View Full Version : Whistler and Copy Protection

9th January 2001, 10:28
New 'Whistler' build adds anti-piracy lock

The most potentially controversial addition to Whistler 2410, however, is anti-piracy code that Microsoft is calling "Microsoft Product Activation for Windows," (WPA) according to testers. The technology is similar to the Office Activation Wizard that's part of Office 2000.

WPA will tie a Windows product key to one specific PC in order to reduce casual copying. In order to "activate" it, a customer will send data about the installation, such as product ID number and hardware identifier, to a Microsoft-run license clearinghouse. The clearinghouse won't allow the use of the customer's product key on a PC different from the one originally activated.

Microsoft plans to deliver WPA in all 32-bit versions of Whistler except those sold to volume-licensing customers and the so-called "Royalty OEM initial install images" provided to PC makers, said sources close to the company. Microsoft is expected to add similar anti-piracy technology to Office 10 and Visual Studio .Net, sources said.

Nabbed from <A HREF="http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2672131,00.html">here</a>.[/

9th January 2001, 10:38
Yet another way that microsoft is trying to abuse its monopoly power. "What can we do to you today?"

9th January 2001, 11:03
hmm... that can't be their line, since the line "What can we do to you today?" resembles "What can we sue you for today?", which is patented by Rambus Inc.

[This message has been edited by dZeus (edited 09 January 2001).]

9th January 2001, 19:26
And it won't discourage the pirates. Not even a little.

In fact, I might have 2 cracks, a hack and a workaround for it on my hard drive right now.

Or I might not.


- Gurm

9th January 2001, 23:23
enigmatic as allways Gurm

btw, what happend to those icons?

10th January 2001, 02:22
You know, it amazes me.
Microsoft attempt to build copy protection into their software to stop piracy and then immediately every starts crying 'No fair, you guys suck'
Hummm, guesses most of you are not running legit software then.
Well if nobody else is, I'm all for it, however the OEM versions will still be available on your favourite sites, so you'll still be able to get your software for free - never worry.

10th January 2001, 03:15

The issue here isn't anti-piracy. It's that if I _buy_ a legitimate copy of Whistler (when it comes out, of course) and install it on my machine... I cannot then uninstall it and put it on a different machine. It is well within my legal rights to have it on a dozen machines if I so choose, so long as only one runs at a time.

However, they are now keying the serial number to your processor. (Intel CPU Serial Numbers, anyone?) This is most patently unfair and uncool. They're using system information to maintain a database on you with your serial numbers in it.


- Gurm

Listen up, you primitive screwheads! See this? This is my BOOMSTICK! Etc. etc.

10th January 2001, 03:33
I thought only P3 and Athlon have a readable serial number... btw. I've disabled mine in the BIOS

10th January 2001, 03:45
Gurm, I think MS changed their licensing agreements a little while ago, and you are in danger of being busted for piracy.

I'm fairly sure that Microsoft now requires you have a license for every copy of software that is installed. It doesn't matter how many are used at once. If you have 12 installations, you need 12 licenses.

I think Paul has got it wrong as well. This whole situation is similar to the BIOS locked OS recovery disks. People have bought machines, fancy an upgrade with a new motherboard, and then presto, they can't reinstall their OS.

They've paid good money for the OS (as part of the system costs), and can now not use it.

On the other side, if you go into a shop and buy a copy, it's going to be locked to the particular PC you install it onto.

I guess MS are going to store the serial numbers of the software along with the hardware specific details.

One upgrade later (maybe even a BIOS flash), and you can't reinstall the software you've just paid for.

It's hardly fair is it?

And if they use the Intel CPU numbers for the hardware identification, I think we'll see sales of AMD CPU's go through the roof!!

10th January 2001, 05:39
What M$ won't do to make more money. The new anti-piracy thing will accomplish two things:

1) Stop the casual pirate. When Joe Shmoe gets a new computer with Whistler and tries to put it on his buddies computer. "Well it worked on mine," he'll say and call it a day. Anyone who knows anything about getting stuff Black Eye Patch style will get Whistler no matter what M$ does.

2) Piss people off. If it's true that the registration is machine specific this is an outrage! What if I'm a hard core gamer who shelled out my hard earned cash for Whistler (theoretically speaking), upgraded my CPU only to find out that Whistler won't work anymore! Can you say Class Action Lawsuit?

It's things like this that make people so irrate over Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn't treat their customers with decency and honesty, how are the customers supposed to be decent and honest to them?


Athlon 650
256 MB PC133 CAS3 from Crucial
40 GB storage from WD
Matrox G400 (it's not dead yet!)
SB Live! the original full retail, still going strong
Klipsch ProMedia v.2-400, the PC speakers that goes BOOM!
Hope Matrox releases the G800 before rebuild time, becuase the end is near!

10th January 2001, 05:55
'Class Law-Suit'
Blimey, I am so pleased that kind of thing hasn't made it's way to the shores of the UK yet in a big style.
It seems that as soon as anything goes against somebody or throws hot coffee over themselves they go off and sue somebody!

So, you upgrade your PC, install a new CPU for example.
A message pops up along the lines of 'This copy of Windows is not running on the machine for which it is licensed'
My guess is that you will then have some 10 or so boots to log onto the net and re-submit your information.
It all matches, your OS is unlocked otherwise your locked out.
This method could not only stop the casual pirate but the more advanced ones too.
Can MS force people to register the software?
Well a quick look through your Windows license agreement shows that you hardly own the OS anyway, so with it still being property of MS they can really.

10th January 2001, 06:44
Frankly, I like it, the more MS wants to shoot itself in the foot the better. I expect you'll see a quick reversal on this from MS when things don't go so well for them.

Piracy makes Windows available to the people who make it popular outside of the business community. If MS wants to enforce it's rules, great, I'm all for it, but you wouldn't have seen Win2K used for games to the degree that it is, without piracy.

Other than that, the sheer annoyance value fo having to deal with busy servers will cause enough of a backlash to squash the deal.

10th January 2001, 07:41
You guys forgot the most important wrong part of this idea!!!

What about those guys who do NOT have an internet connection???

You seem all to believe that every computer on that part of the world does have his internet connection! Really far from being true!!! http://forums.murc.ws/ubb/frown.gif


10th January 2001, 08:13

Heh, no we didn't forget. MS has included a handy-dandy phone number for you to call and get the same sort of thing. There will be a little wizard that gives them the hardware info. they need.


If I own a piece of software, I may install it wherever I choose (at least with current licensing agreements). If I choose to have two machines, I may install it on both, but legally I may only activate one of those machines at a time. Period. The difficulty comes in proving in a business-type situation that they are NEVER used at the same time. In a home situation they have to take your word for it.

But the upgrading point is quite valid.

And don't think that because you turn off the CPU ID in the BIOS that it can't be read. Several hackers have already proven that it can be read no matter what.

This is, as Jammrock said, only designed to stop casual pirates and business pirates.

Microsoft doesn't care about your typical pirate. Those people give them free beta testing. They've always loved those people, albeit not officially.

They object to Joe giving it to his friend Steve for free. They also object (rather vehemently) to company X buying one NT license and installing it on 20 machines. That's where they really lose revenue.

And that's what this is designed to prevent. Casual "copy to your friends" piracy and corporate piracy. Mid-level piracy has never been an issue and never really will.

It's like copying CD's. SafeDisc protection doesn't stop REAL pirates. It stops Joe who bought himself a burner and tried to copy his game for a friend. Because that's where the revenue loss is.

- Gurm

Listen up, you primitive screwheads! See this? This is my BOOMSTICK! Etc. etc.

10th January 2001, 08:27
Isn't Microsoft is putting limits on how often you can install Whistler on the *same* machine?

I've heard that after a certain number of installs, you will have to call them up to get and get a new registration key.


10th January 2001, 08:50
Another thing we really haven't examined here is that Microsoft, in the US at least, was found to be an illegal monopoly. Now, I think what's really good about being an illegal monopoly (from the standpoint of the illegal monopolist) is that you can stick *any* nasty thing you like in your licensing agreement, and your customers may be forced to abide by it. They don't have a choice.

We are not dealing with Saint Francis here, and this has nothing to do spilling coffee. Until an appellate court says otherwise, this is a rogue corporation engaging in criminal behavior. Every thing of consequence they do should be examined under a microscope.

From Microsoft's standpoint, I suspect this is as much about control as it is protecting their property.


[This message has been edited by paulcs (edited 10 January 2001).]

10th January 2001, 10:02
Bingo. Microsoft == Monopoly. They can do whatever they want to to you, and you just have to bend over, grit your teeth, and take it like a man if you do not like it.

Microsoft, like just about any other company in the free world, wants to be a money making machine. In their world conquest, they have attained the status of Monopoly. Now they have to play nice; well, at least they are supposed to play nicer, but I will believe that when I see it.

10th January 2001, 16:10
"It is well within my legal rights to have it on a dozen machines if I so choose, so long as only one runs at a time."

That changed a long time ago.
This is no longer the case, you have 12 installations of an OS you are required to have 12 licenses even if 11 of your machines are only used once a year.

The fact is that no company are going to release an OS that can be installed on one PC and if that PC is upgraded you have to buy another copy of the OS.
The very nature of the PC dictates that it can be upgraded, if this is software or hardware.
There will be a way that if your computer is upgraded you will just need to un-lock your OS again.
It's a choice between allowing rampant piracy or by have a little bit of hassle when you upgrade your motherboard/CPU in 12 months time a lot less piracy.

10th January 2001, 16:13
Check your license agreement again.
MS changed the 'install where you like, only use one copy' license ages ago, and it certainly doesn't apply to OEM copies of the OS.

10th January 2001, 20:37

And we could play semantics, too.

Let's pretend I have 25 machines, each with a hot-swappable drive bay. I install Whistler on the first machine, and take out the hard drive. I keep that hard drive with me at all times, and expect it to work whenever I snap it into a machine.

Of course one would argue that I really don't want a personal license at that point, right? I want a system-builder license, which is entirely limit-free (within certain constraints).

But the point remains the same. And yeah, they have changed the licensing. But I'm still entitled to install/uninstall/install as many times as I like.

- Gurm

Listen up, you primitive screwheads! See this? This is my BOOMSTICK! Etc. etc.

11th January 2001, 05:29
First off, I don't really think that anybody has a "right" to install anything. Think of it more as a priviledge.

Microsoft is not abusing monopoly power. They have the "right" to make whatever legal license agreement they want. If you don't agree to it, then you have the choice not to use their software. Mind you, if enough people do this, they won't even be a monopoly anymore.

Microsoft is not a stupid company. While it may be hard at times for consumers to realize this, they have gotten to where they are by making intelligent moves, and some illegal ones too. They will not stick with plans that totally compromise their ability to sell products. Trust me, company IT departments will not like this new policy much at all.

I'm sure Microsoft will implement schemes in the policy to allow for upgrades. If they do not, then I'm sure a class-action lawsuit will be filed by hardware vendors who claim users cannot upgrade because of their OS registration problem.

The single biggest problem that I see here is the privacy one. While I doubt MS really gives a rats ass what chip you use, or what hardware is in your system (if they cared, they'd fix some of the bugs), it is not correct for them to acquire such information. However it is reasonable for a company to require all users to register, as long as the registration information is basic, such as your name, address, and phone number. It is NOT reasonable for a company to require you to divulge more personal details, such as credit card numbers, bank numbers, hardware information, how many children you have, or who your last girlfriend/boyfriend was.


[Edit for grammar http://forums.murc.ws/ubb/smile.gif ]

[This message has been edited by spoogenet (edited 11 January 2001).]

11th January 2001, 06:30
A lot of you guys are missing part of the original post:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Microsoft plans to deliver WPA in all 32-bit versions of Whistler except those sold to volume-licensing customers and the so-called "Royalty OEM initial install images" provided to PC makers...</font>

IT departments and tier 1-2 OEM's will get copies of Whistler that may not require the call-in registration. I know if M$ required IT departments to register every install they would flip and nobody would use it. In my company alone that would require over 70,000 registrations, costing thousands of man hours to do, if the entire company switched over. M$ isn't that stupid.

Office 2000 has the same style WPA registration, but if you get you hands on an MSDN (M$ Developers Network) copy of Office 2000 there is no registration. Hell, you don't even haft to enter in a CD key. There will always be copies that will be registration free.

And as you guessed it, all the people in IT are the ones who rarely ever buy an OS or M$ product. Why? Because it's too damn expensive and IT people don't want to submit to the M$ yoke of bondage more than we haft to. And that's all I haft to say about that.


11th January 2001, 10:27
If Microsoft was giving away Windows and attached conditions to it's use, then I think we'd be in the realm of "priveledge." Remember, you buy Windows, and you have some rights as an owner as well. You certainly have the right to install and use it. The copy you purchase is your property.

There are limits, of course. You shouldn't be allowed to copy and distribute it to others. I don't have a problem with provisions limiting the number of machines it is installed on either. My problem is Microsoft is forcing people to register, which will permit them to maintain a large database of all Windows users, and the fact that Microsoft is limiting the number of times you can install it on the same machine.

I'm forced to do multiple installs of Windows on the same machine. I test a lot of hardware and do multiple device driver installs. I also have several machines and swap and/or replace hardware (including hard drives) all the time. The idea of having to register Windows every single time I do an install sounds like a real pain. It also sounds overly intrusive. The idea of having to call Redmond to get their permission for the fifth and all subsequent installs just appalls me.


11th January 2001, 15:27
I don't really think that you are an owner because you purchased a copy of software. The company maintains its ownership of the software, you may own the physical disk, the box, the manual, but you do not own the code. You own the license to install that software, as long as you agree to the licensing agreements, but you do not own the software.

Therefore, you have no real rights as an owner of the software, you only have rights as an owner of the license. You get whatever MS allows you through their license agreement with you. If they choose to require you to register, so be it.

Again, the main issue I see here is the privacy one. They will find, in time, that this is a bad idea and will prevent customers a lot of legitimate freedom. This could also infringe upon hardware vendors ability to sell hardware if users are reluctant to upgrade, that could be called anti-competetive, in a way. Or at least stifling their business.


11th January 2001, 17:16
Microsoft maintains a copyright on the software and well as the trademarks associated with the product. They own the intellectual property. They do own the code, but there are limits on both ends.

If you buy a book, the publisher or whomever owns the copyright doesn't maintain ownership of the book. You own it. It's your book. You just don't own the ideas or, again, the intellectual property.

I happen to work both in publishing and contract adminstration, and I can tell you from personal experience that trickery is the status quo. In almost every complex contract, you'll find a provision that states something to the effect of "if any provision in this agreement is illegal, both parties agree that the contract will not be invalidated as a result of this provision."

That's because contractors put illegal provisions in contracts all the time. There's nothing to stop them from doing so, other than the entire agreement could be invalidated (thus the provision that prevents the entire provision from being invalidated). So they do. The reason they do this is to fool the other party into believing they have to abide by that provision. The truth of the matter is you don't.

If Microsoft's appeals are denied, I bet (or at least I hope) they will be regulated like any other *legal* monopoly (ie, your electric or phone company). The State of California, for instance, could say that Microsoft forcing people to register everytime they install Windows is an invasion of privacy. Therefore, the residents of California would not be bound to this, even if it is part of the agreement.


11th January 2001, 17:54
That's the advantage of working in a company of over 40,000 employees. We just signed an enterprise licence agreement for every business product that microsoft makes, that includes every employee's work and home machines. This includes W2K, O2K, Visio, Project, etc, etc, etc. It cost us a few million smackers, but it certainly makes administration easier http://forums.murc.ws/ubb/wink.gif.

I sure won't be purchasing any MS software for a while, except maybe some games (Midtown Madness 2 looks pretty good).

Carpe Cerevisi