Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Beating a Dead Parrot

I'm just curious... when was the last time a Microsoft analyst/reporter installed Office all by themselves? Apparently, it's been quite a while, because the behavior they keep calling a "kill switch" in Office 2007 is the exact same behavior that has been there for the last 6 years, since Office 2000. BetaNews tells us more:

Microsoft yesterday afternoon rejected the characterization of RFM as a "kill switch," citing that RFM does not completely disable Office. But reporters have counter-argued, if you can't save and you can't edit, that's as good as killing it, isn't it? The ensuing argument is starting to take on the characteristics of Monty Python's classic "Dead Parrot Sketch." Is Office dead, or is it just resting?


One problem, Microsoft's spokesperson told us Monday evening, is that reporters may be confusing product activation with product validation, the latter process taking place through the aid of a feature called Genuine Advantage. While some have pointed out in the past that Microsoft may be working to merge the two features together at some point, potentially endowing Office with the future capability of reducing functionality for Windows if activation is declined, others seem to be under the impression that this has already happened. It hasn't, BetaNews was told, and it might not happen for quite some time, if at all.

"Product Activation technology is not new to Microsoft Office, which has had Product Activation since Microsoft Office 2000 SR1," the spokesperson told us. "It is important to note the distinction between activation and validation. Failure to validate your copy of the 2007 Office system as being genuine does not result in moving to reduced functionality mode (RFM) or de-featuring the product. However, if the product is not activated, it will go to RFM after starting up a Microsoft Office application 25 times."

Beta testers might want to do a little investigating before they start "reporting" their bugs as feature changes. I haven't had a single problem with Office Activation or OGA, and I've used Office 2007 since Beta 1.

This is not news. The sky is not falling, and it's not going to slow the adoption of Office 2007 (I guess I was wrong, Joe). People may not like it, but they're used to Product Activation. The only ones that don't like it are the ones that have problems with using it, legitimate ("my activation file was corrupted") or otherwise.

In closing, Scott Fulton said it best:

The lack of new revelations about activation, however, may not end the argument, though it may yet somehow be prolonged. While significant problems with validation may persist, after seven years, there remains no evidence of a sinister motive behind the activation process. And that's what I call a dead parrot.

Well said.

Posted on Nov 21 2006, 04:55 PM by Robert McLaws
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  • This copy of NWiT is not genuine . Click the picture for NWiT Genuine Advantage validation.

    November 22, 2006 1:59 AM
  • wkempf said:

    "The only ones that don't like it are the ones that have problems with using it, legitimate ("my activation file was corrupted") or otherwise."

    Beg to differ.  Product activation, and nearly every other form of anti-piracy software, is something I have a big issue with.  This punishes the legitimate users (yes, activation IS punishment, no matter how nice you try and make it), while it does nothing to deter the pirates, which is supposed to be the purpose behind these schemes.  Don't have a connection to the Internet?  Oh, that's not an issue, you can call an 800 number.  Really?  Well, even if *you* consider this to be painless, I sure as the heck don't.  It's irritating as hell, at best, and is time consuming.  Not to mention it makes one feel like they're showing up to court to prove they didn't commit the crime they're accused of.

    In the mean time, the pirates circumvent activation with ease.  MS (and others) spend huge amounts of money to try and stay one step ahead of the pirates, but the pirates don't care and continue to crack the schemes invented.  Now not only is MS (and others) losing money to pirates (if you totally buy that argument, and I'm not sure I do, at least fully), but they are also spending money in a hopeless attempt to halt the ability of the pirates to crack the software.  This is just the wrong tactic to be taking.  And any MS developers (or others) who think user's aren't annoyed by this had better start listening to what the users are actually saying!

    November 22, 2006 8:46 AM
  • How does clicking through a wizard punishment? It's only an issue when it doesn't work properly and screws with legitimate users. I've installed hundreds of copies of WIndows an Office for clients, and have really only had an issue with it twice.

    So what is the tactic you think they should take instead? Make it open source? What other alternatives are there, if you're a corporation and want to protect your digital intellectual property? If you really don't like it, invent something better.

    November 22, 2006 10:28 AM
  • renso said:


    if windows vista is impossible  to crack.

    the crackers wil try to crack the validation code befor the vista cd is activated by the real owner. is it stil possible to use the validation key for this person or wil he have a big problem en have to prove he has a legitimate vista copy???

    December 12, 2006 2:44 PM