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Microsoft Withdraws Vista's Kill Switch 635

Posted by Zonk
from the bit-less-damocles dept.
l-ascorbic writes "In what they are calling a change of tactics, Microsoft has removed the controversial 'kill switch' from Vista in SP1. This feature is designed to disable pirated copies of the OS, but had led to numerous reports of it disabling legitimate copies. It will be replaced with a notice that repeatedly informs the user that their OS is pirated. '[Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Sievert] added: "It's worth re-emphasizing that our fundamental strategy has not changed. All copies of Windows Vista still require activation and the system will continue to validate from time to time to verify that systems are activated properly." Microsoft said it had pursued legal action against more than 1,000 dealers of counterfeit Microsoft products in the last year and taken down more than 50,000 "illegal and improper" online software auctions.'"
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Microsoft Withdraws Vista's Kill Switch

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  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:29AM (#21571235) Homepage Journal
    If made____you____bitch
    Did this____kill____switch
    How 'bout__a______pitch
    In a_______fine____triptych?
    Burma___________Shave
  • by faloi (738831) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:29AM (#21571243)
    I think a lot of users would be happier if they withdrew Vista entirely. I know I'm scrambling to see if I can upgrade my system to XP. Darn gaming addiction...
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:33AM (#21571295) Journal

      XP?!? Bah! I'm trying to "upgrade" to Windows 3.11 for Workgroups!

    • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:58AM (#21571587)
      You!=Everyone else :) You have to remember that every bad story about Vista isn't representing the whole truth - that there are thousands of folks out there who are using Vista on a day-to-day basis, and are not having problems.
      • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:21AM (#21571857) Homepage Journal

        You!=Everyone else :) You have to remember that every bad story about Vista isn't representing the whole truth - that there are thousands of folks out there who are using Vista on a day-to-day basis, and are not having problems.
        I agree! There are definitely thousands of folks out there who are perfectly happy with Vista. That only leaves the other few million customers...
      • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:25AM (#21571919)
        I imagine that 95% of those people could also use WinXP on a daily basis and not have problems either, and that 80% of those could use Ubuntu and not have problems either.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Khuffie (818093)
          and that 80% of those could use Ubuntu and not have problems either.

          Until they want to install something like say...oh, the Flash plugin. Or install software easily.
          • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Junta (36770) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:43PM (#21577005)
            This is actually one point I *hate* in Windows versus the current generation of Linux systems.

            In windows, they have a semi-appfolder oriented design (except most apps either must or choose to dump some crap in system wide directories). As a result, they started out without anything resembling decent package management, and left it to third parties. Now you have a number of InstallAnywhere, MSI (microsoft's eventual 'standard'), Nullsoft installer, dozens of one-off installers for specific applications, and a bunch more I'm forgetting that are semi-standard). Most are moderately to severely anti-unattended and inconsistent. They have the 'add/remove' programs control panel, but largely it's relegated to just remove software, and even then some software ends up mangling the list so that different 'components' appear independently on the list, but uninstalling one breaks the uninstaller for the other, so you should have used the uninstall icon which a lot of programs put right next to running the application. It's horribly mangled and ugly and if the world wasn't so damned used to it, it becomes painfully obvious how piss-poor Windows has dealt with this.

            Meanwhile, Linux was 'stuck' with the need to provide an alternative view on which pieces of software owned which binaries that were mixed in with everything else. To get out of a relatively messy situation that was undeniably there, they rolled the most sophisticated package management for a platform ever (mainly deb and rpm). With that, installs *knew* in a standardized way what other programs needed to be installed to work right, and things kind of 'just worked'. It was beautiful.

            Then, recognizing the power of the package management, repository management emerged. Apt and Yum are the two prominent things. This above anything else is an *incredible* framework for software installation and, *CRITICALLY* updating. Not only does the *extremely* rich platform 'vendor' provide 99.9% of packages most common people would ever need, the architectures are pluggable so that third-parties can smoothly integrate their updates with your process. Using your flash plugin example and, say, Fedora Core. Adobe provides a yum repository. The low-level mechanics is that a file gets dumped in /etc/yum.repos.d, and from then on out, the global system update monitoring process tracks Adobe's software as well as the vendors. I don't know much about non-free software, but I do know that yum in RHEL requires authentication tokens to easily interact with RedHat servers. The framework is simple http, so I presume at the worst, https with http auth would be a viable thing for automated updates even for commercial, for-pay applications. I don't know about flashy layers over yum (I normally use ubuntu) that make yum administration painless, but I do know that Ubuntu wraps up the low-level framework in a mostly clean way. I added the wine repo by opening a terminal and copying and pasting the two lines from the wine repo install directions to the command line. It's not that hard, but a simple GUI tool could wrap even that.

            Now, compare that to the MS side of things. Well, you got Microsoft update, which generally cares only about the low-level windows stuff (though I can't remember if Office would tag along for the ride or not..), which also wants to WGA the hell out of clients, but we'll put that aside from now. I install Java, and what happens, a freaking java update checker/manager starts (it can't hook into the running MS update architecture). I install quicktime, Apple's software updater starts running (same as Java). I install Half Life, suddenly Steam also needs to run to manage updates for games. I install Warcraft and Blizzards software starts checking for updates independently. Repeat for Bioware, Symantec, etc. Oh, my video driver, well, I'll have to go to a website somewhere and manually check for updates. And that *still* omits a ton of applications for which they never implemented an update management solution. I
      • Re:Why stop there? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:33AM (#21572017) Homepage
        My dad wonders why I'm so negative about Vista.
        He got it with a new laptop and claims to have no problems.

        Then I ask if I can use his laptop to burn a iso with Nero.
        His response? Nero isnt compatible with Vista.
        He didnt realize at all what he just said. It was perfectly normal for him for programs to not work.

        There have been plenty of things like that.
        That one was just the most recent being from yesterday.

        Someone claiming that Vista has no problems is completely different from Vista having no problems.
      • Re:Why stop there? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:54AM (#21572271) Homepage
        I've got some consultants that work for me that have Vista loaded on their machines. Some won't comment about it. One seems to be pretending he likes it and one doesn't seem to have a problem explaining that they are running it because Microsoft strongly urged them to do so.

        It is my opinion that Vista is a good idea badly implemented, poorly presented and inappropriately pushed out.

        It's a good idea because Windows and security are generally considered to be diametrically opposed. Windows and stability are generally considered to be diametrically opposed as well. Vista is a good idea because it's actually trying to address those problems.

        It's a bad implementation because it causes people to feel very lost. I can't say that plainly enough. But frankly, moving from Win98 to WinXP was a similar experience although perhaps not as intense.

        It's poorly presented because it has problems with backward compatibility and support for older software. I don't consider this a "problem" except that Microsoft did not adequately warn the public of this issue. Part of the problem with Windows is that it supports a LOT of broken behavior in older apps. This comes largely from software being written for broken, badly implemented or undocumented Windows API calls, but also to keep good software running after Microsoft updates their API. Getting rid of the burden of backward compatibility is a step forward for Microsoft and part of why Vista is a good idea.

        It is inappropriately pushed out simply because it's not ready for prime time in the sense that prime applications and average hardware cannot be supported under Vista and it hasn't been stated clearly or loudly enough that to run Vista, "off the shelf" isn't good enough. Microsoft hasn't spelled that out well enough for the consuming public. Sales people want to sell. Consumers pretty much buy whatever is offered to them. (Though consumers are actually starting to wise up about that bad habit!) I recall when WindowsNT was being introduced. It had a set of requirements well about those of Windows 3.1 and was considered to be apart from mainstream Windows. It was accepted that it would run slower on old hardware and was intended for only the most powerful machines and the most advanced of applications. WindowsNT wasn't simply pushed out to consumers saying "Here! This is new! Use it!" It was offered and relatively slowly adopted by IT and eventually by consumers in the form of Windows2000 which even then was pretty much presented to business.

        An appropriate push for Vista would have been to create "Elite Computing" status for Vista users initially and make WindowsXP usage appear to be legacy. It would have provided incentive for consumers to "strive" to be good enough for Vista. It would have provided incentive to software makers to update their software for Vista. We're not seeing that. Instead we're seeing "I'm sorry, that computer only ships with Vista... if you want that machine, we cannot support you under XP... you have no choice in the matter." How dark is that?! More than dark, it's inappropriate.

        It's true that the whole truth isn't being told. But mostly, the truth that needs to be told isn't being told by Microsoft to the consumer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by edwardpickman (965122)
        Given the fact there are millions of copies of Vista out there and a few thousand are having a good experience I'm hardly reassured. I had a store geek talk me into how amazing ME was and I made the horrible mistake of upgrading to it. I managed to scrub it out of my system by myself but it was a mess. It lost most of my system fonts and largely reduced my computer to a paperweight. Once I managed to delete it out I found the fonts were still there. That was the last time I tried upgrading a copy of Windows
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vertinox (846076)
        You!=Everyone else :) You have to remember that every bad story about Vista isn't representing the whole truth - that there are thousands of folks out there who are using Vista on a day-to-day basis, and are not having problems.

        I think that the main issue most everyone with Vista is not how bad it is but why they need to use it. There isn't a compelling reason to use Vista (other than DX10) for most End users if they have WinXP.
      • by mopower70 (250015) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:05PM (#21574371) Homepage

        there are thousands of folks out there who are using Vista on a day-to-day basis, and are not having problems.
        I find that difficult if not impossible to believe. I had my second experience with Vista this weekend, attempting some maintenance on an out-of-the-box Vista install on a computer my in-laws had purchased several months back. Turns out they hadn't used it since I installed it because it kept telling them things were broken, incompatible, or they didn't have permission to use them.

        I wanted to download PuTTY so I could SSH into my machine from their house. Simple enough. It doesn't get any simpler than PuTTY - it doesn't even have an installer, you just unzip the files and run them. I'm not exaggerating when I say the whole thing took 10 minutes. For a 2M file.

        It went something like this:

        Windows: I see you're trying to access the Internet. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: yes. [navigate to the PuTTY site and click the zip file download]
        Windows: I see you're trying to download a file. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: yes. [file downloads. Fine. That's about 1 minute right there.]
        Me: [Navigate to the file and drag it to Program Files with the intention of extracting it there.]
        Windows: I see you're trying to extract this file. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks. 30 seconds later.]
        Windows: I can't allow you to do this.
        Me: WTF? [Try it again. Same result].
        Me: Fine. [I navigate to Program Files and create a directory named PuTTY].
        Windows: I see you're trying to create a directory. Are you an administrator?
        Me: Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: This action will require administrative privileges to run. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: You are attempting to create a directory. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: Fuck yes. [Windows sits. And thinks. And suddenly there's a new directory! Yeah. I rename it. 5 minutes has gone by.]
        Me: [I drag the zip file and attempt to extract it to the folder I just created.]
        Windows: I see you're trying to extract a file. This file is unsigned by Windows and may be hazardous to your health. Would you like to allow this?
        Me: Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: This action will require administrative privileges to run. Are you an administrator?
        Me: yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: [Starts extracting the first file.]
        Windows: This file is unsigned. Would you like to allow it to be extracted?
        Me: Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks. And finally extracts the file.]
        Windows: [Starts extracting the second file.] This file is unsigned. Would you like to allow it to be extracted?
        Me: WTF? Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: Would you like to apply these privileges to the remaining files?
        Me: WTF? Yes. [Windows sits. And thinks.]
        Windows: [Starts extracting the 2.2M zip file. AT 2K PER SECOND. FOR A FILE EXTRACTION!!!]
        Me: WTFZOMGBBQ?!? ...

        Me: [Click on the PuTTY icon.] Finally...
        Windows: I see you're trying to use an application.
        Me: BANG!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gallwapa (909389)
          FUD: I've done this

          Open Browser (lets use IE For sake of argument) No UAC prompt
          Search for Putty No UAC prompt
          click link for putty website No UAC prompt
          Click link for download No UAC prompt
          Save the file No UAC prompt
          Open the file No UAC prompt
          Extract the file No UAC prompt
          Launch the file - This file is unsigned/untrusted. Mark the checkbox that indicates "Always trust this executable"
          Done.

          No UAC prompt.

          Imagine that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ozbird (127571)
          Windows: This action will require administrative privileges to run. Are you an administrator?

          Why doesn't Vista know? If I'm not an administrator and answer "Yes", will it say "Liar!"?
  • So Desperate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Corporate Troll (537873) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:31AM (#21571267) Homepage Journal
    They probably hope that pirates will make Vista popular and that a fraction actually will buy Vista in the end ;-)
    • by Hennell (1005107)
      How many pirates actually want vista? I know people hardly go about saying "Ho Ho, I've stolen MS latest OS" to strangers, but I haven't really heard much about vista pirating. I've have heard a lot about lack of game support etc, which I would have thought would discourage many would-be-pirates, Not to mention you seem to need fairly new hardware which may limit some. Is there actually going to be a large number of people who want to pirate it?
      ---
      I think the method in my madness is a mad method
      ---
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ntropia (939502)
      Ehehe, looking at the Vista sale numbers, I guess that Redmordor guys have to thank those unauthorized sellers, 'cause they could be the most part of OS activation requests at the Windows Update site... that boooooooosts the $HUGE_NUMBER of Vista selled copies.

      eNjoy
  • Market share? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noctrnl (110574) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:33AM (#21571293)
    I guess this is one way to get Vista's adoption rate to go up. Just let it be pirated!
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Exactly. People who are pirating, know they are pirating. They won't care about the message that says they are pirating the software. If MS really did keep this kind of stuff in Vista, it would stop a lot of people from using it. I imagine there would be a lot of people who would have a dual boot machine with pirated vista installed just to play the games that required vista.
      • by Entropius (188861)
        And how many of those are there now?

        I've seen a lot of games that say things like "System requirements: 1GB RAM, 2.4GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent. Vista: 2GB RAM, 3GHz Pentium 4, dual core recommended."
  • by Jester998 (156179) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:34AM (#21571301) Homepage
    It's worth re-emphasizing that our fundamental strategy has not changed.

    i.e. We're still gonna bend you over. The big guy named Bubba is still employed with us, but now we've taken away his lube.
  • i got erroneously locked out of my new laptop because of this. does this mean it will unlock? i think not. (but hope so). luckily i dual boot ubuntu so MS can kiss my ass. the only reason i kept the vista install is because it's legit and i have no setup disc to reinstall it later. (recovery partition my ass)
    • by baadger (764884) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:54AM (#21571537)
      The get yourself a Vista RTM ISO off of BitTorrent and utilize the little app at the very bottom of this page [directedge.us] to save your OEM license. I've done it and it works a charm.
      • nice one, cheers. might wait till an sp1 ISO is out and do it all in one go, instead of having to install the sp afterwards.
      • wait i just realised, vista is rejecting my licence, claiming that it has been subject to an "unauthorised change" so i think i should just reactivate it after installation. also i cant run anything under vista as i'm locked out so i couldn't run that app anyway. i think the trouble was caused by comodo3 being overzealous when i ran genuine advantage, so i might just reboot in safe mode and uninstall comodo as per the suggestion on the knowledgebase article attached to this bug.
  • Let me think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:35AM (#21571309) Homepage
    Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon : Free as in speech, free as in beer comes with about 20000 apps (the number's pulled out of thin air, but there are a lot of apps available), of which most are probably quite simple or outright crap, but there's true quality stuff among them and the pre-selection by the installer is quite good in my book. Oh and I'm part of the Ubuntu community, too.

    OS/X : Hereround 155$. Probably nicest user interface, at least at Panther level very stable, rock solid foundation (BSD) a real shell and real scripting. Oh and it gives me fanboy privileges.

    Vista Ultimate: ~700$. Nothing really to offer, exept maybe this floating waterfall background, which must eat a ton of resources. Requires activation, abuses 30% of my resources for Hollywoods satisfaction. Oh: And by default I'm a criminal software thieve pirate.

    I'd wager that if i really chose option three I must be a blistering idiot, too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nos. (179609)
      According to a similar article I had just finished reading when I saw this one, users who are 'caught' by WGA, will receive an offer to buy Vista Home Premium for $119 (USD), about 1/2 of what it retails for. That's right folks, if you want Vista, pirate it first, get caught, and you can have it for half price. http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/12/04/tech-vista-pirated.html [www.cbc.ca]
    • by Locklin (1074657)
      How many people *actually* pay the full $700 for Vista? As much as I dislike everything Vista represents, the parent is offtopic and verging on troll.
    • Re:Let me think... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:08AM (#21571707)
      Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon : Free as in speech, free as in beer comes with about 20000 apps (the number's pulled out of thin air, but there are a lot of apps available), of which most are probably quite simple or outright crap, but there's true quality stuff among them and the pre-selection by the installer is quite good in my book. Oh and I'm part of the Ubuntu community, too.

      And I can't really buy games off the shelf, nor printers, or a lot of other hardware, and have it work. Oh, and Linux does have its own problems, weird things breaking, spending hours figuring out what exactly is wrong, and then diving into a text file to change some obsure setting. Most of those 20,000 apps are shit. Sorry.

      OS/X : Hereround 155$. Probably nicest user interface, at least at Panther level very stable, rock solid foundation (BSD) a real shell and real scripting. Oh and it gives me fanboy privileges.

      People knock Linux / Windows UIs; I find Macs to be infurating. Why exactly would you want to be a fanboy? Fanboy is just another word for zealot.

      Vista Ultimate: ~700$. Nothing really to offer, exept maybe this floating waterfall background, which must eat a ton of resources. Requires activation, abuses 30% of my resources for Hollywoods satisfaction. Oh: And by default I'm a criminal software thieve pirate.

      Surely you mean only ~$260 [pricegrabber.com]? Not very computer savy if you can't find Vista at a good price.

      I'd wager that if i really chose option three I must be a blistering idiot, too.

      The other option is that you're a smart professional that just wants to get things done. Since I ditched my Linux desktop and server, I spent more time doing the things I want on the computer, instead of trying to figure out what text file I got wrong and then being told to RTM (which doesn't exist).
    • Re:Let me think... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 15Bit (940730) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:26AM (#21571933)
      Its basically horses for courses - you use the OS which does what you want the best. This will inevitably be a trade-off between functionality, software compatibility, user friendliness and cost. I have a Windows XP desktop and a file-server/firewall etc running Fedora. I don't run Windows on the server cos it doesn't do what i want. The same is true for Linux on the desktop. So i mix and match according to my needs. I'm sure many others do the same, and look admiringly over the fence at the prettiness of OSX, or the stability of Linux, or the universality of software for Windows. But in the end, your computer must do what you want, and having a pretty OSX box or highly secure and stable Ubuntu desktop is pretty pointless if all the software you need to use runs only on Windows.

    • I don't think I've ever seen Vista Ultimate sold for more than $400, and that was the ridiculous version that was signed by Bill Gates. Regardless, Ultimate does have a few good features and I'd probably buy it over any other version. For instance, it gives you both 32bit and 64bit support which makes it a good buy for the sake of longevity. It also has some bullet points for business like a remote desktop client, a more flexible virtualization license, and BitLocker encryption.

      And let's be honest her
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      Vista Ultimate: ~700$. Nothing really to offer, exept maybe this floating waterfall background, which must eat a ton of resources.

      Come on, I know you love Linux even above your girly JPG's, but please. This is getting old, fucking old even.

      Windows Vista disadvantages over XP

      - Lacking application compatibility.
      - Lacking driver compatibility that only recently seem to start being resolved.
      - Added resource requirements, although some can be mitigated by deactivating Aero Glass.
      - Added system services to improve performance over time, that may actually do things works. YMMV here.
      - Further tightened antipiracy features that sometimes lead

      • by Jugalator (259273)
        Sorry, missed some words here and there:
        - Decreased battery life when using Aero Glass.
        - may actually do things worse

        At least I put them in the right categories.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308)

      Oooh where to begin.

      1. Gutsy Gibbon is not an option for some people, due to its lack of some key software (games, 100% MS Office-compatible suite, driver support). That's not saying anything bad about GG, just that it's not a panacea for those wishing to ditch The Beast
      2. OS X is not as stable as you think. Sure, it's BSD underneath, but on top it's still an operating system. It still has drivers that are not 100% fantastic. It still crashes. On some peoples' machines, frequently. You also ignore the c
      • Re:Let me think... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pengo (28814) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:38PM (#21573923) Journal

        First let me say, I'm not really a Apple Fanboi, but hardly anti Microsoft. I'm using MS at home (for gaming mostly) and my work computer is a Mac Pro tower (Developer/admin/etc.. small company so I do a LOT of different things).

        I don't find Vista bad, or Mac perfect. I think both are fine if used in the context of what they where designed to do, but I digress. I'd just like to add a few things to what you said.

        > Gutsy Gibbon is not an option for some people, due to its lack of some key software (games, 100% MS Office-compatible suite, driver support). That's not saying anything bad about GG, just that it's not a panacea for those wishing to ditch The Beast

        I tried installing it at home on my Dell XPS-710 H2C. It didn't work.
        I ran into problems with my video cards (Dual 8800GTX boards). The raid card wasn't read right off the bad, so I tracked down a cheap single SATA drive and the OS was able to see it.

        After installing, countless playing with the video drivers, twiddling with different tools to configure X I gave up. Granted I use Linux for all our office servers and our datacenter, it was just more than I wanted to mess with. To the credit of Gutsy, it did install perfect on a couple of office machines and it seemed pretty slick. I haven't used Linux as a full desktop machine since the old Redhat 8 / 9 days, and I was more curious to see how far they have come. (I'm very happy with linux as our server platform of choice though :) ).

        Gutsy is probably good for most people, but definitely not everyone.

        >OS X is not as stable as you think. Sure, it's BSD underneath, but on top it's still an operating system. It still has drivers that are not 100% fantastic. It still crashes. On some peoples' machines, frequently. You also ignore the cost of the hardware, which is greater than for those wishing to run either GG or Vista.

        OS X isn't infallible to problems, that's for sure. I've had a few over the years.. but I still measure my uptime on my Mac Pro at the office in months. (Usually only rebooting to install software updates). The OS is rock solid from my experience. Some things that kind of annoy me about it are the lack of real options on 3rd party hardware. If you want to upgrade the video card, forget it.. unless you want to buy Apples outdated and overpriced ATI board (Which i did for a second display that required Dual-DVI). For apple to ship that computer with a NVidia 7300 is just offensive. There are so many decent cards out there that are cheap and fast, I just don't understand the reasoning other than maybe wanting a passive cooling card.

        Now price rant:

        The hardware is expensive, but I make my living on that machine. I find that I am more productive on what I consider to be an elegant user experience. Maybe it's silly, but that's just how I am. It's the reason I don't drive a 79 Renault to work, it's not because the car wouldn't get me there and it's cheaper.. the car is just not something I want to be driving, and I enjoy nice things. Practicality does not always trump, and in my case I spend too much time behind the machine to not be using exactly what I want. I know that a lot of people don't have the option to even make the choice, but I do and I've never regretted picking up my mac for the office. :)

        >Vista Ultimate (which is not $700 but about $200, depending on the dealer) offers a lot more than just a waterfall background. I can't believe I have to go into this, but I will anyway. It has a 3D-accelerated desktop, which means it can move a lot of the processing of windows and redrawing into the GPU, which would otherwise just be sat there, doing nothing, thereby increasing performance of your CPU (which also allows the "waterfall background" to not eat lots of resources). It has far more aggressive memory-handling techniques, which load apps into and out of memory at certain times to increase their loading times. It can use the hybrid HDDs, external flash memo
  • How soon... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:36AM (#21571325)
    ...until they start counting all pirated version of Vista among those "happily" using it in order to inflate their numbers.
    • Re:How soon... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icepick72 (834363) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:14AM (#21571767)
      I doubt Microsoft's numbers need much inflation considering Win Xp / Vista / 2000 / 2003, even still in use NT, 95, ME, 98 ... the upcoming 2008 server. Microsoft is sitting pretty all things considered. What I find most funny is a lot of /. has fallen in love with XP in their fight against Vista. Microsoft has them either way. When Vista becomes a stable product as XP did over its lifetime they will all be moving to it and ragging on the Windows 7. One step behind in the Microsoft line doesn't matter. They're still pwned.
      • Re:How soon... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:00PM (#21573347) Journal
        What I find most funny is a lot of /. has fallen in love with XP in their fight against Vista.

        Don't confuse "falling in love" with "choosing the lesser of two evils". For all the nasty, ridiculous, and lame qualities that XP manages to invoke, Vista is simply far, far, worse. As a software vendor, Vista has been a TRAIN WRECK for us, despite fairly extensive testing with Vista B2. It's as though the O/S is specifically engineered to prevent you from actually doing *anything* with it. For example, it requires some SEVEN "Yes, I approve" clicks to install our application from the website.

        Yes. SEVEN. "I agree to download the executable". "I agree to save the executable". "I agree to run the program" "I know it's an installer and might install something". "Yes, I'd like to install everything." "Yes, I agree to let the installer install something in Program Files" "Yes, I agree to let the installer update the registry".

        Only ONE of those prompts is ours, the "I want to install everything". This is not security. This is teaching your users to frustratedly click "OK" on every dialog box they see without reading them.

        Which then worsens problems for us. We now find many of our tech support calls involve users complaining about a problem that has a fix they've already been notified about.

        Example: User calls, having problem claiming attendance, saying that "they get an error" and that's it. The error that they saw briefly and clicked "OK" on as quickly as possible (without reading) said something like: "You set the enrollment dates incorrectly in your program, and so we cannot find the school calendar to claim attendance on. Please check the student's enrollment date and try again.".

        Training your users to ignore notice boxes by throwing lots of meaningless ones up does not improve security, it increases human/machine interface tension and results in frustrated, ineffective users.

        Porting our application to OSX originally took us a month. Porting it over to Leopard was done in a day, with no complaints. The only change since 10.3 for us has been that Leopard removed the requirement to call X11 expressly. Now actually EASIER to write X11 apps for OSX, our application bombed after hunting for X11 binaries and not finding them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by plague3106 (71849)
          You really don't know what the hell you're doing if your application is causing that may popups. I've downloaded other software from the web, and get ONE UAC prompt. Perhaps you should try signing your binaries, and then get on MSDN to figure out what else you're doing wrong.
  • Read this on ZDNet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kat_skan (5219) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:37AM (#21571331)

    A blog on ZDNet [zdnet.com] has this interesting bit:

    This drastic change in Microsoft's WGA system is only the latest in series of attempts to smooth WGA's rough edges. In August, Kochis apologized on Microsoft's WGA blog for an outage that incorrectly flagged thousands of customers' systems as "non genuine." In October, Microsoft removed the WGA validation requirement from IE7 downloads. Two weeks ago, on November 20, Kochis promised to "build more trust in WGA" by improving its back-end systems, its response times, and its customer support.

    Getting rid of the "kill switch" is a much better way to build that trust.

    This is software explicitly designed to make your computer less useful. It does nothing else for you. Why would "improving its back-end systems" ever make me trust it the least bit more?

  • Notice (Score:2, Funny)

    by nermaljcat (895576)
    Maybe the notice should just contain a link to Ubuntu? =] "An error has occurred and Windows was detected on your drive. Please format disk and install Linux. Download Ubuntu here"
    • by Locklin (1074657)
      With the old "lock down," I don't think there was time or system resources to download and burn Ubuntu. At least now that will be an option!
  • Dear Microsoft. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:42AM (#21571391) Homepage Journal
    Just so you understand.
    If I install a new motherboard in my PC that is not piracy.
    If I format my old hard drive and install Vista on a new PC I built that is not piracy.
    If I have to call to take down that nag screen then you must hire enough people that I never have to wait more than two minutes to get the nag removed. You must also offer a world wide toll free number so I can call no matter where I am and you must keep that number staffed until the sun goes nova or you go out of business.
    Only then will any type of "activation" be acceptable.
    Never mind OpenSuse is working just fine as is Ubuntu. Or maybe I will just buy a Mac.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Library Spoff (582122)
      Correct, installing a new motherboard is not piracy.

      But if you built the original pc with an OEM version of Windows because you could get it cheaper and you then try to upgrade then tough. Though Microsoft should make this point a lot clearer.

       
      • Re:Dear Microsoft. (Score:5, Informative)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:47AM (#21572181) Homepage Journal
        Why is that tough?
        What if the motherboard fails? Why should I have to get a new OS if I replace a part? Nope same rules should apply.
        Frankly since Microsoft is a convicted monopoly they should be under all sorts of control as far as things like OEM version and such.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Carewolf (581105)
        Still not piracy, OEM versions are no different from any other versions. In most countries you can even resell them legally. Only thing Microsoft can do is try to encourage their resellers to only sell OEM versions to OEMs.

        Remember the magic phrase: EULAs are not valid!
    • Add to that, if they ever do go out of business they will permanently auto-activate any and all Windows license.
    • Re:Dear Microsoft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:26PM (#21572759) Homepage

      Only then will any type of "activation" be acceptable.

      No, not even then in my book. I use my computer for relatively important purposes, and the real purpose of the OS is to stay up and running and allow me to access my data and applications. That's priority number 1, and in fact most of what I care about.

      Therefore, in my opinion, When I see an OS vendor who spends their time trying to figure out how to make their OS not-work and how to make it disallow access to my programs and applications, I must assume that they don't understand the first thing about what they're doing.

      I know that explanation might sound too clever by half, but I am dead serious. When Microsoft should have been spending their time figuring out how to keep my system running at all times, they were instead engineering a kill switch. It's like if a shoemaker was trying to engineer a shoe so that it could easily be made uncomfortable or made to fall apart.

      So my message to Microsoft: as long as you're spending your resources trying to figure out how to make my computer less useful and less reliable, I will not buy your OS anymore. Spend your immense resources on making an operating system that does what operating systems are supposed to do, and I may reconsider.

  • but... (Score:2, Funny)

    by owlnation (858981)
    ...isn't this one of Vista's most popular features?

    Without that kill switch customers will be left with a slow, buggy OS.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:45AM (#21571433)
    What stops MS from turning the switch back on at any future date? Although MS may have "turned off" the kill switch, it remains a feature of the system as long as MS auto-update can make changes to the OS without the user's consent.
  • by dido (9125) <dido@imperi[ ]ph ['um.' in gap]> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:46AM (#21571443)

    I suppose they realized that it would be just a matter of time before someone outside of Microsoft discovers a way to use the kill switch. And then every Internet-connected computer running Vista will die instantly. Hmm... Doesn't sound like such a bad idea after all...

    • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:09PM (#21575439)
      In the old days, viruses used to do things like delete users data to be malicious. Now, virus authors go to great lengths to write stealth rootkits to be sure there is never any visible sign to the user that the virus is installed on the system.

      Viruses used to written by basement hackers who wanted to be elite and cool and to show what they could do, and visibly damaging people's user experience drew a lot of attention to them. Now, viruses are authored by hackers payed by organized crime, and they are used to mail spam, steal credit card numbers, and blackmail companies for cash under threat of DDOS attacks. Today's hackers won't bother going after the kill switch, it's not in their interest. They want those machines online, unknowingly marching to their orders like a good little botnet bot should.
  • End the Era (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dcray2000 (969850)

    Excellent Microsoft, keep destroying the wide spread use of your own OS, frustrating your end users, and alienating the next generation of system/software engineers.
     
    We'll be that much better off.
  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:48AM (#21571467)
    One of my XP machines pulled down a WGA update from Windows automatic updates yesterday.

    Have they also somehow altered WGA in XP?
  • I was hoping finally the corporations would wake up to the onerous requirements MSFT is placing on them, making them jump through so many hoops like a trained monkey and finally decide to become less independent on MSFT. Now the computer will continue to work, but with a few more nagging messages. Given the amount of nagging dialogs that most users don't understand who routinely press OK to continue and get on with their work. It will merely accustom the users to higher levels of pain and raise the toleranc
    • For big buisness it isn't really that onerous, you set one (or two for redundancy) machine up as a KMS and make sure all your machines can access it every so often. No big deal.

      Ordinary home users at least in the west will mostly buy big brand machines and get bios locked media that does not need activation.

      The people it really hits are enthusiasts who build thier own PCs and modify them at lot, small time PC repair places that must have either have loads of different types of bios locked media or convince
  • Or might the lower piracy rates for Vista be due to other reasons, say pirating XP instead.
  • Ok, so I gotta say, this is too much vista hating in the comments. I think the community should be congratulating MS for backing off of their anti-piracy campaign a little bit. They are changing a feature to help users, like the legit users who are having issues with this. I agree that they should do away with more of it but hey, you have to start somewhere. This isn't like an article just saying they are thinking about it, they are going to implement it. Doesn't that deserve a bit of praise?

    Just to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 15Bit (940730)
      I'd agree that this isn't exactly the most balanced or objective of places where discussion of MS is concerned, and it also annoys me. In many ways though, the MS bashing is just people being unable to express themselves properly. In this instance, for example, what the MS bashers are trying to say is that whilst in principle it is a good thing that MS have changed their mind now, they have a past record of making similar announcements and then quietly sneaking the original idea through the back-door a coup
  • by mallardtheduck (760315) <stuartbrockmanNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:17AM (#21571809)
    Microsoft said it [...] [has] taken down more than 50,000 "illegal and improper" online software auctions.'

    So that means that Microsoft have been getting perfectly legal auctions taken down because they deem then "improper" then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gsslay (807818)
      For someone reading slashdot, you seem distressingly clueless about the meaning of AND compared to OR.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Firstly, English is imprecise. It is not a programming language.
        Secondly, the quote said:

        Microsoft said it had [...] taken down more than 50,000 "illegal and improper" online software auctions.'"

        Because English is imprecise, that can have multiple valid meanings.

        If we break the sentence down we could get:
        Microsoft said it had [...] taken down more than {50,000 [("illegal) and (improper")]} online software auctions.'"
        Meaning a number of illegal auctions were taken down and a number of improper auctions were
  • ...with quality? Somehow piracy doesn't seem the biggest roadblock to Vista sales right now.

  • by CtrlShiftEsc (1129785) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:33AM (#21572009)

    People can bitch about the apparent tunnel-visioned business model that they adopt with WGA. The fact of the matter is that if the tables were turned and Apple were the most dominant and pervasive OS, there would be similar tactics employed. You bet your life that Apple would hunt you down with their 'iCanDoNoWrong' activation software. It's just that way it is, being a monopoly, good or bad.

    Microsoft is in business to make money and do the bidding of its shareholders, period. If one accepts that fact, then expect that they have to do something to protect their interests because it does affect their bottom line. Again, /. people might not care but then again, it's not your bottom line, on the line.

    Not so many years ago, Steam arrived on the scene in the PC games world. Everyone moaned and complained. Groups formed to try and find ways to circumvent it (and I suspect they still do). Everyone said it was organised spying because the software had to 'phone home', nobody wanted to activate their game on-line. Now, Steam does a whole lot more than just phone home, it's practically Borg! Yet, I don't really have a problem with it. Maybe Microsoft could use their model instead? It certainly doesn't treat legitimate customers as potential criminals as far as I can see.

    I accept that WGA is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. However, if one accepts that there is a global piracy problem for Microsoft to deal with, how would /. people solve it? Don't bother to chime in 'Make it free' or 'Make it Open Source and then I'll pay for it' or 'sell it for peanuts because no-one will pirate it then' - yeah, right. Business is business.

  • by Fross (83754) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:05PM (#21572447) Homepage
    (As basically everyone else is talking about Vista in general, thought I would too.)

    I just upgraded my main machine last month (from athlon 3000xp / nforce2 / 2G ram / 6800gs, to core2quad q6600 / nforce 680i sli / 4G 800Mhz ram / BFG 8800GT) I felt I was reaching XP's limits on what I wanted, namely:

    - can't access 4G ram, or higher. Maxes out around 3.25G
    - can't run DirectX 10 (this is the total killer, for games)
    - also, I'd have to reinstall if I wanted XP-64, so may as well go the whole hog

    I use my PC for gaming, and music production (Cubase, etc). Over the last few weeks I've been painstakingly contacting the manufacturers of every peripheral/software I use, ensuring I won't lose the use of anything I currently am used to. That takes care of the driver issue.

    The other main issues seem to be memory (4G should be enough for now), and general resource usage. I've looked into it a bit and found a bunch of services that are useless for me and will speed things up when disabled (ReadyBoost, Search index services for example) - but to be honest, this was always the way with any Windows installation - msmsgs, anyone? A bit of tweaking will always be necessary.

    Right now, it seems hard for me to find something that doesn't work under Vista, and the new device driver stack, directx 10 and expansion to 64 bit seem worth it to me. Anyone been through a similar upgrade recently and have a story to tell?
  • No big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JRHelgeson (576325) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:47PM (#21574075) Homepage Journal
    Until they completely pull DRM out of the kernel, I will never support the corporate adoption within our enterprise. In a perfect world, the DRM should only activate when "Premium Content" is being played. However, if we are copying gigabytes of .mp3 voice recording files (recorded phone calls to customer service, etc.) Vista just bogs down and stops. "It won't do that", we were promised last year while Vista was being readied for release. "It shouldn't do that" we're told when we encountered the problems, but it doesn't matter, Because. It. DOES.

    With today's computers and today's work environment who DOESN'T work with or Manipulate multimedia content at some point? How could we possibly rely on an operating system that treats all multimedia content as special requiring extra inspection attempting to verify that I'm not trying to circumvent some nonexistent copy protection.

    Windows Vista truly is the longest suicide note in history.

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