Home > Windows > Inside Internet-based Windows Product Activation Inside Internet-based Windows Product Activation Eugenia Loli 2003-07-28 Windows 20 Comments Internet-based product activation of Windows XP involves transmitting an amount of data to the Microsoft activation servers. Is this a threat to the users’ privacy? About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 20 Comments 2003-07-28 7:08 pm No. 2003-07-28 7:31 pm I thought that article was pretty interesting. Thanks. 2003-07-28 7:42 pm This product activation crap and the eula for windows xp is the reason I switched to Linux in the first place. 2003-07-28 8:39 pm Perhaps Microsoft should take a clue from the RIAA’s foolish behavior and realize “the more you act against your customers, the more they will desert you.” I am so tired of all the little bits of tin foil, string, and newspaper that are required to make software run these days. And to think in this day and age, you still cannot reinstall Windows and have all your old apps work, makes me cringe. No wonder no one wants to buy a new PC. And Microsoft’s new Orwell machines will make it many times harder to maintain your own machine. Most of the time, anything that inflicts a high level of pain on its user is bound to have a very low value placed on it in the user’s subconscious. No wonder everyone pirates Windows. It’s called “misery loves company”. 2003-07-28 9:25 pm Nooo. Who in the world could imagine this? It’s a true shame against a respectable software company like Microsoft… Everyone should take his own conclusions… 2003-07-28 9:53 pm Do any of you understand demographics? The threat comes from us, not Microsoft or the information they broker. Using a product activation scheme I can determine how often you use our products, how many computers you use them on, etc. This tells me a lot about my potential markets and my current customers. I worked for a targetting email company a few years back. And I learned a lot about how this information can be used. But what do you think? How much experience do you have with this sort of thing and do you think its a threat to you? I know how much of a threat this can potentially grow into. And I’m not too concerned with it because I don’t activate my products or give away my information like this. I have resorted to the good ‘ol exchange of cash for product with no expectation of further communications. But this is the way I think about it. Once you can identify, categorize and group people, then you can easily manipulate them. This product activation does not appear to lead to any manipulation at this time, however, you have been manipulated by similar practices, even without your knowledge. I know, I’ve worked for several companies doing it. 2003-07-28 11:06 pm See http://rogier.xszone.nl/windows/activatexp.html for a number of ways to thwart WPA The easiest part to thwart is the countdown timer until WPA locks out your system. The value is stored as a registry key, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWPAEventsOOBEtimer 2003-07-29 1:07 am Windows is actually a trogen virus they know everything you do when you get a patch for their security hole . 2003-07-29 1:20 am It’s not so much of a threat but what should bother people is that Microsoft is adding functionality that not a single consumer has asked for and one that only meets the needs of Microsoft. This is not fulfilling your customers’ needs but rather your own and that isn’t how business is done. I know a lot of people who bought legit copies and still downloaded cracks to get around this in protest of M$. 2003-07-29 1:35 am At the moment I don’t think it is, its benign to say the least, but it does open the door way to much more malignant code in future. So people new to pc’s get used to having to register or in this case have registered their information.. so what they say, for them it has always been that way. The next logical step from what I see is obtaining personal information. Why? So they can sell it at a huge profit (in the uk the census details are sold for something like £1000 per person). In the volumes Microsoft shifts their products, it would pump more money into their accounts than any amount of enterprise suits they sold or indeed have ever sold to date. Thats not to say that there won’t be other uses for this information, but tbh the way M$ works I suspect that this potential new source of revenue will be more than enough to keep them happy for some years to come. A slippery slope indeed. My next stop will be installing Linux (or similar) on all future machines I purchase. TBH this crap just isn’t worth it. 2003-07-29 2:20 am Bit of a rant I for one am extremely angry at Microsoft and all the other companies now making product activation part of their way of doing business. I do not appreciate having to contact these organisations every time I want to strip down and rebuild my system. I do not appreciate having to pay for the pleasure (Intuit) and I do not want to give them a range of details on my system, locale, and installed software so they can use it in marketing campaigns, sell the info on, or use it to track down the 0.001% of users savvy enough to pirate the software or bypass activation. It’s not as if the software itself is that good anyway. I’ve used XP for months and frankly don’t see what benefits it has to offer me. Sure its stable as a rock but it’s full of useless and intrusive handholding (task panes, search puppy etc.) some of which needs a reg hack to switch off, is blatantly less responsive than Win2K, is bloated, ugly by default, and can’t hold on to its settings (try turning off system sounds or menu animation in the original release…they’ll be back in half an hour). If I had actually paid my own money for it I genuinely feel I would have asked for a refund. For now I’m mainly on Win2K and staying there until I have enough knowledge to manage an alternative (any decent CAD applications for Linux yet?) to my satisfaction. UGHH! I hope more suers will vote with their feet so that these guys get the message, forget about monopolising the marketplace and return to making good useful software. 2003-07-29 3:47 am Get over yourselves. Somehow you think because you are the consumer you have infinite rights? I don’t think so. Microsoft, and every other company for that matter, has a right to protect itself against thievery. Simply put, if you aren’t violating your license agreement (which isn’t really as stricts as some people claim, it’s just a standard agreemnt) you will not have a problem with product activation. What pisses me off is people like you all who seem to think that somehow Microsoft is evil because they are keeping you from steeling it. I have a friend that is the same way. He gets pissed off that he keeps having to call Microsoft to re-activate his system, yet he keeps having to call because he has the same copy running on two different systems. There is no reason to get upset over WPA, or other technologies like DRM, unless the company/companies are abusing their power, Which Microsoft is not. 2003-07-29 4:19 am Nobody seems to have picked up on a major part of this: The use of certs for the activation. Since MS is issuing a cert to validate/activate your copy of WinXP, they are free to put whatever expiration date they want in the cert. They can effectively limit your “license” or “activation” period to whatever amount of time they choose. Also, given the new stringent CDP/CRL checking in WinXP and above, they also can revoke your machine’s cert at any time. Seems to me that they’re laying the foundation to have much more control over whether your machine boots up or not based on how they happen to feel about your license at any given time. 2003-07-29 4:42 am rak: Could we please stop with the conspiracy theories? 2003-07-29 5:13 am CPUGuy, Microsoft apologist, Microsoft employee, whoever you are: 1) I don’t consider my post to be a conspiracy thoery, 2) Even if I or others did, who are you to decide what is and is not posted here? Provide some sound technical justification explaining how MS could NOT use WPA in the manner I described, and I will admit to being wrong. If you can’t, then the validity of my post stands. Flame away, you’ve been plonked and I’m no longer feeding the trolls. 2003-07-29 8:44 am I am getting rather tired of trolls who say that Linus Torvalds is some kind of crook because of SCO V IBM and won’t look at their own “Hero’s” dirty laundry. I DARE the Top Speeds Sherberts and other Linux Haters on OS-NEWS to click on THIS!!!! http://www.intertrust.com/main/ip/litigation.html This latest in a LONG line of Intellectual property thefts by your heroes Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer affects Microsoft’s ENTIRE PRODUCT LINE and could potentially push them BACK TO WIN 98 BASED products and services if they wish to stay in business. Looks like you are now in the same boat with us Linux users DOESN’T IT! I mean we are dealing with GENUINE ISSUED PATENTS here, Not trade secrets or 80 lines of code hidden by an NDA. 2003-07-29 10:01 am As a computer builder, this is so damn annoying. You wanna try and swap hardware out and see if it is the problem and fix it? Then I have to register, but its not the customers IP and I have no idea how they want to register, and even worse they dont either Worse yet is someone who cant make an internet connection. Then they have to sit on the phone wasting thier time. They hate it, I hate it. Its a bad idea, and its gonna get worse. Here comes the funny part: We had a machine that would not validate itself. MS told us to enter this code, then that code, and it would not work. So they told us to google a code. HUH? WTF? 2003-07-29 1:42 pm My mother, my wife, my aunt; they don’t want to learn any more than they have to so why give them the latest OS? Windows 98, when properly maintained, is stable enough for ordinary things. We should shun XP. Those of us who don’t like it don’t need it. But we do have a re3sponsibility to spread the word. 2003-07-29 2:03 pm rak: I never said that it couldn’t be done. In fact I said the exact opposite. The fact of the matter is, it IS a conspiracy theory. You are the one trolling here. There is no basis for you to make such a commment. We have the capacity to wipe out all of Russia in just a couple of hours… doesn’t mean it will ever happen, and in fact, it will most likely not. 2003-07-29 3:49 pm I think MS should stop this activation stuff and find an alternative way to protect itself. I make music on my PC and sometimes I test shareware software or digital instruments, then it crashes….and need reinstall. Lucky man I am I use Win98SE. Steinberg, the software house that sells CUBASE, to prevent cracks spreading uses an hardware key (yes it steals from you one USB port), but once you buy it and need updates you do not need to activate anything. I have seen there are cracks on the Web about WinXP, so the anti-fraud procedure is not that good . . . About Steingberg’s even if you download a crack, next time you install a patch the patch restores its search of the hardware key. I think Steinberg’s guys made it better than Microsoft’s. I am no engineer but I guess with 20th Century Tech we have, each company might find a better way to protect itself against fraud without tampering with personal data and information… Anyway, who cares if I am happy to format my Hard Drive twice a week ? I own a dual-boot PC with Linux……so I can do whatever I like everytime I like without telling Uncle Bill. I am no puppy anymore . . . .