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Last post Author Topic: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?  (Read 13847 times)

Carol Haynes

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Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« on: October 16, 2006, 01:19:41 PM »
Microsoft have announced that Vista licenses will be restricted to a single PC - even if your remove the software from that device and want to install it on a different device.

They have given permission to move the license to one different PC in the event of catastrophic hardware failure but it will be strictly limitied to one move only.

Is it me or does this seem ridiculous ...

Scenario ...

A keen PC enthusiast builds a computer and installs VISTA

6 months later a new supa-dupa motherboard is released - technically they have to buy a new copy of VISTA even if the old motherboard is scrapped !!


Surely it should be the right to install only one copy on one machine - not on one specific machine? Presumably the Windows activation will start encoding things like motherboard identification etc. (it doesn't seem to at the moment) so that if you want to activate it on a different system they can tell it isn't the same motherboard. They can't easily enforce CPU ID as Athlon chips generally don't have individual serial numbers.

Here are a couple of articles that got me thinking ...

http://www.winsupers...nvista_licensing.asp

http://www.winsupers..._licensing_reply.asp

What do you think ?

The whole situation strikes me as fine for average box buyer that comes with OEM Vista - but why should people who purchase a bloody expensive product (even at educational prices) be restricted to a single box they built from parts if they want to modify and enhance their system?

On a second note - presumably if you build your own system you are an OEM - how do you go about getting OEM copies of VISTA ?

mouser

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2006, 01:34:25 PM »
Quote
They have given permission to move the license to one different PC in the event of catastrophic hardware failure but it will be strictly limitied to one move only.

that's completely unacceptable to me.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2006, 01:36:52 PM »
I have written a letter to Paul with a third viewpoint ...

Quote
I was interested to read the articles by you and Koroush Ghazi on the new VISTA licensing issue.

It strikes me that what MS are now doing is claiming that all copies of Windows a restricted in the same way the OEM copies of Windows have been restricted.

This strikes me as completely unfair. The point of OEM copies is that system builders buy huge numbers of licenses at vastly reduced prices on the basis that they restrict that copy to the particular computer they sell. That seems fair enough. To say to other users that buy a premium at a premium price that they are only allowed to install it on one system - and not even allow you to unistall it and move it to another system is simply ridiculous.

Adobe seem to me to have the right balance here. Sure you have to activate their software to use it (which caused initial consternation to users) but they had the foresight to allow deactivation too. If MS included deactivation in its software (as well as Windows Genuine DISadvantage) there would be absolutely no problem in any of this because people could legitimately decativate their system and move Windows to a different computer. In these circumstances only a genuine hardware failure would necessitate a reactictivation of already activated software and MS could seriously address issues of people simply lying to activate more than one copy.

This approach would have a further massive benefit for everyone - and especially MS. If Windows could be deactivated (and MS Office too) then there would be no need for the legions of bored people on the activation phones as the number of calls would dwindle to a trickle.

I realise you get a lot of email but I thought this was an issue that hadn't been covered in either of the articles you published.

It will be interesting to see if I get a response.

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2006, 02:50:58 PM »
Please note, the EULA that states that it can only be installed on a SPECIFIC machine relates only to PC's purchased with windows on it. You can move it one time, regardless of situation, with a purchased copy of windows.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2006, 02:58:03 PM »
But if you read Paul Thurcott's article you will see that Microsoft's intention is that it should only move from one PC to a replacement PC (not just because you build a new PC) and that this will be the exception rather than the norm.

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2006, 03:20:18 PM »
wouldnt a new pc be considered a replacement pc? Building one I mean?

JavaJones

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2006, 03:28:43 PM »
Nice. Microsoft really doesn't like their customers, do they? :P

Good points and ideas in your email Carol. Do share any response you get with us if you can. I think your suggested approach could be both fair and effective for both sides.

- Oshyan

NeilS

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2006, 05:05:49 PM »
I don't think deactivation can be protected against foul play as easily as activation, which is probably why MS aren't considering it.

Circumventing activation would almost certainly require a crack, and probably a significantly more comprehensive one than the existing XP activation patches (depending on how all this Vista self-protection stuff works).

Deactivation, on the other hand, could be circumvented via an image backup of the OS drive. In order to do a remote deactivation, the user would likely run a deactivation tool which provides them a code which MS can verify matches the machine they last activated against. If this code is valid, MS can allow them to activate the new machine. However, if the user has an image backup (from before running the deactivation tool), they can restore from this and have a working "old" machine again.

Of course, MS could combat this kind of thing by forcing the OS to phone home periodically, but that's a whole other can 'o worms they'd probably rather not get into.

I do think MS are playing a dangerous game with the enthusiast market though. Apart from the obvious risks, such as alienating the people who drive much of the PC hardware treadmill, I wonder if MS have considered how much impact enthusiasts have on other, more "average" home users? Most enthusiasts I know are responsible for setting up a lot of friends and family with PCs, and providing support to them. If the Vista license situation drives them away, what impact will this have on the general home market? Maybe MS simply doesn't believe that enthusiasts will set up their friends with Linux instead?

Carol Haynes

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2006, 05:26:08 PM »
Actually Adobe seem to have solved this problem. If I restore a drive image with Adobe Creative Suite CS2 installed I have to activate it again. I don't know how they do it but it means that before I restore a backup image I deactivate CS2 to ensure I don't use up my activation allowance.

Every time MS runs WGA (which is to be 'enhanced', whatever that means, and mandatory in Vista) it checks to see you have licensed copy of the software - all it needs is to generate a hardware id with the installation code and compare it to their database to check the installion is the one activated.

It strikes me the whole activation saga at MS is a complete dos breakfast. Activation was cracked before they got out of Windows XP beta, and there have been cracks ever since. The system as it stands costs them a forutne in personnel costs manning call centres around the world for people to call to reactivate. I have had to do this a number of time for various legitimate reasons but I have never been challenged by an MS employee other than to ask why reactivation is necessary (most recently I changed a network card forcing activation). What is the point of activation if MS just reactivate willy-nilly anyway ?

A robust activate/deactivate system would make the whole nonsense consistent and sane for everyone.

What is the betting there is a cracked VISTA without activation before the official release? I'd give it odds of 1000:1 on !

f0dder

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2006, 05:32:53 PM »
I've never been interested in Vista, and I'm going to stick with XP for as long as I can. It bothers me that DX10 will only be available for Vista - bye bye, games. Soon, anyway. I've never been a fan of the activation crap, and with Vista they're appearantly taking it to extremely unacceptable lows.

Carol: it took a while before XP was cracked, actually. The reason it was available for pirates early was because of the leaked "DevilsOwn" Volume License Key. Then followed a brute-force keygen ("XP key recoverer and discoverer" or something), took around 10 minutes to find a key, and after some freeloading period this hole was easily patched by Microsoft.

Then somebody found a weakness in MS's elliptic curve cryptography, and made the "4in1" keygen that made instantaneous and valid keys, and this wasn't defeated until the WGA crap, where Microsoft proved that they indeed do have a database of all valid VLKs.

I just hope Vista will be a big flop and might give alternative operating systems some chance of profiling themselves. But people are sheep, so they'll probably embrace that pile of manure...
- carpe noctem

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2006, 05:40:17 PM »
You really dont think that a crack will exist before vista goes gold? Well, honestly, it depends on how you define GOLD. Do you mean RTM'd (which means next month) or do you mean RTS (Release to shelf for december/january)? If you mean RTM, then yes, it might not be cracked by then, but it will definitely be cracked by RTS.

People were saying XP would be a pain in the butt to crack, but it was cracked prior to being released.

Anyways, I really dont see this as a big issue. I mean, licensing is in place for a reason. Now, what I think MS could do is make purchasing additional licenses CHEAPER. That would make it easier for enthusiasts to properly license all of their pcs. I mean, once you purchase a full copy ($300) of winxp pro, why should you have to pay that price again for another license? Actually, I think you can buy licenses separately at a cheaper rate. I could be wrong, but if memory serves me right, I think that is the case.

Anyways, again, I dont see the big deal unless the user plans on buying more than 1 new pc by the time Vienna hits the shelves. Upgrades shouldnt pose a problem, but whole new pc's?


f0dder:

I honestly dont think there is an alternate operating system, aside from OSX, that is ready to take on the consumer level. Most of the linux/bsd derivatives still require a lot of command line work to manage. Some are close, such as linspire or mandriva, but others dont really have the "Ease of use" that most home users want. Plus, unless they automate the updating process (which is close in some distros), I dont think users will be able to keep up with the loads of security patches that are associated with most, read all, *nix OS's. Yes, the kernel might not require patching as often, but there are a lot of small modules and components that need to be patched on an almost weekly basis which are included in most default installs of *nix/bsd.

rand1038

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2006, 05:43:13 PM »
Nice. Microsoft really doesn't like their customers, do they? :P
M$ doesn't have to like their customers when they have a corner on the market. It is convenient for people to install windows because software is readily available for the OS.  When it becomes less convenient to run a windows OS due to restrictions, or alternative software becomes easier to acquire and use, M$ will take a kick right in the market share.
Open Office is a pretty good alternative to M$ Office and does a nice job of viewing .doc files. Wine is starting to work pretty well. *nix distros, in particular the 'cheap' (as in $40-$50) supported systems, are getting easier to install and configure.
Finally, cross platform development libraries like Qt and wxWidgets make cross platform development a snap. Java is also an option of course but I'm speaking in terms of native executables. I think anyone coding nontrivial programs that do not perform platform specific tasks should be using one of these libs, or something similar.
Ok, so I went off on a bit of a tangent ;)  My point is, M$ doesn't necessarily have the corner on the market anymore and if they make some stupid moves (this Vista licensing schema could one of them) they may, eventually, become the old dog on the block instead of the big one.

f0dder

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2006, 05:47:37 PM »
Josh, I want to be able to move my software to a new pc (as in only having it installed on one) without purchasing a new license. I want to be able to change any hardware component in my PC without having to buy a new license, or being a suspected pirate and having to call a swedish Microsoft support guy in ireland, tell him a 5x5 digit number and get another 5x5 digit number back (or are those numbers even longer?). And yes, that's how bad the support situation is for us living in .dk - at least it was a few years ago when I needed to phone-activate Office2003.

Now it's fine that Microsoft wants to make money, more power to that - but their licensing scheme is getting out of hand, and only hurting the end-user. I've been so tempted to install a pirate XP with VLK and WGA crack on the ~15 computers at the place I support, even though I've got legit licenses for them all... just because it's such a goddamn PAIN to deal with.

I agree that there aren't any real competitors and that OSX comes closest (and boy, I think Apple are even worse than Microsoft... if they get a chance). But I hope Vista will be such a flop that other systems will get a chance.
- carpe noctem

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2006, 06:00:36 PM »
Well, hardware changes are going to remain the same when it comes to activation. In fact, according to paul, they will be less strict on this. I've changed my hardware numerous times and not once had to reactivate (this includes video cards, sound cards, nic cards, etc). The only time I had to reactivate was for a hd change, and in that case it was easy and I didnt have to call. I am not saying this is the norm, but it is my own experience (YMMV).

The problem they are addressing is the people who install it on multiple pc's and have all of those pc's still up and running and in constant use. They want people to properly license their pc's.

Now, as said in the articles I've read, you can move the software to a new pc if you purchased a retail copy of windows. However, if the copy was included on an OEM pc, then it must stay on that pc and that makes sense, as said above, since OEM's get a discount for being able to provide windows on those pc's.

I'm like you, I wish microsoft would shoot themselves in the foot on vista, but, that doesnt mean I want to see windows flop in general. Windows, to me, is a very nice and very useful OS. You can do anything you want to with it because of the limitless amounts of programs out there.

<rant>

I would like to make one comment on the whole apple thing, and that is their commercials. I've grown tired of seeing the "PC Vs Mac" commercials which try and bad mouth the PC. Yes, mac can do more out of the box, but that is because every time microsoft tries to put something in the default install of windows, they get sued for unfair practices. I guarantee apple would run into this issue if they were in the majority for market share.

</rant>
« Last Edit: October 16, 2006, 06:04:33 PM by Josh »

f0dder

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2006, 06:05:42 PM »
Well, hardware changes are going to remain the same when it comes to activation.

What's the stuff about tying your activation to one piece of hardware and only being able to change the piece of hardware to tie to once?

As for apple, they love DRM even more than Microsoft, and used to have a hardware monopoly for their platform... imagine not just an operating system monopoly, but hardware as well. So as tempting as OSX might seem, well...
- carpe noctem

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2006, 06:08:49 PM »
Well, hardware changes are going to remain the same when it comes to activation.

What's the stuff about tying your activation to one piece of hardware and only being able to change the piece of hardware to tie to once?

As for apple, they love DRM even more than Microsoft, and used to have a hardware monopoly for their platform... imagine not just an operating system monopoly, but hardware as well. So as tempting as OSX might seem, well...


The "One piece of hardware" issue is related to OEM pc's. When you purchase a PC that has WinVista installed on it, your copy of vista is bound to that pc and that pc alone.

NeilS

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2006, 06:10:38 PM »
Actually Adobe seem to have solved this problem. If I restore a drive image with Adobe Creative Suite CS2 installed I have to activate it again. I don't know how they do it but it means that before I restore a backup image I deactivate CS2 to ensure I don't use up my activation allowance.

Knowing Adobe, they probably store activation info in places that a typical image won't cover, e.g. master boot record, other partitions, etc. None of these things are particularly hard to circumvent if the user is determined enough, and especially if someone has published info on how to do it. :)

My point wasn't so much that imaging was a trivial way to circumvent deactivation, more that it was somewhat easier than circumventing activation, which may be why MS aren't considering it (it's the weak link in the chain).

Every time MS runs WGA (which is to be 'enhanced', whatever that means, and mandatory in Vista) it checks to see you have licensed copy of the software - all it needs is to generate a hardware id with the installation code and compare it to their database to check the installion is the one activated.

The problem with "phone home" approaches is that they can open up a nasty can of worms which MS probably don't want to deal with. For a start, the phone home usually can't be mandatory*, to account for people with no internet connection or, more likely, office machines which are not allowed internet access. The problem with this is that there's no way for the "phone home" system to tell if the lack of access to the verification server is caused by a genuine no-internet situation, or by a firewall disallowing access for the purposes of avoiding the check.

* By "can't be mandatory", I mean that if the check fails to access the verification server for whatever reason, it simply gives up and tries again later, i.e. not being able to reach the server doesn't constitute a verification failure, no matter how many times it tries.

mouser

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2006, 09:37:24 PM »
Here's the CNET article about vista limiting transfers:
http://news.com.com/...9.html?tag=nefd.lede

seriously, are the people running microsoft hell bent on making vista a disaster?

nudone

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2006, 01:17:58 AM »
you all seem to be forgetting something...

vista is going to be so good you will gladly sell your grandmother to buy every additional copy you need to install on a machine. honestly, it really, really, is going to be that good - we will all think that we have gone to pc heaven when we see the final release version.

how do i know? let's just say "a little bird told me." (a phrased used in the UK - sorry, if it isn't used elsewhere.)

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2006, 01:32:36 AM »
After reading the first few posts, I am further pushed to converting to Mac (yes, a Windows lover thinking of the "poisonous Apple"  :o). However, this whole licencing thing is insane- I reformat my hard drive FAR more then anyone I know (and that is a lot of computer nerds  ;)) and if I can only re-install Windows Vista once, then what is the point?!?!?! (Ultimate was what I wanted...but $400 for a 2-install OS is BS!!!)
Anyone else outraged by this? I may just convert to Mac...it is starting to convince me...*picks up Apple*
-Wreckedcarzz

Josh

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2006, 01:51:02 AM »
No, its not that you can REINSTALL only once, its that you can only transfer it to a NEW PC ONCE. You can reinstall as many times as you want, but note that doing so too many times will require you call MS to reactivate.

zridling

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2006, 03:41:15 AM »
I'm with Fodder — I'll be using XP for a long, long time it looks like. I'm not in love with Vista anyway (yet), and besides, like most humans on the planet, I honestly cannot afford the damn thing. I've never owned a store-bought PC. I always have the woman down the street build them for me. I take her a box of components and she puts it together. It runs, and I'm happy. But I always upgrade my memory, HDs, and video card before moving on to another system. Sometimes 3-4 times. My question is, how will Microsoft's WGA or SPP define "machine?"

Meanwhile, Ed Bott corrects Paul Thurrott's article.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2006, 03:50:53 AM by zridling »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2006, 03:53:23 AM »
Every time MS runs WGA (which is to be 'enhanced', whatever that means, and mandatory in Vista) it checks to see you have licensed copy of the software - all it needs is to generate a hardware id with the installation code and compare it to their database to check the installion is the one activated.

The problem with "phone home" approaches is that they can open up a nasty can of worms which MS probably don't want to deal with. For a start, the phone home usually can't be mandatory*, to account for people with no internet connection or, more likely, office machines which are not allowed internet access. The problem with this is that there's no way for the "phone home" system to tell if the lack of access to the verification server is caused by a genuine no-internet situation, or by a firewall disallowing access for the purposes of avoiding the check.

* By "can't be mandatory", I mean that if the check fails to access the verification server for whatever reason, it simply gives up and tries again later, i.e. not being able to reach the server doesn't constitute a verification failure, no matter how many times it tries.

As I understand it WGA will be mandarory in Vista - MS have already said that computers that don't pass WGA will have basic functionality disabled in VISTA - I am only surprised it has taken them this long to start doing that. Wait to hear the outcry when the false positives start meaning people can't use their systems at all.

At the moment what they are going to disable seems fairly trivial but they originally said activation and WGA would not limit use of computers or critical downloads - it is already doing that in XP you can only bet that the restrictions will increase during the life of VISTA.

The upshot is that if WGA is mandatory then phone home will be mandatory (otherwise how can WGA check?). If they are going to check all they need to do is a hardware snapshot (as during activation) and compare your windows key with the hardware snapshot and your activation status and voila they know if VISTA is installed on the same hardware as last time it was activated. If it isn't they can legitimately refuse activation until the previous version has been deactivated.

I wouldn't object to that system too much - but what I do object to is that if my mobo blows up and I replace it then that blows my one upgrade possibility for my version of Windows - and I ain't going to pay for another commercial version when I replace major system components again.

Anyway what constitutes transferring it to a new computer?

Is it a new computer if you change your mobo (and nothing else) ?

What if I upgrade my CPU (especially in systems with serialised CPUs) ?

What if I move all the components into a new case?

What if I rip out all my PCI cards and replace them with new stuff?

Keyboard? Mouse?

You are almost guaranteed to have to reactivate XP if you change a netowrk card (because of the number of points awarded to a network card).

The major difference to me is that in Windows XP if you need to reactivate you get no questions asked if it has been 90 days since you last activated - and that to me seems to be a sensible compromise.

For me the problem is that I build my own systems and they evolve considerably. If I build a new system I may buy a new mobo and continue to use all the other components from before (eg. I am still using a perectly funtional ATI Radeon AIW graphics card which is fine for a non-gamer). I may use the same CPU and memory if they are compautible with the new mobo and when I can afford it upgrade them. Six months down the line I have a new computer. I even did this with my first computer (built by an OEM company) ... after 6 months it was in a new case, had new hard drives, twice as much memory, three PCI cards added, various USB devices added, a new monitor keyboard and mouse - in fact the only thing left of the original system was the mobo (and that had a new BIOS) and CPU, which had a new cooling fan,  (I wonder if it was still under warranty). Does this class as a new computer? What if my PIII chip had blown and I replaced it?

Rant ...
The new policy with Vista is nothing to do with copyright or intellectual rights - it is pure money grubbing extortion from a criminal organisation that has lost practically everytime they have been to court over their criminal behaviour. It's just they have so much money they often avoid court and even when they are convicted of criminal activity they manage to wriggle out of taking responsibilty for their actions.

All I can say is thank god for the EU - the US government are too much in the Gates pocket to make much of an impact on the monopolist practices.


« Last Edit: October 17, 2006, 04:02:42 AM by Carol Haynes »

zridling

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2006, 04:08:56 AM »
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes feels our pain (and angst) over this vital issue in his own take on Thurrott titled, Windows licensing still a confusing mess and alienates enthusiasts.

Let's hope this license will be drastically revised. Remember the scare when Microsoft announced way back that the Office 2003 file format would not be backward-compatible with previous versions? Fortunately, that didn't even come true for the 2007 version. I was more than ready to dump Microsoft Word to protect 20 years of writings!

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Re: Vista licensing - will it kill enthusiasts interest ?
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2006, 04:11:14 AM »
You are almost guaranteed to have to reactivate XP if you change a netowrk card (because of the number of points awarded to a network card).
Most NICs are onboard these days, so most people won't be changing NICs... but if you change your motherboard, oh boy... that would be a NIC (or two!), integrated sound, possibly integrated video, and the motherboard as well.


The major difference to me is that in Windows XP if you need to reactivate you get no questions asked if it has been 90 days since you last activated - and that to me seems to be a sensible compromise.
Almost sensible - but if you're forced to do a two-step upgraded because of your monetary situation, it might be mobo+cpu with one paycheck, then graphics card with the next. 3 months inbetween? Not necessarily.

Seems like Microsoft is doing all they can to alienate users.
- carpe noctem