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Windows Operating Systems Software Microsoft

Vista Can Run Without Activation for a Year 357

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the procrastinists-in-luck dept.
An anonymous reader gave us a heads up on this article for people who like putting things off. It begins: "Windows Vista can be run for at least a year without being activated, a serious end-run around one of Microsoft's key anti-piracy measures, Windows expert Brian Livingston said today. Livingston, who publishes the Windows Secrets newsletter, said that a single change to Vista's registry lets users put off the operating system's product activation requirement an additional eight times beyond the three disclosed last month. With more research, said Livingston, it may even be possible to find a way to postpone activation indefinitely."
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Vista Can Run Without Activation for a Year

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  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:26AM (#18372983)
    ...does it run with activation key? SCNR :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jkrise (535370)
      Until Service Pack 1 comes out.
      Or until you insert an Ubuntu CD.
      Or until you stop the messy Windows Update service.
      Or you keep posting negative comments about Microsoft on Slashdot.

      whichever is earlier.
  • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BiggyP (466507) <philh@@@theopencd...org> on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:26AM (#18372985) Homepage Journal
    Since microsoft have made it perfectly clear that they don't want anyone running their OS without paying, why continue to try, how about giving one of the many shiny desktop linux distros a go instead?
    • Yeah zactly. It's funny what people will put up with because they think they have to. If they only knew that if they organized they could wield power...

      Put Gentoo CD in drive, install, no need for license key bullshit. When I get bored I play the piano, or if music isn't my fancy I turn on the xbox and play something. No need to pay the Vista tax to play video games.

      Tom
      • by bigdavex (155746) on Friday March 16, 2007 @08:52AM (#18373543)

        Put Gentoo CD in drive, install, no need for license key bullshit. When I get bored I play the piano, or if music isn't my fancy I turn on the xbox and play something.

        Right, you have to do something while it compiles.
        • Um, I can use my computer while it updates software. Maybe not during the initial install, but I did that in September (when I bought this box) of last year. I don't get your point. Are you trying to be smart?

          Tom

          • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by BiggyP (466507) <philh@@@theopencd...org> on Friday March 16, 2007 @09:08AM (#18373711) Homepage Journal
            Well, it could be argued that an ubuntu, fedora, mandriva, suse, well, just about any non source system, could be up and running somewhat quicker and with less fuss than a Gentoo installation.
            • Perhaps, but Gentoo grants me more useful freedoms. Like the ability to build from source more recent software (like the most recent fedora is still ways behind on Gnome for instance), or configure it how I want (like to have MP3 playback).

              The other distros serve their purpose, but if the price I pay to use Gentoo how I want is that I have to do an initial install that takes a night, then it's worth it.

              I should point out though that out of the box, Fedora Core 5 takes a while to update and get usable (e.g.
              • by bberens (965711)

                Perhaps, but Gentoo grants me more useful freedoms. Like the ability to build from source more recent software (like the most recent fedora is still ways behind on Gnome for instance), or configure it how I want (like to have MP3 playback).

                Actually there's nothing stopping you from compiling and running a Gnome from source on Fedora. When I upgraded from Fedora 4 to Fedora 5 I was playing mp3s in xmms within about three commands. Other than rampant elitism or the need in an engineering environment to have an extreme level of control over every bit of disk space and processor time I really can't think of a good reason to use Gentoo over a binary based distro. Of course, this IS slashdot, so rampant elitism is probably considered an excelle

                • 1. Portage solves dependencies a lot nicer than rpm ever did. Though yum is better than rpm it's not better than Portage.

                  2. Gentoo follows the projects more closely than Fedora. You stand a better chance of getting recently released software on your Gentoo box than your Fedora box.

                  3. USE flags can tweak features.

                  For me, I used to just use Knoppix, "cuz it worked." Until I tried to manipulate some tiff files and learned that my tools [Gimp, tetex] wouldn't work for them. One USE flag later and Gentoo
      • by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday March 16, 2007 @09:00AM (#18373645)
        1: Put gentoo cd in drive
        2: wade through the initial setup in the voluminous manual
        3: try to work out how the hell textmode web browsers work
        4: discover gnome won't emerge and compile because you don't have -tk set as a USE flag
        5: Try to figure out what the fuck a USE flag is anyway
        6: Spend a day trying to set up X.org
        7: mistakenly try to compile Openoffice from source
        8: wait...
        9: wait....
        10: wait....
        11: Find that your config files need updating.
        11: Realise Gnome is screwed because you updated the config files wrong
        12: Give up on Gnome, try to install KDE
        13: wait..
        14: wait....
        15: wait.....
        16: find that something you want is masked, unmask it. Smiling happily as it compiles
        17: slowly realise that you've done something very very bad...
        18: Give the fuck up and try Fedora instead
        • I can install Gentoo without the manual. Once you do it a couple times it just makes sense...

          OMG do I fdisk first or format? Well think about what you're trying to do... etc...

          Granted, I agree that USE flag changes are annoying [and not always properly announced] they're not as bad as you seem to making it out. First off, why would you disable tk? If you don't want tk, tcl, etc, you don't have to install it. Putting -$THING in your USE flag is not how to not install things. It's to disable functional
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rucs_hack (784150)
            My point is that compared to simpler Linux installs, or (god forbid) windows, its a very hard thing to install, so saying that it's an alternative to Vista is sheer folly.

            And you can't install it without the manual, because they have this habit of changing things so what worked a few months ago suddenly doesn't work any more.

            I'm afraid the USE flag thing is that bad. One of the recent GUI installer releases failed completely because of a tk dependency, and even hosed some systems entirely.

            I've used gentoo f
            • I never claimed that Gentoo was for complete newcomers. And it is an alternative to Vista, just not the easiest one. For instance, I run Gentoo as opposed to other distros [and Windows]. It's my alternative.

              And yes, I agree that upon occasion Gentoo admins fark up updates. Doesn't happen too often, and sometimes it's my fault for not reading the update messages [heheheh]. This is why backups are a good idea. From a system tarball I can have my machine back in working order in under 10 minutes.

              Tom
    • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Corporate Troll (537873) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:40AM (#18373049) Homepage Journal

      That is what they say, but I don't think that's true. They rather have me running Vista illegally than running Linux legally. Why? Because it increases their market share, which in turn benefits to them. I am also more likely to choose Windows in my business decisions or demand Windows Vista from my employer because "that is what I know".

      For students and poorer people they damn well want them to pirate Vista.... They might one day become paying customers.

      Piracy is a form of advertisement, as odd as it may sound.

      (I run Debian Etch, thank you very much)

      • by BiggyP (466507)
        I couldn't agree, more, this is the reason why Adobe doesn't bother with decent anti piracy measures in their software and Microsoft's solutions are decidedly half-baked, users continuing to use pirated software instead of investigating Free alternatives works nicely for those with the existing market presence.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bjoeg (629707)
      Because a load of games are still not being made for shiny desktop linux distros.

      Yes you may have Cedega, Wine and such, but they do not always perform well or able to run every game for that matter.

      And yes, there are still loads of non-console gamers in the world and unfortunaly not all of them are willing to pay for Windows, and ReactOS is still Alpha.
      • by BiggyP (466507)
        And by continuing to buy these games you perpetuate the problem. Wouldn't it be possible to run all the games you want under XP at this point? Is there a reason why you would need to pirate Vista in order to play them?
    • In my case, I'd rather pay $200 or $300 every 2-3 years for windows on my machine than have Linux for free. I've just had too many bad experiences with Linux (and no, I'm not just talking about back in 2000, I'm talking about as recently as attempts from june to september or october of last year, and periodic attempts every six months to a year prior to that as early as 2001 or 2002).

      If I didn't have the money, and didn't know about FreeBSD, I probably /would/ pirate Windows so that I could have something u
      • by BiggyP (466507)
        So what's useful and functional about FreeBSD and Windows that make them better choices than Linux?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jimstapleton (999106)
          Well, here's my rational. And as a background, I've had maybe a total of 10 months use/admin experience with FreeBSD, and several YEARS worth with Linux and Windows, so my oppinions of Linux/Windows are not from lack of experience with Linux/Windows, and my experience with FreeBSD may be somewhat short, at their best, all three seem equaly pleasant to admin, but when it comes down to the average or worst case, I find that's where FreeBSD shines.

          1) In both OSes, I've found installing new programs to be easie
          • by Macthorpe (960048)
            You'll get no such response from me. I've tried Linux and (to a limited extent) MacOS and have come back to Windows every time. I rant until I'm blue in the face at this site that Linux just doesn't work for everyone and it's rare that people listen.

            I especially love the people who tell me it's my fault for not trying hard enough on the new OS. If I have to try harder, that's not an incentive for me to change. As far as I'm concerned, it's worth me spending £70 every 3-4 years just to have something t
    • by xtracto (837672)
      Because I can not run the applications I need to work? like SPSS.

      And no, i wont use R. I tried believe me but I would need to spend another two months of my PhD in order to learn another programming language just to make some ANOVAS, MANCOVAS, T tests and F-tests.

      And no, it does not work under wine.

      And no, I wont buy the *overkill* packages like Matlab or mathematica even if they are avaiable vor linux.
      And no the open source "versions" of SPSS (namely PSPP) are crap at best, as with most of Open source proj
      • by BiggyP (466507)
        So does the company make SPSS freely available to you as long as you're running windows?
        Isn't it possible that the company doesn't produce a version of the program for Linux because of a lack of demand, quietly buying and installing the windows version instead doesn't help here...

        As for pirating Vista, as you say, this isn't relevant.
    • Seriously, is it that much of an effort, to perhaps.... re install after 12 months, or at least
      whipe all info related to time stamps if possible?

      Its just as likely your HD will die, or you need to reinstall any way because of a new MB or CPU
      regardless, so just keep the OS and applications seperate, ie roaming profile.

      If people start writing better apps that dont depend on storing info in windows dirs or registry then its easier
      to reinstall and run again.
    • by tobiasly (524456)

      Since microsoft have made it perfectly clear that they don't want anyone running their OS without paying, why continue to try, how about giving one of the many shiny desktop linux distros a go instead?

      Because the thought of having my OS nag me for an entire year about activating is just so enticing! All I have to do is hack some undocumented configuration setting that some guy found, and I can then look forward to eight more months of reminders to send my data to Microsoft? SIGN ME UP!!

  • by arpy (587497) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:29AM (#18372999) Journal
    Tag it: "defectivebyaccident"!
  • by lthown (737539) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:30AM (#18373003)
    Seriously, they do have this little windows update thing that sends out updates, I'm sure it's mostly trivial for them to fix the flaw
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jurgenaut (910416)
      If you were sitting on an unactivated Vista, would you update this?
      • by Tim C (15259)
        If you were Microsoft and cared about this, would you explicitly state that it was fixed by a given update?

        Personally I deplore anything that makes it less likely that any given user is going to keep their machine properly patched and up to date; each machine that's behind on its patches is another machine that's (even more) vulnerable to being zombified, and frankly, I get quite enough spam as it is.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tanuki64 (989726)
      True, windows simply is not trustworthy. I mean automatic updates are something great, but a company, which uses such a system to further their own interests and not that of their customers is simply unacceptable. Ok, one can say that if I use a pirate copy I cannot complain, but even as a legit user I'd be bound to be a plaything of Microsoft's political interests. Best example is how fast they updated their DRM routines. I doubt that a user complained that he could do things with his windows, which he sh
      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday March 16, 2007 @08:28AM (#18373339) Homepage

        True, windows simply is not trustworthy. I mean automatic updates are something great, but a company, which uses such a system to further their own interests and not that of their customers is simply unacceptable.

        100% agreement with you. Notice, though, how (at the end of TFA) Microsoft's position is that product activation is for the benefit of their customers. Something along the lines of "products hacked to avoid activation may be faulty" and such. So, a forced patch through Windows Update would be 'for the good of the customers', to save them from the perils of running WGA-less Windows. War is peace, and all that.

        One can only hope that in the long run such anti-consumer activity will come back to haunt them.
        • by xtracto (837672)
          I also agree and further want to comment how it makes me laugh really really loud when Microsoft PR troll's say that illegaly downloaded Windows programs are dangerous and that if you do not have geniune software it is unsecure and my ass.

          Software is software, wherever you get it you are getting the same POS if it has the same MD5 as their "original". And then, does it mean that if I make a Windows isntallation from an ORIGINAL disk but do not activate it or enter a "legal" serial number it means the softwa
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jkrise (535370)
      Seriously, they do have this little windows update thing that sends out updates, I'm sure it's mostly trivial for them to fix the flaw...

      It is not a flaw... it is a feature. Will corporates or home users willingly shell out big bucks for 8-times more hardware resources just to find the new OS cannot be pirated easily like the old one?

      Every OS from MS-DOS onwards has been piratable by design, for a reason.

      In DOS, you run format b:/s to get a pirated boot floppy with io.sys, msdos.sys and command.com.
      With Vi
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        8-times more hardware, eh? And where'd you pull that number? Out of your ass?

        Thought so.
  • Can't wait (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    for some twit to tag this either 'haha' or 'defectivebydesign'
  • Why Vista? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:33AM (#18373019)
    Yes, delaying activation is fine, but why would you want Vista in the first place? My laptop died recently and I bought a replacement Thinkpad. It came pre-loaded with Vista Business. I gave it a try for two weeks.

    - Despite having 1GB RAM, the laptop ran like a glued snail.
    - Network speed was inconsistent and seems to be bound to movements of the sun.
    - Many printers (including my HP 2600n) are still unsupported. Not sure if this is HP being their usual crap self or just a complete inability to get Vista to play properly with network printers.
    - Aero. Why?
    - So many features like "Map Network Drive" have now been moved so they can only be access from specfic areas like "My Computer"
    - The updated XP style for control panel etc is really frustrating.
    - When opening some MS Office 2007 applications, the screen would corrupt then everything would hang for about 3 minutes.
    - Maybe a problem with Vista's sound libraries? Music sounded tinny through Vista, but cleaner in XP on the same machine.

    Anyways, enough of that bollocks. I've wiped the whole disk and installed XP pro again.
    • Hate to nit pick astronomically, but...

      Sun doesn't move much.

      It moves, but, not by much...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by n0rr1s (768407)
        I hate to nitpick too ;)
        But...

        How much the sun moves depends on your frame of reference. It's cruising round the galactic centre at a fair ol' rate, for example.
    • Re:Why Vista? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2007 @08:56AM (#18373595)

      Many printers (including my HP 2600n) are still unsupported.
      Haha. You were suckered into the age-old "host based printer" scam. "Host based" printers don't internally support a standard printer language like PostScript or PCL. Instead, the printer only supports a proprietary protocol which requires a specialized, vendor-provided OS-specific driver. Only in a few cases have people been able to reverse-engineer a subset of these protocols.

      A major disadvantage to this for consumers that it allows manufacturers to "sunset" older printers.

      That's why I only buy standards-based printers - it allows me to decide when my printer is no longer viable. All of my printers are more than 10 years old, and I have no plans to retire any of them.

      Printer manufacturers don't provide host based printers in order to save inordinate amounts of money per unit - the chipsets required to support PCL and/or postscript are very inexpensive. This is all about vendor control.
      • of disposable printers. You see, the color laser mfrs have gotten too greedy in the oem toner game, and too loose with the baseic hardware. It is cheaper to go buy a new 2600n (or the current flavor of the month) than it is to replace the toners. Also, as the printer ages, the quality goes downhill quickly - a brand new 2600n looks great, but with one set of toners through it will look pretty poor. Why drop $400 on a new set of toners when you can get a whole new system and engine for $300 or less?

        FWIW, I h
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pikine (771084)
          Here are the prices I got today from HP's website. After you subtract the unit price by the cost of one black toner and three color tones, you get the hardware cost.

          model unit-price black-toner color-toner hardware-cost
          2600n 400 75 83 76
          3000n 600 133 130 77
          2605dtn 700 75 83 376
          I think that means you get much better hardware with 2605dtn.
  • by smchris (464899) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:40AM (#18373059)
    Win9X seems to have conditioned a lot of users to think that reinstalling every 6 months or so is normal anyway.
  • That is intentional. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nietsch (112711) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:41AM (#18373065) Homepage Journal
    On the one hand MS tries to make life hard for the small time infringers (most of them), but on the other hand they still need to be number one of most infringed software, so there needs to be a backdoor. They need to be the most infringed because the infringers are the easiest turned customers. If there were no ways to get around MS licencing tricks, there would be no more potential new customers when the next release of Windos arrives.
    My Father decided to buy a fresh Vista licence after using illegal versions before. That lasted about 3 days, then he decided to switch to linux (no, it had something to do with a 64bit intel compiler that was beer-free on linux only).
    • on the other hand they still need to be number one of most infringed software, so there needs to be a backdoor

      Yes you are right. Its always been that way. But I don't understand why they don't come up with a legitimate trial version. Download it for free. Run it for a week then activate it by credit card.

    • Partly, but mostly I think because they sell their OS to businesses, and if something business critical can't be run because of some silly activation problem there better be a work around.
  • This isn't news (Score:5, Informative)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:47AM (#18373079) Homepage
    There are hacks out there to modify the countthe activation timer [keznews.com] so that it never times out. The cracking group Parardox also supposedly released a crack [engadget.com] that is suppose to emulate a bios to bypass the activation process all together.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:53AM (#18373107) Homepage

    Microsoft tells ya how to do it [microsoft.com].

    How long before we see this as a Slashdot user name? "Hi, I'm Skip -- Skip Rearm."

  • by ehaggis (879721) on Friday March 16, 2007 @07:55AM (#18373113) Homepage Journal
    My Linux box runs for at least a year without activation also.
  • > With more research, said Livingston, it may even be possible to find a way to postpone activation indefinitely.

    I wonder what will be pushed out in tomorrow morning's Auto-Update?
  • Given last weeks article about how ms want people to pirate their products and that they do it so that people would eventually turn to the "legal" route, does anyone believe this was found by "accident"?

    seriously, hasn't this always been the way? give people a way to run MS's products pirated? maybe im just an old cynic..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2007 @08:18AM (#18373269)
    Download size: 773 KB , less than 1 minute
    A security issue has been identified that could allow you to compromise your Windows-based system using regedit and gain control of your licensing destiny. You can help protect our destiny by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you wil be required to restart your computer.
  • now is we can just keep this under wraps, we can....
    ..
    .. (looks around)

    DOH!
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday March 16, 2007 @08:54AM (#18373575) Homepage
    It doesn't stop pirates.

    But it does deny access to paying customers... some of Microsoft's biggest and best customers.

    So Microsoft needs to put in a backdoor so that their support professionals can take care of those customers over the phone.

    But if you're telling hundreds of people about a backdoor, sooner or later it will leak.

    So Microsoft will need to patch the backdoor.

    But if they do that, once again, they'll be screwing their best customers.

    So they'll need to open another backdoor. Quite possibly the new backdoor will be opened by the very same patch that closes the SkipRearm backdoor.

    Microsoft doesn't benefit from this. Microsoft's customers don't benefit from it. The only people who benefit from it is the computer trade press and Slashdot, which is assured of an endless stream of news stories to talk about.
  • While I agree this is slightly interesting, it's not terribly useful, since it's likely that a mandatory auto-update will plug this hole soon. And without updates, the first of the many-to-be-found-exploits in all the new Vista code, will leave you vulnerable. It's rather ironic (and convenient for MS) that Windows' shoddy security, and the associate desperate need for updates, gives them a lot of control of forcing updates on you to plug activation and genuine advantage holes and such.

    Thankfully for XP (
  • You don't need to be 100% effective to stop 90% of piracy, and that is what the license stuff does. Everybody knows that you can get around Fairplay by ripping your CD's after burning them in itunes.

    It's the same with most security measures. Take a wall across the southern border. Sure, you will have people who tunnel through or ladder over, but not the crazy amount that's crossing now. The point is to make the border MANAGEABLE.

    Security is not a 100% secure or not all game as some would have you believe.

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