* Posts by Charles King

133 posts • joined 23 Nov 2007

Catholic priests, scientists head to Rome to ponder alien life

Charles King


"The real threat would come from the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, because if there are beings elsewhere in the universe, then Christians, they're in this horrible bind. They believe that God became incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ in order to save humankind, not dolphins or chimpanzees or little green men on other planets."

This guy obviously hasn't spent much time hanging around religious people. If we found proof of extraterrestrial intelligence it would take the average Jesuit less than a couple of hours to integrate it fully into Catholic dogma and provide copious biblical references that (when interpreted correctly) show that Moses prophesied it thousands of years ago and that the parable of the Good Samaritan actually refers to two-headed beings from Betelgeuse.

All successful religions owe their success to being flexible.

Electronic ink: The whole story in black and white

Charles King

Resolution is the key

You missed the real problem with colour eInk - resolution.

A colour eInk display requires 4 separate cells (RGBW*) for each pixel, and each cell needs to have at least 4bits of scaling to produce marginally acceptable colour. Now, current eInk displays on the market have 4bit displays at a res of 166dpi for a 6" screen (200dpi for 5", 150dpi or less for larger sizes). Divide that by half for the 4-cell pixels and you get 83ppi, about 30% less resolution than current LCDs and far too little for decent text at 12pt. The 166dpi of current eInk readers is 'good enough' to display small text when combined with greyscale aliasing, but going down to half the res would produce a pixellated mess that isn't going to sell.

So, the big challenge is to increase the resolution of the screens, something which requires a major upgrade to manufacturing and quality control techniques that no-one's cracked yet. I'm sure we'll see low-res colour epaper screens used for point-of-sale and other sorts of displays, but it's a while still before someone will come out with a colour device that will be comfortable to read for long periods while a foot away from your nose.

*As for the filters, they're RGB because the actual reflective surfaces are either white or black and the filters lie over them, so you need to use transmissive filters which shine red light on the white balls for a red dot, etc. Ink on paper works differently since the ink only reflects part of the spectrum, whereas eInk balls either reflect all of it or none. If they were able to create cells with different pigments then they'd be using CMYK, but that would need some very costly manufacturing. The W is a white, or clear cell that's needed to increase the contrast.

Fancy winning a million quid from NetApp?

Charles King

I must be thick or summat...

...'cos I don't get it.

NetApp 'guarantees' that you'll get 50% storage savings, and if you actually *do* achieve that, then they'll give you £1M worth of gear?


Has their marketing dept. realised that ridiculous offers like this just make them look like a dodgy spam merchant?

Microsoft pimps bogus Windows 7 'launch parties'

Charles King
Thumb Up

Penguin Rock

@By That Awful Puppy



Windows 7 versus Snow Leopard — The poison taste test

Charles King

Program Launcher

Having both a Mac and a PC, I agree that the Dock is definitely superior as task switcher. The problem is that it's designed as a program launcher as well, and Windows' start menu is far superior in that department once you load up your machine with a load of small apps (as I inevitably do). There are clunky ways around the Dock's limitations by dropping your Apps folder on it, but I still end up launching apps by typing the name into Spotlight far too often. The Dock is very slick and elegant for those who use only a small number of apps, but just can't handle the range of stuff I like to have installed in case I need it.

I was a long devotee of the classic win2k style on XP, but Win7 has won me over to the new style.

Google Book Search - Is it The Last Library?

Charles King
Thumb Down

Stop whining

FFS. If you want to make another library, all you need to do is go and scan the books. Then you need to deal with the legal hassles and the predictable whines (like this article) that have become so tedious.

I used to wonder if the Google Book Settlement was the right way to do things. But after reading all the bullshit that been spouted against it I'm certain that it's absolutely essential. Only the Orphan Works legislation comes anywhere near close in the Internet garbage-blogger stakes (as evidenced by the ignorant AC comment above).

Hewlett Foundation ponies up cash for Wikipedia

Charles King

Paying contributors = Fail

There are enough problems with editing wars on Wikipedia, make a copy of the model where money is thrown into the mix and all hell would break loose. There would certainly be a lot more incentive for people to game the system.

If you're going to pay contributors, then you need to spend a lot of money to work out exactly who you should be paying, and might as well just set it up as a regular commercial encyclopaedia. Oh wait... those failed, didn't they? :p

OpenSUSE defaults to KDE

Charles King

Let's see, shall we

The article announcing that Win7 would ship in Europe without IE got 129 comments - and that's for a change in the browser alone.

OTOH, a major Linux distro changing it's entire default UI? I guess this will get 5 or 6, perhaps 10 if you're lucky...

US bank deposits checks via iPhone camera

Charles King

Am I missing something?

So, what's to stop someone making high-res scan of a legit check, Photoshopping it to add a few hundreds (in words and numbers, easily done), then 'cashing' it via a relatively low-res camera-phone. Printers spent a lot of effort designing checks that would resist tampering, but if the bank is ready to accept crappy low-res camera-phone pics, then surely there's a whole load of dodginess just waiting to be exploited.

Court filings are protected by copyright, says lawyer

Charles King

@ Chris Alpha

"It wasnt supposed to be used for anothers commercial gain"

"it's about companies sponging"


Fair use != companies making a fat buck off your efforts. These arguments need to be made freely available on a non-profit basis.

El Reg space paper plane christened Vulture 1

Charles King

I hope you realise...

Whatever method is finally decided upon, it's mandatory that it involve rubber bands in some form.

No rubber bands = instant fail.

Microsoft gets personal on Windows 7 "show stopper" bug

Charles King

The problem is with WinPE

The real problem here is that this bug is effectively unpatchable for people who use their Windows 7 install disc to boot in order to perform repair operations, a scenario in which it is entirely possible to want to run chkdsk /r.

Basically, we have a situation in which the standard recovery environment is unsafe even for those who've read all the manuals, since chkdsk is not generally regarded as a dangerous operation which needs special drivers (as long as you don't yank the power cord halfway through).

The RTM is done, so MS needs to fix this and provide a way for people to create a new, patched repair disc.

Ridley Scott signs up to direct Alien prequel

Charles King

Ageist comment alert!

"will we see Sigourney in her knickers again?"

Are we talking about the Sigourney Weaver born in 1949 here? The depressing thing is that makes me realise how old I've got myself...

Yeah, despite all the mucking-around they've done with the franchise there are enough plot holes in the films to let them graft all sorts of stuff onto it. Scott's films have been hit-and-miss ever since he decided to go mainstream, let's just hope we get the Scott who did Thelma and Louise and not the one who did G.I. Jane. And if he insists on bringing along Russell again for a drinking-buddy I'll have to throw something.

Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble - and why it's flawed

Charles King

Dazed and confused

You can't compare a WAU price that's based on a user buying a *new* PC with a *new* Windows7 OEM license to the upgrade price that will be paid by users who have *old* PCs with *old* OEM licences of XP or Vista. Your comparisons simply don't make any sense.


User buys new PC

User buys new OEM Windows7 licence

User spends some more money to upgrade to a higher tier of the OS

User still has their old PC and OS.

Retail upgrade:

User sticks with old PC

User bought an OEM XP or Vista licence a few years ago and it's still attached to the old machine.

User now spends a bit more than the WAU price to upgrade to Windows7.

You just can't compare WAU and retail upgrade prices, they affect 2 completely different sectors.

As for Apple, they're winning at the high-end, and are just becoming stronger in the >$1k segment each year. Cutting price is not going to affect that section of the market. And, obviously, people tempted to switch to Apple are looking at buying a whole new (and expensive) machine, a comparison of Family Packs is irrelevant.

Where MS fails badly is in the 'limited time offer' department. Their pre-order offers for Windows7 sold out in the EU in about 10 minutes and that sort of trick just makes customers angry. The Family Pack Offer needs to be permanent. Playing marketing games with your pricing just annoys consumers and leads them to look elsewhere.

Apple says jailbroken iPhones endanger cell towers

Charles King
Jobs Horns

I don't BELIEVE it!!!!

What, no comments about the Blue Box????


"Some of the more famous pranksters were Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, founders of Apple Computer. "

Sheesh, you kids need to pay attention in History and stop texting.

Of course, GSM security is based on a lot more than access to the client-side radio and Apple's response is pure bullshit. They want to stop jailbreaking because they want to protect their $$$$ app income, pure and simple.

Maybe when Steve was busy making free calls on the BlueBox Woz made for him he was careful not to inhale?

Bill Gates: Tough US immigration stance a 'huge mistake'

Charles King
Gates Horns

The human says no

'"It has always come back to the idea that 'the computer knows too much about you.'" Gates said.'

No Bill, it's always come back to the idea that this information will inevitably be abused and that any government and its associated State agencies aren't fit to manage it in a manner consistent with a free society, let alone maintain it securely.

Of course MS is licking its lips at the huge payday represented by idiot ID card schemes that would allow them to leach huge amounts of money from the taxpayer. India may have lots of smart people, but it also has millions living in abject poverty who would be far better served by spending this money on basic services and healthcare. So much for Bill's saintly aura of philanthropy, his words leave a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Microsoft airbrushes anti-Apple ad

Charles King

OSX secure? Are you on drugs?

"that is stable, secure, and works much better"

"You don't need 'malware' protection"

OMG, I see the Apple fanbois are STILL claiming OSX is more secure....

Have you lot been living under a rock for the past year?

My MBP is sitting on my desk right next to the monitor for my PC. I like it a lot, but Apple needs to go a long way before I'll regard it as secure as my fully locked-down PC.

Yorkshire cops accused of copyright theft

Charles King

Mel is right

FTS is going far out on a limb trying to mount a case based on database rights. To quote OutLaw's article on database rights: 'In order for copyright protection to arise the selection and/or arrangement of the contents of the database must be original. A special test of originality applies in relation to databases created after 27 March 1996. Such databases are original "if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author's own intellectual creation".' I assume the Yorkies have rearranged the data a bit for their software.

OTOH, the contents of the database (which is what's really at stake here) are clearly Trade Secrets. This attempt to use Copyright instead suggests that FTS badly messed up the wording of their EULA.

MySociety denies role in Blears sacking

Charles King

Not exactly lighting up the IP stacks

"27 comments were left on 13th May..."

Not a particularly active site then. In fact that's a rather embarrassing revelation to make as it suggests that the site's users are either rather apathetic or (more likely) not that numerous. I've seen more daily comments on obscure tech blogs.

Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble opens door to Linux

Charles King

$52 retail = $34 wholesale

"Leaked copies of Windows Vista Starter Edition are available for $52."

Uh, yeah, sure....

The Vista Starter Edition licences that MS sells to OEMs will consist of nothing more than a serial number printed on a COA. Selling these at retail along with media and packaging will result in a markup of at least 30%.

MacBooks afflicted with SATA 'degrade'

Charles King

They sure will notice

"the only places people are going to notice is in the benchmarks"

Uh, no. People using SSDs are seeing a 50% decrease in sequential read and write performance. Anyone copying large files on or off the drive will notice markedly poorer speeds.

'Alien' lifeform wakened from 120,000 year Arctic slumber

Charles King

To do this properly...

they should have revived it in a lab appropriately placed somewhere on the ice cap, then sent back a message saying, "...another lab tech has come down with this mysterious illness, and Dr Jones is complaining of headaches and acting strangely..." before cutting off all radio contact.

Of course, there is the chance that plans to surprise the troops when they arrive and have a good laugh might go horribly wrong...

Behind Microsoft's IE-free, Windows-for-Europe ploy

Charles King
Thumb Down

Opera can go...

If they want their browser to gain market share, they can go do the hard work (marketing and distributing it) themselves. MS isn't stopping them from going and making deals with OEMs to preinstall their software. But no, they seem to think they should get a free ride and have MS do the donkey work for them. Well, screw Opera, I'm with MS on this.

MS are no saints, sure, but their monopoly doesn't oblige them to market competitors' products for them.

Plague of web bugs descend on British sites

Charles King

The 1990s called....


Spot on.

SQL injections were big news 10 years ago. The fact that this sort of simple attack is still working on major websites just boggles the mind.

Inside USB 3.0

Charles King

FW is fast enough to dump all your RA in a couple of minutes

I see no-one has mentioned a fundamental problem with firewire - it bypasses any attempt at providing physical security:


As Callum and Franklin Williams have pointed out, high-speed 3.2Gbps FW has been around as a finished product for a year. But good luck finding anything that uses this standard. FW is dead, get over it and stop whining.

Microsoft set to reveal Windows 7 pricing mid-June

Charles King

Other options

The retail Vista prices were too high, if Win7 costs more at retail there will be plenty of angry posts from enthusiasts. OEM isn't an option since I expect to be swapping the MB/CPU in a year's time and don't want to buy it again. People with the Win7 beta will probably get to be able to buy the Upgrade package, that was the 'discount' MS provided to those who had run the Vista beta.

Luckily, there are other options that are nominally legal ('this isn't a production environment, no sirree, ...") and won't involve running dodgy Chinese boot loaders that might get locked out by an update.

Those who are prepared to spend too much of their time hacking the OS are already running Ubuntu, the retail price of Win7 will only really impact decisions on whether to stick with XP/Vista or upgrade.

British court backs eBay piracy stance

Charles King

when counterfeit != fake

eBay 'Sandisk' cards are notorious, and I'm not surprised there are similar problems with phones.

But clothing and luxury goods brands make things worse for themselves with their dodgy notion of 'counterfeit'. In many cases a 'counterfeit' item is one made in the same factory and to the same standards, but simply designated for a different market and priced accordingly. I'm sure those who are out of nappies will remember the famous case between Tesco and Levi, which merely revolved around Levi's desire to see its goods priced at a heavy markup. This is why my sympathy for L'Oreal and others of their ilk is zero.

Unfortunately this dilutes the notion of counterfeit goods. Is a 'counterfeit' item simply a grey-market good that's cheap because it was priced for a different market, or is it a worthless rip-off? Electronics items whose true value can only be determined after purchase are something to avoid on eBay, though I've bought plenty of simple accessories that worked perfectly and saved me the price of a brand-name. OTOH if you want a fancy handbag, only a fool would buy anything other than a knock-off.

Billy Bragg: Three-strikes lobbying is 'shameful'

Charles King

The bubble has burst

Recorded music was a huge bubble. It trotted along making reasonable revenues at a steady pace until the industry really took off in the mid-80s with the CD, leading to a doubling of annual revenues over 15 years.

All that's happening now is that the bubble has burst and revenues are declining back to a more realistic level. Recorded music has long since passed saturation point, it is not a growth industry, and the RIAA just needs to face reality.

Pirate Win 7 ruse used to build botnet

Charles King

Show a little sense and check what you download

If you DL build 7100 through a torrent, check the md5 of the ISO against the widely-published hashes of the originals. Very easy to do.


MD5: 8867C13330F56A93944BCD46DCD73590

SHA1: 7D1F486CA569EFFFFB719CFB48355BB7BF499712


MD5: 98341AF35655137966E382C4FEAA282D

SHA1: FC867FE1AB2E0A9796F9E4D155B44EA6998F4874

Canon PowerShot D10

Charles King

not wide enough

For good shots underwater you'll want something that goes a lot wider than 35mm. Even in shallow water you need to get pretty close to coral etc in order to pick up the colours properly.

Firefox users caught in crossfire of warring add-ons

Charles King
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ABP already inserts its own whitelists

This spat has prompted me to take a closer look at the ruleset actually installed by EasyList (the default ABP subscription). Hello, there's a reasonably large section devoted to whitelisting sites, some where blocking ads would presumably break the content, but others just seem to enable ads for the sake of it. I wonder what it takes to get on the EasyList whitelist? I have no doubt that there are some larger sites who'd pay good money to know that their ads won't get blocked.

Maone did some naughty things, but he's confessed and apologised. Palant and Ares2 seem to be playing a game that's a bit more sinister though.

Windows 7 — It’s like Vista, only less annoying

Charles King
Gates Halo

Teh Snappy

"What's the gain over XP?"

After having used the Win7 beta for close to 4 months and having loaded it up with a large amount of stuff, it's still as fast and responsive as when I first installed it. My XP partition, however, creaks and groans under the weight of all the junk I've thrown at it.

What does Win7 offer? A faster, more useable interface. That is exactly what an OS should be doing.

Beeb pushes major new iPlayer release

Charles King
Dead Vulture

Get a proper ISP and stop whining

Another nail in the coffin of the fantasy that El Reg is read by people who know something about tech.

Anyone with any sense would have nothing to do with Virgin, which is only interested in competing with the dregs for the rank of worst UK ISP. There are a raft of decent Internet companies around, and I'm loving the new streams. I wouldn't call 832x468 @1.5Mbps 'HD' though - that's a bit of false advertising.

Homeless Frank and Microsoft's cookie-cutter PC campaign

Charles King
Dead Vulture

You need to reprogram your robo-writer

"One-size-fits all pricing, rigid brand policing, control of the channel" You're describing Apple here, did you get confused about which PC behemoth you were writing about? What happened to all the complaints about different versions of Vista at different prices?

Short bursts of The Reg at work increase your productivity

Charles King
Thumb Up

Bollocks to Bollocks

Temporary distractions are an essential aid to jolt your mind out of local minima and help you refocus to analyse the real problem.

Texas senator wants to ban Vista purchases

Charles King

What do you expect from Texas?

Remember, this is the State that gave us Dubya...

'nuff said

Are you from Texas too, Codge?

Atlantis trundles to Kennedy launch pad

Charles King

What happened to the Right Stuff?

No way would that short-ass pilot have got accepted into the programme in the good 'ol days. Chuck Yeager must be spinning in his grave!

Mine's the one with the fake military insignia.

Leaked memo says Conficker pwns Parliament

Charles King
Paris Hilton

Conficker = FAIL

Is "slow for most of the week" the best you (or Conficker) can come up with?




Doing a high-profile grafitto is the *very least* expected for any measure of acknowledgement, anything less is FAIL territory and means we can laugh at the dickhead who programmed Conficker. Good job on getting the media to spread the FUD though!!

Paris, because she's weeping at how pathetic Conficker is.

Blizzard: Game designers aren't Shakespeare

Charles King
Thumb Up

Praise tha Lawd!

Good to know that at least one person gets it!

I'm sick of people (<cough>Ars</cough>) writing that fancy narratives are the way to turn boring games into artistic masterpieces. Any game that relies on a 'compelling narrative' for its raison d'etre is irredeemably flawed. Games are there to be played, if I want a novel, I'll pick up a book.

Firefox exploit sends Mozilla into 'high-priority fire drill' mode

Charles King
Paris Hilton

FF lost the security crown long ago

'RESOLVED FIXED'? You guys should know better. The vuln will only be fixed once it's rolled out to all users using FF's automatic update system. Oh, wait, let me show my grandma how to compile FF...

The fact is that NoScript is the only thing keeping FF reasonably secure these days, and that heavily relies on users showing a decent amount of discretion, as it's easy to rig a website to lure people into enable scripts.

Opera, chrome, even IE8 on Win7 are probably better options if you go browsing dodgy sites.

Paris, because she's weeping over the state of FF security.

Microsoft 24 hours late with IE8 pwn protection

Charles King
Gates Halo


""one of the safer ways to browse the internet is by using IE8 on Vista or Windows 7" or use a Linux machine presumably."

A few years ago the Apple camp was saying exactly the same (with 'Linux machine' changed to 'Mac'). *Every* system and *every* browser is vulnerable. The only ptotection is having a team of devs who are willing to act fast to patch vulnerabilities as they are found. MS have shown that the 0-day vuln exploited by Nils didn't last 24 hours, which is more than Apple has done with Safari, or Mozilla with FF.

That's the only thing that counts. Thinking you're safe because you use Linux or Opera is just hiding your head in the sand.

Battlestar Galactica eyes 'technology run amok'

Charles King
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Full of sound and fury; signifying nothing

@Ron Christian:

Couldn't agree more. Seasons 4&5 have been a confused, but well-executed, mess. It became increasingly clear that Ronald D. Moore really had no idea where it was all going. As a writer, Moore is an excellent technician, but he lacks the fundamental vision needed to make things work on this scale. All his obscure hints and allusions turned out to be either empty or trite. The final episode was, "full of sound and fury; signifying nothing," to quote the Bard.

Juror tweets could force retrial

Charles King
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@El Reg Readers - FAIL

[quote]He has violated one of the rules of the jury system - all of the discussions of the jury and how they come to their verdict are supposed to be secret.[/quote]

Except... he didn't. And jurors in the US are NOT subject to restrictions of speech after they have disposed with their duty to the court. This would be because the US has inconvenient Human Rights like Free Speech written into their constitution , unlike the primitive democracies of Europe.

And the same goes for all the comments that ignorantly presupposed that he had Tweeted while he was still under jury restrictions. This article just goes to show how much the average El Reg reader needs to learn about basic human rights - {hint - acting like you're writing for the Daily Mail doesn't cut the mustard}.

I think this article takes the cake for an example of how an ignorant public which thinks itself clever can be enticed into betraying its basic authoritarian desires. El Reg readers: this was really pathetic, you need to hang your heads in shame.

Charles King
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Typical desperate lawyers

The appeal is garbage.

Both of the tweets were posted *after* the jury handed in its verdict and completed its duties. Neither displays any evidence of this guy's state of mind at the time the jury were deliberating, but are expressions of his reactions *after the fact* at a time when he had completely disposed of his duties as a juror. If your article had mentioned any evidence of him researching or discussing the case *prior* to handing in the verdict, that would have been grounds, but you don't.

As for the involvement of Twitter and your oh-so-witty 'Twit' comment - utterly irrelevant. It's no different to him talking to a reporter or going home and posting his reactions on a blog or forum. Last I heard, US citizens still have a right to free speech, and being a juror only means that right is curtailed during the trial, not after it.

Shouldn't you guys at OUT-LAW *know this stuff*?

Great Aussie firewall claims first victim

Charles King

We're next

If the NSPCC have their way this will happen in the UK as well.


"Dougal, Whatever you do don't click the red button"

eBay scammers work unpatched weaknesses in Firefox, IE

Charles King
Gates Halo

Where have they all gone?

So much for all the whining about the "insecure m$ HTML rendering engine" we saw in the piece covering IE8 a few days ago - IE8 is the only browser mentioned here which is *not* affected by the attack.

Having said that, I've been running FF with NoScript for years, and it's notable that the Mozilla dev team seems to be the only one actually doing something to fix this rather than bleating and pointing fingers.

MS coughs to hokey-cokey IE8 option in Windows 7

Charles King

Just sad, really

For a site that supposedly is read by techies, there sure are a lot of comments here from people without a clue.

Wolf is right - there's a difference between the browser and the rendering engines that are required by the OS. Deleting iexplore.exe *IS* deleting Internet Explorer. Sure, you can drag Safari to the trash, but try deleting WebKit on a Mac and see how far you go... All the underlying engines are essential for the operation of any modern OS. Trying to mix-and-match them is just asking for a support nightmare.

@null: If cost is a concern why aren't you already running Linux? MS sells a package deal.

Oh, and @Big, tattooed Fred: a Democracy *IS* majority rule - 50%+1 is all you need.

The EU has been right on many of their attacks on MS, but this 'browser war' nonsense has just gone on too long. Firefox has a 22% market share versus 68% for IE. The IE monopoly has been broken - those who still use it aren't doing so because they have no alternative.

IT admin stole students' nude Facebook pics, cops say

Charles King

Get a grip guys

UMass discovered that one of their techies was hacking into students' email accounts. The hacks were discovered by his supervisor and then verified by an outside consulting firm. That sounds like more than enough grounds for firing him. The whole business of nudie Facebook pics has nothing to do with it. Hacking into user email accounts is grounds for immediate dismissal.

IE8 for Windows 7 beta in 'reliability update'

Charles King


Windows Update on Win7 hasn't been working for me for a week now. /bitter laugh

I'm heartened by reading the Win7 blog boasting about all the thousands of bugs that they've fixed in the beta, because, nice as it is, it surely needs a lot of fixing.

MS warns testers to activate Windows 7 beta

Charles King

MS *wants* people to hack it

The point of enforcing activation now (even though TTBOMK beta keys are still freely available) is to goad hackers into trying to crack the activation system. This will expose any vulnerabilities ahead of the release of the retail version and give MS time to close the loopholes. XP's flaw was volume licensing (and a WGAcheck that could be simply redirected). Vista's was Royalty OEM licensing. MS would love to know what the flaws are in their current scheme before locking the system down for release.

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