James O'Neill's blog

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Windows 7 activation update.

Windows 7 activation update.

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Over on the Windows blog there is a post talking about the update we are about to send out which is designed to catch some of the tricks being used by large scale pirates against Windows 7.  There was a time were an update to this technology would have me reaching for my tin hat and flame-proof underwear but I came read a Post on the subject from Ed Bott who (as I’ve said before) can be assumed to know what he is talking about.

I was a fierce critic of the initial [Windows Genuine Advantage] efforts, primarily because the user experience was so awful and the tools it used were inaccurate. Back in 2008, I gave Microsoft a C+ for its efforts, a significant improvement over the “big fat F” it earned in 2006 and 2007.
Over the past year, I have been visiting the Windows Genuine forums at least once per quarter to survey performance and have found that activation issues have become a non-issue. In every example I have found, the problem could be traced to malware or a major hardware change, or (surprisingly often) to a customer who had unknowingly purchased counterfeit software. Where false positive reports were on
ce a serious problem, they’re now practically nonexistent in my experience.

My experience backs this up. As a percentage the false positives were always small, but if you were affected it didn’t matter. And with an installed base as big as Windows a small percentage is a lot of people. There a story (which is widely told, but may be an urban legend)  of a major retailer whose repair operation always used the same key when reinstalling Windows: customers with licences hit problems later because their licences hadn’t been used and the one  which had was designated “pirated”. Those customers just had to enter their own product keys but the experience made many go ballistic. A repair shop wouldn’t do that today.



Comments
  • I willingly use a torrented version of Windows 7. I see nothing wrong with that, but support Microsoft when fighting people that -sell- pirated copies and -lie- they are real. So if this update is not meant to hit on us I hope it will do ok... just please leave users that willingly use cracked versions be, even if we aren't the nicest people around to someone like Microsoft.

    But yeah, +1 for making this optional and uninstallable... I find that a surprisingly nice thing for Microsoft to do. If they keep being like this I'll just feel bad and will have to buy Windows 7, since it is either way very good :)

  • Hmmm. You wouldn't expect me to condone what you do. It is stealing after all.

    However, my neighbour is having some building work done, and some materials have been stolen from the site. The person who steals a bagful of sand is one thing - in retail it's called "shinkage", The person who turns up with a truck and takes all the sand, cement, bricks etc is something else.

    Pragmatically it's the people who steal in bulk you want to focus on. Especially as you are only stealing from us, and the bulk pirates are also stealing from end users. [And potentially sending out machines pre-infected with malware]. I don't think it's practical to go after the people who do what you do because it is bound to catch some innocent users.

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