Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Microsoft and Piracy--It's your problem, not theirs..

I just came across an announcement about Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2. Scoff. Well, maybe not scoff. Last time I scoffed at IE was ca. 1995 when Microsoft joined the game late and bought (spyglass?) and slapped the Microsoft logo on the browser. So maybe this is worth a look. Microsoft, of course, has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on key technology--this is probably going to be pretty good. If you can get it installed.

I have a 5 second conversation with myself--wondering if the software will hose my XP SP 2 box. (Funny, I don't have that debate with Google or Mozilla software). Then I figure, what the hell, I'll opt out when it starts to get rough.

I click the link and start the download. Only 11.3 MB. That doesn't sound too bad..

Now I start the installer. It's a little clunky, but that's to be expected from pre-release software. (I am, after all, a semi-sympathetic software developer)
Setup was unable to open log file for writing c:\WINDOWS\io7beta2_main.log

Well, I don't care.. Maybe the installer will proceed. It does.

License agreement, whatever.

Now something very curious:

Before installing Windows Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview, you need to validate your copy of Windows with Windows Genuine Advantage. Validation assures that you are running a genuine copy of Windows. By using genuine Microsoft Windows software, you can be confident that you will have access to the latest features, updates, and support which will help to improve your productivity and expand the capabilities of your PC. You will also have access to new innovations and offerings available only to genuine Windows customers.

When I was in college the campus bookstore had this policy: no students were allowed to take their backpacks into the store. You had to drop your backpacks into cubbies in the entrance, and hope their contents remained safe from the very criminal element that the bookstore was trying to protect itself from. It was pathetic. This store decide to take their problem (shoplifters) and transfer the problem to us (the honest student). They basically told every student who walked through the door that A) they didn't trust you, and B) they weren't competent enough to handle their problem without alienating their customers.

Now, it seems, Microsoft's decided to continue the trend of transferring their problem (software piracy) to us (the honest user). I have three licensed copies of XP running in my house. One on a laptop that my work provided, one on a desktop, and one on an old laptop I've had for the past 5 years. All copies are legal. I bought both personal copies. One through Microsoft's developer's program (I saw a special deal on Slickdeals.net when XP was new--some kind of promotion to get developers to use XP). The other from a similar deal. I've got two shiny holographic CD's to prove it.

But, I'll play along. Now I'm wondering how silly this will get. What if it doesn't work and from some reason decides my copy of XP is not legit? Will it lock me out--erase my hard disk? Will it notify the FBI, NRC, NSA, RIAA? Adventure! Plow forward.

The installer then proceeds to launch my default browser, Firefox (snicker). Then says: "Your current browser cannot run the ActiveX control required by the
genuine Windows validation process. Let's try validating a different way.." It then asks me to download and install another program which will do me the favor of confirming that I'm running a legit copy of Windows. This is fun. Download the program. Hit "open", "run", "go". Yes, I trust Microsoft.

After a few tense moments:

Error: A problem has been encountered during the Windows Genuine Advantage validation process. Due to technical difficulties, we are unable to determine whether your operating system is genuine at this time. Please return later to complete the validation process.

I'll hold my breath.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude i had that problem too, but when i pressed the button validate again, it allowed me through. be patient d00d.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Tim Almond said...

Why bother? If you've already got Firefox, what does it do for you?

3:04 AM  

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