James O'Neill's Blog

February 11, 2010

Windows 7 activation update.

Filed under: Security and Malware,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 6:11 pm

Over on the Windows blog there is a post talking about the update we are about to send out which is designed to catch some of the tricks being used by large scale pirates against Windows 7.  There was a time were an update to this technology would have me reaching for my tin hat and flame-proof underwear but I came read a Post on the subject from Ed Bott who (as I’ve said before) can be assumed to know what he is talking about.

I was a fierce critic of the initial [Windows Genuine Advantage] efforts, primarily because the user experience was so awful and the tools it used were inaccurate. Back in 2008, I gave Microsoft a C+ for its efforts, a significant improvement over the “big fat F” it earned in 2006 and 2007.
Over the past year, I have been visiting the Windows Genuine forums at least once per quarter to survey performance and have found that activation issues have become a non-issue. In every example I have found, the problem could be traced to malware or a major hardware change, or (surprisingly often) to a customer who had unknowingly purchased counterfeit software. Where false positive reports were on
ce a serious problem, they’re now practically nonexistent in my experience.

My experience backs this up. As a percentage the false positives were always small, but if you were affected it didn’t matter. And with an installed base as big as Windows a small percentage is a lot of people. There a story (which is widely told, but may be an urban legend)  of a major retailer whose repair operation always used the same key when reinstalling Windows: customers with licences hit problems later because their licences hadn’t been used and the one  which had was designated “pirated”. Those customers just had to enter their own product keys but the experience made many go ballistic. A repair shop wouldn’t do that today.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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