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Security Of Windows/Office XP Activation Code? 219

Posted by Cliff
from the more-security-thru-obscurity? dept.
merodach asks: "In pondering the next versions of Windows and Office (XP), the wonderful save-us-from-ourselves product activation, and MS's repeated public blunders with security I began to wonder about the security around the activation code, itself. Specifically, I was wondering how it would impact my job as an IT Consultant with regards to Melissa-type viruses and trojans which might: surreptitiously use the transmission code to send sensitive info to competitors/enemies of my customer; and (assuming that the software checks this periodically) change the activation info and damage/destroy the ability to repair that info (in short order rendering an entire network useless). As I don't have access to the beta versions or the code I was wondering if anybody in the Slashdot community would be able to list or explain what, if any, precautions are being taken on this." As it happens, TechRepublic has an article about this very subject. Thanks to Deecyl for the link.
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Security Of Windows/Office XP Activation

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The point is (according to a news.com article) that Microsoft is trying to crack down on casual copying, such as borrowing a friend's (legal) copy and installing it on your machine, or using one copy for an entire business. These are the people that won't be downloading cracks for the most part, because once you do that it makes people think about the fact that (according to Microsoft et al) they're now stealing. Just borrowing someone's cd kinda helps people get over that, because they're making no effort to bypass any security.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amen. I have used windows since the 2.x days and played with Linux since the pre 1.0 kernals. This XP authentication stuff is the final straw. I am going to keep a small Win98 or ME partition around to play my existing games but Linux will be my primary OS from now on. Since I am a programmer for a mega-corporation I will still have to use the Microsoft stuff at work but I am not about to spend another dime of MY OWN money on Microsoft development tools or OSes if they actually deploy this. By the way ALL of my software is legit. But I will not tolerate this arrogance from Microsoft.
  • That's a great plan. Yeah.

    We're sorry, Microsoft(tm) Windows(R) XP requires that you have a broadband connection to the Internet. Please replace your modem with a cable modem(*), DSL service(**), or satellite network connection(***).

    (*) Note: Service not available in all areas
    (**) Note: Service not available in all areas
    (***) Note: Service not available in all areas

    There may still be hope. Maybe they'll find a way to let WebTV users install it.
  • Now MS starts charging with no easy way around it, and those millions will start paying.

    Or, they will find some other cheap or free software to do what they want.

    You can't assume that people will continue behaving the same when the conditions change. More likely, they will change their behaviour, into a more convenient / inexpensive pattern.


    ...phil

  • First of all a little rant: what's with all the off-topic noise?

    Someone asks a question about the security of XP. Everyone replies about each and every aspect of XP except security issues! Didn't we do the XP sucks threads before?

    Okay, back to the issue at hand:

    I'm pretty sure that the security won't be much different than that of previous Microsoft products or any other software product in general.

    Yes, there will be bugs and problems with security. Microsoft has probably paid more attention to problems than they used to, just like they did with Windows 2000, but that only partially helps. Software releases have bugs. Period.

    If it is a minor one, it might be fixed. If it's regular, it will be fixed some day. If it's big, it will be fixed and rather soon. If it's huge and does what you fear/describe, it will be fixed ASAP.

    There are not so many precautions you can take, really, since no software company holds itself liable for any of its products. The best thing you can do to avoid the risk is simply by not using it.

    If for whatever reason you are forced to use it or think the benefits outweigh the risks, you might want to look into some sort of insurance contract in case things go very very wrong.

    I am sure insurance companies will insure you against horrible software plagues, they seem to insure almost anything including not getting any snow or sun on respectivily winter and summer holidays.

  • with win98. I had to install, and then *physically* deinstall the modem, and then put it back in before it worked properly. That's the fourth hardware status . . .

    While I'm at it, does anyone know how to get to the article wihtout a browser blessed by the priests of eye-candy that run their site? Lynx is taken to a redirect page, from which you can only proceed to the main page . . .


    or is there even anything worth reading?


    awk

  • No, I mean my MSDN copy. I am not a corporate mega-user, I'm a developer.
  • 1. If corporations don't have to worry about this what stops me from getting my "big corp" sysadmin buddie to lend me a copy of there CD.

    This is what caught me too. Fine, I'll use my MSDN copy and be free of this mess, but how many times have we heard about companies having more installations that licenses (ask that city in Virginia).

    This won't help that at all.

    1 year from now on alt.binaries.cd.images:
    REQ: plz post MSDN version of WindowsXP - I am 3l337!!!

    Sounds like another push for OSX and Linux - no hassle computing (at least in that area!)
  • Siemens uses the 'key' in the MBR trick for its PLC dev. software... virus scanners used to kill it all the time.

    I know about this. And Allen Bradley is boneheaded about their software too. This makes their PLC's often out of reach on nightshift from debugging when the person who has the key, dongle, whatever is not reachable. Its a joy to watch manufacturing lines churn out thousands of pounds worth of scrap because a software key can't be had until morning. In my opinion, this makes the lesser known vendors who sell non-proprietary PLC's much more attractive.
  • What is so disgusting, is that people are threatening to sue MS over defective software that hasn't even shipped yet, and the customer is buying the software knowing of the risk ahead of time.

    Sure I know about it, but that doesn't mean I don't have to use it. You see, I work at a large manufacturing plant. Large. When software has a quirk and decides to halt, the manufacturing process halts. With plastic extrusion, any stoppage of the process can be quantitized in terms of several thousands of dollars in scrap per event, not to mention the burden downtime. When NT just decides to halt the entire computer, I become acutely aware of how serious a problem is.

    I don't purchase proprietary software and its licenses. I never will. But there are people unknown to me that I work with who do. The COO even backed me about my complaint with shitty software, but he's powerless to do anything about it. Politics at work just seem to go with whatever products are marketed the strongest. Its sick, but its what I have to deal with daily.
  • There is no need for MS to bother with this. They can still sue the crap out of anyone who pirates the software in most jurisdictions, yet there doesn't have to be a license or serial number at all in distributing it.

    A strongly implied part of the copyright contract is that works have to be useful. A book that's so heavily encrypted as to be unreadable has not effectively been published, and will not enrich the public domain when it enters it. MS can leave the door wide open, and not lose a shred of their legal shield. Indeed, they're granted that shield on the condition that they leave the door open. Now if only Congress or the courts would revoke copyrights from publishers who seem to want to grant and enforce them themselves. They'd be welcome to try, but would get no help from Uncle Sam.
  • If it can be activate over the phone, then what stops someone from reverse-engineering the system and writing a little program that generates asctivation codes, I'm not 100% up on this, but im 90% sure that it's already been done. In this case its actually less of a hassle to install a pirated version than a licensed one.
  • Another way that companies use is to encode
    with the serial number of drive C:

    Lattice is one.

    Borland seems to be doing something like
    that for the Delphi try out.

    If Microsoft use this then when you format
    the drive it would be kind of hard to get
    the same code.

  • Microsoft has an 800-number for people to call and speak with someone to get the activation code.

  • </sarcasm>

    Happens all the time - when you buy something at the store, your paying for all the shoplifted items also; i.e., the cost of theft is spread over and paid for by all the legit customers.

    <rant>
    Of course, it would be much better to have a friggin' CHOICE of which store to shop at so we could avoid those with over 25% theft rate - but nooooooooooooo, all those little office desktop bozo's just HAVE to love their little pc pope and do everything he wants, however po'd the it dept gets...
    </rant>
  • In other words, Microsoft is implementing the exact strategy of the MPAA's CSS encryption.

    Even if someone were to figure out how to circumvent the activation system, what are the odds that the hack will find its way onto the web?
  • by jms (11418) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:38PM (#375646)
    The article asks:
    OK, if product activation isn't the answer, then what is? Imagine you're running the Windows or Office business at Microsoft-how do you keep your product from being stolen without inconveniencing your customers or holding their PCs hostage? I'll take the best suggestions and pass them along to Microsoft.

    Here's a simple approach. Cut deals with all of the hardware manufacturers so that they are forced to purchase a copy of Windows for each machine they sell, whether or not the user wants it. This way, Microsoft will receive automatic license payments on probably 95% of all PCs manufactured, leaving only the 5% or less of PCs that are built from scratch vulnerable to Windows piracy.

    Oh wait ... they're already doing that.
  • It's actually slightly worse than that... If you click on the 'it won't look as cool' link, you get dumped on TechRepublic's front page - it doesn't appear to even try to send you to the article you were originally headed for.

    The world really needs fewer sites like that.

  • Yes, but you can see where this is going: Licence Servers for corporate Office use.

    In fact, one of MS's propaganda pieces for ActiveDirectory specifically mentions licence management as a possible application. I think the only thing holding them back is the fact that AD hasn't been widely deployed yet (or ever?).
    --
  • I think slashweenies have missed the security aspect of this thread. The question posed is as valid with Windows 2000 as with XP. The question is about virii breaking the registration codes your CP software needs in order to keep working. I would assume that your XP software would be able to rescan your system and take your reg code to generate the same authorization code as it first generated. A one way function is a one way function. Oh well.
  • You're right, but by then we'll have come full circle -- back to the IBM Profs-type mainframe productivity environment...

  • The rumor mill has it that the Select version of XP will be register-free, to help companies that do imaging and the like. To my eyes these look like the non-Select version of the same install CD. My question is, what's to prevent someone from comparing a select and non-select XP CD and finding the N files that are different (presumably they will largely be the same) and producing either a binary patch set or just distributing those files?
  • Sure I know about it, but that doesn't mean I don't have to use it.

    Somebody is responsible for the choice to use MS software. Yes, it's probably not the user himself, but it was someone, and that person should be held accountable for the reckless and irresponsible thing that they did.


    ---
  • What is so disgusting, is that people are threatening to sue MS over defective software that hasn't even shipped yet, and the customer is buying the software knowing of the risk ahead of time.

    Anyone who knows the risk before purchasing, shouldn't be allowed to sue. This R. Kinner sounds like a seriously irresponsible asshole.

    It's like if I sued the maker of these cyanide tabl--Arrr.... *thud*


    ---
  • There's going to be different versions of XP out; they'll be XP Home, XP Professional, XP Server, and XP Advanced Server. Only the Home edition will *always* require activation. For Select Customers, MSDN users, and others, it will not require communication to MS to install/activate.

    It's a little silly and shows some of the current attitudes (I swear this isn't a troll) of Slashdotters to rant this much. So, I'd like to ask these questions-

    a.) If an Open Source activist is allowed to get upset and take legal action when someone doesn't follow their license, then why can't MS ensure people follow their license? Is MS' somehow less valid because it isn't popular? If one is such an advocate of a particlar business model, that person should have at least civic respect for another license.

    b.) An argument could be made that OSS is pushing the ASP movement. More specifically, when a free alternative is competing with Microsoft, MS can either try to take a larger market share or simply make more money off the market share they already have. If all closed-source apps went away, the drive of the IT market would be on services. No longer could a company rely on selling their software for a year before releasing a new version. Instead, they might find more money in renting the use of their apps.

    This second point is really kind of a theory, and I am interested to hear what others think.)

    NP
  • And I quote:
    TechRepublic.com is optimized for the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape. You probably received this redirect page because the browser you just used to access our Web site does not meet this criteria. TechRepublic is the IT professional's source for many exciting articles and features developed to help you succeed in your career. This information can't be found in a book or manual - it's written for you by professionals who, like you, are in the trenches. In addition, TechRepublic offers forums to get you answers to pressing IT problems, as well as job and peer directories. Why not upgrade to a more current Web browser? You'll be glad you did. Alternately, you can view our site with your existing browser, but it won't look nearly as cool.

    Apparently TechRepublic feels that "looking cool" is the most important thing. It's more important to them that their website is "kewl," rather than having me read it using my browser of choice. (I did see the link dumping on my browser, but letting me in the site, so don't say it. The redirect is irritating, and makes me not want to read anything on their site.)

    Anyone have a mirror that is not designed to piss non-Microserfs off?

    --
  • How does it know two weeks have passed? Why can't I just set the clock on my computer to the year 9 billion, install XP, and then fix my clock?

    -jon

  • The fuss isn't about Microsoft stopping people from pirating Microsoft software. The fuss is about this being the "thin edge of the wedge".

    First, you have to "activate" your (legitimately purchased) licence in order to finish installing it on your machine. You say, "Okay... it doesn't hurt to do that."

    Then, you get the .NET equivalent of Internet Explorer. This product "suggests" that you check the Microsoft Windows Update page every week. You say "Okay... sounds sensible to me."

    After that, you get the latest version of IE.NET. Due to increased exploits involving unpatched Windows(tm) installations, this product forces you to use Microsoft Windows Update, otherwise you can't continue running Windows(tm). You say "Dammit! I just wanted to browse the web for a couple of minutes.".

    Then when that update is done, you open Word.NET. It informs you that you have to connect to the Microsoft Product Activation site to check your licence for this week. You say "This is getting a little annoying."

    On connecting to the Microsoft Product Activation site, Word.NET informs you that Microsoft Corp has changed the licencing model for Word.NET: now you have to pay $5/month to keep using Word.NET.

    All the fuss is about nipping this in the bud.

    Imagine if the USS Yorktown [caltech.edu] was running on Windows XP? In the middle of an intense Naval battle, the sonar system pops up a dialog box, "Sorry, your Sonar Tracking System Software licence has expired. Please connect to the Microsoft Product Activation site to up date your licence. This should only take a few minutes. [Renew Licence] [Stop Using STSS]"

    I am personally of the opinion that "causal copying" is somewhat beneficial to commercial software developers - PHBs get exposure to new products at home (the copy of Microsoft Project 2000 that they borrowed from their Wife's friend's husband), and go back to work thinking, "Gee, that was cool". Two months later, that company has bought Microsoft Project 2000 and Microsoft Project Central (and its supporting software).

  • Basically, Windows XP will probably do stuff like check the processor you're using, serial or model numbers from your hard drives, what PCI or (shudder) ISA cards are installed, BIOS manufacturer and version number, etc. From this it'll make a "fingerprint", which gets sent off to Microsoft.

    Microsoft then sends back an "activation code" - as long as you write this down somewhere, you'll be fine.

    However, Microsoft doesn't define how much of your machine has to stay the same when you do an upgrade. Does my machine need a new activation code when I:

    • Increase RAM?
    • Swap from 72pin SIMM to 128 pin DIMM
    • Install a new hard drive?
    • Replace the existing hard drive?
    • Over clock my processor?
    • Replace the processor?
    • Replace the sound card?
    • Remove the network card?
    • Add an extra network card?

    According to Microsoft's Product Activation Fact Sheet [microsoft.com]:

    "In some instances, if a user extensively overhauls a machine, reactivation will likely be required."

    The thing that bugs me is - how much is "extensively"? Why is that sentence written to be intentionally vague? My guess is that Microsoft is hoping to keep Product Activation secure through obscurity [tuxedo.org]. If you don't know how it works, you can't go breaking it [caltech.edu], right?

  • When you activate your Microsoft products, your registration key will obviously be stored on some Microsoft license server.
  • by powerlord (28156) on Friday March 09, 2001 @07:45AM (#375661) Journal
    Well, hopefully with the increasing demand for something reasonably priced for him to use, the OSS community will port some of free word processing programs over to winblowz.

    Check out OpenOffice [openoffice.org] (formerly Star Office). They treat Win32 as a primary platform (along with Solaris and Linux) and its starting to look preaty spiffy and stable. Still a bit left to do (ie. Its still beta, so its more stable than MS Office, but doesn't have all the neat templates yet ::grin::).

    Once its hit General Availability, I'm sure people are going to work on/improve the MS Office compatability filters, and when Joe-Six-Pack needs to get his home office suite, he'll either borrow a CD from his "Techie Friend" (amazing how much this happens), or he'll shell over a VASTLY smaller number of $$ for a copy of OpenOffice on the retail stores... put out but Sun or someone else.
  • >>The activation code is based on your MAC address

    Um, No.

    I'm on the beta for this, and I lurk the private MS newsgroups. They started a newsgroup just to discuss Product Activation once the flamewars spread into the other groups, drowning out the other discussions. In that newsgroup, 99.995% of the posts are, if anything, more vitriolic and staunchly opposed to the idea of product activiation than the posts I have read here...

    So naturally, once MS shipped code that really needed to be activated, the first thing most folks did was try and figure out what hardware changes trigger the system activation. It turns out to be more complex than just the MAC address, rather it works off of a combination of some motherboard identification, hard drive ID, and the Mac address. (I would bet that if you have a CPU with a GUID, then it uses that, too.) You can actually change out a lot of this stuff and not have the reactivation trigger.

    Besides that, apparently (I read this over at the Register) [theregister.co.uk] the cracks are painfully easy to implement, so it's really not going to solve the problem.

  • I agree, this can only be bad for microsoft. They have based their whole corporate stratagy on market share and actually have benefitted from a certain leve of piracy. Each time someone pirated a copy in the past from a friend they contributed to the demise of OS/2 and MACOS and the rise of windows. Sure they didn't pay for Windows but they still supported the platform by buying other software that only worked on Windows.
    I guess that they (MS) think that they've got everone hooked now and that they can safely tighten things and collect their money now.
    This just seems like a perfect oportunity for GNU/Linux to start building market share. As it gets harder to get Windows it will get easier to chose Linux. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years.
  • Read the quote again, specifically The activation will be automatic.

    Call me stoopid, but I can't see how this would work without Office storing the code on the HDD somewhere.
  • by Azza (35304) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:22PM (#375672)
    From the TechRepublic article:

    Every time you reinstall Windows, you'll need a new code.
    R. Kinner is already prepared to join a class action lawsuit against Microsoft: "If I, as a home user, am forced over the course of a year to reinstall XP five times, and MS refuses me a sixth code, they are the ones breaking the commerce contract that was begun when I purchased the software." Call off the lawyers! You can reinstall Windows or Office XP an unlimited number of times on the same hardware. The activation will be automatic.


    This has to be bullshit. If I reformat and reinstall, how could Office possibly know that I already have an activation code? Where, exactly, is Office storing the activation code? On the hard drive I just formatted?

    Ditto if I upgrade the hard drive. Am I missing something here?
  • Every Ethernet card has a hardware MAC address that is unique to every network interface in the world (supposedly). Many serious copy protection schemes are based partially on MAC address.

    Not quite correct, just about every ethernet card you are ever likely to see consists of a generic ethernet chipset and some kind of ROM. (Even the ones which only appear to have a single chip on.) But there is typically no connection between the actual ethernet hardware and the ROM. The ethernet hardware relys on the operating system to tell it this.
    Indeed if it is running bridging software then it's required to be able to explicitally set the MAC address on every single packet.
  • MIS folks shouldn't be installing the retail release of XP (Windows or Office) on "hundreds or thousands of PCs at once". Look into Select or Open licensing.

    So when did these mean that you get a different piece of software as opposed to a different kind of certificate saying you can use the software?
    IMHO Microsoft isn't likely to want to make an activation free "corporate" version of the software since once the pirates get their hands on that them the who idea of using the method to stop piracy goes out the window...
  • Imagine if the USS Yorktown was running on Windows XP? In the middle of an intense Naval battle, the sonar system pops up a dialog box, "Sorry, your Sonar Tracking System Software licence has expired. Please connect to the Microsoft Product Activation site to up date your licence. This should only take a few minutes. [Renew Licence] [Stop Using STSS]"

    Even Microsoft isn't stupid enough to pull this on the US military.
  • There's going to be different versions of XP out; they'll be XP Home, XP Professional, XP Server, and XP Advanced Server. Only the Home edition will *always* require activation. For Select Customers, MSDN users, and others, it will not require communication to MS to install/activate.

    Thus rendering the whole thing entirely pointless as a protection measure. Since if there is a version which dosn't need to "phone home" all the time then that will be the version which gets priated...
  • Yes because it's only moral and right that you should have to get permission to use something you paid for.
  • "Happens all the time - when you buy something at the store, your paying for all the shoplifted items also; i.e., the cost of theft is spread over
    and paid for by all the legit customers"

    This has nothing to do with it. When I buy a book at barnes and noble I don't have to go home and call the publisher and give them my name and address before I can read the book. If I buy a donut at 7-11 I don't have to call the maker of the donut before I can eat the thing. If I bought a TV from target I don't have to call RCA beore I watch it. But If I buy MS office from best buy I have to register with MS and give them all kinds of personal information before I am allowed to use it.
    I paid for it I ought to be able use it without getting permission from the manufacturer.
  • What about the book then? I can let other people read the book, I can make copies, I can post quotes from it on slashdot.

    Aside from that intellectual property is a myth. The word property does attach to thoughts. Because of this there are all kinds of convulted laws trying to protect something intangible and unprotectable.
    In the past we used to feel superior to countries who would jail people for thinking and saying forbidden things now we have joined the ranks of of them.

    Think about what MS is doing. They let you use a software which is not guaranteed to do anything, and for which they hold absolutely no liability. In exchange for getting this etheral substance you pay them a good chunk of money. If you do anything with this admittedly useless thing that is forbidden you get to go to jail. You don't own it, you can't do whatever you want with it, you pay your money, you give away your privacy and you still risk jail or bankrupcy.

    The emperor has no clothes people.
    Now would be good time to wake up.
  • Major problem - if you're an MIS tech suddenly faced with upgrading hundreds or thousands of PCs at once, this activation thingy is another thing that can go wrong. Anything that makes MIS's job harder is one less thing they'll be inclined to order.

    One reason for the sucky sales of Win2000 - out-of-the-box, it doesn't play well with existing NT installations, so lots of corporate and government MIS departments haven't upgraded yet. This is MS's main revenue stream, the one which pulls in the big bucks. Doesn't matter if the MIS head is a Microserf or not, if the upgrade causes more lost revenues in terms of downtime and tech support than benefits, it's not gonna happen. And yeah, there are a lot of stereotypical PHBs out there, but if an upgrade causes a company to lose actual $$$, as opposed to the "benefits" and "increased productivity" of the upgrade (especially those that have been burned by the Win9x -> Win2k upgrade) even a die-hard non-tech PHB is going to take a second look before signing those purchase orders.
  • 1) Have you actually used a Select or Open license? Do you know how much of a bear it is to actually deploy across an enterprise? (i.e. vastly different from documentation, registry screwups, missing keys etc).

    And the Educational versions of above licenses is exactly the same as the retail/OEM version. No additional admin tools, etc...

    2) I'm just saying MIS departments who've been burned by the problems experienced with Win2k would be leery of upgrading to a version with an added "activation" feature which can introduce yet another point of installation failure. (especially for those of us outside the US with intermittent/unreliable Internet links).
  • >watch lil' Johnny create an 'A' report with it, and next thing you know, Joe-Six-Pack is at the water cooler telling his buddies how "this OSS shit ain't all that bad.. and it's FREE!"

    Unfortunately, until Joe Sixpack can install Linux and the OSS application without having to grok "partition", "glibc", and what-not, he's gonna say "fuck this, next time I'm buying a Dell(tm) because it's got Intel Inside(tm) and comes with WindowsXP(tm) and WindowsXP(tm) comes with a word processor built-in!"

    Don't forget - Joe Sixpack doesn't buy an OS and applications - he doesn't even buy an Athlon/Duron/PIII. He buys a "Dell" or a "Compaq", and has no idea that he's even paying $100ish for the 'doze license and other "bundled" software on it.

  • Why can't I just set the clock on my computer to the year 9 billion, install XP, and then fix my clock?

    If the software detects that the clock is set to a time earlier than it was previously, this is a good indication that something funny is going on and it can refuse to run, some time-limited demos do this.
  • After you've installed XP you have like 2 weeks to "activate" it. You'll start getting notices. If you don't activate it within the two weeks the app and OS (Whistler does this too) stops working.

    To activate it the software connects to a Microsoft server and verifies your key hasn't been used by 20 other pirates.
  • I'm having some trouble understanding the people who are saying that Microsoft won't do this. Of course they will. Who's to stop them? And Windows XP and Office XP will sell lots and lots of copies, because people just take this sort of crap from Microsoft.

    I've got a select agreement with Microsoft where I work, and so I'll be getting CDs with no activation code required. So will lots and lots of other users, and one of them will post the ISOs somewhere (I won't - I've too much self-respect ;-)

    However, the net effect will be lots of users with Office/Windows XP in their workplaces, and all new PCs being bundled with Windows XP at least. Home users will upgrade to be compatible with their workplace, but it's the new PCs that will drive sales. Windows XP will be the only OS available from OEMs.

    Alister

  • As strange as it may seem, (to myself included) I have realised that I don't have ANY pirated software on my computer. Even my OS (Windows ME, save the flames for later) is legit, and I have my own CD key to prove it. Therefore, if WindowsXP is as good as they claim, then I think that I would be more then willing to pay $100 for it. I don't care if it needs to be activated; if it's legal, who the hell cares? It's not an invasion of privacy, it is a company trying to stop the massive flood of pirated versions of their software.

    I don't see what all the fuss is about, honestly.

    ------------
    CitizenC
  • It will just go into that MBR of your HD that no-one but M$ should have code in there anyway....

    Lets see... LILO, or other bootloaders....

    Or here's an even more fun one... I had to patch a system because of a bug in the BIOS (this was before Flash) that caused it to misbehave with SCO Xenix (not Unix, Xenix). In any case, to make the patch transparent, I patched the MBR.

    Get an fscking clue, dude.
  • Oooh, now you've given the 1337 5kr1P7 K1dd135 something useful to do!
  • That was Borland's No Nonsense License Agreement.
  • I guess I just didn't read the OP as sarcasm, I thought he was serious. It makes more sense as sarcasm...

    Never mind.
  • I don't honestly think this activation code will last long. Between the activation data being corrupted, destroyed (by accident, virus, etc), and whatnot, I think Microsoft will eventually be FORCED to pull the code in order for it's customers to have an easier time of it all.

    That and it'll be cracked soon enough after release that the pirates can have their way with it anyways, rendering the whole grand plan by Microsoft to stop piracy useless.
  • > Where, exactly, is Office storing the activation code?

    On MS's server. Read the article. When you try to install on a different PC using the same CD-key, MS's server will veto it.

  • You mean like the front door to your house, which disallows you entry until you prove that you are authorized by posession of the right key?

    yeah - that is pretty facist.

    All your event [openschedule.org] are belong to us.

  • by po_boy (69692) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:17PM (#375699) Homepage
    Now when I ask for my refund on windows, won't it be easy to verify that I've never used that installation and am entitled to the refund? Or perhaps it's already activated by the OEM when they installed windows.

    All your event [openschedule.org] are belong to us.
  • when you buy something at the store, your paying for all the shoplifted items also

    Lower theft, lower price, eh?

    Do you honestly think Microsoft is going to decrease their price when piracy decreases? They've already got us paying out the nose, why in Gods name would they let us stop? And the OEMs? Do you think they got a price break when they went to piracy-proof re-imagers? Nope.
  • If it were me, I'd probably start it off just in data collection mode. Examine how many times a machine is upgraded without the same ether card, etc. then when you've collected data for a while you can target the +2 sigma abusers.

    Say most users reinstall windows every 6 months, and 98% install no more than once every two months. Disallow reinstalls more frequently than that and it only pisses off 2% of the users, and those were probably pirates anyway.

    In other words, I think the reason they haven't said what constitutes new hardware is because they haven't decided yet, and won't decide until they see the initial set of data.

  • This sort of scheme has been tried and failed, for two reasons-
    1. It's too easy to fake the 'system id' number, or just trick the code that checks it.
    2. It is too easy to accidentally do something that changes the number, causing the software to fail.

    The hardware fingerprint is generally the MAC of the primary ethernet card (in a system with ethernet). So if you change your primary network card, the fingerprint changes.

    This can be a major problem on laptops. My laptop did not come with onboard ethernet, and I switch out the PCMCIA ethernet card on a regular basis, plus each of my docking stations has an ethernet interface with it's own unique MAC.

    It's often very easy to change the MAC on an ethernet card, but if you have two machines on the same network segment with the same MAC, strange things happen.

  • if Intel has 're-enabled' the UID in the P4?

    Of course they have. It now contains its own miniature modem that tracks all of your software and internet usage. Didn't you see the expose on Lone Gunmen [stylicious.com]?

    Seriously though, W2K already gets pissed off if you dare try to use its Restore CD [google.com] (not an Install CD any more, and not your CD at all) on anything but the exact machine you bought. Why would Whistler do any less?

  • by F.Prefect (98101) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:57PM (#375716) Homepage
    It's not storing the code at all. Go up one paragraph in the article from the paragraph you quoted. It specifically says that the code is generated based on the hardware in your system. Unless you swapped out hardware as part of your format-and-reinstall, the code that is generated after the reinstall will be identical to the one that was generated before the reinstall.
  • Intel disabled the Processor ID as default, and I believe it is not in P4. (Am I right there?)

    Anyways, the PIII PID is probably the least-used feature on any CPU (even NOPs gets used alot), so I bet Intel lost on this overall.

    - Steeltoe
  • by UnifiedTechs (100743) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @05:20PM (#375722) Homepage
    This has to be bullshit. If I reformat and reinstall, how could Office possibly know that I already have an activation code? Where, exactly, is Office storing the activation code? On the hard drive I just formatted? Easy, you still get a licensing code with your CD, that unique code get registered in thier computer along with your activation code generated based on your hardware. This means You can't lose your licensing code like I tend to, the box I am on now was installed with a legal copy, but durring one of MS's famous crashes I couldn't find the license number *I had just moved*, so I borrowed my roommates. The two big problems I have with this, and noone has seemed to bring up is this. 1. If corporations don't have to worry about this what stops me from getting my "big corp" sysadmin buddie to lend me a copy of there CD. 2. and even worse, if my machine will check into there central server fronm time to time what happens if it is down? We all know MS server products are stable, yeah right. Maybe they plan to run this server off of BSD like hotmail. When this server is down by crash, DOS Attack, or Squirrel chewing through the fiber cable are we out of luck, or even if my DSL line is down that day can I not use my computer till it comes back up? Just a little bit ago all of MSs Servers were down for a few days due to a DNS problem (or so they say)imagine if it was you desktops time to check in durring this outage, yikes.Plus does anyone else see this as a new world record in the making, most popular server for DOS attacks, just thing about the ripe target this will be.
  • If it uses the same system as Mathematica 4.0 you will have to get a new code each time. Mathematica generates a code based on something within the machine. If for any reason you need to reinstall you need to get a new code. In theory you could run the software off the CD, but Mathematica wont let you do that either. It assumes that the legally purchased CD youre running the software off of is pirated. Regardless, if windows is using hardware as a basis, youll need a new code if you reformat and reinstall, and especially if you upgrade the HD.

  • But seriously, it is not very clear how the "Microsoft Activation Center" is going to work.

    Ironic that microsoft is using a MAC (which btw doesnt even require a serial to run, since you have to buy apple hardware.)

  • The main reason for introduction of the activation code, is to reduce the amount of illigal copies. Unfortunately for Microsoft, software crackers are usually very intelligent people that are challenged by such a nice new copy-protection schema. Therefore, I estimate that a crack for this new protection will be released within a week after the introduction of the new XP software

    A rumor I heard (but I can't validate it, it remains a rumor) is that the guy who cracked a microsoft machine and had access to their network for about 2 weeks (article should be on /. somewhere) stole some snippets of code that were (coincidentally??) the ones dealing with the new activation codes. If that is true, than the crack can be released before the product ;-)


    --
  • It specifically says that the code is generated based on the hardware in your system. Unless you swapped out hardware as part of your format-and-reinstall

    What if the format-and-reinstall was because you swapped out hardware? What if you are installing Windows onto the new hard drive you just bought? Luckily, there's a better way: Generic Windows. It's Wine [winehq.com] running on top of Linux or BSD. And as long as developers continue to support Windows 9x, Wine will be fine.


    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • LINUX IS NOT READY FOR GAMES, not yet. Name a game that you can just install and start playing without touching any config files.

    Once you have the Allegro library [demon.co.uk] installed from source tarball (./configure; make depend; make; su -c make install), you can run any free Allegro game such as freepuzzlearena [8m.com], TOD [8m.com], or scores of others [allegro.cc]. There are also emulators to run other platforms' games (such as TuxNES [hpi.net] and SNES9x [snes9x.com]).


    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • NOT UNTIL LINUX RUNS DIRECTX APPS, and then I will JUMP ONTO LINUX soooo fast

    Wine already implements a subset of DirectDraw and DirectInput, enough to run many older (and more imaginative) games. And there are libraries such as Allegro [sourceforge.net] and ClanLib [clanlib.org] that make porting across Windows (DirectX) and Linux (X11/DGA) a matter of a recompile.


    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • The codes, and your use of them, are all stored at MondoUncrackableDatabase.microsoft.com. And sure, you could set your clock back every day, but writing software to detect this would really be pretty trivial - have Windows record how many hours you've been using it. It could encrypt this info and save it to \system32\gondonlyknows.dll.

    So after your computer's been up for about 300 hours, but the date never changes, it'll start to get suspicious, and politely shut down.

    I don't think they'll be this draconian, but it's certainly technically feasible.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • Crackers are responsible for very little of the vast majority of piracy. The vast majority is casual, where most people don't even realize they're breaking the law ("Hey jim, can I borrow your Office CD for a few minutes?").

    But there's a serious question about how much this kind of piracy is actually costing Microsoft. Do you really think that every person who borrows an Office CD from work to install it on his home computer would really buy the full cost package from Microsoft anyway? I sure don't. I sincerely question whether this will actually be a money maker for MS in the long run. Discouraging casual copying won't actually increase sales very much (for the reason stated above), while the increased hassle of dealing with the copy protection scheme will make more people question the practicality of buying overpriced MS products. This will be particularly true unless there's an easier way of dealing with the copy controls for large businesses with huge numbers of PCs to manage. Just think about what dealing with all of those damn licenses will do to Microsoft's vaunted TCO.

  • Except that you can't get the nice cheap hobbyist version anymore, only the quite expensive corporate edition.
  • by djrogers (153854) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:40PM (#375749)
    According to the article, "a Microsoft spokesman assured [the author]" that mundane upgrades wouldn't cause a problem. Whew! We can all rest easy, because we know a Microsoft spokesman would never mislead a member of the press....

  • They have millions of people vendor-locked using copied software that they didn't pay for.
    Now MS starts charging with no easy way around it, and those millions will start paying.

    They aren't worried about anything but making more money.

    --
  • 'Innocent until proven guilty' is a maxim that only applies to the justice system. As a corporation, MS is free and clear allowed to do this.

    If you pay money for it, feel free to complain. If you don't plan on paying for it, then nobody cares what you think.

  • I once tried the "windows update" feature on my sisters computer - as the system was analyzing the PC for packages etc, a text box appeared: "Microsoft is Analyzing your Computer to create a set up updates for your system. No information is being sent to Microsoft" (or somesuch). I nearly fell down laughing. They could be sending M$ my fucking email for all I knew! I couldnt believe it.. funny thing is most sheeple would think 'oh-ok - I dont mind then..."

    For once they're telling the truth. Windows Update works by fetching a list of all possible updates for everything, and then a local ActiveX control filters out anything already on your machine. Simple, really.

  • how could Office possibly know that I already have an activation code

    It will just go into that MBR of your HD that no-one but M$ should have code in there anyway.... ?

    Siemens uses the 'key' in the MBR trick for its PLC dev. software... virus scanners used to kill it all the time.

  • already sending sensitive information away

    I once tried the "windows update" feature on my sisters computer - as the system was analyzing the PC for packages etc, a text box appeared: "Microsoft is Analyzing your Computer to create a set up updates for your system. No information is being sent to Microsoft" (or somesuch). I nearly fell down laughing. They could be sending M$ my fucking email for all I knew! I couldnt believe it.. funny thing is most sheeple would think 'oh-ok - I dont mind then..."

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @03:09PM (#375766) Journal
    Does anyone know if Intel has 're-enabled' the UID in its CPUs in the P4?

    Wouldnt it be nice if they could track exact CPUs....

    What a fiasco this is going to be...

  • I for one, am going to buy a legal copy of "XP" (shudder, someone tell MS to get the D&D'ers out of marketing!) and then crack the authorization.

    Why? The big reason is that this kind of stuff pisses me off. It's a real hassle for me to have bother with calling the nimrods at MS tech support (speaking from experience, I used to work in PSS) every time I make a "major" hardware change, (which is often), and prove to them that it's a "legit" copy. I fdisk and reformat every 2 or 3 months for God's sake! If they have a problem with that, whatever.

    What is it with calling it Windows XP? What's next, Microsoft Outlook +3, trojan-slaying? (It's not a memory-leak, it's a "bag of holding"!) Where does the madness end?
  • Below is a note I just sent to webmaster@techrepublic.com:

    You might be aware that Slashdot just linked to one of your articles--if
    not, have a look at http://slashdot.org/ and your server logs.

    Slashdot, if you don't know, is one of the most popular news/discussion
    sites for ``nerds'' and others with an interest in the tech community
    and industry. It's given rise to the verb, ``to slashdot,'' which refers
    to something akin to a denail of service attack when thousands upon
    thousands of Slashdot readers attempt to view a page that is mentioned
    on Slashdot.

    If your servers can handle it, being slashdotted is a wonderful thing:
    you get an astounding boost in traffic from an extremely savvy,
    knowledgeable, and often influential crowd of people. If your servers
    can't handle it, it can be a bit of a nightmare, of course.

    While it would seem that your servers can handle the load, your site
    expressly can't. Your insistence on only allowing people using the
    latest browsers from Microsoft and Netscape is all but guaranteed to
    royally tick off a significant portion of Slashdot readers--not to
    mention, potential readers in general. Slashdot readers, in particular,
    are likely to use Linux, one of the BSDs, or some other Free operating
    system. I, for example, attempted to use the Konqueror browser under
    FreeBSD to view your site. I had had Konqueror running continuously,
    without quitting or crashing, for about a week...until I tried to view
    the article despite your warning. Congratulations, yours is the first
    site I've viewed (amidst some very heavy viewing) which has ever managed
    to crash the latest version of Konqueror.

    By designing your site in such a way, you are satisfying your own ego
    (by producing what's probably an attractive site) at the expense of your
    potential audience and your advertisors. Is it really worth it to use
    the latest gee-whiz doohickies and, in turn, post a giant "GO AWAY! WE
    DON'T WANT YOUR MONEY! YOU ARE STUPID AND PRIMITIVE!"
    sign to everybody who doesn't march in lock-step with your idea of
    which browser/platform is best? You might think so, but I doubt
    your boss or your advertisers do.

    There are two sites which you, as a Web designer, must know inside and
    out before you create another page: http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/
    and http://www.w3.org/. The first has information more information about
    why it's not a good idea to insult and lock out your potential
    audiences; the second is the repository of the official defintion of
    HTML.

    Sincerely,

    b&
  • by theBSOD (190998) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @08:04PM (#375774)
    Actually, OEMs will automatically pre-register your copy of Windows XP and/or Office XP with Microsoft. Now, the question is which OEM are you talking about? I'm sure the Mom & Pop down the street computer shop probably won't pre-register unless Microsoft forces the issue and threatens them with legal action. On the other the OEM's that are in bed with Microsoft (Dell, Compaq, etc.) will definitely pre-register.

    However... a lot of this really doesn't matter because the big OEM's (Dell, Compaq, HP, etc.) don't give you a copy of your OS media these days. Now you only get a recovery CD that restores your system to the original factory condition. Microsoft completely snuck that under the radar and no one ever said anything.

    It may be a pain to return your software... but you can't return a restore CD. Why would Microsoft want a copy of a restore CD that is only good for your computer? So, I guess you won't be able to ask for a refund on Windows because you won't actually have a copy of Windows.
  • Did anyone else notice that TechRepublic is giving MS advice on avoiding bad PR rather than asking MS to forget this stupid feature-not-a-bug?
  • As much as I like to bash Microsoft, I can't see any significant problems here. It appears, from reading the article and the Microsoft info, that this "product activation" will only need to be done once, and once it's activated, that's it, end of story; there's no "connect to Microsoft every time and verify the code" (imagine how frustrated that would make modem users). As far as surreptitiously transmitting information, I can't see any way to do that through this code, at least as Microsoft describes it; at worst, you could have your DNS corrupted or packets intercepted, and someone might be able to find out what country you were in or how many computers you have. And if that bothers you, you can always do the registration over the telephone and cut out the network part entirely.

    As for destroying the activation info, I don't doubt that sooner or later a virus will come out that deletes that info, but at worst you'll just have to activate the software again. And keep in mind also that killing the activation code doesn't mean you suddenly can't use the software any more; you can make use of the free trial period while you get the re-activation done. (Actually, depending on the implementation this might require a reinstall, but...) Yes, you'd lose some working time, but it wouldn't be too much worse than Melissa, I imagine.

    --
    BACKNEXTFINISHCANCEL

  • I frankly think this activation scheme will last until exactly that happens, and then either users will get so pissed off that Microsoft will get rid of the activation code entirely, or they'll release a "temporary workaround" to make the software work without activation, which of course is as good as the same.

    Well, one can't blame them for trying, I suppose...

    --
    BACKNEXTFINISHCANCEL

  • i have been using windows since i started with computers, use it now. i am an ASP, mssql etc programmer. However, i believe in the motto "you vote with every dollar you spend" (or in *nix's case, dont spend hehe) i have always been interesting in linux and open source, but never enough to do anything serious with it. however, i will not give in the xp bullshit. there is absolutely no reason i should not have complete control over my PERSONAL computer. so, my next upgrade will be to linux. welcome me aboard.


    NEWS: cloning, genome, privacy, surveillance, and more! [silicongod.com]
  • The fundamental flaw I see with product activation schemes is when a company goes under. Unless they manage to make a "registration disabler" before they close, products installed after a company shuts its doors may never function.

    I have yet to see a company mention how it plans to deal with this situation, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Personal computers from the 1980s still work in my house; I see no reason for my current computer to fail due to non-installing software in 2020.

  • I understood that as saying that you won't need to acquire a new activation code. You'd use the one you already have.

    Presumably, at some point, if you replace enough hardware, or install to a new machine, you'll have to get a new activation code. And then the MS database will scream bloody-murder because you already were given a code, and then you'll have to talk to someone and convince them that, no, you're not a pirate, you're just installing Office on a modified/new computer.

    At least that's how I understood it.
    -----
    D. Fischer
  • But this is Microsoft. Since they'll never fail, this is a non-issue.

    :)

    -----
    D. Fischer
  • You're looking at this from the wrong angle. MS isn't trying to stop professional pirating with the activation method.

    They're trying to stop Joe Sixpack from giving his CD to his friend to install, or to stop a small company from buying one copy of Office and installing it on 20 machines.

    Sure, you can find a crack somewhere on the web, but the vast majority of casual copiers aren't going to be that resourceful.

    Even if it reduces piracy by 25%, it's still a lot of money for them to recover from people that would otherwise buy it if they couldn't just use their friends CD.

    This isn't saying I like activation, just that it's not trying to accomplish what you claim it is.
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @02:26PM (#375805)
    Crackers are responsible for very little of the vast majority of piracy. The vast majority is casual, where most people don't even realize they're breaking the law ("Hey jim, can I borrow your Office CD for a few minutes?").

    Sure, any protection will be cracked almost immediately, but very few people (compared to the people that use Office) will know how to get those cracks, or will be scared that MS will know that they've cracked it. (That's the real purpose, to scare people into complying, not whether the damn thing works or not).

    Professional pirates will find ways to defeat it, and there isn't a lot any company can do about that.

    This is a lot like putting locks on your doors. Any professional thief can bypass them. They even sell machines to do it automatically for people to use with little to no skill, but it keeps the vast majority of people from just walking in and taking what they want.
  • IT professionals are among the best informed and most sophisticated of all Microsoft's customers.

    Really? Too bad you don't know some of the MSCEs I have meet. (Start with joke, checked :-)

    But seriously, it is not very clear how the "Microsoft Activation Center" is going to work. For example if I call them up and tell them "I have complete overhaul my computer please give me the new code", but the truth is I've just install it on another machine. Or if it helps, build the second machine with some parts from the first one. But how are they going to know the difference? Come to my home and take a look?

    Maybe there is a way to disable the old code remotely? Of course you can get around this by not connect that machine to the net. But what this is really about is this:

    If you read the last question on the Microsoft Product Activation Q&A [microsoft.com], they finally mentioned .NET. I think the only way to really enforce this code is to have a OS/software that are completely useless unless you connect to a .NET server. That is where they can really monitor if a activation code is being used from different machines/locations.

    BTW I hope you know that M$ can already "read" your W2K reg number when you visit their site, without actually submitting anything. Try getting windows updates from the MS site directly for with a machine using a special/cooperate license.

    ====

  • After you've installed XP you have like 2 weeks to "activate" it. You'll start getting notices. If you don't activate it within the two weeks the app and OS (Whistler does this too) stops working.
    Um, this kind of Draconian bullshit is the kind of thing that will bring Microsoft down.

    Even their current licensing system is totally ridiculous. To me, if it takes more than half a minute to explain per seat/per sever/etc etc, the licensing system is too involved and you should just put down a Linux or FreeBSD box... or even a Solaris x86 box (with less than 8 processors)...Microsoft can go and screw themselves.

    If techs were cautious about moving to non-MS platforms before, this might just make them do it.
  • I had to deal with one of these "get a new activation code on each install" with a quota package we used on NT. Needless to say we had to rebuild our server a few times over the years and this was VERY annoying. Constantly having to call the main office to get a code - waiting a day or two to get it.

    But beyond that, I say when this comes to pass, we reinstall windows monthly :) Heck you practically have to do it every 6 months anyway and given the advances in hardware, you are usually on new hardware anyway - might as well make them hire tons of phone staffers to give out codes :)

    --

  • "I don't think they'll be this draconian, but it's certainly technically feasible."

    Are you so sure? How about the CPRM like control of audio files that M$ slipped into `Doze ME under the cover of darkness?

    This kind of thing is EXACTLY what will cause all serious computer users to go to Linux. As long as `Doze is close sourced, who the hell knows how many backdoors and big-brother ish security exploits there are in there for M$'s use.

    This is one reason why NO Microsoft OS ever WILL be truly secure. They don't want it to be, because the OS is their proprietary highway they use for their own benefit.

    I think Microsoft knows this, which is why they are now out there slamming the GPL as "unamerican"... Microsoft's biggest threat isn't Linux, it's the GPL. The GPL insures that all OS's and software packages derived from GPL'ed code REMAIN always open. Which doesn't allow anyone the cover of darkness to do the kinds of low-ball things MS does with the OS.

    So long as MS OS's are proprietary and GPL'ed OS's are open, the tendency will be for the GPL'ed OS's to get more secure while the MS ones will get less so as MS's paranoia, and prices, increase, which creates more piracy, which creates more MS hysteria.

    To have a secure OS and office suite, you cant build it with the concept of letting a third party (even yourself) hidden backdoor ways in and having control. If MS can get in, any cracker can get in.

  • by papskier (263483) on Friday March 09, 2001 @04:46AM (#375826)
    I actually tried to post this as an AskSlashdot a couple weeks ago, but apparently I'm not important enough to actually have a front page story, but in any case, here's my $.02:

    A simple fact remains for most home users: They aren't going to pay $500 so that lil' Johnny can make prettier school reports. What happens currently is that they borrow the copy from work, bring it home, and they have it for free. Problem solved. Now, they aren't going to be able to do that because it's going to be easier for M$ to track the software, and thus companies will be less willing to look the other way when employees borrow a copy. What's left for Joe-Six-Pack to do? Well, hopefully with the increasing demand for something reasonably priced for him to use, the OSS community will port some of free word processing programs over to winblowz. Give them a couple weeks using it, watch lil' Johnny create an 'A' report with it, and next thing you know, Joe-Six-Pack is at the water cooler telling his buddies how "this OSS shit ain't all that bad.. and it's FREE!" That's how you get into the home market people. M$ is going to lead the average user to us by disgusting them and making it harder and harder for them to use the crap they push.


    Here's to a properous future!

    $man microsoft

  • Wow, I thought that this mayhappen once people got wind of this (or just put all the peices together) but I seriously doubted it. Guess I may be wrong.

    Well, welcome to Linuxland, fasten yr seatbelt and invest in some patience, since you have been using Windows all this time, there are some adjustments you have to make. And a lot of re-installing and tweaking. Don't get me wrong, I've been using Linux for over a year, I started on Slackware and thats where I still am (I've tried most of the major distros), and I absolutely love it. But, I am not such a militant anti-M$ Linux user. I still hate the company, but Win2k is actually decent (Course, its very UNIX-like), and I understand your position. Just a warning, as Tux's beauty isn't so easy to see at first. So, I encourage you to take your time, buy O'Reilly's "Running Linux" and, since you're a programmer, I suggest "Beginning Linux Programming" from Wrox Press. (Don't let the "Beginning" part scare you off. Linux is a very different beast, and you need to become familiar with the philosophy to program effectively. A good portion of Linux's speed comes from the frequent usage of shared libraries.) As for a distro, take your pick, check out the distro's sites to learn what each flavor is about, and head over to Cheapbytes [cheapbytes.com] and pick up your choice distro for pretty much the cost of shipping (or if you have a CD-Burner, download it). I wish you luck, and let us know if you have any questions.

    C Pungent

  • Don't worry. Microsoft has an army of lawyers to deal with victims of pirated copies.

    Probably they just castrate you and give you a new activation code.


    --
  • People look at this as a bad thing, but the slashdot community is all about the open source community. This is our chance to attack and gain a good marketshare. People arent going to want to upgrade to Whistler because a)They're going to have to pay for it, and b)Emulating 98 inside of Win2k is going to be so incredible fast, people will have to update hardware to maintain the same speed they're used to. With IBM starting it's huge linux ad campaign, and Microsoft doing this, Linux is looking to gain a lot in the next year. All the script and warez kiddies with their pirated win98 disks are going to want to update, but not pay for it. Linux is becoming a viable game platform, so thats one group. Next, people with older hardware arent going to want to watch their machine slow down even more with this new bloated peice of crap, so Linux could be just what people are looking for. Microsoft making their system copy proof may seem like a bad thing, but really their only locking themselves out of a user base. (Even though it's the piracy base that they dont want anyway)

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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