back to article Microsoft tightens grip on OEM Windows 8 licensing

A series of slides leaked online reveal information about Microsoft's new OEM Activation process for Windows 8, which is designed to make it more difficult to activate illegal copies of Redmond's latest OS. OEM Activation (OA) allows PC manufacturers to ship systems with Windows preinstalled and already activated, so that …

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Meh

Eventually, where there is a way there is a means......

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Agree. Though a bit out of context with the article  but will still state... Have used Win since 3.11 and also Linux for  15+ yrs since the days those kernels were  hand rolled. Did chk up on Win 8 Beta & RC and am afraid it's going to be a huge disappointment for MS and it's loyal fans and other corporate/ business users .

Ubuntu, Fedora with latest KDE Plasma desktop challenges Win 8 on most desktop OS attributes even on the eye candy  front. With most business apps moving to the cloud ( incl MS Off) and oth popular commercial apps vendors ensuring a port on Linux/*Lion,  the relevance of an expensive desktop OS will eventually fade away.. If MS does not discount Win8 like Apple did with Mountain lion (eg. US$20 license for  10 devices ) recently, then it will be soon goodbye Windows OS..( PS: lots of hackintosh users easily run Lion OS on Generic x86 systems - get one possible future scenario ?).

As many readers commented here,  this delusion with exotic licensing will not enthuse the current community nor will be hackproof for long....

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kb
FAIL

But will they want to?

WinVista frankly wasn't pirated much either...because nobody wanted it. Whether MS likes it or not its the pirate versions that teach all the fixit guys who then turn around and support their software. Talking to most of the little shop guys in my area they are figuring the same thing I'm figuring, that the only "support" they'll be giving win 8 is to wipe it off for Win 7, just as they did Vista for XP.

Remember that Win 7 is supported until 2020, has been hacked for years and passes WGA, and doesn't have that "LOL I iz a cell phone LOL!" Metrosexual UI so why would the pirates bother? Hell why would the public bother if they aren't buying a tablet or smartphone? MSFT can make as many flaming hoops as they want, remember Vista had a "black screen of death" antipiracy crap built in for a long while, didn't make either the pirates nor the public want the thing.

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SLAs anyone

I wonder what the penalty clause for oeminstall.microsoft.com outages is?

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Black Helicopters

I cant blame them

As much as I hate M$ (granted I hate crApple more) I will give them this....

They have a reason to be paid for their work. They deserve to be paid for their work regardless how shitty it may be. I may pirate something be it music or a game or whatever but I will PURCHASE it if I like it. I would rather not spend my dosh on something I am going to regret if I can avoid it. Read of that what you will...

Black helis since im pretty sure he RIA/MPAAss are probably looking for me now.

If I dont post here again Ill miss you guys and tell my mom I love her.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I cant blame them

Interesting reverse form of astro turfing. FAIL..

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Silver badge

Well you are overlooking something

Most people don't want Windows, but are forced into buying an OEM version of it with their hardware. A large percentage of OEM installs get wiped before even booting once.

What would be the way fairer solution is to ask the customer to pay for the license upon activation. So those customers who want Microsoft's products can do so without bothering the rest.

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Trollface

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Yeah, I am sure the 4.5 (people, not percent) that get rid of OEM and install Linux are really displeased about having to pay for it. Everyone else is really happy that their laptop does have an operating system on it.

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WTF?

Re: Well you are overlooking something

What do you mean "most people don't want Windows..." ?

And where you get the idea that "a large percentage of OEM installs get wiped before even booting once" is just bizarre, and is a fiction derived in your own mind.

I think you will find that most people DO want Windows, and don't want anything else, regardless of how unpalateable you may find that fact. Also it will be a tiny percentage that will wipe an OEM install, not a large percentage.

I am not sure how you have arrived at your views of what people buy and then what they do with their installations of Windows, but your views are patently at odds with the amount of Windows PC's at use in the office and at home. You would like reality and the facts to match the way you think it is, but they clearly do not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: *Many* People Don't Want Windows

Unfortunately (that's a point of view) most people do want Windows. In fact, to most people, it is synonymous with "PC."

That is how they got to be where they are today. Highly successful marketing to the masses was what made it happen in the first place. Highly aggressive business techniques, such as the "relationships" established with hardware suppliers ensured that it went on happening, and continue to maintain its monopoly position today.

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Devil

Re: Well you are overlooking something

In truth, most people (90+%) dont't give a red rat's ass what OS the laptop/tablet/whatever they are about to buy has. Only a few hobbyists and techies do. Indeed, most don't even know whan an OS is.

People buy computers to perform some particular task or set of tasks. If a particular computer accomplishes that well, that's the one they buy. Technical arughuments fall on deaf ears because they don't understand or, even if they do, don't care.

As far as the "Microsoft tax" goes, most people don't care about that, either. If a particular laptop costs $XXX(X) then that's how much it costs. What individual components (including the OS) cost is of no concern at all, just whether or not the end price fits within what they are willing to pay. Do you care what the software that runs the engine-control computer in your car costs? Do you care what software your digital camera uses or do you only care how well it takes pictures under your picture-taking conditions? Do you care which RTOS (if any) the manufacturer of your refrigerator, washer, dryer, heating and air-conditionong unit or other appliance with an embedded controller chose or do you just care if the appliance works?

To most people, a computer is an appliance, no more.

For the fanbois and linuxtards, I did wipe Windows and install Xubuntu. On the other hand, I am a techie and the tasks I wish to run happen to run much better under *nix/*nux than their Windows or OSX ports. Most people I know, however, are a different story.

I've been a user, developer, BOFH, DBA and lover of Unix and Unix-like systems all the way back to Bell Labs Version 7 Wrote a couple of purpose-specific RTOSs, too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well you are overlooking something

"most people"? err I think you're very wrong on that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 90+% dont't give a red rat's ass

No. They do. If they don't, then their children, or their spouse does. Even the percentage who won't even recognise that it isn't Windows will soon be wanting to know how to open their Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets ...or play their Windows games.

There is a generation of IT Managers that believes that they put Windows machines on the desktops. As far as I can make out from the ones that I have met, their egos are incapable of believing that it was not their decision --- but it wasn't. It was demand from the people who sit at those desktops. It was Microsoft that created that demand. Like pharma companies, in countries where direct advertising is permitted, make sure that people go to their doctors and ask for drugs by name, people demanded PCs and Windows. Unless they only use one, custom dedicated system in their job, imagine sitting someone in front of a dumb terminal today! [Can one even buy dumb terminals still? Not from Wyse, I don't think...]

Just an appliance? You mean like a car is just a car?

Another matter all together is that when people sit in front of Firefox, on my PC, it can take them a while to find out that they are not using a Windows machine! Usually, broadband engineers get foxed by the different behaviour of ping, and no ipconfig --- but until they get to that level, it all goes to show that my Gnome 2 desktop is far from mind-numbingly unfamiliar or difficult to a Windows user. And I'm sure we can rely on Mr Shuttleworth to come up with something as awful as Metro!

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Unhappy

Re: 90+% dont't give a red rat's ass

Exactly how is one to recognize it is Windows when the boot up the OS formally known as Metro???

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Meh

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Big companies tend to put their own image of OS on a machine instead of the preinstalled OEM version. Wonder how this new scheme is goiing to affect the bih companies.

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Facepalm

Re: *Many* People Don't Want Windows

*Many* people don't have a clue what's on their PC, they are just happy when it works and clueless when it doesn't

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Anonymous Coward

If I dont post here again Ill miss you guys and tell my mom I love her.

Well, she'll finally be able to clean the basement!

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

That's not strictly true. Big companies have enough purchasing power to tell the OEM not to install / charge for an OS at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I cant blame them

What Microsoft deserves is to die. It's not a company. It's a protection racket. I was thinking a long, painful agony but on second thought I'd prefer something quick and irreversible.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

Hey, I don't care if I'm the one (person, percent or just The One) but I haven't used Windows for years. And given that bash is so damned useful I can't ever see me *wanting* to use it.

What really pisses me off is the fact that Microsoft are trying to make the UEFI boot process impossible to Linux users -- ostensibly so you can have a virus free Windows install (now there's an oxymoron). If I pay for a piece of hardware I expect -- ney demand -- that I can put on what I want, not what some two-bit multinational says I can use.

So even if it is everyone else in the whole world, sod off and let me do what I want with *my* hardware.

Gits.

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Devil

Re: how is one to recognize it is Windows

Ironically, that's sort-of why I moved to Ubuntu 10.04!

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Facepalm

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Corporate installs?

We have our own images and buy our own licences, and I don't think we are alone in that.

Yet Dell still ship the machines with Windows pre-installed. Hoping that they don't actually end up double licensed by some magic or other, but as that isn't directly my problem I don't pay much attention.

Remember that home use remains a small proportion of PC sales.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

@RegGuy1

"What really pisses me off is the fact that Microsoft are trying to make the UEFI boot process impossible to Linux users "

Here's Fedora's take on that.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

"Hey, I don't care if I'm the one"

You're not ! - maybe we should have a Reg poll about OS use - has there been one ?

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Meh

Re: Well you are overlooking something

"I think you will find that most people DO want a laptop that works out of the box"

FTFY

People don't care what OS their hardware comes with, They just want it to work the way they expect it to.

Any installed OS that is correctly installed and configured will meet over 85% of the general populations needs.

The rest buy the hardware to meet a need, graphic design, games, engineering, server, etc., etc., and will of course want an OS that will let them do that.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

What Fedora are doing is actually a good thing, imo. The registration fee for a new key is trivial (US$99). What is significant is changing the kernel so that only signed modules can be run. That significantly increases security. Secure Boot makes Linux more secure just as it does Windows and for the same reasons. I expect to see Ubuntu follow suit sooner or later. I would actually prefer that they do it sooner as it makes everything more secure.

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Vic
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Re: Well you are overlooking something

> Secure Boot makes Linux more secure just as it does Windows and for the same reasons

No, "Secure Boot" makes no difference to LInux security, just as it makes no difference to Windows security. And for the same reasons.

It's all security theatre. Sadly, Fedora has been pushed into playing that game.

Vic.

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Thumb Down

Re: Well you are overlooking something

You miss the point. Our company has around 500 machines, about 200 came shipped with windows 7 and the rest Vista.

We flatline all on delivery and install XP from an image. None of them have an activation of Vista or Windows 7 against them and OEM waste their time bothering. We just don't support the OS because of legacy systems, nothing to do with Linux.

4.5, lol, that is just the number of machine I have. So what about all the other users out there?

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FAIL

Re: Well you are overlooking something

"What Fedora are doing is actually a good thing, imo. The registration fee for a new key is trivial (US$99)."

If you think using a MS server to validate your Linux key is a good thing then you do not understand Linux at all.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

"If you think using a MS server to validate your Linux key is a good thing then you do not understand Linux at all."

Thanks, but I've been using Linux for a long time (at least since 1997 as I remember installing SuSE Linux 4.4). There is nothing to stop Fedora, Ubuntu or a group of Linux distributions together, managing their own key. In fact, Red Hat looked into exactly that. But they found that it would cost millions to manage the infrastructure, keep an eye on what the different parties that wanted to submit things were asking them to sign, etc. So they decided to just buy a key from Microsoft because it was cheaper. There's no inherent difference in getting the key from MS. It doesn't give MS some kind of control over Linux. No more than if I buy a digital certificate from Verisign instead of setting up and promoting my own CA gives Verisign control of me. If I ever wanted to, I could go back to doing it myself or get one from someone else.

You say I don't "understand Linux". With respect, I've been using and programming on Linux for well over a decade long before all these pre-compiled distros were flying around. With respect, I think it's you who do not understand what signing the OS means. It's a good thing. If Fedora's distro cannot load unsigned code, that is inherently more secure than if it can. That's what the secure boot process is all about and why it exists.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

"No, "Secure Boot" makes no difference to LInux security, just as it makes no difference to Windows security. And for the same reasons."

There are actual attacks now found in the wild in which malware attempts to subvert the boot process. By attacking at this level before other secuity measures kick in, a machine can be compromised. Security software that runs at the OS level can't stop something that kicks in during the boot process, which is why Secure Boot is introduced because it can. Ubuntu are also implementing this, though they are going to route of making their own key.

I'm sure you understand the aim of Secure Boot and what it does, so why do you say that it makes no difference? I am interested.

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Re: Well you are overlooking something

OEMs like Dell offer non OS versions i believe.

And i would imagine about 99.9% of people want windows installed. however at lease 99.9% of people buying Windows 8 will want to remove it.

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Mushroom

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Powershell 2 is a lot more powerful and flexible than Bash if that is your reason for using Linux.

Microsoft actually require OEMs to ensure that you must be able to disable signed bootloader, if you choose to run a less secure OS.

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Mushroom

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Yes, its about time Linux caught up with Windows for security. Windows has actaully had fewer security vulnerabilites that were on average fixed faster than the 2 major enterprise Linux distributions every year since 2003....2002 being the year that Bill Gates set security as Microsoft's #1 priority.

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Ah-ha!

At last, the *real* reason Microsoft were making such a fuss about needing the new improved BIOS.

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Anonymous Coward

So...

"manufacturers will be required to write a unique Windows product key into the BIOS of each new PC, keyed to that particular computer's hardware."

Does this mean that any minor changes to the hardware, even more than now, will completely stop your version of windows working? If I change my hardware on my OEM box I can get a new activation key from MS. If there is a key in the "BIOS" (which I thought was being done away with) which is keyed to the hardware config then how does that get updated?

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Stop

Re: So...

Depending on how much hardware you change in a current installation of Windows, you may need to get a new key from MS. I would suggest that this situation will continue with the new methodology they describe too.

I have had to get a new key from MS before now, when re-building a PC with different hardware. The worst that I can say about the experience is that it was inconvenient as opposed to a show stopper.

It's worth noting that OEM versions of Windows are only licenced for the hardware they were sold with. If you want to build a new PC and re-use the licence, then you can't. You need a retail copy of Windows to be able to transfer the licence to a new PC.

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Thumb Down

Re: So...

"Does this mean that any minor changes to the hardware, even more than now, will completely stop your version of windows working?"

Fijutsu-Siemens used to do the same locking down already with Windows XP.

The windows serial key was tied to their mainboards. In other words, if the mainboard broke down you needed a new windows license, also no way to activate the key on any different box. Sounds very similiar, i assume it´s a move to screw the used-license market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think you are confused? Or I am.

OEM versions of Windows are tied to the machines with which they are supplied. If your licence is an authentication sticker in the machine, then that machine is the only machine you are licensed to use its supplied copy of Windows on. However, re-authentication (for XP, at least: my MS experience stopped there), even for a new motherboard, was a routine affair.

I'm sure MS would love to have you buy a new copy of Windows every time the motherboard battery gets changed --- but there are some things that even they can't swing. Well, yet, at least...

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Re: So...

I've had to re-activate Windows when I changed my hardware a few times. Once I had to do it on my mum's computer when I didn't change anything -- no explanation. In all cases, though, it was easy. They used to have you talk to a call center in India. The last time I read my key codes to a computer. In no case did it take five minutes.

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Pirate

Its all a spoof

Lets see now: Wireshark, ProcMon and Filemon and a lot of patience, on a valid unauthenticated machine, go thru validation process and determine appropriate files, communications, changes etc. Its even easier when virtual machines can be reset. ( Please don't even try to suggest that a process will not be written that can extract the unique serial number form OEM machines)

Scribble, scribble, tap tap, compile my friend compile, et voila, a dummy DLL, quick edit on "hosts" and Bobs your Aunty. OK, everything works but except for being able to update this "special" version of Windows.

Isn't that about the sum of what has been happening for the last 10 years.

Microsoft has a definite advantage by creating a system that can be quickly overturned, a pirate running windows is better than a pirate running Mac/Linux user after all.

PS : I also agree that MS should get paid but they should also produce software at a reasonable price. They would still make a profit at 50% of the current price.

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Re: Its all a spoof

The problem with altering/replacing any files involved with licensing, is that the files are going to be cryptographicialy signed. No valid signature, no running of Windoze. And what's the bet that the licensing is going to be in the kernel...?

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FAIL

Re: Its all a spoof

@Mouse

Microsoft have excellent programmers and engineers working for them. They have had the ability make their system extremely difficult to crack many years but they chose not to.

MS having been writing kernels for more than 20 years do you really imagine for a moment that they dont know what they are doing.......

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Trollface

Re: Microsoft have excellent programmers and engineers working for them.

Really? They do?

Petty they don't use them for programming and engineering...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Its all a spoof

Well maybe, but I doubt it especially with all the important files being signed these days.

To be honest, whilst it might be possible, its getting to the point where its just not worth the hassle. Even if you were to be able to get a running copy of windows, you still need to jump through hoops every time you want to install some other microsoft program, or install a critical security update.

Its getting to the point of being crunch time, if you want to use windows on a PC, pay up, otherwise use linux. Or just dont use a PC anymore....

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Mushroom

Re: Its all a spoof

Licensing is unlikely to be in the kernel. This would break the hybrid microkernel architecture that is one of the main kernel design advantages of Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

And if I don't want Windows?

Will I be able to demand my money back or will I be forced to pay the Windows tax?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_refund

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Happy

Re: And if I don't want Windows?

Same as if you buy a Mac with intent to run another OS on it....

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