A Letter to Microsoft

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Dear Sirs,

I am writing to express my concerns about Product Activation.

I am a computer hobbyist who very frequently changes equipment by trading. On average, I will change a major piece of equipment
once a month.

I find the activation requirements annoying and a significant disincentive to purchase Windows XP.

What is of far greater concern to me, however, is somehow overstepping some invisible line you have drawn, and having my PID invalidated as a result, simply by pursuing my hobby.

From the descriptions of the process given by your spokespersons so far, it does not appear you would be able to tell the difference between my activities and those of a person engaged in copyright violation through “casual copying.”

The minimal requirement for activation is provision of the country in which I live. If activation simply polls hardware to create a unique number, how could you tell the difference between my activities and those caused by casual copying?

You could perhaps be able to more closely analyze patterns of abuse if you had the ability to disassemble that hash number into its components. Can you do that? Would that be standard procedure? If that is the case, would that information be used for any other purpose?

It appears that at some point in time, a certain level of activity will deactivate the PID.

Presume that I change a major piece of equipment on average once a month (there are times when changes can occur within a week of each other, other times several months). Would that level of activity eventually deactivate my PID? If so, what recourse would I have? How would I go about seeking recourse, and will Microsoft publicly describe that means of recourse? If that level of activity does not deactivate the PID, how could you tell the difference between what I do, and two or three relatives sharing one copy?

Presume that I become a hardware reviewer who changes equipment on average once a week. Would that level of activity eventually deactivate my PID? If so, what recourse would I have? How would I go about seeking recourse? If not, how could you tell the difference between what I do, and the typical “casual copying” situation?

Should there be no recourse, will your licensing agreement state as a condition of the license that I cannot change my hardware more than X number of times? If it does not, or if the EULA does not specifically mention such a restriction, it would seem that anyone who legitimately owns the property may have grounds to sue for breach of contract.

Even if there is recourse, if the procedure effectively leaves a computer nonfunctional for days or weeks, that might also prove to be legal grounds for a suit.

I realize that the vast majority of users would not be seriously affected by activation. However, an overall policy should work all of the time, not just most of the time.

It would seem legally dubious to simply lump a few innocent in with the guilty for mere convenience, as well as imposing unknown grounds for termination as part of a contract.

A far wiser idea is to make some provision for the hobbyists and reviewers, and to make that provision needs to be made public.

If you have made such provision, I would like to hear it. Please note in any description of such provision exactly what Microsoft’s policy would be for the hobbyist changing equipment once a month, or reviewer changing equipment once a week.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Comment from Ed: If you choose to write to MS and get a reply, you might want to post it in our Overclockers Forum. I’ve started
a thread under “General Discussion.”

Email Ed


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