Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 7th Sep 2008 20:23 UTC
Windows Probably one of the most hated parts of Windows are its anti-piracy measures - product activation and Windows Genuine Advantage. While most people acknowledge Microsoft's right to implement these measures, many have also been bitten by the measures' shortcomings, such as server outages or false positives. Microsoft blogger Ed Bott has been monitoring WGA since its inception, and in 2006 and 2007 he didn't give a passing grade to WGA ("a big fat F"). This year, the situation has improved somewhat, earning Microsoft a passing grade - barely.
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Comment by flanque
by flanque on Sun 7th Sep 2008 21:13 UTC
flanque
Member since:
2005-12-15

Phew, Ed Bott gives WGA a pass.

I'm sure Microsoft employees will sleep soundly.

Reply Score: 10

hmm..
by looncraz on Sun 7th Sep 2008 21:22 UTC
looncraz
Member since:
2005-07-24

Now only if they could stop people from bypassing it altogether :-).

I found a crack that does it very well, generates a new code, breaks the WGA, and all of Microsoft's tools work great. Only works on pre-Vista I believe.

I searched for the crack because I had several customers who received false-positives from WGA and I *HATE* calling Microsoft for anything. So I just re-entered their license key, tried the crack that way, if that didn't work I just generated a new key, placed it into the system, locked it down, then verified that it was successful with a little genuine-check utility.

THEN, I had to upgrade WGA to get rid of the stupid "You may be a victim of software counterfeiting." message. Worked every time, and as recently as a week ago.

Not one has been flagged since ( which is good, saves me time - and saves my customers money ).

No, I won't share the crack :-).

--The loon

Reply Score: 3

RE: hmm..
by PlatformAgnostic on Mon 8th Sep 2008 08:36 UTC in reply to "hmm.."
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

It would have been less trouble to make a 3 minute phone call, and far more aboveboard.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: hmm..
by B12 Simon on Mon 8th Sep 2008 12:01 UTC in reply to "RE: hmm.."
B12 Simon Member since:
2006-11-08

Is that all it takes? I doubt that somehow.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: hmm..
by BluenoseJake on Mon 8th Sep 2008 21:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: hmm.."
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

That's how long it takes, I've had to do it twice.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: hmm..
by stestagg on Mon 8th Sep 2008 12:07 UTC in reply to "RE: hmm.."
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I had a machine whose Motherboards kept failing, complex issue, every time it did, a reinstall of Windows was needed. In the end, I was repeatedly calling up the Microsoft helpline, reciting strings of numbers over the phone, and copying down other strings of numbers, and being accused of piracy over the phone by some help desk drone. It's not fun having to call Microsoft.

Reply Score: 5

RE: hmm..
by bleedingedges on Mon 8th Sep 2008 12:47 UTC in reply to "hmm.."
bleedingedges Member since:
2008-09-08

> No, I won't share the crack :-).

Yeah, crack can be quite expensive, especially in the long run, if you've got a habit to support ;-)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: hmm..
by renhoek on Mon 8th Sep 2008 15:47 UTC in reply to "RE: hmm.."
renhoek Member since:
2007-04-29

> Yeah, crack can be quite expensive, especially in the long run, if you've got a habit to support ;-)


i'll give you one for free, it comes with a cute purple monkey.

Reply Score: 0

I never had any problem with WGA
by Chezz on Sun 7th Sep 2008 22:33 UTC
Chezz
Member since:
2005-07-11

I have a copy of Windows XP Prof. I never had any problems with its wga. One of my workstations gave me a pop-up once. I found the solution in the KB it was as simple as running a command from Start->Run I don't know what's wrong with validating your copy? Adobe does that. Heck all famous Software companies require you to validate your copy. They are not open source so OS rules do not apply here.

Reply Score: 2

ShadesFox Member since:
2006-10-01

I've never had a problem with WGA either. I'm just a bit annoyed about the, "You are potentially a criminal so we are going to watch you" attitude. I find that reason enough to hate WGA.

And you say all famous software companies require it. I've never seen apple require validation for OSX. I know this because there are people who will pool money, buy one OSX upgrade disk and use that on all their computers.

Reply Score: 1

hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21

Apple's situation is a bit different from Microsoft's.

OS X unless patched will not run on non Apple computers, and even if you do get it going, chances are there is a lot of hardware in your PC that just wont work with it, or certain features that just don't function. The only crowd they would seriously have to worry about is the up graders, and with how much they make on their hardware, I doubt that is an issue.

If it becomes an issue they will do the same, nearly every company that produces a quality (?), closed source, for profit program will eventually try various ways to make sure people aren't "damaging their profits" by illegally obtaining their product.

I mean, you wouldn't want those board of directors to only be able to take their yacht out 3 times a year because piracy didn't give them that million dollar bonus they needed to survive would you? ;)

Reply Score: 2

ShadesFox Member since:
2006-10-01

I disagree with your assessment of why they are different.

You say it is because the software only runs on Apple hardware. I say it is because Apple sells hardware that happens to have a different OS, as opposed to Microsoft and Adobe who only sells software. This means Apple is not nearly as desperate to make sure that everyone using their software paid for it. Instead they make their profits from iPods and iMacs. Microsoft and Adobe do not have the luxury of making money off real things.

And the status of the executive yacht is not my concern ;p

Edited 2008-09-08 04:13 UTC

Reply Score: 1

hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21


This means Apple is not nearly as desperate to make sure that everyone using their software paid for it. Instead they make their profits from iPods and iMacs. Microsoft and Adobe do not have the luxury of making money off real things.


This is why I said..

The only crowd they would seriously have to worry about is the up graders, and with how much they make on their hardware, I doubt that is an issue.


That is exactly why they don't care right now, but let them get squeezed a bit on their hardware profits, and the story could change. Not saying it will, but it very well could, and for many other companies it has.

and come on, who doesn't like seeing the corporate elite enjoy them self at our expense ;-)

Reply Score: 2

dreamlax Member since:
2007-01-04

Microsoft and Adobe do not have the luxury of making money off real things.


What about Microsoft branded keyboards, mice, joysticks, gamepads, and of course, let us not forget the X-Box and X-Box 360. And how could we forget about the Zune?

Reply Score: 1

Nossie Member since:
2007-07-31

OSX server bans invalid unlimited license serials that it finds cutting down the features until a new one is updated.

I should know because I've errrr ... seen it... yes that's it.

In my strange world, apple should owe me money for running it on 450mhz G4 cube ;) hardly taking advantage of thier OS.

I dont believe OSX client does the same although I've never seen any kinda of phone home activation other than that in any Apple software so far.

Reply Score: 2

change components
by renhoek on Sun 7th Sep 2008 22:39 UTC
renhoek
Member since:
2007-04-29

what i hate about wga, is that if i reinstall windows (or when i do a major upgrade). changes are high i get into trouble. and this is as a legit customer who paid for his product.

if i download a "patch" for wga, i don't get any trouble at all. hmm. is this the right way to treat your customers?

anyway, what wga should do is check a serial is used by multiple computers at the same time. the last part is important since as far as i know i can install thesame windows on a new pc. the licence is per user, not per computer. this way i could upgrade all i want, change computers if needed. and everybody is happy.

Reply Score: 3

RE: change components
by sakeniwefu on Sun 7th Sep 2008 23:51 UTC in reply to "change components"
sakeniwefu Member since:
2008-02-26

They could do like online games and ban duplicate serials if they both go online for updates at the same time.
Serials wouldn't need to be checked by your copy(or you could have an additional traditional install serial) so they can't be cracked, and if you lend your copy you get blocked away along with your friends. So you allow anyone to activate any machine with a valid license code but if two machines try to update at the same time(or you have a pattern of two computers - not IPs - downloading updates using the same single machine license alternatively) destroy their copies of Windows. There is no way they could be innocent.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: change components
by Moredhas on Mon 8th Sep 2008 06:11 UTC in reply to "RE: change components"
Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

Although Steam is far from perfect, I've often thought that it's a great concept for companies that want to prevent piracy. People don't buy the physical data when they buy a Steam game, they buy a license code and the software is added to their account. It could be useful for software, music and movies - anything infinitely reproducible, really. Now, I hated logging into Steam every time I wanted to play a game (which is actually why I don't play Steam games anymore), but that's an example of how not to do it. Scrap mandatory updating, and mandatory logging in, have the same 30 day activation grace that Windows already has, and everyone is fine. In fact, you wouldn't even need an internet connection of your own to validate your copy if they accepted just the license code.

Don't get me wrong, I hate DRM as much as the next person. I think the reason for DRM is fine, but the methods used, and the encumbrances like binding a file to a specific media player or a certain number of copies are just disgusting. I have no objection, however, to giving someone a 25-30 character alphanumeric code. It could even be slightly better to own the idea of a file than the physical existence of it. If you lose your music in a hard drive failure, or something, you still have the record of owning it. This would allow you to download the files again at no cost (other than bandwidth), much like a Steam game.

I know, there are plenty of flaws with what I'm suggesting (chief among which is that piracy is still easier), but it's a hell of a lot better than a Sony rootkit designed to disable your burning capabilities just to make sure you don't copy the music.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: change components
by stestagg on Mon 8th Sep 2008 12:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: change components"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I like Steam, and it generally works well, but a couple of times, the License servers have gone down, and suddenly all of the games refuse to run. So your ability to access the software you paid for is dependant on your computer's ability to contact the valve servers.

I'm OK with this requirement for some games, using a company I trust. But I don't think it is a good idea for my OS to only run when it can contact Microsoft's servers.

Reply Score: 2

RE: change components
by Morgan on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:02 UTC in reply to "change components"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

the licence is per user, not per computer.


Actually, it's not. Read your EULA carefully. For retail Windows, it's transferable one time only, and by transferable Microsoft means you have to completely remove the OS from the first computer and only install it on one new computer. If you get an OEM version, it is restricted to the system it was purchased for, period. According to Microsoft this means if you change the motherboard, you'll have to purchase a new license.

My personal feeling on this is that it is quite silly; a customer buying an OEM license is doing so because he or she is a hobbyist and will most certainly upgrade the entire computer every year or so. I would certainly prefer for Microsoft to license the product to the user with a restriction of no more than two concurrent installations for Retail and no more than one concurrent with OEM. That would somewhat justify the higher price for Retail in my eyes. They won't do that though; there's less profit in it.

I like Apple's attitude towards OS licensing, OSx86 issues notwithstanding. You can buy a Family license and you get five concurrent installations, for less than the price of two single licenses. They also do not restrict you to one transfer. Say, for example, you buy Leopard for your old MDD Power Mac, then you sell it and buy a G5 Power Mac. As long as you remove Leopard from the first computer, you are free to install on the G5, then if you sell that computer and buy a Core Solo Mini, you can once again move Leopard to the new computer.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: change components
by WorknMan on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:11 UTC in reply to "RE: change components"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

If you get an OEM version, it is restricted to the system it was purchased for, period.


But if you're doing an upgrade, what do you have to replace before it is considered another system/computer? The motherboard? CPU? A combination of both? I just replaced everything on one of my computers except for the case, so I guess technically it is not the same computer ;) I reinstalled the same copy of XP Pro I was using and it didn't complain at all. Of course, this is a retail version, so maybe that's why.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: change components
by Morgan on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: change components"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

This is exactly why I have an issue with Microsoft's strict licensing. Why should you have to purchase two licenses when you will only have one computer on your desk after the upgrade? Also, what happens when your motherboard dies and you can't replace it with the exact same model? Microsoft says you have to purchase a new license since the core of the computer is not the same, but that's quite silly to me.

Granted, most people in either situation can call Microsoft Support and get a manual reactivation, but to me this just stinks of "guilty until proven innocent". As I've said before, companies like Apple don't have to resort to these tactics to stay profitable. Keeping customer loyalty and trust should be a priority, yet Microsoft screams "We don't trust you!" to every single person who buys their products.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: change components
by WorknMan on Wed 10th Sep 2008 22:40 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: change components"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

As I've said before, companies like Apple don't have to resort to these tactics to stay profitable.


I'm sure MS wouldn't either if they sold the hardware like Apple does.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: change components
by joeka on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:29 UTC in reply to "RE: change components"
joeka Member since:
2008-09-08

Actually, just 2 days ago (because of hardware failure) I replaced my Asus motherboard for a EVGA motherboard and replaced all of my RAM (Patriot for OCZ); I kept the same CPU and hard disk. I did not "deactivate" windows or anything. After re-installing Vista (Home Premium 64-bit OEM) (a clean install / formatted the disk) on the machine I was able to successfully activate the system. Zero problems with activation.

I've read several times that if you replace your main board or some major component like that then you cannot reactivate, but I did not run into this problem. I did have to reactivate, but that was a minor inconvenience... it only took 10 seconds. I imagine that if you replace only a few components (such as in my case: a motherboard and all of the RAM), then the system is intelligent enough to figure out that since you have some of the other same hardware that you are still on the same computer.

Does anyone have a link to a Microsoft page that explains how the activation system / rules work in detail? I'm a bit curious after my experience.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: change components
by Morgan on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: change components"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I've had vastly differing experiences with activation in the past. I've had XP (Pro OEM, legit) allow a motherboard change without a need to reactivate. Then again, I've had it force a reactivation on adding a hard drive controller card (ATA, not RAID) along with a video card, both installed at the same time. I was tempted to simply download a cracked copy (I personally refuse to use the word "pirated" to describe anything that doesn't involve a man with an eyepatch and cutlass stealing goods in international waters). I was tempted, but instead I decided to go back to Unix-derived operating systems since the only appeal Windows held was a wider selection of video games.

Apart from a laptop that came with XP preinstalled, I've only dabbled with Windows when necessary in the past few years. What little gaming I do can be done in OS X and Linux, and I've gotten so comfortable with the workflow on the Mac that I feel lost on a Windows box now. I have yet to find an email program that comes close to the balance of simplicity and usefulness of Mail.app, and I'll approach nirvana when the rest of the Unix world obtains the equivalent of Disk Utility.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: change components
by looncraz on Mon 8th Sep 2008 05:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: change components"
looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

Activation id's a computer by numerous devices in the system, according to Microsoft when WPA first came out.

I have had only one time when a computer changed enough during an upgrade that the original Windows CD did not activate, and it actually wasn't even the same computer anymore, and the previous had been upgraded about 2 years prior - so that is 2 transfers.

I think one change of any magnitude is permitted, while a second change of anything serious is not. Jives with the EULA at least...

--The loon

Reply Score: 2

RE: change components
by aquila_deus on Mon 8th Sep 2008 07:41 UTC in reply to "change components"
aquila_deus Member since:
2005-10-02

Agreed. And since those who use pirated copies always have cracks of some sort, WGA just has no effect on them.

All it can do is to annoy real customers who pay $$$ for their software.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: change components
by PlatformAgnostic on Mon 8th Sep 2008 08:42 UTC in reply to "RE: change components"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

There's a third class of people you're forgetting about: customers of smaller PC vendors that choose to shift unlicensed software onto unsuspecting buyers. Distributors like that have been caught through WGA.

Reply Score: 2

It works quite well now
by miscz on Mon 8th Sep 2008 00:17 UTC
miscz
Member since:
2005-07-17

I have pirated copy of Windows XP and for some time now WGA wasn't bothering me at all. I didn't even have to crack it. And for apps that require more authentication (IE7, WMP11) there are little registry tweaks that make them install without a problem.

I guess that's the price of WGA not annoying people ;)

Reply Score: 3

Grumble
by Lazarus on Mon 8th Sep 2008 00:17 UTC
Lazarus
Member since:
2005-08-10

I am one of the supposedly few people who've been bitten by WPA/WGA, and twice when I've called customer support to have the issue resolved I've been hung up on (I may well be an asshole, but I do tend to be polite and forgiving to customer service people as its an evil, thankless job).

For those reasons alone I will never again purchase Microsoft products or services. I personally wouldn't give WPA/WGA even an "F" and our alphabet doesn't go far enough for me to give them the grade I think they deserve.

Reply Score: 4

Don't worry
by harcalion on Mon 8th Sep 2008 00:27 UTC
harcalion
Member since:
2005-07-12

Don't worry, the seemingly draconian anti-piracy measures established by Microsoft with WGA and OGA, are being copied in an even more severe manner by Electronic Arts (Spore), Valve (Steam) and more companies elsewhere.

"Good" ideas don't die.

Reply Score: 1

This would fix my only issue...
by hollovoid on Mon 8th Sep 2008 01:25 UTC
hollovoid
Member since:
2005-09-21

"3. Provide a deactivation option for retail copies of Windows. That will make it easy to transfer a license from one machine to another without having to go through activation hassles."

I hate having to call them for any reinstall, they are always nice about it, and never have given me flack for reinstalling a lot (I changed hardware a lot last year). But If I could click Un-register this computer, and avoid calling them all together, that would be sweet.

Reply Score: 4

OEM Licensing
by jsight on Mon 8th Sep 2008 04:37 UTC
jsight
Member since:
2005-07-06

I consider their refusal to allow an OEM copy to be installed on the exact same machine with a new M/B to be downright criminal. I paid for the OS and machine. I should be able to upgrade its components without a fight.

Can you imagine a car vendor selling a vehicle with a steering wheel that failed to work if you had the engine replaced? Oh, that engine is slightly different, thou shalt not steerest thy car any more.

Reply Score: 1

RE: OEM Licensing
by B. Janssen on Mon 8th Sep 2008 08:38 UTC in reply to "OEM Licensing"
B. Janssen Member since:
2006-10-11

Is this actually legit in the USA? I know that Germany's and France's courts declared this "practice" invalid, shaking their heads in disbelieve that someone would even try some scheme.

Reply Score: 3

v why bother?
by jensa on Mon 8th Sep 2008 04:49 UTC
RE: why bother?
by UltraZelda64 on Mon 8th Sep 2008 06:06 UTC in reply to "why bother?"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Why do you people bother using that MS crap?
Use OS X, linux, BSD or whatever. They are all far more useful, stable, secure and less annoying than MS products!

Have a nice day!
/j

What can be said? Other than those programs that are designed *specifically* for Windows, that's pretty much spot on in my opinion. And I was a Windows user for about a decade, starting on DOS. Thankfully, I do not absolutely *need* any of that Windows-exclusive third-party crap... and those I do use on occasion, which I am able to use on Linux, crash like a son of a bitch. Adobe Flash, I'm looking at you.

[beginning of flash rant...]
Just yesterday, Firefox was (literally) crashing every couple minutes as I was watching George Carlin clips on YouTube. It has crashed so many times in the hour or so (probably more) of watching, it *had* to be more than 50-60 times. I lost track because I was expecting it (that's pretty bad) and was just trying to enjoy some of his speeches. Often (which later became just about every time), I would watch a video, hit Back, ... freeze (or crash); force quit, wait a second for it to die, re-open, hit Back again to go where I meant to go before the crash, and click a new video. If it weren't for George Carlin's excellent performances and well-made points, I wouldn't have bothered to begin with... as I knew Flash was a buggy POS from experience.

This is why I almost never use YouTube, avoid Flash whenever possible, and hope an alternative that doesn't hog CPU resources, crash the browser every time you hit "Back" and is generally more pleasant and actually *reliable* to use comes out soon. From what I hear, Gnash and swfdec are still quite primitive. Better yet... rid the entire Internet of this resource-hogging crap that is often so horrible designed, it *ruins* web site navigation. Blah.
[/end rant]

Edited 2008-09-08 06:09 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: why bother?
by Panajev on Mon 8th Sep 2008 14:03 UTC in reply to "why bother?"
Panajev Member since:
2008-01-09

Some of us have used Solaris, Linux (several releases over the course of the years, Fedora 9 x86-64 currently installed, configured, and working) too, but prefer Windows (in my case Vista).

All in all it is a smooth, quite polished, and cohesive experience which does not hinder my productivity and does what I want it to do.

OSX is the only OS I would consider switching to.

Reply Score: 3

OEM
by Square on Mon 8th Sep 2008 06:49 UTC
Square
Member since:
2005-10-01

The only problem I have with activation/wga is "OEM" versions that you can get with a computer part.

According to the license agreement, OEM versions are tied to one computer and it is up to the "system builder" to decide when the upgrades/changes change the system to the point that its no longer the same computer.

It is generally understood that changing the motherboard changes the computer, however this is NOT in the license agreement, but that doesn't stop them from refusing to activate. Microsoft has been looking the other way so to speak when it comes to people buying OEM versions for personal use, and it really needs to be clarified to avoid the confusion surrounding personal use

Reply Score: 1

Comment by TQH !
by TQH ! on Mon 8th Sep 2008 07:25 UTC
TQH !
Member since:
2006-03-16

I hate WGA, I just bought a new laptop with XP and while installing everything on it I got the 'You've changed your hardware to many times'. I had to call a number and exchange very large numbers with an automatic machine before even being able to complete the install.
After that Windows Update didn't work and I had to reinstall it. All in all it that installation took ~20 hours.

After that I installed XUbuntu on a second partition and it took me 1 hour.

Can't wait for Haiku...

Reply Score: 2

Steam does DRM right
by REM2000 on Mon 8th Sep 2008 08:11 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

Once they got past their intial HL2 fiasco steam is one of the best platforms for the distrbution of games, i love it.

I know that as long as i have my login details i have access to all my games without having to have the serial number or media. It's a fantastic system, new computer, download steam, it then proceeds to download your games when desired, it's great to know that i have a backup of all my games in the cloud.

I think that securrom and the draconian methods used to prevent piracy of Bioshock when it was released are far far worse than steam.

WGA hasn't been that much of a success in my opinion. It may have converted a couple of people who didn't know what piracy is, but everyone who wants to get XP / Vista can, usually the only people that have to deal with DRM and WGA is the people that brought the software.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Steam does DRM right
by hollovoid on Mon 8th Sep 2008 12:15 UTC in reply to "Steam does DRM right"
hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21

Have to agree with you there, I enjoy steam quite a bit as well, and I have no problem with companies protecting their software if it works as seamlessly as this. It even worked for me on a computer that didn't have the internet for a while, just had to be online to get the software, and long enough to click "offline mode". After that I played all my games without once signing in and it never nagged once.

I just wish more companies would take advantage of this instead of resorting to poorly tested exploits waiting to happen. Im willing to go through a little setup hassle to enjoy years of hassle free use of my software, rather than the software not bugging me initially and leaving me in the cold when its most inconvenient.

Reply Score: 2