login or sign up Windows Live ID, and follow online instruction to order TechNet Plus Consumer Services Professional Pilot (Part # TRI1X000NTNONE). After ordering is done, a Subscriber Benefit Access Number (BAN) number will be given, which can be used to activate TechNet Plus subscription. Once you have completed the registration, you will be able to access your online benefits, including Subscriber Downloads from the TechNet Subscriptions Management page. The products that will be available for free including Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2010 and many more, probably except Visual Studio which more meaningful for developers at MSDN subscription.

Those who order the free TechNet Plus subscription also manage to get Hyper-V Changes Server Virtualization Options whitepaper from Directions on Microsoft and Implementing Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 e-learning course 6536 from Microsoft Learning.

WARNING: Using the trick above to subscribe to TechNet Plus without participating in the research activities is in fact illegal, and the subscription may be revoked and made inactive anytime (proof from 1/1/1900 expiration date).

Quite a few people including myself signed up the legit way going through the survey first and our subs are still active. Whoever leaked those links is to blame for the all the people who tried to get free subs without doing the required work.

I wish I HAD known about the survey first, as I would've gone through it to evaluate technet. It's an awesome resource I never really knew about ,and considering we do alot of testing on different OS's in my department, I could've even justified doing a corporate purchase of at least one subscription for my department, and then renewing. Oh well, we'll see now.

That's the problem, most of us had no idea about any survey and the site in the link (and emails) certainly made no mention of one. How were we supposed to know?

OMFG everyone stop accusing neowin of wrong doing. The Name of the program was "TECHNET PILOT" and it was a TRIAL. It Clearly stated in the signup that it was a free 1 YR TRIAL of technet, and then after that paid, so there's the time bomb part. Second, As TOM W already stated, there wasn't a real way to verify. We all clicked the link, submitted our info, saw the order confirmation...it was and looked 110% LEGIT! Take that, combined with the fact that the links/Downloads were valid for at least 24 freakin hours, and neowin was not to blame.

Stop accusing, you're all just as dirty for clicking the link anyway. I don't see you all jumping on CNN or the New York Times or any other major news organization every time they misprint or misstate a fact or story, so lay off.

I was prepped, set, and ready to pull the trigger on renewing my subscription the day it expired as well...I even TRIED to renew it even after they canceled them, but sadly it said I had to sign up for a first time account, not the 249$ renewal. I would've gladly paid 250$ for what Technet offers.

SirEvan said,
OMFG everyone stop accusing neowin of wrong doing. The Name of the program was "TECHNET PILOT" and it was a TRIAL. It Clearly stated in the signup that it was a free 1 YR TRIAL of technet, and then after that paid, so there's the time bomb part. Second, As TOM W already stated, there wasn't a real way to verify. We all clicked the link, submitted our info, saw the order confirmation...it was and looked 110% LEGIT! Take that, combined with the fact that the links/Downloads were valid for at least 24 freakin hours, and neowin was not to blame.

Stop accusing, you're all just as dirty for clicking the link anyway. I don't see you all jumping on CNN or the New York Times or any other major news organization every time they misprint or misstate a fact or story, so lay off.

I was prepped, set, and ready to pull the trigger on renewing my subscription the day it expired as well...I even TRIED to renew it even after they canceled them, but sadly it said I had to sign up for a first time account, not the 249$ renewal. I would've gladly paid 250$ for what Technet offers.

Are you kidding? Major news outlets such as CNN or NYT have had major civil proceedings brought against them every single time they misprint or misstate a fact (please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNN_controversies). The difference is these outlets are willing to concede and issue re-prints, admitting wrongdoing and clarifying facts.

Neowin is currently unable to admit wrongdoing at this point and it certainly does not make unprofessional journalism look better. If you want to play with the big boys in news you have to be willing to play the whole game.

SirEvan said,
OMFG everyone stop accusing neowin of wrong doing. The Name of the program was "TECHNET PILOT" and it was a TRIAL. It Clearly stated in the signup that it was a free 1 YR TRIAL of technet, and then after that paid, so there's the time bomb part. Second, As TOM W already stated, there wasn't a real way to verify. We all clicked the link, submitted our info, saw the order confirmation...it was and looked 110% LEGIT! Take that, combined with the fact that the links/Downloads were valid for at least 24 freakin hours, and neowin was not to blame.

Stop accusing, you're all just as dirty for clicking the link anyway. I don't see you all jumping on CNN or the New York Times or any other major news organization every time they misprint or misstate a fact or story, so lay off.

I was prepped, set, and ready to pull the trigger on renewing my subscription the day it expired as well...I even TRIED to renew it even after they canceled them, but sadly it said I had to sign up for a first time account, not the 249$ renewal. I would've gladly paid 250$ for what Technet offers.

I did not click the link and not living in the glass house means I get to throw as many stones as I please.
Maybe all the people that were trying to get thousands of dollars worth of software for free should learn some self control. MS may have left the link up, and it was for people who were part of the survey be neowin and other sites assisted in the exploitation of a mistake. They also openly admitted that it seemed to good to be true. The utter lack of common sense people display on a daily basis keeps me wondering who the human race is still alive and kicking.

oh well I got only one product key, all I needed. at a min I'm glad i got the vista sp2 integrated rom. As it is I already reimaged, reinstalled etc with the new key, so we'll see if WGA flags me. If it does, well by that time I'll just get 7 if it's quicker, back to home premium for me I gues :(.

"we are able to see what product keys have been assigned to a subscriber, so in that situation we can track down which subscriber the product key originated from."


something is fishy about the quotes above.

Microsoft is going to remove/revoke user subscription they should also remove user's informatiom. Neowin Please ask Microsoft what's going to happen to user's information that was entered

nozen09 said,

something is fishy about the quotes above.


Microsoft is going to remove/revoke user subscription they should also remove user's informatiom. Neowin Please ask Microsoft what's going to happen to user's information that was entered

+1 NeoWin you have to do this.

We will, I am chasing as much as possible to get MS to state publicly their full plans following the incident but it takes time for the information to cascade down.

That's what really bugs me about the whole thing, I don't like having my information tied to what they seem to consider illegitimate activity. I signed up in good faith; certainly wasn't trying to pull anything.

TRC said,
That's what really bugs me about the whole thing, I don't like having my information tied to what they seem to consider illegitimate activity. I signed up in good faith; certainly wasn't trying to pull anything.


Me too. But now I'm thinking about buying a subscription, so Microsoft should be happy!

devHead said,
If you entered your name and address, why would Microsoft or Neowin be the ones to make sure it's removed?


Althought they already have my information from previous signup and promotions, i just like to find out what their going to do with the user informations. Their's no point to keep user's information if their going to revoke subscription and blacklisting keys.



Neowin, like everything in journalism, had to make a snap decision on whether or not to run the story. They did and it ended up being a mistake but not the end of the world!
How often do the national press run a story that turns out to be bogus, Neowin ran a story and told it like it was, they said they didn't know the legitimacy behind it and when it went belly up i doubt to many people were surprised, at the end of the day it was news and this is a news site.


P.S. I managed to grab a few integrated service pack ISO's so I'm happy either way and it appears MS might have gained a few Technet subscriber from this (me being one of them :p)

I'm guessing that there will be quite a few like you that found the benefits of the subscription is well worth the price if you like playing with the latest software.

Glen said,
I'm guessing that there will be quite a few like you that found the benefits of the subscription is well worth the price if you like playing with the latest software.

yeah if it wasn't unemployed I would gladly pay for it, if only for the webcasts to learn MS certifications.

I voted yes just because of the viral nature of this type of incorrect news. While I realize Neowin is not actually an official news organization (hell, their motto is "Where unprofessional journalism looks better" ), it's still not a good thing to spread misinformation.

Oh well, everyone makes mistakes, so live and learn.

bertmace said,
it was to make some money I hate to one with 300 keys

I sincerely hope that Microsoft legal finds out about that.

Those people generating hundreds of keys from a single IP address and different accounts would probably be first on their hitlist.

I still say what's most LIKELY to happen is that Microsoft will not blacklist keys unless they become widely used. Since the keys can be traced to individual subscribers/IP addresses, I wonder how likely this is.

Anybody who allows their keys to be distributed to the public deserves what they get here.

I voted yes. Someone at Neowin should've checked the deal, as, like many others have said, it was too good to be true and common sense should've come into play. A lesson for Neowin. Hope you don't forget it for next time

If no official confirmation of blacklisting we shouldn't keep mentioning "Blacklisting" it may give microsoft ideas!

Neowin did nothing wrong. OK, maybe they should've checked but you can't check everything.
Most people who signed up for this knew that they were probably doing something that MS didn't want. I certainly did, but got it whilst it was active expecting it to be cancelled. If it wasn't then bonus, but i never thought for a second that i would actually end up with a free subscription. Worth a shot though.
I saw this posted on several other sites before neowin posted so they were slower off the mark than some others.

I agree; we're all responsible for controlling ourselves. If a whole group of people decide they want to do something illegal, it's each individuals responsibility.

BTW, I find it highly unlikely that anyone generated "100 keys" or more.

For those of you who have never had a subscription (I've had two MSDN subs in the past 6 years), here's how it works: Microsoft provides you with download links for whichever products are available under your subscription. On a separate page, they have a list of products, and links to request keys.

A subscriber gets one key per product. Period. That key is good for multiple activations (typically 10), but it's the same key that's used for each install.

The guy who claimed to have generated 300+ keys was trolling.

Thunderbuck said,
A subscriber gets one key per product. Period. That key is good for multiple activations (typically 10), but it's the same key that's used for each install.


Uhhh, no. For certain products, you get one key, for others, you can request multiple keys, up to 10 in some cases. Vista and XP for sure you can generate multiple keys for.

While I agree with Microsoft on closing down the loophole, they shouldn't blacklist the keys. It was their own fault that the site was publicly available for signups, so they shouldn't punish the people who managed to get reasonable numbers of keys (although people who got massive numbers of keys that they would most likely try to sell should have them revoked).

They are in a tough spot because if they don't blacklist them they know that many unscrupulous people will share them and they'll be all over the internet. The people like one member here who shall remain nameless who generated hundreds of keys or those that share them should be blacklisted I agree, but it would be a nice gesture if Microsoft would leave everyone else's alone.

For all the idiots who generated 100 keys or more? They absolutely should blacklist them. Nobody needs that many keys unless you plan to do something illegal with them.

The user in question signed up with multiple accounts and generated keys from each account. He even mentioned as much and showed proof of it. So yes, it can be done.

I kept saying that at first and didn't believe it was real, but everyone kept assuring me it was (even a few existing Technet users) and being on sites like Neowin give it a further air of authenticity. When a receipt came from Microsoft themselves I gave in and believed it was genuine. Needless to say I was very let down when I learned my wonderful subscription and evaluations were not legit.

See, I suspected this was a "hole", but I didn't really have a problem taking advantage of it. Microsoft has always had programs for "semi-insiders" that provide special deals or freebies.

I posted the link for Windows 7 RC download 8 hours early and they didn't stop us. If you find something share it. They shouldn't have allowed you to directly access the download anyways. I think it's horrable Microsoft is banning these accounts and keys when they messed up. Could you imagen if your cable provider sent you a free year of service for being a good customer then cancelled it. Thats f'ed up.

Hey, even through I couldn't download, at least I got to see what was available under Technet. It was almost time to renew our Action pack, and now I can do a price comparison against the 2 packages.

Most staff don't have fannys but even if we did we aren't trying to cover them Just clarifying the situation. It was Microsoft's fault not ours.

I was a bit confused by your comment until I looked up the UK definition, lol. I guess I should have said rears. :)

Yes it was more Microsoft's fault than anyone for not securing it better, but news sites like Ars and others should have been a bit more cautious I think. If it has been posted by CNN, MSNBC, etc they'd certainly be in hot water I believe.

I can appreciate that, as we have a level of responsibility. If we hadn't of posted it then people will have asked "why is it not here". Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't.

Tom W said,
I can appreciate that, as we have a level of responsibility. If we hadn't of posted it then people will have asked "why is it not here". Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't.

I'm sorry but I don't think that that is a valid argument.

The question of "why is it not here" is a lot better then the resulting hail storm you have created -- by claiming you were in the right and refusing to heed obviously valid rationale is simply exasperating the situation. While I do understand the unique situation you are placed in I would suggest that it is definitely not a good decision to get both on Microsoft and your users bad sides. I would also remind you that many Neowin members are valid TechNet Plus subscribers -- subscribers whose experience you sought to devalue. These members of your user base would make up a decent portion of your talented IT professional user base; a user base you should not be willing to drive away.

If you aren't willing to concede that alienating significant members of your user base is a bad move then you should at least to concede the fact that you made a bad decision on behalf of Neowin. It is said below most clearly by one of your own users:

TRC said
being on sites like Neowin give it a further air of authenticity.

It is your duty as a journalism outlet to make decisions that not only respect your readers but the companies you are reporting on. The attitude you are taking is that of a smacked child who stole his siblings toy - it is equivalent to "it's not my fault mummy he did it first!" and the sheer air of arrogance is overwhelming; journalists should be able to admit when they made a bad decision without throwing a hissy-fit. It's part of the job.

TRC said,
Are you talking to me? I'm not affiliated with Neowin in any way.

My apologies -- I was simply using your posted viewpoint as an example of a Neowin user. I'll be more then happy to clarify that in the original post if you'd like.

Neowin saw 'FREE' and alerted the rest of us. No different from a price mistake posted on Slickdeals or somewhere else.

Nope the links were out for just about 24 hrs when they were published on Neowin.

Eitherway no need to blame neowin someone was going to exploit it no matter what.

Maybe if Neowin had actually shown some responsibility and checked with Microsoft first, this wouldn't have happened. But of course in the hurry to get a 'scoop' and rake in more traffic, this was promoted on the front page, even though it was pretty obviously that Microsoft wouldn't be doing an open public offering of free technet subscriptions given what they're worth.

7Dash8 said,
Maybe if Neowin had actually shown some responsibility and checked with Microsoft first, this wouldn't have happened. But of course in the hurry to get a 'scoop' and rake in more traffic, this was promoted on the front page, even though it was pretty obviously that Microsoft wouldn't be doing an open public offering of free technet subscriptions given what they're worth.

I am quite impressed with the amount of damage Neowin managed to cause in just a few hours.

It wasn't just us that posted this, we sourced the story to Ars Technica so there was no "scoop". Maybe if you'd have shown some responsibility and checked your facts out first, your comment wouldn't have happened.

7Dash8 said,
Maybe if Neowin had actually shown some responsibility and checked with Microsoft first, this wouldn't have happened. But of course in the hurry to get a 'scoop' and rake in more traffic, this was promoted on the front page, even though it was pretty obviously that Microsoft wouldn't be doing an open public offering of free technet subscriptions given what they're worth.

Actually, in researching this issue further, it was posted on some other unrelated forums days prior (I've heard that these links have actually been working for about a week).

Tom W said,
It wasn't just us that posted this, we sourced the story to Ars Technica so there was no "scoop". Maybe if you'd have shown some responsibility and checked your facts out first, your comment wouldn't have happened.

It doesn't matter who posted it where, it was the responsibility of the website to check up on it instead of just a C & P like Neowin normally does. Think before you act.

Tom W said,
It wasn't just us that posted this, we sourced the story to Ars Technica so there was no "scoop". Maybe if you'd have shown some responsibility and checked your facts out first, your comment wouldn't have happened.
My comment, unlike your story, did not cause any harm. Also the "me too" excuse doesn't work. Just because Ars Technica broke the story, doesn't mean you guys had to follow suit and post it without researching it first. As I said, it was obvious to anyone and everyone that the offer made no sense at all - Microsoft is never going to give away something like a Technet subscription for free to anyone and everyone in an open public manner.

Instead of deflecting criticism, think about how your actions are contributing to the Internet being a trashier place Neowin editors.

7Dash8 said,
My comment, unlike your story, did not cause any harm. Also the "me too" excuse doesn't work. Just because Ars Technica broke the story, doesn't mean you guys had to follow suit and post it without researching it first. As I said, it was obvious to anyone and everyone that the offer made no sense at all - Microsoft is never going to give away something like a Technet subscription for free to anyone and everyone in an open public manner.

Instead of deflecting criticism, think about how your actions are contributing to the Internet being a trashier place Neowin editors.

It's extremely hard to verify and research this kind of information. Given that it was an offer and we were unsure whether it was limited it was decided that the information should be posted in a similar way to Ars. TechNet subscriptions are meant for evaluation so strictly it's no different from a trial version except it doesn't have the timebomb. If you choose to keep the OS installed at home then you are in violation of the licence.

Tom W said,
It's extremely had to verify and research this kind of information. Given that it was an offer and we were unsure whether it was limited it was decided that the information should be posted in a similar way to Ars. TechNet subscriptions are meant for evaluation so strictly it's no different from a trial version except it doesn't have the timebomb. If you choose to keep the OS installed at home then you are in violation of the licence.

Well here's an idea: if you can't verify a story, then don't post it. Wait until you can verify.

Secondly, you know and I know that people downloading ISOs from Technet were getting full non-trial versions, because they were posting exactly that in the comments section of your story. It was quite clearly a suspicious arrangement.

Thirdly, I love the poll you've attached to this story - asking people whether they think you're in the wrong (with a loaded negative question of 'yes, where's the pitchfork' to imply anyone disagreeing must be crazy). OF COURSE people getting free stuff aren't going to complain. Duh. The point was for Neowin to demonstrate some responsibility, but of course I'm shouting into the wind here, clearly Neowin doesn't believe in that at all. My mistake, terribly sorry.

I've edited the poll, only a yes and no option. We're not responsible for Microsoft's mistakes, if they don't make it clear in the documentation when you sign up for these offers that it is limited then this is their mistake, what else did you want us to research exactly? You're nitpicking to the extreme. You're not shouting into the wind otherwise I simply wouldn't be replying to you.

Tom W said,
I've edited the poll, only a yes and no option. We're not responsible for Microsoft's mistakes, if they don't make it clear in the documentation when you sign up for these offers that it is limited then this is their mistake, what else did you want us to research exactly? You're nitpicking to the extreme. You're not shouting into the wind otherwise I simply wouldn't be replying to you.


As far as this goes I agree that it should have been more properly researched before hand. You said yourself you thought it was too good to be true and if you think that then it usually is.

I also think you should show a bit more respect to the users opinion whether you like it or not instead of trying to belittle them for their point of view.

7Dash8 you know you can always just delete your cookies and not come back if you want to go the Attitude route with the higher ups of Neowin.

in all aspects it seemed legit a while before neowin picked up on it, it was on MS own site

7Dash8 said,
Well here's an idea: if you can't verify a story, then don't post it. Wait until you can verify.

Secondly, you know and I know that people downloading ISOs from Technet were getting full non-trial versions, because they were posting exactly that in the comments section of your story. It was quite clearly a suspicious arrangement.

Thirdly, I love the poll you've attached to this story - asking people whether they think you're in the wrong (with a loaded negative question of 'yes, where's the pitchfork' to imply anyone disagreeing must be crazy). OF COURSE people getting free stuff aren't going to complain. Duh. The point was for Neowin to demonstrate some responsibility, but of course I'm shouting into the wind here, clearly Neowin doesn't believe in that at all. My mistake, terribly sorry.


Tom W said,
I've edited the poll, only a yes and no option. We're not responsible for Microsoft's mistakes, if they don't make it clear in the documentation when you sign up for these offers that it is limited then this is their mistake, what else did you want us to research exactly? You're nitpicking to the extreme. You're not shouting into the wind otherwise I simply wouldn't be replying to you.

Way not to take responsibility Tom, you should get out of the editorial business if this your attitude towards personal responsibility because it eventually erodes your creditability, something you're running short on at the moment.

Tom W said,
It wasn't just us that posted this, we sourced the story to Ars Technica so there was no "scoop". Maybe if you'd have shown some responsibility and checked your facts out first, your comment wouldn't have happened.

That's a tad crybaby-ish isn't it?

Neowin should report these sorts of things, if we had to wait for confirmation from the source each time then a lot of interesting news would be out of date by the time it got to the front page. Maybe mark articles more clearly when not confirmed or something?

I too agree that Tom and Neowin should take the blame for this. Since Neowin is an official news site, then things like this shouldn't happen.

-1 to Neowin.

7Dash8 said,
Well here's an idea: if you can't verify a story, then don't post it. Wait until you can verify.

Secondly, you know and I know that people downloading ISOs from Technet were getting full non-trial versions, because they were posting exactly that in the comments section of your story. It was quite clearly a suspicious arrangement.

Thirdly, I love the poll you've attached to this story - asking people whether they think you're in the wrong (with a loaded negative question of 'yes, where's the pitchfork' to imply anyone disagreeing must be crazy). OF COURSE people getting free stuff aren't going to complain. Duh. The point was for Neowin to demonstrate some responsibility, but of course I'm shouting into the wind here, clearly Neowin doesn't believe in that at all. My mistake, terribly sorry.


Sorry, but not every story can be verified, and sometimes these "stories" or "rumors" come from word of mouth, or insider tips, something we get a lot of here at Neowin. If the information turns out to be a flop, so be it. If the information turns out to be confirmed and real, than we have posted the news.

Sorry if you were some how affected or offended by our news stories, but it is the chance we take by posting stories and putting outsides out there on the line. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong. We are all human, you probably make mistakes too.

This is why pencils have erasers.

7Dash8 said,
Well here's an idea: if you can't verify a story, then don't post it. Wait until you can verify.

Why does Neowin have a duty to protect MS from it's own mistakes? Should they also not run news articles on other stuff ups MS has had?

I don't see the problem...they updated the article as more was made known. It's a news site after all so why should they have to chase up everything if they have already verified that free subscriptions were being made available, by mistake or otherwise?

lylesback2 said,

Sorry, but not every story can be verified, and sometimes these "stories" or "rumors" come from word of mouth, or insider tips, something we get a lot of here at Neowin. If the information turns out to be a flop, so be it. If the information turns out to be confirmed and real, than we have posted the news.

Sorry if you were some how affected or offended by our news stories, but it is the chance we take by posting stories and putting outsides out there on the line. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong. We are all human, you probably make mistakes too.

This is why pencils have erasers.

I'm willing to agree with everything you have said. The issue is Neowin staff are yet to admit that they made a mistake; carefully read over your staff and your contributors responses. They are very careful not to admit mistake nor apologise.

You should be mature enough (as a journalism outlet, not personally) to be able to admit mistake.

If we never posted Microsoft's mistakes then we wouldn't be doing our job. It wasn't a mistake posting it, we will not admit to that mistake as the mistake was by Microsoft. The only thing we could have done better was make it clearer that the offer may have been a mistake by Microsoft themselves but at the time of posting this was unclear and it looked like a pilot scheme open to all to evaluate TechNet. We updated the story as information was made available to us.

I'm sorry if my responses and attitude haven't been what you expected, and I do not mean to offend, but nor did I expect this "blame Neowin" attitude for something that clearly is not our mistake but Microsoft's. I apologise the story wasn't clear at the time of writing but I believe this was rectified as much as possible with the updates to the original story.

Tom W said,
If we never posted Microsoft's mistakes then we wouldn't be doing our job. It wasn't a mistake posting it, we will not admit to that mistake as the mistake was by Microsoft. The only thing we could have done better was make it clearer that the offer may have been a mistake by Microsoft themselves but at the time of posting this was unclear and it looked like a pilot scheme open to all to evaluate TechNet. We updated the story as information was made available to us.

The fact that you use the phrase "Microsoft's mistakes" in an attempt to rally support through the vapid fanboy-ism that exists in these comments is distasteful at best. There is a difference between reporting the facts and providing nicely formatted links to exploit something that is obviously a technical oversight.

Microsoft were not out to do harm or disrespect users in any way. It was simply a technical oversight one that Neowin should of casually reported and had the common sense to use some restraint on.

If Neowin had an unpatched SQL injection vector then there is no journalism integrity in posting an article on how to exploit it; while a technical mistake on Neowin's behalf it would be purely malicious to do so. This is essentially the decision you made -- making a mistake does not mean you should be punished for it and that all the punishers should be exonerated.

Tom W said,
So you're comparing the links that we posted to a SQL server injection exploit?

Essentially yes. Would it be more fair to compare it to a DDoS? Your own staff were advocating the use of multiple tab refresh spam -- you can't seriously indicate that you thought it was a legitimate offer when you made that suggestion.

"Quick, get in before they fix it!"

That's hardly a valid comparison. Using a technical exploit to break a sites protection is one thing, signing up to what Microsoft is stating is a free offer and has a value of $0 and is named "TechNet Plus Consumer Service Professional Pilot" is another thing entirely. DDoS? Can you point me to where we advocated the use of multiple tab refresh spam?!

True, there was absolutely no exploit here. The Microsoft link was not secured in any way, anyone could click on it and sign up. It's their fault for having it that way and relying on the honor system to keep it secure. As for the refresh thing, it still wasn't known for sure what was going on. It appeared it was simply a technical issue from so many people using it. In fact that is exactly what the Microsoft site said. It wouldn't be the first time that has happened.

Tom W said,
That's hardly a valid comparison. Using a technical exploit to break a sites protection is one thing, signing up to what Microsoft is stating is a free offer and has a value of $0 and is named "TechNet Plus Consumer Service Professional Pilot" is another thing entirely. DDoS? Can you point me to where we advocated the use of multiple tab refresh spam?!

Did Sazz honestly just delete his post telling users to use CTRL-R and F5 for a better chance to get keys? I'm not going to make accusations but if you are honestly editing comments then I don't even know what to say.

EDIT: More on topic; the original article was never edited to reflect that this was the result of a Microsoft survey -- a fact that is indicated all throughout the comments and the original Ars Technica link. In addition to that Sam's original news article even suggests getting around the regional limitations, a process known as fraud.

I'm also certain that there was a post there by Sam or Sazz that advocated use of CTRL-R and F5. Where has it gone?

ascendant123 said,
Did Sazz honestly just delete his post telling users to use CTRL-R and F5 for a better chance to get keys? I'm not going to make accusations but if you are honestly editing comments then I don't even know what to say.


You can edit your own posts....

There's no hidden editor conspiracy to cover things up.

rm20010 said,
You can edit your own posts...

Sazz is a staff member; whether he edited it or someone else is irrelevant. Either way it's subverting the facts to cover yourself...

rm20010 said,
There's no hidden editor conspiracy to cover things up.

While I appreciate the suggestion that I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist I simply referenced a comment I had seen, went to obtain the comment and it was gone. I'm asking where it's gone - I'm not holding a pitchfork as the original poll suggested.

Gibletz said,
[...] instead of just a C & P like Neowin normally does. [...]

Neowin doesn't do 'copy and paste' stories anymore. All of our articles are now original content.

ascendant123 said,
Sazz is a staff member; whether he edited it or someone else is irrelevant. Either way it's subverting the facts to cover yourself...


If I made a mistake with a post and decided to change my mind moments later, what's wrong with editing it out? I've done it before as a regular member, as a subscriber, and I'll continue doing so as a mod.

rm20010 said,
If I made a mistake with a post and decided to change my mind moments later, what's wrong with editing it out? I've done it before as a regular member, as a subscriber, and I'll continue doing so as a mod.

It wasn't moments later. It was 24 hours+. I'm fine with you changing your mind; the time just seems inopportune to put it lightly.

Tom W said,
I've edited the poll, only a yes and no option. We're not responsible for Microsoft's mistakes, if they don't make it clear in the documentation when you sign up for these offers that it is limited then this is their mistake, what else did you want us to research exactly? You're nitpicking to the extreme. You're not shouting into the wind otherwise I simply wouldn't be replying to you.

This brings up the debate of responsible journalism.

Another user stated in the other news thread, just because the house is unlocked does not give your the right to walk in and take what ever you want. In the other thread I also saw several users state the whole story and mention it more than once that it was a limited offer. If they could track it down, maybe you could have to.

Id also cap the attitude, or what reads as such. Don't forget who butters your bread... your readers, with out readers this site would be nothing.

You found the house unlocked and you invited everyone in to take what they wanted as did several other sites.

And in the other article I stated that MS would blacklist all the generated keys but someone stated that they would not...

Told ya so... neener neener neener... lol

That's another bad example of the situation. We actually found a house that had a sign on it from it's owners (who we knew were it's owners 100%) that said it was free to walk in. That's what happened here. Except the house owner forgot to mention on the sign that it was only for selected people to take stuff.

Exactly...MS's website is more like a store that has had the door left open after closing hours and you accidently walk in. 99% of the time they want and actively are trying to get you onto the premises. It's hardly comparable to a private estate.

Popcorned1 said,
You probably gave them permission to do that when you signed up.

Didn't know they were going to withdraw their service though.

thealexweb said,
Didn't know they were going to withdraw their service though.

It probably says they can withdraw the service at any time, AND keep your data

devHead said,
You break the law and you're whining about them keeping the address you gave them. You're a wack.

Breaking the law for signing up for a FREE service, no matter if it was supposed to go public or not? You're daft.

thealexweb said,
Well I still have the isos!

Agreed, I was able to get integrated SP2 Vista ISO's. I have legit keys for Ultimate and Business and can cut down my reimage time for machines at home.

After seeing the inner workings of TechNet, I hope to have the disposable income in the future to purchase a subscription.

Thunderbuck said,
Vista's TOTALLY slipstreamable. Use Vlite.


Or use a more reliable method and capture the sysprep'ed image with imagex.

Thunderbuck said,
Vista's TOTALLY slipstreamable. Use Vlite.

I'm gonna LOL hard when you won't be able to install an update or another SP because of Vlite. MS wrote in a kb article that "Vliting" your Vista DVD is NOT RECOMMENDED and can cause problems when updating your system.

Thunderbuck said,
Only when you use vLite to REMOVE stuff. No problem at all using it to slipstream EXTRA stuff.

Maybe, but sysprep is the prefered and most secure way to customize your system image.

kazuyette said,
Maybe, but sysprep is the prefered and most secure way to customize your system image.


I agree, but vLite is an easier way for the non-pro to do it.

barteh said,
what good is the ISO without a valid key you moron?

Some of us use ISOs to help clients reinstall software when the can't find their discs. Their legit keys are easily found with utilities like Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. I was able to get ISOs for Office 2002/XP. Been needing that for a LONG time!

You know, I think Neowin and the individual(s) *responsible* for posting the information were wrong to do so for a number of reasons. Let me start with the weakest reason and that's an analogy. What if there had been a backdoor in Microsoft client software as opposed to the servers? With all the precise steps posted here, people would have been quite able to exploit the backdoor and cause a LOT of damage. That's irresponsible, plain and simple.

Now, as for the servers, neowin people posted *precise instructions* for exploiting this backdoor in Microsoft's system; and they used language that suggests that they knew what they were doing was underhanded.

First, Sam said that you 'need a valid address if you wish to get CD/DVD media.' Okay that's normal, but they he adds, 'otherwise you can use any for the direct software downloads.' So, in other words, you can use an invalid/spoofed address to gain access.

Second, 'you'll need to... before you have... within your grasps.' Sounds like vicious grabbing/pirating behavior to me...

They go on to say, 'For those in other countries, it seems you're out of luck, but no doubt there are ways around these limitations.' Again, like an ordinary hacker or black spider, these individuals were posting precise instructions on how to bypass whatever safegaurds Microsoft had in place so that thousands of people could exploit the Microsoft servers and gain illegal access to thousands of dollars worth of software. In total, I'm sure it was millions of dollars in piracy.

Yes, others may have been posting backdoor exploits too, but the point HERE on neowin is that neowin 'editors' did TOO and really hammered down the spike in Microsoft's back while pretending that they didn't know just how wicked their "grasping" was.

And whether they KNEW or NOT or LIKE it or NOT, they are responsible for WHATEVER they post. This time, they were wrong. And they WERE obviously wrong in the information that they posted, because the information was... wrong. It was NOT a golden freebie for the masses. And thus neowin should at least be professional and courteous and say they are sorry for the misunderstanding WHETHER or NOT there even was one.

However, neowin's post-behavior favors the analysis that they made an underhanded announcement to begin with, because they have since NOT apologized. They didn't say they were sorry for the mistake/misunderstanding to Microsoft. And they didn't say they were sorry to everyone here who went through what I can imagine was a technological and emotional stress.

Look at all those people who downloaded tons of stuff and got their precious keys, only to wind up in a train wreck with virtually nothing in hand after all that turmoil.

You know, 'I'm sorry,' is less than 10 characters long, but apparently that is too much for neowin. All I see here is a LOT of nasty attitude ~we didn't do anything wrong, so too bad or get lost, and we will NEVER apologize~ (~~ = not direct quotes, just paraphrasing it all)

p.s. PROFESSIONAL journalists CHECK their facts! and EDITORS of RESPECTED publications do not publish without knowing the FACTS.