"You will not be able to save or create new documents",
November 1, 2002 4:04 PM   Subscribe

"You will not be able to save or create new documents", the MS Office XP (Re-)Activation Wizard said to me this afternoon. You can imagine my horror, when I sat down to print off my housemate's coursework, only to discover that the floppy drive I'd reattached so that I could get to her document had spurred Office XP into an unwelcome data embargo. Be warned, MeFites: Significant hardware changes piss Microsoft off! This is especially dangerous for those of us who... er... can't seem to find our original store-bought fully licensed Office CDs.
Even though it's been lurking a while, I'd never heard of it. Is this a justifiable (ha!) anti-piracy technique or another excellent reason not to hand in Uni assignments on time? ("I'm sorry sir; Microsoft ate my homework") Either way, I won't be able to check my email in Outlook for a while.
Until then, thank God for openoffice.org.
posted by armoured-ant (62 comments total)
 
What a strange coincidence. This happened to me this afternoon as well. It gets even better though: Although I had a legitimate CD, the authenticator didn't recognize it! Oh well, that's what warez sites are for. Apart from whether this is justifiable on Microsoft's part, this is just plain stupid. It's common sense that you try to not annoy the people who pay you money, so that they, well, continue to pay you money. To be sure, Microsoft has a monopoly, but monopolies never last forever. Eventually the wind changes, and competitors show up, like they did for IBM
posted by unreason at 4:51 PM on November 1, 2002


For those that insist Apple's recent business practices are starting to seem more Microsoftian, take note. You need to be the size of a Microsoft before people will stick around with this kind of hasssle.

Apple will never be large enough to pull this kind of crap. Unless they continue making the best stuff around (at least in the eyes of Mac users), they're in trouble. And they know it.
posted by jragon at 4:53 PM on November 1, 2002


Open Office is great. Like General Tarkin, the more Microsoft tightens its grip, the more users will slip through its fingers.
posted by inksyndicate at 4:56 PM on November 1, 2002


Like General Tarkin, the more Microsoft tightens its grip, the more users will slip through its fingers.

Actually, it's Grand Moff Tarkin. He's non-military. Technically, he's a member of the Imperial Council. More of a Governor than a General.

doesn't your last link expose both you and Matt to criminal prosecution under the DMCA?

Erm... potentially. Thanks for pointing that out, fuzz. I'll be sure to send you death threats from prison.

Then again, we all know that the DMCA is a stupid law.

posted by armoured-ant at 5:21 PM on November 1, 2002


Like General Tarkin, the more Microsoft tightens its grip, the more users will slip through its fingers.

Actually, it's Grand Moff Tarkin. He's non-military. Technically, he's a member of the Imperial Council. More of a Governor than a General.

armoured-ant, I bow before your superior geeky-ness.
posted by kate_fairfax at 5:24 PM on November 1, 2002


Is this a justifiable (ha!) anti-piracy technique or another excellent reason not to hand in Uni assignments on time?

Yes.

Microsoft is well within its rights to do stuff like this, and I honestly hope they keep it up. It won't stop determined pirates, and it will show customers the true face of the giant. Those who stay will do so knowingly... and they'll deserve each other.
posted by namespan at 5:29 PM on November 1, 2002


Now that Dell, HP, Sony and others have started shipping WordPerfect software across much of their consumer product lines more and more people will see that they can get along just fine without MS Office. Responding to the need for not only continued profitability but also continued growth that shareholders demand is what is pushing Microsoft to try and squeeze its prime plum (Office) for all it's worth. And people are actually starting to get fed up with it.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:43 PM on November 1, 2002


It won't stop determined pirates.

I would be willing to bet that most pirates of Microsoft software are not "determined", and those that are never contributed much to MSFT's bottom line anyway.

I think it's a balance Microsoft has to find between pissing off legitimate customers and thwarting those that aren't. Historically, I think they've erred on the side of letting a lot of determined and non-determined pirates take advantage of their rather lax piracy protection.

If you're an angry customer, write the company and let them know your problem. Posting it here might get back to them too (I know a number of Product Managers that google for user feedback about their products).

As a Microsoft stockholder, I applaud their move. If you think Microsoft is too powerful, why don't you just buy their stock and profit from it like a lot of the rest of us? That's what the market's for. Bill Gates doesn't own it all, it the rest is yours for the buying!
posted by hitsman at 5:53 PM on November 1, 2002


If you could buy stock in De Beers you could apply the same logic to them. Not for me, thanks.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:05 PM on November 1, 2002


Oh, right. Grand Moff Tarkin. Thanks.
posted by inksyndicate at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2002


Sure "Grand Moff Tarkin" . . . but his friends call him Bob.
posted by tiamat at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2002


Um, if one were running unlicensed XP, is there anything to watch out for? I wonder if Microsoft will eventually slip a version of its "Wizard" into one of those "New Updates Are Ready to Install" (the pop-ups seem to pop up twice a week)... Maybe those are good to avoid?
posted by Shane at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2002


Now that Dell, HP, Sony and others have started shipping WordPerfect software across much of their consumer product lines more and more people will see that they can get along just fine without MS Office.

In practice, more and more people are finding out that WordPerfect is an inferior product, and that there's a reason it ships free with the computer. Of course people can "get along fine" without Office. In truth, large numbers of people - most of the time - could get along fine with freakin' Notepad running on a Pentium I with 32 megs of ram (and for that matter, with a used Yugo, a wood buring stove, Salvation Army clothes, and a pillow on the floor). But they don't want to. The IT industry has never been about trying to make do with the least possible.

... pushing Microsoft to try and squeeze its prime plum (Office) for all it's worth. And people are actually starting to get fed up with it.

Sheesh, for a decade or so now people have been talking about how "fed up" consumers are "starting" to get with Microsoft. Yet they've weathered the IT slump as well as (and in most instances far better than) most of the industry, are even now cash rich, and are still building new products and expanding into new market segments.

There is a circle of folks in the world that loves to hate Microsoft (in fact, loves to hate anyone that is powerful and successful). But, like hitsman, I certainly own some of their stock - because I work on enterprise IT projects for Fortune 1000 companies, and have to collaborate quite a bit with Microsoft engineers - and for the most part MS folks, while agressive and sometimes arrogant, are also some of the sharpest, quickest people I've ever met.

Microsoft has the knack of attracting, and keeping, some of the smartest people on earth ... it is powerful because it understood early on that IT always ultimately reduces to pure brainpower. It invests in talent that is simply damn good. And they focus on product.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:43 PM on November 1, 2002


I think it's just great that there's a OSS alternative to MS Office. I just wish it was at all useable.

The toolbars constantly change, while you're editing a document. I guess this is to show the most useful tools for each moment but it leaves me disoriented and it pisses me off when I'm trying to, say, center text inside a table and all I can see are table buttons. The print preview button is almost never shown, and often it actually disappears from the File Menu! The OOO icons are 16-colors, grubby, and indistinguishable: a pinwheel is the “Navigator”. What does a finger and a star hovering over two buttons mean? Why, it turns the “Stylist” on and off! Opening foo.csv in the spreadsheet actually loads the word processor to open the file. You can resave foo.sxw as a text file, but OOo automatically keeps the sxw extension.

There are so many stupid things wrong with OOO that it's insane. The really sad thing is, OOO has a hell of a lot of functionality. I'm certain it can do everything I might ever want an office suite to do, but the UI is just... so... frustating. It desperately needs to be Phoenixed. Already.

(Looking forward to a GPL'd GobeProductive)
posted by skryche at 7:02 PM on November 1, 2002


As a Microsoft stockholder, I applaud their move. If you think Microsoft is too powerful, why don't you just buy their stock and profit from it like a lot of the rest of us? That's what the market's for. Bill Gates doesn't own it all, it the rest is yours for the buying!

So, as a Microsoft stockholder, you endorse all of their behavior and all of their decisions -- with your dollar. What's more, you profit from them. This means that when Microsoft laid off 168 employees earlier this year, you profited. If Microsoft is successful in it attempts to squash open source, you profit.

"Market populism" is a religion I don't believe in.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:04 PM on November 1, 2002



Microsoft has the knack of attracting, and keeping, some of the smartest people on earth ... it is powerful because it understood early on that IT always ultimately reduces to pure brainpower. It invests in talent that is simply damn good. And they focus on product.


Yes, Microsoft recruits some very smart people to work for them. It's a wonder then how they manage to produce some of the buggiest, most insecure software out there.
posted by gyc at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2002


I like it. It just means that Joe Officeworker can't just take the CD home to install on his desktop and is going to find out how much this stuff really costs. Whether he decides to just use wordpad, buy a cheaper product, or go open source is his business, but in the meantime MS's #1 marketing ploy (turning a blind eye toward home piracy) has gone down the tubes. I fully expect them to remove activation when it noticably hurts their marketshare.
posted by skallas at 7:23 PM on November 1, 2002


Because I use some Microsoft software I frequently get a reminder of the mentality that their software has. Now, I've been writing some ASP.NET for a year now and the main feature is that you write tags in the asp namespace (<asp:datagrid>), and they're converted at runtime to HTML (asp:datagrid can come out as a bunch of table tags based on a database table, for example). Now, the exact choice of tags it gets converted to is based your browser, and guess which browsers get the poorly written inflexible HTML? Mozilla, Opera, and anything that's not IE4+.

Microsoft software is all about making it easier to interoperate with Microsoft products though their own closed standards. When they have IMAP, it's actually IMAP+MS, and if you don't use MS end-to-end you get a crippled product. When they do ASP.NET validation controls it's for IE's DOM only. It's all about making it difficult to use any other software in the mix. The scary thing is that Microsoft's pervasiveness can make this homogeny a viable choice. Some people consider this homogeny a healthy environment for software, and they believe that this boring computer industry is actually producing innovation, great products and success. In my experience Microsoft are a company that tends to lie. They've killed better technology and better software through exclusivity deals and what are now illegal practices.

For me that's the key. It's a belief that a long-term homogenous environment with one large player doesn't produce the best software because there's no competition.

Microsoft still has the guy who decided to run foreign vb scripts contained in email. 'nuff said.
posted by holloway at 7:39 PM on November 1, 2002


Yes, Microsoft recruits some very smart people to work for them. It's a wonder then how they manage to produce some of the buggiest, most insecure software out there.

You forgot ... "most used". Oddly, despite the remarkable and much praised virtues of open source and freeware, a terribly large number of consumers don't seem to think that Linux is just as user friendly, or that StarOffice is a perfectly good replacement.

MS has a massive user base. You certainly hear about a lot of security breaches in MS software ... but of course, it is also targeted by far more hackers (if you're a hacker that wants to write a virus to get you laid in whatever weird circles you travel in, do you go after the Eudora email client running on Macs ... or after Outlook Express running on Windows?).

I wonder how many competitors, where they to face a similar volume of attacks and attention, would not appear just as "buggy and insecure".
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:48 PM on November 1, 2002


if you're a hacker that wants to write a virus to get you laid in whatever weird circles you travel in

[Elvis] Man, that is sick![/Elvis] *rolls eyes*
posted by y2karl at 7:54 PM on November 1, 2002


I wonder how many competitors, where they to face a similar volume of attacks and attention, would not appear just as "buggy and insecure".
The problem with the "we're a victim of our own popularity" argument is that is forgives any mistakes, no matter how daft. Bugs and buffer overflows are one thing (everyone makes mistakes) but Microsoft consistantly makes design decisions that put features ahead of security. It wasn't until Febuary this year that Gates admitted this, but I thought everyone already knew it. Apparently not.

Midas, I very much doubt that 5% of MS Office users have even heard of StarOffice, let alone tried it!
posted by holloway at 7:55 PM on November 1, 2002


Unless I'm mistaken, this applies not just to Office, but to Windows XP itself as well. The OS requires activation within 30 days. Has anyone here ever actually been locked out of their operating system because they added / removed hardware one too many times? What happens? Can you literally just not boot Windows any more?
posted by stevenf at 7:57 PM on November 1, 2002


... it will show customers the true face of the giant. Those who stay will do so knowingly... and they'll deserve each other.
If you think Microsoft is too powerful, why don't you just buy their stock and profit from it like a lot of the rest of us?
... it is powerful because it understood early on that IT always ultimately reduces to pure brainpower.

Wow. And I thought Apple's customers had a reputation of religious zealotry. (I half expect someone here to write "Now witness the firepower of this fully operational corporate giant!")

No doubt Microsoft's made some fine products--and they deserve to be rewarded for them. But they also frequently seem to regard their customers as Imperial subjects. I'm just amazed at how many of their subjects are eager to agree with them.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 PM on November 1, 2002


"reputation for"
posted by octobersurprise at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2002


You forgot ... "most used". Oddly, despite the remarkable and much praised virtues of open source and freeware, a terribly large number of consumers don't seem to think that Linux is just as user friendly, or that StarOffice is a perfectly good replacement.

You act as though everybody lined up every available operating system and tried them all out. Most people are not even aware that alternatives exist. As a rational adult, you must be aware of the fact that what is the most popular is not necessarily the best, so why do you make comments like this? Just to defend a position?
posted by Hildago at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2002


By the way, that's not a personal attack--just a comment on a weird weird analogy. I know you equate monopoly with free market, which always leaves me scratching my head but that's no nevermind here. Carry on.

And so where have you been, anyway, Midas? Still making the world safe for plutocracy? ;)
posted by y2karl at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2002


Oh no, big bad Microsoft trying to stop people from illegally distributing its main products. The horror.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the psychological motivation to hate the company is. Maybe its a root-for-the-underdog thing. Or just a healthy distrust of power. Nonetheless, in my experience, their products work fine. Regarding product activation, maybe the Napster revolution conditioned Joe Internet to the ready availability of digital content, and made the idea of purchased products having restrictions on their use anathema. Please. I haven't met a single person who's been jipped by MS's product activation system, and I'm not holding my breath for Microsoft to cave before armoured-ant's enraged compatriots.
posted by gsteff at 8:06 PM on November 1, 2002


If you get locked out of a Microsoft product and own a genuine copy of the software, and of course keep your software CDs in a place where you can find them when you need them, reactivating takes no time.
posted by riffola at 8:18 PM on November 1, 2002


You act as though everybody lined up every available operating system and tried them all out. Most people are not even aware that alternatives exist.

The fact is, while battles rage within geek cricles, most people don't give a shit that alternatives exist. Techies focus on technology - users focus on what they are doing with it. The majority could care less which damn browser they are using - as long as it simply loads web pages. They don't care what OS or word processor they have - they simply want to turn it on, login, and start typing a letter to their mother. And to a large degree, what most users want is:

1. What they are used to; and
2. What their friends have.

They don't think they are making a corporate/political statement when they buy a computer.

As a rational adult, you must be aware of the fact that what is the most popular is not necessarily the best, so why do you make comments like this? Just to defend a position?

Well, er, as a rational adult, you must be aware that even within Linux circles there's a lot of discussion about the fact that it is not yet user friendly for non-techies, and Star Office is certainly not considered by many - including those that have done comparisons - to be ready for prime time, except amongst the faithful.

As a matter of fact, it is far more common for anti-MS people to "defend a position" by mentioning clearly inferior software simply because it is an "alternative".
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:22 PM on November 1, 2002


Oh no, big bad Microsoft trying to stop people from illegally distributing its main products. The horror.
Fact 1. Software can't understand whether anyone is actually breaking the law.
posted by holloway at 8:24 PM on November 1, 2002


Well, I think I've met far more of their worker ants than Midas has--what you get is the selfless dedication of the 100 day contractors: disposable code written by disposable workers. All the Microsoft millionaires have retired and now only the temps are left. The situation is not unlike what made Detroit so competitive vis-a-vis Japan in the 1970s--they don't give a fuck. So don't buy code written on a Monday.
posted by y2karl at 8:26 PM on November 1, 2002


By the way, that's not a personal attack--just a comment on a weird weird analogy. I know you equate monopoly with free market, which always leaves me scratching my head but that's no nevermind here. Carry on.

I suspect we think in different categories. Microsoft is an oligopolist in a market that is probably better off as such. (If you want to imagine a nightmare, imagine 25 different browsers - each with their own little variations on Javascript, CSS, and DHTML, 12 different OS's - each of which would need applications programmed for them ... ).

And so where have you been, anyway, Midas? Still making the world safe for plutocracy? ;)

Yes! Busy extending the scope of my kingdom. Left the multi-national I was working for, started my own firm, and am now serving a number of multi-nationals. Getting richer than ever. Needing to do a horrible amount of traveling though, and so cannot share in the delights of MeFi that often, but what's a boy to do?

How's about you? Still fomenting revolution amongst the masses I'm trying to oppress? (tee hee).
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:32 PM on November 1, 2002


gyc (and others) - there is no inconsistency in MS having superior talent and producing buggy, insecure software. As long as people tolerate buggy, insecure software it is better for them to concentrate on providing features and integration.

Until most folks give a shit about stability and security, why should MS? MS' goal is sell product, and making software is the means, not the end.

I happen to be posting from my own beautiful debian box, and am no MS lover. But it just makes sense for them to deploy their intellectual firepower the way they do, and you can't fault them for it when their customers don't care enough to stop buying their software.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:34 PM on November 1, 2002


(If you want to imagine a nightmare, imagine 25 different browsers - each with their own little variations on Javascript, CSS, and DHTML, 12 different OS's - each of which would need applications programmed for them ... ).

Well, I might possibly be inclined to concede that you may possibly have a point of sorts there somewhere. I am no fan of oligolopoly, though--the price-fixing inflationary bias thing, you know.

However, the way things turned out with Microsoft, IBM, the PC and all that thereafter, I would argue is just an artifact of historical circumstance. I saw Metropolis last night, assembled with what footage is left and the original score, too: the city of the future, complete with , telescreens, towers connected by skybridges and biplanes flying in between...

--none of us has any idea of how things will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years. We can only project our idea of now onto then and our guesses will always be wrong. We simply have no idea of what the future will bring. . .

I'm glad to see you're getting richer--no widows robbed, I trust?
posted by y2karl at 8:59 PM on November 1, 2002


Over the past six months I've changed motherboard & processor, sound card, video card hard drive and cd-drive. All at different times and never had XP give me an issue.

Perhaps I just got lucky?
posted by revbrian at 9:04 PM on November 1, 2002


Did you all watch the video off the first link? They call pirating software casual copying. Doesn't sound so bad when you say it like that. Hey, mind if I casually copy Office XP? But then again, pirating sounds so much cooler. ARR.
posted by Ron at 9:31 PM on November 1, 2002


Well, I might possibly be inclined to concede that you may possibly have a point of sorts there somewhere. I am no fan of oligolopoly, though--the price-fixing inflationary bias thing, you know.

I remember during the trial, watching Robert Bork (of all people) make what he thought was a powerful case for "competition". About how innovation was being destroyed by MS itegrating Explorer, and that he wanted to see a dozen different browsers. Sounded very good on paper. Was watching this in my office, however, with a bunch of my developers. The volume of the collective groan brought people running from other offices.

At the time, Netscape and IE were both v4.x, but my folks still commonly wrestled with needing to produce different versions of sites for several different versions of two different browsers. Even the remote thought of multiple versions of a dozen different browsers ... harumph.

I wonder how many people browsing the web understand that while sometimes the odd behavior and strange scripting error messages come from developer mistakes, but much of the time they come from the fact that different versions of different borwsers interpret the identical code in far different ways ... and unless you want to do a site with vanilla HTML, you are forced to add at least 25% to the cost to make sure it works on just the browsers around right now. (I realize people will say "well everyone should just comply with the W3C" ... but that simply will never happen ...).

In browsers alone, pure competition would not only not help the consumer, it would lead to a virtually unusable web. When it comes to what is truly best for consumers, theory is nice to have, but I believe that from a purely technical viewpoint, the current situation (with one largely dominant browser, and a handful continually in the wings) is probably the optimal situation. Exerts enough pressure to make certain improvements keep getting made, while not producing a nightmarish menu full of clients developers would need to code for.

I'm glad to see you're getting richer--no widows robbed, I trust?

Goodness, of course not. They usually don't have enough money to make it worth the effort. Hell, all I've managed to do is help the customers of my clients save some money, and employ some people with good paying jobs and health insurance. I'm barely even evil enough to get into the good corporate parties.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:52 PM on November 1, 2002


The ironic thing is that all this has done to the pirates is it's driven them to pirating the microsoft select series of microsoft products designed for corporations, which, gee, don't have any of these stupid "copy protections." I always get a kick out of these elaborate copy protection schemes that get in the way of legit use. Ever try typing in an SPSS license number? Generally it involves typing it a couple of times because the stupid thing is so long and meaningless that you can't find your 1 stupid typo in the number. Guess how many people that really stops from pirating the software (who generally get it easy because they just cut and paste the number from a file instead of typing it from a yellow sheet of paper). Reality is very few copy protections are effective for more than annoying the people that actually bought the software.
posted by piper28 at 9:56 PM on November 1, 2002


I'm barely even evil enough to get into the good corporate parties.

Barely?Yeah, yeah... The trouble with you libertarians is you get to go to both side's parties, smoke their killer dope and piss off both sides--too bad you're too elitist to form a real party: that Groucho Marx I wouldn't join a club that would have me thing, I guess... Ah, well...
posted by y2karl at 10:25 PM on November 1, 2002


Alan Cox has some interestnig things to say about Microsoft software here, scroll down to the bottom where he talks about .NET. They're going through a paradigm shift right now, and it looks like it will benefit the user, because Microsoft won't be able to control the end-to-end solutions for software....
posted by blue_beetle at 11:02 PM on November 1, 2002


In browsers alone, pure competition would not only not help the consumer, it would lead to a virtually unusable web.

That's why we have standards browser makers are supposed to follow. Good browsers (Opera, Mozilla) follow them. Bad browsers (IE) disregard these standards.
posted by gyc at 11:12 PM on November 1, 2002


There is a circle of folks in the world that loves to hate Microsoft (in fact, loves to hate anyone that is powerful and successful).

Of course I can't speak for everyone who dislikes Microsoft, but I can tell you this: I don't dislike them -- or anyone -- because they're succesful and/or powerful. Not even because they're wildly successful. I don't hate Intuit or Adobe. I don't hate AOL or Earthlink. I don't hate Toyota or Tiger Woods. I do hate Brittney Spears music, but that's another story. I don't hate John Mayer.

The dislike of Microsoft comes from the sense that if they could, they would eradicate all possible alternatives to their products, leaving customers absolutely no choices.

It doesn't bother me if people like using Office or Windows XP or Win 3.11. It does bother me if they expect me to use them and behave in any manner which would force me to, whether that's forwarding me a .doc file when an RTF would do, or designing a computing platform where nothing that isn't blessed by MS can run.

It has nothing to do with success and everything to do with freedom of choice.
posted by namespan at 11:22 PM on November 1, 2002


gyc has the right of it. The awful non-interoperability of browsers has a lot to do with the fact that, for a long time, many browser makers thought the road to success was to have some new, incompatible, sketchily-documented feature in their browser to distinguish it from the competition. This only seems like an attractive strategy if you think you can capture most of the market. If you realize that you will never be the only game in town, you start actually thinking about interoperability, standards, and all that.

For example, there are quite a few competing implementations of TCP/IP out there, but for the most part they all get along very well.
posted by hattifattener at 11:29 PM on November 1, 2002


In practice, more and more people are finding out that WordPerfect is an inferior product, and that there's a reason it ships free with the computer.

OK, so you've just identified yourself as someone who has never written anything longer than about 50 pages, or had to write something with a consistent format. Word just doesn't cut it for writing large, complex documents, unless you like to wait while you document repaginates every couple of minutes. And Quattro Pro is much nicer for engineering applications compared with the overly business-friendly Excel.

WordPerfect had a bit of a dark age around versions 8-9, but the newest version is is wonderful. The power of Reveal Codes compells you :)
posted by Space Coyote at 11:50 PM on November 1, 2002


"For within these browsers was bound the power and the will to rule each target market. But they were all of them deceived, for deep in the land of Microsoft, the Dark Lord Gates forged another browser, a master browser, and into this browser he poured all his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate every living thing. One browser to rule them all."
posted by armoured-ant at 1:48 AM on November 2, 2002


Shane: "Um, if one were running unlicensed XP, is there anything to watch out for?"

Chances are you won't be able to apply the XP Service Patch 1, which the Microsoft Windows Update page will tell you you need. It'll crap out after about half an hour, (or so I'm told).
posted by crunchland at 5:35 AM on November 2, 2002


Of course, the XP Service Patch 1 contains the modified Microsoft EULA that, if you accept, fully authorizes Microsoft to download and install whatever software they deem necessary onto your machine without your knowledge or permission. This specifically relates to Digital Rights Management software which, in the absence of the appropriate licensing, will disallow you to open MP3s, videos, documents, etc. Even if you are the author.

So you might not be so concerned about XPSP1, oi?
posted by Danelope at 6:47 AM on November 2, 2002


"WordPerfect had a bit of a dark age around versions 8-9, but the newest version is is wonderful. The power of Reveal Codes compells you :)"

Reveal codes is a good thing. I wonder if anyone uses framemaker as a main wordprocessing tool.
posted by mecran01 at 6:52 AM on November 2, 2002


I wonder how many people browsing the web understand that while sometimes the odd behavior and strange scripting error messages come from developer mistakes, but much of the time they come from the fact that different versions of different borwsers interpret the identical code in far different ways ... and unless you want to do a site with vanilla HTML, you are forced to add at least 25% to the cost to make sure it works on just the browsers around right now. (I realize people will say "well everyone should just comply with the W3C" ... but that simply will never happen ...).

Why not? There are dozens of other cases in which cosumers benefit from a thriving competitive market based on standards implementation. The basic reason that standands implementation did not work for the WWW is because the two major players (Microsoft and Netscape) involved actively sabotoged efforts to make it work. In fact, if you look at consumer markets. HTML is one of the few cases in which standardization has not taket place to the benefit of consumers.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:55 AM on November 2, 2002


I think Alex Nichol has written the best explanation of how Windows Product Activation works. Particularly with XP, the "component voting" on whether the machine is a new box or not is pretty cool, from a nuts 'n bolts design perspective.
posted by TuffAustin at 7:02 AM on November 2, 2002


Used to be, a new technology would come around, and someone who was in the right place at the right time would corner the market. By this time, the entire economy would have come to depend on his product, and he'd be able to jack the prices up as high as he wanted. Eventually, he'd get tired of being reviled, and having more money than he knew what to do with, so he'd build extravagant marble-and-stone libraries all over the place.

In the meantime, the Federal government, being tired of the indirect effects of having a leech on the economy, and the rather direct effects of paying monopoly prices for materiel or services necessary for national defense, would break the monopolist up.

What we need to do is clone Teddy Roosevelt and stick him back in the Big Chair. :)
posted by Vetinari at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2002


My boss installed Windows XP service pack 1 and the machine would not boot again! Nasty stop error. Dell support's advice: run the restore cd. Thanks!

My *hunch* now is that he previously installed Office XP off a backup cd (I found this out later) and after I reformatted and reinstalled windows, he's back up and running, heh. With Office 2000 original CD. The service pack installed just fine then, and the machine actually turns on now.
posted by loopy at 8:07 AM on November 2, 2002


OK, so you've just identified yourself as someone who has never written anything longer than about 50 pages, or had to write something with a consistent format. Word just doesn't cut it for writing large, complex documents,

Neither does WP. Large, complex documents is why God gave us (La)TeX.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2002


There is a reason why we all use Office, it is better than WordPerfect Office or SmartSuite (shudder) or OpenOffice. When Open Office out performs Office, I will switch. Everytime I use it, I feel like I am using Works on steriods. Maybe when it matures I will move over.

Corel Office has some power but it doesn't open PowerPoint without a lot of work and highly formatted Office docs don't come out right. Until that changes, I will stay in Office.
posted by Coop at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2002


It'll crap out after about half an hour, (or so I'm told).

(Late reply): Thanks, Crunch. I'm not a tech-head yet, but XP makes me nervous. There's the vulnerability issues, too, that arise from that user=administrator bit. Hell, I would've been happy with '95, but beggars (freeloaders) can't be choosers.

I "ended up" with Corell instead of Office, although I am considering switching to Office because it's a pain going back and forth on floppies between Word (that I write on at work) and Corell (that I write on at home).

Oddly, I ended up with AutoCad to play with in my intermixed pantheon of programs. I'm not remotely engineer-ish, but it's fun as toys go (Phil, thanks!, if you're reading this).
posted by Shane at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2002


Most anti-piracy schemes are either subvertable by a fifth-grader, or go off on innocent users of the software as well as guilty ones. There really isn't a middle ground.
posted by Veritron at 4:37 PM on November 2, 2002


Microsoft, because most people don't give a shit.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:29 PM on November 2, 2002


Shane: "Um, if one were running unlicensed XP, is there anything to watch out for?"

crunchland: "Chances are you won't be able to apply the XP Service Patch 1, which the Microsoft Windows Update page will tell you you need. It'll crap out after about half an hour, (or so I'm told)."

Not that I'd know or anything, but if you download the 130-something mb SP1 file from here, you can install it just fine with the help of some key generators that I won't provide a link to.
posted by mmesker at 5:50 PM on November 2, 2002


...you can install it just fine with the help of...

T'anks. I know dem generators, or at least my friends do...
posted by Shane at 6:10 PM on November 2, 2002


This all reminds me far too much of yesterday's Krugman:

The Pitt Principle
posted by billsaysthis at 6:56 PM on November 2, 2002


Word is lousy for writing books in, though. They don't have to be terribly large or complex for that to be obvious. Star Office is a mess in many ways, but it does work better for dealing with anything longer than about 20,000 words than Word, in my experience.

But the word processor market is not homogenous. People who write business letters have really rather different needs from technical authors, who in turn want different things to PhD students, and to novelists. It's not surprising that Word is not the best product for everybody all of the time.

<signed> still misses Ami Pro
posted by alloneword at 1:10 AM on November 3, 2002


MidasMulligan: Microsoft has the knack of attracting, and keeping, some of the smartest people on earth ... it is powerful because it understood early on that IT always ultimately reduces to pure brainpower. It invests in talent that is simply damn good. And they focus on product.

You must be speaking of a different Microsoft. I deal with them on an almost weekly basis. Most of the "engineers" in their field organization are not capable of doing anything more complicated than adding simple sums on their fingers without needing to seek "escalated help." In Redmond, anyone below Product Manager is liable to be too (a) burnt out, (b) simple minded, (c) pissed about not getting paid benefits, or (d) all of the above, to be of much use. As far as I am aware, my company is their largest customer outside of the United States federal government, in addition to being VARs and development partners on products. If this is the best they can do for us, I shudder to think what smaller companies than mine are seeing out of the Gatesian Empire...
posted by JollyWanker at 11:19 AM on November 3, 2002


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