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Windows XP won't work unless you tell Microsoft what it wants to know.
July 5, 2001 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Windows XP won't work unless you tell Microsoft what it wants to know. In Microsoft's valid attempt to prevent people from installing single copies of XP on multiple machines, they've created a scheme where XP will shut down in 30 days if you don't tell MS the configuration of the system on which it is installed. If you don't allow Microsoft to collect this information, your copy of Windows XP will simply stop working in 30 days. And even if you comply, your copy of Windows XP might still stop working at some point if you make a lot of changes to your PC's hardware... The company says its database of PC configurations won't contain any personal information, and will be encrypted so that nobody can misuse it. But Microsoft's bully-boy behavior in the marketplace hardly inspires confidence that it won't somehow exploit this information. Walt Mossberg must be becoming one of Microsoft's greatest nightmares - a non-geek respected by non-geeks in power lobbing serious digs from a highly visible and respected platform.
posted by dchase (70 comments total)

 
While what Microsoft is attempting is valid (insuring that multiple installs are not performed), this system is ridiculous. I don't believe Microsoft is going to find it is economically worthwhile to have the army of customer service reps that this sort of system would require.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:58 AM on July 5, 2001


It makes sense. Now that Mickeysoft has ninety-something percent of the market, they no longer need the market share boost that a lax attitude toware piracy provides. And with the desktop-apps market locked up, too, they don't really care how many people they piss off.

Of course, there will probably be a fairly easy to implement "fix" to the activation feature available even before XP comes out of beta, so this won't really stop people intent on piracy. And if the vaunted Free Market really works as it's supposed to, maybe the added annoyance will get Joe Average looking toward alternative platforms.
posted by Vetinari at 7:07 AM on July 5, 2001


The only real reason I went Imerialsoft in the first place was because I found Apple to be too mommy-ing in their hardware and software set up.

The more Imperialsoft veers in this direction, either in reality or just in perception, the more viable Linux and the like will become for everyday joes who just don't need that much involvement with Grosser Bruder Willam

posted by dong_resin at 7:08 AM on July 5, 2001


Drat.
Vetinari basically just said the same thing while I was typing.
posted by dong_resin at 7:10 AM on July 5, 2001


I'm inclined to agree with Vetinari. I think this will only really get the people practicing more "passive" piracy - Joe & Jane Q. Public who have 2 PCs at home & have always just bought one copy of Windows for both will suddenly find themselves having to buy 2 copies. Of course, anyone serious about piracy will probably just get a cracked version of XP from some FTP site somewhere. Given what a small percentage of people comprise the first scenario, and the fact that it won't affect the people in the second scenario, is it worth it for MS to alienate their customer base like this?
posted by zempf at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2001


Even if someone gets a "fixed" version of Windows XP, I can see Microsoft making it a pain to get updates for it....whereas all updates patch the "fix" so your back on a 30 day trial. As for the machine registration, the market value of such a database is priceless.
posted by samsara at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2001


Or heaven forbid, they simply won't upgrade to XP at all.
posted by melissa at 7:24 AM on July 5, 2001


You know, considering how often the best option for fixing something that's gone wonky is "reinstall your OS," this is a nightmare. I don't mind that Microsloth wants to protect its software from piracy, but I think they could have come up with a much better solution than this. I think about how many peripherals I have added (and later discarded) on my machine, and I think I'm going to skip Windows XP until they figure out a better way to protect their development investment.
posted by headspace at 7:26 AM on July 5, 2001


The reality is that most users — who buy PC's with pre-installed operating systems, and never upgrade before they buy a new system — won't even notice this "guilty until proven innocent" product activation scheme. As a hobbyist who has been making an effort for the last several years to be scrupulously honest with software licenses, I find this attitude unusually insulting, even coming from the Big M. I make massive hardware changes (swapping components between systems, upgrading peripherals, etc.) every few months, and doubt I've ever gone more than six months between deliberate Windows reinstalls. Microsoft could have made it simple for us hobbyists to stay honest; for example, they could have allowed a product deactivation to allow for reconigurations and upgrades. Without such a feature, I see less of a reason than ever to consider upgrading.
posted by harmful at 7:29 AM on July 5, 2001


Lest I forget, I believe Office XP already has this product activation boondoggle built in; here's an account of how one reporter had his coppy of Word deactivate itself at 34,000 feet. (And dammit, I tried to ensure that last one didn't double-post. Sorry.)
posted by harmful at 7:33 AM on July 5, 2001


Or heaven forbid, they simply won't upgrade to XP at all.

The reality is that most users ... buy PC's with pre-installed operating systems, and never upgrade before they buy a new system...

I think this is precisely what has Microsoft scared enough to try something like this. Not that many people or organizations upgrade as often as Microsoft releases new operating systems - if anyone has numbers on installed base market share I'd like to see them, but if I recall correctly, NT4.0 and W95/98 still dominate W2K and WME in terms of operating systems people are actually using. Microsoft already got their money from those users; there's no guaranteed recurring income there.

During the PC market boom of the last few years, Microsoft could count on its restrictive agreements with (and general corporate bullying of) OEMs to get new versions of Windows out in the world. But with that market slumping, they need other ways to keep the cash cow fed. Apparently some committee of MBAs deep within the empire had the bright idea to make the company's flagship product crippleware.

It doesn't appear that the decision took into account the extreme elasticity of demand on OS upgrades. OS upgrades don't provide the same feature-boost that app upgrades do, so there's less incentive for users to do it. Maybe they're banking on their new poor-substitute-for-Aqua chrome to push units out the door.

You know, the more I think about it, the less annoying and more amusing this move is. :)
posted by Vetinari at 7:48 AM on July 5, 2001


I agree with harmful. I upgrade my hardware and reinstall my OS on a regular basis. If M$ was truly concerned about piracy, there would be a deactivation procedure so that you can move the OS to another computer. What could it hurt? Once the OS is deactivated you'd only have 30 days to use it or move it anyway!

I just can't believe how M$ is resorting to nagware and crippleware which won't stop the hardcore pirates anyway. They'll just download a corporate ISO somewhere.

This is a real shot in the foot for Microsoft, one can only hope! Exactly why I'm giving XP a wide berth... my Win2K runs just fine.
posted by Maxor at 8:03 AM on July 5, 2001


Um are you sure that it's every 30 days? I think the reporter might have got it wrong, it's only in the first 14 or maybe 15 days that you need to activate the product, after that it shouldnt be a problem.

Now I have one question, what about the computers that are not connected to the internet? How do they activate/register their XP install?
posted by riffola at 8:06 AM on July 5, 2001


Of course, none of this has actually happened yet. Microsoft's modus operandi has always been to announce a new product's controversial features a few months prior to it release, to gague public sentiment. If there's enough vocal support against this feature, I wouldn't be surprised to see them back off. (See our recent Smart Tags discussion, and recall the concern over Intel's Pentium ID feature.)
posted by jpoulos at 8:12 AM on July 5, 2001


my Win2K runs just fine.

So does mine..and my Red Hat 7 runs even better. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2001


All the product registration in the world isn't going to save MS if they keep putting their release candidates on publicly accessible servers.
posted by darukaru at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2001


As for the people saying "then don't upgrade!"... well, that only works up to a point. Microsoft is notorious for dropping support for older versions the moment a new one comes out.

Example: Where I work, we're actually not so good in the licensing department, so I've made a decision to clean that up. We have all our Windows licenses (somewhere), but I think we've got about 3 Office licenses for the building, and it's on every computer. So I made a call and tried to order some Office 2000 licenses.

You can't get them anymore. It's not possible. You have to buy Office XP licenses. Fortunately, however, OXP licenses will work with O2K in the government "open license" program. Smaller users won't be so lucky, though. If they're not selling 2K licenses anymore, I doubt they're selling the boxes either.

If you already have a copy of the older version, then that's great. There will come a time, though, when there's some piece of hardware or software that comes out that won't work unless you have the latest OS.

MS is notorious for all but requiring upgrades.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:52 AM on July 5, 2001


Folks, I think there may be some confusion here.

Your computer examines your hardware, using things which have not been revealed, and then hashes all that information together to create a single number which is sent to Microsoft. From that Microsoft can't derive your system configuration.

But they can, and do, pass that through their own hashing function and return to you the output. This gets lodged in your registry, and without that number your OS will refuse to work after 30 days.

There is no "reporting your system configuration" going on. That doesn't happen.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:08 AM on July 5, 2001


You know, maybe I'm missing something here, and I might be horribly naive...but isn't this whole "licensing" scheme a bunch of bullshit? I mean, I've paid for the damn program - what makes them think that they have the right to dictate how I'll use it?
posted by solistrato at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2001


> what makes them think that they have the right to
> dictate how I'll use it?

Naked power?
posted by jfuller at 9:32 AM on July 5, 2001


Yet another reason to buy a Macintosh.
posted by spilon at 9:39 AM on July 5, 2001


That's the thing -- according to them, you HAVEN'T paid for the program, you've merely paid for a license to use the program. I've never actually read through one of those EULA (scroll down a bit, click "I Agree", yadda yadda yadda), but I'm sure language exists in there that "Microsoft reserves the right to change this license at any time."
posted by zempf at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2001


Geoffery Moore recently said in his book "The Gorilla Game" (and I'm paraphrasing here) that it would take more money than there is in the world to engineer Microsoft out of the workplace and the personal computer market.

And I thoroughly believe him, since Windows is one of those rare cases in which a company owns a proprietary system that you are forced to use if you want to interact with anyone else (as opposed to something like disk drives, which everyone can make).

A classic gorilla if I've ever seen one, so just try to switch to Apple or Linux, or even hold off upgrading, at one point or another you'll still be using Microsoft.
posted by MarkO at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2001


I feel like I'm in the HOV lane of the computing world. I see all the car wrecks and traffic, but for the most part, I don't have to deal with them myself.

Sorry, everyone. Don't hate me because of my OS.
posted by jragon at 10:07 AM on July 5, 2001


solistrato:I mean, I've paid for the damn program - what makes them think that they have the right to dictate how I'll use it?

By the fact that you entered into a contract with them where you gave them money and agreed to the terms of the contract in exchange for being able to use their property.

Software is intellectual property, not a physical product. It's written instructions for a machine to follow, just as a play is written instructions for actors to follow or music is written instructions for musicians to follow. There is a well established history of making distinctions between the physical and intellectual in terms of both commerce and law. Tracking the transfer of physical objects pretty much takes care of itself (you either have it or someone else does. If you sold it to them, they own it. If they just took it, they stole it). The standard accepted practice for trading intellectual property revolves around licensing. You buy a license from a playwright to perform her play X times (or to pay Y for every performance - the license determines the compensation). With software you buy a license to run the software on a given number of computers. You don't like the license, don't buy the software (or make a big enough public stink that the vendor changes the license terms, which was my intention with this post).

Steven Den Beste: From that Microsoft can't derive your system configuration

If MS can't determine what specific hardware you have on your system from the generated number, then why would the OS stop working if there are certain hardware changes? Obviously the number can be linked a specific system configuration - and is decrypted on a regular basis by the OS to check the hardware the OS is installed on - otherwise the whole scheme wouldn't work. Now, I do honestly believe that MS doesn't intend to back out and use system configurations from the registration numbers they keep in Redmond, and that it is probably very impractical for them to do so. But I'm uncomfortable with MS collecting and having information that they could later use, regardless of their current intentions.
posted by dchase at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2001


Yet another reason to buy a Macintosh

With all due respect: Blah blah fucking blah!

As much as I hate Microsoft, Apple was so stingy with its OS you had to buy all your hardware from them, too. And if Apple hadn't so completely mismanaged its business for so many years, and had the market share that Microsoft has, they'd be doing exactly the same thing.

That company is seen as an underdog, but it's a completely artificial underdog. It's not David to MS's Goliath, it's a second Goliath that was just too stupid to show up at the fight. (Or an analogy similar to that, but that makes sense.)

The only viable option, if the Courts are going to let Microsoft remain intact, is open source.
posted by jpoulos at 10:27 AM on July 5, 2001


You might want to throw a couple "In my opinion"s in there, jpoulos.

Let me paraphrase for you: "The only viable option I'm willing to look into is open source".
posted by jragon at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2001


dchase, as I understand it what happens is this:

They're using what amounts to an asymmetric cipher. They've never said what numbers from your computer they are using, but among other things every hard disk has a unique serial number and every ethernet card has a unique serial number.

What they do in the OS is to take those numbers and hash them into short digit strings which are concatanated together. You call in by phone (or connect via the Internet) to Microsoft and give them the result, and they run it through their side of the cipher using their private key, and give the result back to you for storage in your registry.

When the computer boots and the operating system starts to run, it collects those numbers again, runs the values from the registry through the public part of the cipher, and compares the results. If they are not too dissimilar, the OS will start. If they bear no resemblance to each other, the OS will tell you that you need to register again. This prevents you from using the values gotten by phone in multiple computers.

When you registered, you also privide a serial number unique to the copy of the OS you were using. That gets logged, so that if they see the same one used a bazillion times then they will refuse to permit it to register again.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:49 AM on July 5, 2001


By the fact that you entered into a contract with them where you gave them money and agreed to the terms of the contract in exchange for being able to use their property.

Although, if you buy a PC, then choose not to use Windows, the very act of booting for the first time, in order to read the EULA and decline its terms is regarded as a tacit acceptance. And even if you use a boot floppy to reformat your drive, and return the media and manuals for a refund, MS will tell you that your contract is with the OEM, and your OEM will tell you that their contract with Microsoft prevents them from issuing refunds.

This is one example of the feudal licensing policy within the software industry.

The underlying irony: were it not for the PC platform's highly interchangeable and upgradeable hardware, Microsoft would most likely have struggled to compete against Apple. Now they have a stranglehold on the market, that versatility is treated as a threat.
posted by holgate at 10:50 AM on July 5, 2001


One thought: given that XP is likely to be one of the last full upgrades of Windows, as MS switches over to a rolling licence for Windows Upgrade, we may yet see a kind of micropayment model implemented through Hailstorm, especially if they put pressure on hardware manufacturers to implement unique identifiers across the board. Plug in a new video card? That'll be another $5 for the signed driver, please.
posted by holgate at 10:56 AM on July 5, 2001


How many changes do you have to make before it isn't the same computer? Reminds me of the old joke:

Guy: This hyar rifle done been in mah fambly 200 year.

Other guy: Gee, it sure is in good shape for a 200 year old
rifle

First guy: Ayup, done been rebarrelled twice and restocked three times an' mah grandaddy replaced th' lockwork in 1908.
posted by jfuller at 11:03 AM on July 5, 2001


It hardly seems logical for Muckrosoft to close up like this at this particular time. Steve Jobs is a little bit out of his mind, and if he decided to release OS X for Intel simply out of spite or some twisted Shakespearean vendetta complex, sometime in the fall when all these activation periods are starting to pop up, they could pretty quickly make a big dent. It wouldn't make too much business sense for Apple as a company, but SJ has been working for several years now to assert total personal control over the company, so maybe he could get it by the shareholders. Or maybe I am just fantasizing.
posted by donkeymon at 11:17 AM on July 5, 2001


Steven, read the thread ... nobody gave a damn whether a CPU or a human looked at your information (ooh, look, Hartung has a generic Ethernet card! ha ha!), they care about this mickey mouse verification scheme.

What about machines that don't connect to the internet? I'd like to know. Is Microsoft requiring me to buy a modem and pay for a telephone now?
posted by dhartung at 11:27 AM on July 5, 2001


What about machines that don't connect to the internet?

I seem to remember a mention of some kind of "call-in" method for non-internet verification. If such a procedure exists, you'd probably have to call those helpful people at Microsoft Tech Support, read them your gawdawful long hardware config checksum (and who knows what other info), and have them read you back some gawdawful long verification code to type into some dialog. It's bound to be at least as fun as trying to convince MS that you really do have a valid Windows license, you've just replaced your CPU.
posted by harmful at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2001


dhartung, read the article upon which this thread is based... you can register verbally (I guess by tty too) via telephone. Part of the article's (and my) concern is also what type of information about you is Microsoft capturing and storing.
posted by dchase at 11:50 AM on July 5, 2001


Derogation Tote Board:
A list of alternative terms referring to Microsoft used in this thread Suggestions for subsequent comments: posted by bradlands at 11:50 AM on July 5, 2001


Ok... let's put to rest some of the wierdness and paranoia.
Clearly from many of the comments most people don't have any idea how this works.

1) WindowsXP "fingerprints" your machine. You have a time period (30 days) to 'activate' the system with that fingerprint.

2) A unlimited number or minor changes is allowed and a small number of major changes without any direct user intervention.

3) It looks like a re-install of your system from scratch will come up with the same fingerprint, and that this will not require a new key.

4) You can get your key with a phone call, you DO NOT NEED a modem or a internet connection. So far, those phone calls take about 1-2 minutes, including hold time.

So far, this is what the beta program points to - I am not sure what the final release is like yet., but it is simply NOT as bad as you fear.

You might not like it - that's up to you... but at lease have some understanding of it.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:56 AM on July 5, 2001


From all the comments, I gather that if you simply replace your hard drive, the S/N generated that Microsoft gets, would change too much for them to allow the OS to be unlocked again. So they would say "no," and you would have to buy a new copy of the OS. Just because you changed your hard drive?
posted by norm1153 at 11:58 AM on July 5, 2001


What I find amusing about this - aside from the extraordinarily lame inferiority complexes that compell Microsoft OS users to insult Apple OS users everytime a debate about Windows comes up even when the Mac OS isn't a part of the discussion, as if Mac users gave a toss and two kitten barfs what Microserfs though - is the lengths to which people will go to bash, malign and otherwise verbally discredit Microsoft - and yet, all that sound and fury will mean nothing when Bill's Minions actually pass the Kool-Aid. This latest PR bash-up will encourage lots of shaggy, clueless Open Source types to start pontificating about the Triumph of Linux Over Redmond, but it's already clear that's not going to happen (the push for it burst with the dot.com bubble, don't kid yourselves). The real question to me is not should Microsoft somehow be slowed or stopped, but how in the world you could ever achieve that...
posted by m.polo at 12:00 PM on July 5, 2001


Personally, I'm not going to deal with the XP licensing on my home PC. My next OS change will be to Linux. No, it won't overtake MS right away, but this move is pushing that many more people over the edge (like me). I want my OS (and apps!) to stay out of the way. All this artificial restriction gets really annoying.
posted by daveadams at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2001


Macintosh (or another alternative) now! Anything but Microsoft.
posted by neuroshred at 12:08 PM on July 5, 2001


bradlands, you forgot my favorite: Micros~1.
posted by Vetinari at 12:10 PM on July 5, 2001


Hmm, so how log do you think that someone who refuses to upgrade and instead sticks with win98se or win2k can last? While I might choose to run a Mac a work, my home computer will always be a PC, and I'm not sure that I would need an upgrade anytime soon, M$ support be dammed. All I use it for is the inter-net and games, and games are looking boring these days. So, as long as I can use a decent web browser and a text editor for scripting, I could be fine for a while, the only other things I have on my HDD are mp3's and pr0n. Unless M$ licences those, I'm cool.

Grassroots anti-upgrade now!
posted by Hackworth at 12:32 PM on July 5, 2001


i think Microsmurf should just engineer a disk that bursts into flames after the first install. if you need another disk, you just mail in the ashes with the proof of purchase and they send you another one.
posted by ggggarret at 12:35 PM on July 5, 2001


soulhuntre: the points you state in your post are bad enough.
A unlimited number or minor changes is allowed and a small number of major changes without any direct user intervention.
what constitutes a small number of major changes? what is a major change? and why is it any of microsofts business?

While I'm certainly not narrow minded enough to expect everyone to be able to use Linux, i'm glad I do. I would LOVE to see Jobs release OSX for the x86 architecture. Simply something to realistically compete with Redmond.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2001


but it is simply NOT as bad as you fear

Yes, this license issue will realistically only adversely affect a small number of users. So, for most, it isn't that bad an anti-piracy scheme. But what if you've gutted your previously "activated" system and can't convince Microsoft that the old one, in fact, no longer exists? Microsoft still has your money, but you don't have an OS. What if you want to convert the already activated XP machine to Linux and put the XP OS on an old Win95 machine? Will MS be kind enough to let you do this?

Why does Microsoft's response to issues like this always seem to be "Oh, it's not so bad, only a few people will be screwed, but overall everyone will be fine." I'm sorry, but this is a bad thing. Imperfect license enforcement schemes with permanent results unless the vendor interferes are bad things.
posted by dchase at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2001


Which all calls into doubt design of a decent windows emulator on alternate platforms, for things like gaming and gaming and all that. Yeah emulators for windows gaming apps. All this if, of course, more games (and other apps) aren't ported to linux directly. Therefore, as long as MS is able to distance itself further with each new and redundant OS, it will stifle the ability of linux coders (correct term?) to write programs which enable linux users to use third party windows applications (i.e. games/linux can hold its own with any other type app after all).

Which one must to wonder, if MS plays it's cards "right", they may begin to put a flame under those third party software developers to begin phasing out support for their own 95/98/Me contingent products. "See third party software developer. . ."motions with outstretched arms, Ricardo Montalban style, "All these riches can be yours too if you allow Microsoft to lead."
posted by crasspastor at 1:44 PM on July 5, 2001


It would make more sense if they just used dongles. After reading SDB's comments, I began to think whether you would be able to run XP inside a virtual machine or something similar, then started to think about ways in which it could be temporarily cracked...then I realized how greedy I've become since I "illegally" copied my first piece of software (LHX by EA). But I do agree that this method is an insult and will make upgrading hardware a bit of a pain.

One thing I still wonder about is whether this will be the case for MS Select and corporate customers...not a single system's admin (including me) wants to deal with individual licensing when you have to deploy PCs in the hundreds or thousands...
posted by samsara at 1:57 PM on July 5, 2001


dchase: "Why does Microsoft's response to issues like this always seem to be "Oh, it's not so bad, only a few people will be screwed, but overall everyone will be fine.""

*ahem*
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:02 PM on July 5, 2001


third party windows applications

Huh? I don't know what you're talking about. All my applications are made by Microsoft. What is this place anyway? Is this MSN? Some IT support guy just came by and fooled with my computer and he left this IE open. What forum is this?
posted by daveadams at 2:08 PM on July 5, 2001


daveadams:

I mean software written by Sierra or Blizzard or. . .Those companies are not MS. Therefore, to my small mind at least, that makes software they produce "third party".

You don't have to be a prick. . .
posted by crasspastor at 2:25 PM on July 5, 2001


Whoosh! That sound you heard was a joke going right over your head, cp... dave was impersonating a clueless office drone who doesn't realize companies other than Microsoft make software.
posted by kindall at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2001


even so, Microsoft keeps buying third party developers (or trying to), again because applications can provide better recurring income on upgrade than operating systems.
posted by Vetinari at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2001


OS X for Intel

If this happen there will be no more MS Office products for the Mac. Ever.

A few things not mentioned in this thread is that most people will be calling MS after a minor system change. Swapping a drive is minor in my book, so that means more time on hold and dealing with a paranoid bureaucracy. To the home user this may not be a big deal but think of the waste of time and money this will be for business that decides to do a few dozen upgrades a week. "Yes boss, all the PCs are ready but the OS is disabled and I've been on hold for 1 hour." Hopefully it won't disable before someone gets a chance to send MS its much needed info through the net. Info that may or may not be a violation of privacy.

What about users who don't want deal with XP at all? Think how well of an 'upgrade' ME is and I'd prefer to stick with Win2k. Of course, MS can muscle OEMs to make sure XP is encouraged to be sold by playing with prices or by pulling Win2k off the shelves.
posted by skallas at 3:19 PM on July 5, 2001


but think of the waste of time and money this will be for business that decides to do a few dozen upgrades a week

This really is a home-user/small business only issue. As noted in the article, corporations with bulk licenses will be able to get copies without this hardware fingerprinting feature.
posted by dchase at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2001


Norm, they're not going to prevent you from doing a major upgrade. If your hardware fingerprint changes sufficiently that it no longer matches the key in the registry, then you have to call or register again. If you do that fifty times, they'll probably start asking you questions.

But if you do it twice, there's no problem. What they're trying to prevent is the one-sale-ten-thousand-computer scenario.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:50 PM on July 5, 2001


this happen there will be no more MS Office products for the Mac. Ever.

And this would be a problem because?
posted by Dreama at 4:17 PM on July 5, 2001


It would be a problem because corporate America certainly isn't going to buy a computer that is incompatible with Office.
posted by kindall at 4:20 PM on July 5, 2001


Kindall: and your point is?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2001


My point is, Mac are tolerated in most corporate environs because at least you can run Office on them. If Office goes away, IT departments will no longer be willing to put up with those weird Macs on their networks, which will be a crippling blow for Apple. I'd lay even odds that the company would survive it. It would be a shame if there was no more Macintosh, because then I'd have to move to Windows, with all that that implies: e-mail worms, security holes, a significantly less productive UI, a lack of user-level automation tools like I can get on the Mac. Simply doing without Word or Excel is not an option for the vast majority of people. (Certainly not for me.)
posted by kindall at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2001


Whoosh!!! Slamdunk!!!
posted by crasspastor at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2001


What they're trying to prevent is the one-sale-ten-thousand-computer scenario.

Actually what they're trying to prevent is the one-sale-a-couple-computer scenario. One person buying software, then sharing it with a few friends, or one small company buying software and then installing it on a couple of machines, multiplied by the number of households and small businesses that have PCs... well, we're talking big numbers. Small scale re-use is, indeed, a bigger source of lost revenue than bulk duplicators or big companies. Will Microsoft prevent someone from doing a major upgrade? Personally, I believe they would make it annoying as a matter of policy (as the implementation of fingerprinting demonstrates) and make it impossible as a matter of bureaucratic inertia (it's generally easier for a customer service rep to say no, especially if there's any doubt as to what they should do). This really does seem to be classic planned obsolescence - engineer the product specifically to make it easier to buy new than fix old.
posted by dchase at 5:07 PM on July 5, 2001


Kindall, I still don't see where the problem is. (grin)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:47 PM on July 5, 2001


this happen there will be no more MS Office products for the Mac. Ever.

And this would be a problem because?


That means no more Macs in business environments. Oh, you can't open Word files or use the Exchange server anymore? Welcome to your new Dell - at least it can run Photoshop and Quark.
posted by skallas at 6:58 PM on July 5, 2001


I wasn't saying it was a good idea for Apple to release OS X on Intel, a technology which they supposedly already have. It would be somewhat self-destructive of them, due to their dependence on MS Office for compatibility with the rest of the world. My suggestion was that Steve might do it out of spite. But, if Apple was able to develop or otherwise put forth a suitable replacement for the Office Suite of products, they might take the huge gamble and grab for some of MicroSoftie's OS marketshare. If people were able to dual boot MacOS on their PCs, they might be much more willing to give it a decent shot and even come to prefer it. If only Word files could be easily read by other applications!

I guess Apple would still be driving itself out of business by devastating their hardware sales.
posted by donkeymon at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2001


this happen there will be no more MS Office products for the Mac. Ever.

And this would be a problem because?

That means no more Macs in business environments.

And this would be a problem because?

[Back in your hole, Steve! Back! Back! Down, boy!]
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:02 PM on July 5, 2001


Kindall, I still don't see where the problem is.

The problem is, I would become only as productive as the average cubicle mole, and thus not worth the extra salary I currently command over Windows users. This would tremendously diminish my quality of life. I'm sorry if you don't see how that might be a problem for me. ;)
posted by kindall at 8:28 PM on July 5, 2001


you know, there is such a thing appleworks -- which can read and write word and excel documents (and i'm guessing that if XP support is not currently in -- the site says it can read "2001" documents -- it will be soon). now all you need is powerpoint (there has to be a mac equivalent for that, right?)
posted by moz at 10:25 PM on July 5, 2001


AppleWorks which can read and write word and excel documents

Sort of, as long as the Word and Excel documents don't use any features that AppleWorks doesn't have, such as (to pick an example not entirely at random, since this is the #1 reason I use Word and not something else) revision tracking. Naturally, AppleWorks won't run Word or Excel macros, either. AppleWorks simply isn't a superset of Office, so any import is bound to be lossy.

And there's just no e-mail program and personal information manager quite as good as Entourage, IMHO.
posted by kindall at 11:16 PM on July 5, 2001


The activation process.
posted by samsara at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2001


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