Another Microsoft Licensing Disaster

18 06 2009

I was asked by my boss to ‘upgrade’ one of the PC’s at work from Office 2003 to Office 2007. Personally I think it is bad enough Microsoft forces the end user to prove themselves innocent with a 25 character key, but to require a user to prove themselves yet again with a ‘Genuine Advantage’ update is ridiculous. To then ask the user to prove their innocence a third time, lest they be locked out after 25 program starts, is absurd!

I didn’t think they could insult me more or waste any more time, but they found a way. The third method, when you start an Office application for the first time, has two options. Prove your innocence of piracy online or over the phone. I just checked the box to do it over the internet. After several minutes it returned back saying the network wasn’t connected to the internet. BS. Open Firefox and I have internet. Tried it again with the same results. So I disabled the firewall AND the anti-virus. Same error. Wtf Microsoft? It just did updates, of course it can talk to the internet!

Fine, I will do it over the phone. Ever had to do that? First you have to give them a 56 digit random string. Yes a FIFTY-SIX digit random string over the phone. After about the 10th time it misunderstood me (on the first set of six digits), it allowed me to punch in the digits. That made it a bit easier but still wasn’t fun by any definition of the word. After I completed that nightmare, I got to do it again! This time they read the digits and I got to type them into the computer.

All of this for a legal upgrade from an existing legal install!

What a miserable way to waste ten minutes of my life.

Before anyone tells me that it is to protect Microsoft’s property or somehow benefits the consumer, let me explain something. Recounting the events in a online chat it was brought to my attention (I have not verified nor do I care to) that the version of Office 2007 currently hosted on doesn’t ask for any keys at all. Already cracked for the pirates. So once again doing things legally is a bigger hassle and pain for the user then the copy the pirates get. This isn’t the first time I have noticed this and it wont be the last (maybe later I will post the disaster that was the 64bit 2003 server install). Forcing the user to enter random garbage strings three times only makes the customer feel like they are in the wrong. I don’t like being called a thief, cheat, and liar and this is exactly what Microsoft is doing. They don’t believe you are a legit customer, they believe you have stolen their work, and they force you to prove otherwise. It is BS plain and simple.

Later I was bitching about the experience to a coworker (very pro-Microsoft) and he didn’t seem to have a problem with it at all. Just all part of the routine that he has done ‘hundreds’ of times. He claims the Office verification was a much easier process then some of their license verifications (I agree; As I mentioned before I have fought that battle with server 2k3 but that is another story). This all seems to natural to him and yet he can’t grasp why I enjoy the freedom I have. I can’t seem to grasp why he finds it hard to understand. Funny how that works.

I live free.

Not just in terms of monetary price either, but in a true and legal sense of the word. When I download/install/upgrade a Linux distro (or any other Open Source project) not once am I asked to prove my innocence. Not once am I accused of theft or piracy. I am bound by no EULA, no Digital Restrictions Management, no Imaginary Property rights, and no product keys. I can watch my videos, listen to my music, edit the source code, and do what I want when I want and no lawyer can tell me otherwise! The GPL ensures that I can do what I want with the code, fix bugs I find, improve, and /give/ /it/ /all/ /back/ _for_ _FREE_!! How cool is that? When I use Open Source I spend the first 10 minutes actually using the product and not fighting some corporation to prove myself from their accusations.

I am so glad we are moving people off of Microsoft (albeit slowly). I can’t wait till I no longer have to jump through these utterly insane and ultimately worthless hoops.



One response

18 06 2009

You make a good point about Microsoft’s policies only harming the legitimate customers. It’s the same with the restrictive DRM on some games. The people using pirated versions don’t have to deal with it. It’s only the poor fools who fork out their hard cash who have to jump through hoops in order to use the product they legally paid for. Why can’t these companies see how ridiculous this is? There is no DRM or “Genuine Advantage” in the world that won’t be beaten within a short period of time and if someone is going to pirate your product – they will pirate it. You can’t stop it so you have to find a way to make people willing to pay – to give them something extra perhaps that they can’t get with a pirated version – but treating them like thieves is not the way to do this.
Fellow Linux Lover 🙂

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