Vista Licensing Once Again Draws Scrutiny

Windows Genuine Advantage is a term that grates on the nerves of many, some of who are legitimate legal Windows license holders. Why? Because more than just a few companies and individuals have had their legitimate Windows licenses falsely fail activation or be declined when validating for things like Windows update or bonus downloads such as Windows Defender. SecurityFocus columnist Mark D. Rasch takes a look at Windows Vista licensing and its product activation component and compares it to walking on thin ice.

"The terms of the Vista EULA, like the current EULA related to the "Windows Genuine Advantage," allows Microsoft to unilaterally decide that you have breached the terms of the agreement, and they can essentially disable the software, and possibly deny you access to critical files on your computer without benefit of proof, hearing, testimony or judicial intervention. In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy of the operating system from Microsoft just to be able to get access to your files, and then you can sue Microsoft for the original license fee. Even then, you wont be able to get any damages from Microsoft, and may not even be able to get the cost of the first license back."

News source: SecurityFocus

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I'm legal XP and that's bad enough as I have updated hardware and software to the point I now have ring every install. Another reason not to bother with Vista it seems.

Translation EULA:

Hello,

Thanks for buying our stuff. This is exactly what we want you to do. We make this software not for your pleasure, but to make us very very rich and to have the monopoly (which is getting bigger and bigger; Windows Live!!!!!!)
Not that we give a s h i t about you, just as long as you keep on buying. So you say you have a legit copy! We say you don't and even when we are wrong we are right so f u c k off. You still want to use our wonderful software? BUY A NEW LICENSE, BECAUSE WE ARE THE BEST AND YOU NEED US, WE DONT NEED YOU (well at least they think we don't)

And no i'm not for software piracy!! I have a legit copy (of XP)!!

microsoft could do something to pirated copies of vista. its all so evident in vista operating system. i wonder who is special CREATOR OWNER lol

that's you you muppet :p

or rather it's whoever creates whatever is the file in question, they are by default the 'owner' but this can be changed, once changed manually though, i don't beleive anything keeps track of the original creator, so it would have been more accurate to have just called it an 'owner' account.

Is anyone actually surprised by this?
Once a monopoly has their OS on every PC -- how do they increase revenue for their shareholders?
Remember, corporations are either growing or dying... next step, create a restrictive license that forces every person to buy more than one copy of your OS.
Now the question is, after you do that, how do you squeeze more revenue out of the same product next time around?

i can't understand who would want to use vista as their primary operating system. its far from os we were promised years ago. its got few nice features for occasional use but thats it. if ms disables you access to files, all you got to do is have windows xp installed on different partition, reboot to windows xp, and access your files from there. no big deal really

I own 3 legit full licences of windows XP... I have 2 computers... both running hacked windows.... now why is that u ask... BECASUE it casues less problems then a normal copy!

=/ long story.. but I'm not being a sensationalist.. I've been using windows since 3.11 days.... and before that.. MS dos.... windows is good.. but now... they sabotasing there own software ( I can't spell)

Same here. I have 7 systems all running Zenwalk Linux. 4 of thses boxes are dual booters. 2 with XP Home and 1 with XP Pro (pirated version) and 1 with W2K. The other 3 boxes have Zenwalk as the sole OS. I have had to call to verify both my legit copies of XP Home when I turned them into dual boot computers. One machine even required calling to verify the first time I turned it on! Only time XP has been reinstalled on those boxes. Nothing had changed on them though as far as hardware. I can reinstall my pirated version an unlimited number of times and never have to mess wga though.

Now, you tell me which route do you think I'd want to take?
Other than WGA being a joke and a p.i.t.a. to begin with, I simply will not mess with it again, whether that means running strictly Linux or using a pirated version.

Quote - toadeater said @ #19
I hope they port DX10 to XP.

nope they wont they want to screw gamers making them get vista.. lets hope that no gamers get vista. plus the fact that games in vista its slower than xp

Quote - eilegz said @ #19.1

nope they wont they want to screw gamers making them get vista.. lets hope that no gamers get vista. plus the fact that games in vista its slower than xp

Umm, isn't that due to drivers though?

next big thing could be force everyone use biometric to activate windows lets say relate a license to a single person fingerprint. Hopefully theres some privacy isssues but i guess its the only way

Next M$ thing on the horizon is activation integrated with this damn ****ing WGA crap. Yeah the damn ******* will probably do that next.

I have the orignal RTM build 6000 and have already used cracks on it that do work. I have used Vista by testing it on this old puter of mine. So I am familiar with Vista more than you think.

One wonders how much research Microsoft has done in using a USB dongle.
Dongles are MUCH more difficult to bypass, and doubly so if a version of the current Windows XP WGA combined with a dongle could do. With the amount of money the claim to be losing on pirated copies, combined with the amount of money they've spent developing an overcomplicated and unreliable WGA system, and combined with potential sales losses of people unwilling or afraid to switch to Vista (and combined with sales losses for people who lose control to their computers on legitimate copies) ... a dongle would be cheaper in comparison.
Now as stated, dongles are far from foolproof in other softwares. But, they do an impressive job, especially if it plays a roll in the initial installation of the OS...

Quote - XerXis said @ #15.1
yeah, and a big usb dongle sticking out of my laptop is really what i need

Dongles these days are quite small. But nonetheless, laptops are generally designed around the OS (and shipped with it). Making it internal would be a simple change as long as MS announced it and gave specifications for it's size and interface a year or more in advance.
As for older laptops ... it indeed would be an inconvenience. The inconvenience could be minimalised by making it L-shaped rather than sticking straight out. But as compared to losing access to your files OR being unable to patch your laptop with latest updates and getting a virus or exploit (especially when a laptop going from network to network being more vulnerable) OR simply being harassed by messages saying you're running a pirated copy (or severely embarrassed .. imagine giving a powerpoint presentation on your laptop and midway though a balloon pops up saying it may not be a genuine copy).... I would sooner choose a dongle, personally.

Vista and Office 2007 will be very likely the last versions Microsoft can charge for. Office will very likely die on the internet. And in 6 Years when the next version of Windows will come out the world of OS will also look very very different. MSFT has the advantage of a huge installation base but with their licencing they make people looking very desperate for an alternative.

I guarantee to you that Microsoft will have to completely change. the GUI, the file system itself etc. I don't think another OS will be able to survive, they need to make a miracle

Quote - nojetlag said @ #14
Vista and Office 2007 will be very likely the last versions Microsoft can charge for. Office will very likely die on the internet. And in 6 Years when the next version of Windows will come out the world of OS will also look very very different. MSFT has the advantage of a huge installation base but with their licencing they make people looking very desperate for an alternative.

sure, and then the prince married the cute princess and they lived happily ever after

Keep dreaming my friend.

Just like how everyone will have an internet based desktop and a completely internet based Office application suite ...yeah right.

The vast majority of people (and businesses) will take a very long time to move to anything that is totally internet based. Sorry, but that's just reality.

As for the next version of Windows, yes it must be (and it will be) a major change, but everyone including Microsoft understands that. Longhorn (no, not Vista, I mean the real Longhorn) would have been a major change like we shall see with the next gen of Windows.

Quote - xxdesmus said @ #14.3
...
The vast majority of people (and businesses) will take a very long time to move to anything that is totally internet based. Sorry, but that's just reality.
...
I wonder how many businesses would love to remove these scattered multiple versions of documents on individual user hard drives, and use a LAN-based web office suite?

Once the technology is established, I would guess that the number of SMBs would be nontrivial.

OpenGL & OpenAL? (OpenAL is mostly made by Creative, and they are evil)
I wish that more developers programmed for cross-platform.
The bloat gets larger for every version of Windows.

Directsound also does not work in Vista. directx 10 works differently than previously directx technologies. for example adobe premiere pro 2.0, audition 2.0 does not work in Vista properly. they can't recognize my HD sound card, but the amazing thing is that I have installed the drivers and the software properly in Vista :X

Is anyone actually reading the article? The point the author is making really has little to do with pirates, WGA, or Bill Gates coming to steal your Twinkies in the middle of the night. He's saying that accepting the EULA is essentially the acceptance and agreement of a contract between the user and Microsoft, and that historically, it has been up to some form of arbitration, to decide when a contract has been broken and what the outcome should be. With Vista, it is technically possible that Microsoft could play judge, jury and executioner (of the contract of course) should a system fail WGA or validation. Of course for false positives Microsoft will remedy the situation, and debating that isn't the context of his article. The point being made is that the EULA as included with Windows Vista has greatly changed the contractual relationship between contract provider and consumer.

Once again everything assumes that you have a viable internet connection, or at least connect once a week/month. I say bring back the dongal. Those of you who are "older" may remember when you had to have a dongal in the computer to be able to use certain software packages.

Anyone need some cheese with their whine?

Very, very few legit customers will be affected and those who are can clear up the problem in a matter of minutes. Those who are not legit can cry all they want, they deserve zero sympathy and Microsoft certainly doens't owe the pirates anything.

Except for the fact that legitimate customers are being affected, wouldn't you agree that denying pirates access to a working product is a good thing?

I don't quite understand this article, I have had a couple of issues with the Windows activation, but a quick phone call to Microsoft resolved these issues in no time at all.

I have even gone as far as to move an OEM copy of Windows XP to my new system (old system died a horrible death). The new system for all intents and purposes was totally new including HDD drives. Installed my old copy of XP which obviously did not activate - called Microsoft and problem resolved.

Windows activation in general works well and that is why this article is puzzling.

I remember everyone bitching about Product Activation in Windows XP and Office XP.

It didn't cause as many problems as people first thought, I expect WGA will do the same. Bear in mind that WGA is currently an "added on" piece of software in Windows XP - which has a larger user base. Windows Vista will be built to support it and as such there should be fewer problems with it.

Neowin is providing another great example of "news" here too.

Quote - daveoc64 said @ #5
I remember everyone bitching about Product Activation in Windows XP and Office XP.

It didn't cause as many problems as people first thought, I expect WGA will do the same. Bear in mind that WGA is currently an "added on" piece of software in Windows XP - which has a larger user base. Windows Vista will be built to support it and as such there should be fewer problems with it.

You are correct, WGA was added on in XP, and that's precisely why it was as easily defeated as it was. Vista has been designed with WGA in mind, it's integrated in to the OS, not added on as an afterthought. That said I have sat face to face with a Microsoft representative who told me point blank that Microsoft will never go so far as to lock you totally out of your system. They know that to do so could have the potential to accidentally lock out legitimate customers when a false positive was triggered, and they don't want to run the risk of ticking off their customers or even those who pirate their software, by making it impossible for them to get to their data. However, they will reduce functionality of the OS should it fail activation. Some of the features that will be disabled, Aero Glass, have no affect on how the system runs or accessing the data that it contains. Other features that could be disabled pending activation or validation failure, such as certain encryption and backup features, could potentially lock users out of their data if they are disabled. the potential is there. WGA and validation is a whole new ball of wax with Vista.

You can't sue them for not being able to get to your files. You don't own the software and MS can come to your house and take it away from you at there will not yours. Your basicly renting it and MS desides when its due date is.

Learn to spell. Your otherwise sound and worthwhile comment was nullified by your spelling. Most people would have a hard time taking someone seriously when they can't spell 'decides' and 'basically'.

Quote - phantasmorph said @ #3.1
Learn to spell. Your otherwise sound and worthwhile comment was nullified by your spelling. Most people would have a hard time taking someone seriously when they can't spell 'decides' and 'basically'.
I try to avoid picking on spelling and grammatical errors. Many people here don't use English as a primary language, and I try to cut everyone some slack.

EDIT: Oh, and please don't criticize my post for the use of the slang phrase "cutting some slack".

Mark I'm surprised you missed the opportunity to quote the last paragraph of that article. :p

And what if Microsoft is wrong, and they disable your software erroneously? Well, you can keep buying and activating their software until you are successful. And that means more fees to Redmond. Or, following the movie “Happy Feet,” you can decide to find software with a little penguin on it.

Quote - Shane Pitman said @ #3.3
Mark I'm surprised you missed the opportunity to quote the last paragraph of that article. :p

LOL

Only three PCs at my house are penguin-powered. One is mine, another is a simple file server, and the third is so old that everyone uses the newer, faster PCs.

No "March of the Penguins" at my house. :P (though I was thinking of buying a Dell laptop this Christmas and going through the steps to try getting a refund from them)

Unfortunately, MS's executives have deluded themselves into thinking that these anti-piracy strategies will turn into increased revenue. But if someone ever comes up with a reasonable alternative to Windows and Office, MS will start losing money quick because legitimate customers will be sick of these activation/WGA measures. ARE YOU LISTENING, APPLE? ARE YOU LISTENING, GOOGLE? And no, Mac OS is not a reasonable alternative for most users.....yet.

Quote - boogerjones said @ #1
...legitimate customers will be sick of these activation/WGA measures.

Exactly!! Even if these customers don't switch products, many of them will start using pirated (no MS revenue) versions of the software with anti-consumer features like embedded DRM, O/WGA, etc., deactivated. MS is just shooting itself in the foot. Hopefully the kiddies in Redmond will wake up before it's too late.

Quote - lbmouse said @ #1.1
Hopefully the kiddies in Redmond will wake up before it's too late.

Why are you hoping for them to wake up?

Quote - nw_raptor said @ #1.2
Why are you hoping for them to wake up? :rolleyes:

Competition is good for the industry (my job) and the consumer (me). Even though they are too large and engage in too many uncompetitive practices, they do keep other companies on their toes. With every bad product that MS releases, a dozen other companies take advantage of the flaws and create better products. Then MS incorporates these improvements in their next version of the product. Competition drives innovation. Unfortunately, MS has been imitating instead of innovating. This along with their recent anti-consumer moves is why the kids in Redmond need some smelling salts.

And no, Mac OS is not a reasonable alternative for most users.....yet.

:blink: Wow. From what I have seen, unless you are a gamer, OSX does fine. And an Apple can run Windows, too, if you need to have some games. Buy one PC, and get the best of both worlds.

Bah. But what do I know? I prefer Linux (but don't claim that it is the "one OS" for everyone).

Quote - markjensen said @ #1.4
And no, Mac OS is not a reasonable alternative for most users.....yet.

:blink: Wow. From what I have seen, unless you are a gamer, OSX does fine. And an Apple can run Windows, too, if you need to have some games. Buy one PC, and get the best of both worlds.

Bah. But what do I know? I prefer Linux (but don't claim that it is the "one OS" for everyone). ;)


But that requires a new $1000 plus computer. Windows Vista is quite a bit cheaper than that, even if validation fails multiple times.

Yes, MS is überdeluded here - especially since the Wga tool is so highly prone to failure, often marking completely legal owners as "pirates":
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=110&tag=nl.e550
Also, their little tool phones home on a daily basis (if you let it):
http://news.com.com/Microsofts+antipiracy+...tag=st.bp.story
...which in turn got it likened to "spyware" :P
http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000178.html

Concerning Mac OS X - it would even be a *very* reasonable alternative! :cool:
Especially compared to all the retarded Linuxes out there :x
If Apple had *any* smarts, they would get a version of it out that run on normal PCs - as they ported it already to the Intel architecture, that should be easily possible with minimum effort!
I'm damn sure that if they did this, it would sell just as well as their iPods (which I'm not too fond of, but that's another story).

Quote - Aero Ultimate said @ #1.6
Yes, MS is überdeluded here - especially since the Wga tool is so highly prone to failure, often marking completely legal owners as "pirates":
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=110&tag=nl.e550
Also, their little tool phones home on a daily basis (if you let it):
http://news.com.com/Microsofts+antipiracy+...tag=st.bp.story
...which in turn got it likened to "spyware" :P
http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000178.html

Concerning Mac OS X - it would even be a *very* reasonable alternative! :cool:
Especially compared to all the retarded Linuxes out there :x
If Apple had *any* smarts, they would get a version of it out that run on normal PCs - as they ported it already to the Intel architecture, that should be easily possible with minimum effort!
I'm damn sure that if they did this, it would sell just as well as their iPods (which I'm not too fond of, but that's another story).

Heres the problem with Apple being "smart" and getting an x86 version out........ they would totally lose their edge. They'd find themselves in the same situation microsoft is in: having to make tens of thousands of drivers for every possible hardware combination. Hell, we'd probly even see Mac's interpretation of a BSOD. Mac hasnt switched to selling their software for pcs because it would be suicide. Soon, (unless they have VASTLY superior programmers, 10 times better than MS) they'd start gettting a bad rep as idiots try running their (most likely in comparison to windows) superior software on inferior hardware, you will see problems equalling those of MS.

Quote - ispamforfood said @ #1.7
Heres the problem with Apple being "smart" and getting an x86 version out........ they would totally lose their edge. They'd find themselves in the same situation microsoft is in: having to make tens of thousands of drivers for every possible hardware combination.
...
Wrong. Microsoft has the manufacturers provide the drivers. You think they just get new hardware and reverse-engineer or write a driver for it from the specs? No.

Quote - ispamforfood said @ #1.7

Heres the problem with Apple being "smart" and getting an x86 version out........ they would totally lose their edge. They'd find themselves in the same situation microsoft is in: having to make tens of thousands of drivers for every possible hardware combination. Hell, we'd probly even see Mac's interpretation of a BSOD. Mac hasnt switched to selling their software for pcs because it would be suicide. Soon, (unless they have VASTLY superior programmers, 10 times better than MS) they'd start gettting a bad rep as idiots try running their (most likely in comparison to windows) superior software on inferior hardware, you will see problems equalling those of MS.

There already is a BSOD for mac osX
http://osxbook.com/book/bonus/chapter5/pan...ges/panic_2.jpg

Quote - LTD said @ #1.11
OS X is not a reasonable alternative . . .

How, exactly?

For company's who already have 1000's of PC's in their sites, it doesn't run on them. Changing them all to Macs would not be a financial option.

Quote - Danrarbc641 said @ #1.5

But that requires a new $1000 plus computer. Windows Vista is quite a bit cheaper than that, even if validation fails multiple times.

No, it requires a computer that costs $599. You do already have a mouse, keyboard, and monitor, right? You can even get a like-new refurb Mac a good bit cheaper than that, if you know where to look.

Quote - roadwarrior said @ #1.13

No, it requires a computer that costs $599. You do already have a mouse, keyboard, and monitor, right? You can even get a like-new refurb Mac a good bit cheaper than that, if you know where to look.

And then add in replacing all your software that doesn't run on a Mac (that's even if it exists on a Mac) and there's no point saying 'a Mac runs Windows' as with that argument you would just buy the new windows for your PC you already own.

[/?p=110&tag=nl.e550[/url]
Also, their little tool phones home on a daily basis (if you let it):
http://news.com.com/Microsofts+antipiracy+...tag=st.bp.story
...which in turn got it likened to "spyware" :P
http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000178.html

Concerning Mac OS X - it would even be a *very* reasonable alternative! :cool:
Especially compared to all the retarded Linuxes out there :x
If Apple had *any* smarts, they would get a version of it out that run on normal PCs - as they ported it already to the Intel architecture, that should be easily possible with minimum effort!
I'm damn sure that if they did this, it would sell just as well as their iPods (which I'm not too fond of, but that's another story).[/quote]

This phone home tool is already removed in an updated version of WGA months ago!!!
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1982591,00.asp