I figured you were probably waiting for some software
developer to jump in on this one, so here I am.
Every time I release a new version of protected software, I
update the protection simply by changing the system used. My last
system took about a year to crack, and the next one will
be even harder.
The same thing could EASILY be applied by MS. Each
service pack or even hotfix could make slight changes
to the activation system so that the required
activation keys would need to be different for each
release. Then it’d be a simple matter of having the
machine’s GUID change to include some form of the
version(s) of the activation system being employed,
and generate activation codes for that version.
I database all product registrations
and registration data and can generate replacement or
updated registration data automatically. All a
customer needs to do to satisfy me is ask for the
update or replacement and I trigger my registration
generator to do the rest, including logging the
Once in a blue moon, I get more than one request from
someone with only one license, and that sends me a
notice to check up on the situation. Otherwise, though,
it’s as automated as possible.
I can ensure
product upgrades become unavailable to anyone that
should somehow get their mitts on valid registration
data by exclusing them from the next update’s
MS could easily do the same thing, but, of course, the sheer volume
would make it much tougher for someone to manage, and could
not require much human intervention.
So I suspect they’d be forced by simple
logistics to set up an automated system that trips a
warning on certain unusual parameters, such as
corporate users trying to activate over the Internet
from IP addresses that resolve to ISPs.
This could stop the guy or gal that pilfers a copy from work, as
the Internet-based system would see an IP that isn’t
registered to that company and the person would then
have to speak with a human to get their activation
The best MS could hope for is to
automate the hell out of the process and use humans
only for situations that automated methods won’t be
able to catch.
Still, what product activation on this scale spells is
disaster. Doesn’t matter how well it’s implemented,
it’s a Very Bad Thing(TM) waiting to happen.
Something, SOMEwhere will go south and trip up the
activation scheme in such a way that a company gets
hurt severely by it. MS’ less-than-perfect software
and the statistical probabilities involved guarantee
Murphy’s Law will be in effect here.
MS might fuel its own demise with foolish and ill-conceived ideas like
product activation of this caliber. It may sound
good on paper, but the practical application of
the idea is likely to screw up and piss off too many people)
and drive people into the gaping maw of the (often
superior) OS choices like Linux.
Only time will tell, but I’m gonna go out on a limb
and say that within the first quarter of XP’s release
we’ll hear of at least one major operation getting
bitten in the butt by product activation gone awry.
Ed. note: Here’s a scarier thought. Not only people can get pissed off, so
can countries, well, one in particular.
Assume for a moment this is a bulletproof protection
scheme that actually stops illegal copies dead in their tracks. China says,
“OK, buying anything from Microsoft is illegal, use Linux from now on.”
What’s Bill going to do?