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Windows Vista To Take New Tough Line On Counterfeits

One analyst says Microsoft's new activation requirements will simply give legitimate users another reason not to upgrade to the new operating system.
"Why do you need two mechanisms?" asked Wilcox. "I think that [enterprise IT] management becomes much harder now. Microsoft's increasing the complexity of Vista, which decreases its appeal compared to XP."

"The process of setting up key management is really very straight-forward," countered Hartje.

The crackdown, she said, is necessary to protect users and Microsoft's OEMs. "We need this to protect consumers and partners. Consumers want to make sure they get what they've paid for."

Wilcox, however, sees it as a mistake. "Microsoft's making software potentially harder to use. I don't think it's a good move for them to make things hard when competitors are making things easier."

As examples, Wilcox cited the free or low-cost choices that users now have via the Web. "Web 2.0 is bringing change to how people consume technology, you have all this stuff that's available for low-cost or free. Contrast that to what Microsoft is doing on the desktop, putting potentially onerous safeguards on Vista.

"It's important for Microsoft to make Vista as appealing as possible. But how appealing is it when you go up to your new home and you have to undo five locks to get in the door and there are bars on all the windows?"

Wilcox also slammed Microsoft for scaling back Windows Defender's protection. "That means it's partly disabled. It means [bad] stuff can still get through. Either your priority is security, as Microsoft has repeatedly said, or it's not. There's no gray area."

On a counterfeit copy of Vista, Windows Defender will not be turned off, but only "severe, high-critical patches" will be provided, said Hartje. "Users will still see the other patches to show them what they're missing," she added.

In the end, said Hartje, Microsoft believes that the new measures of Software Protection are warranted, and won't impact legitimate users. "We don't expect that end users will see any of these issues," she said.

Wilcox sees it differently. "I don't believe it when Microsoft says this will benefit the customer. I can't imagine that the majority [of customers] are asking for this.

"Microsoft has two fierce competitors. Itself is the first, with 'good enough' [attitudes] and difficulty in convincing people to upgrade. The second is piracy.

"They may be going after one at the expense of the other."