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Microsoft Blocking Wine Users From Downloads Site 895

IamTheRealMike writes "In January, Microsoft announced a new anti-piracy initiative called Genuine Advantage. From this summer onwards all users of Microsoft Downloads will be required to validate using either an ActiveX control or a standalone tool. Yesterday Ivan Leo Puoti, a Wine developer, discovered that the validation tool checks directly for Wine and bails out with a generic error when found. This is significant as it's not only the first time Microsoft has actively discriminated against users running their programs via Wine, but it's also the first time they've broken radio silence on the project."
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Microsoft Blocking Wine Users From Downloads Site

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  • by cookiej ( 136023 ) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:35AM (#11698909)
    Is Firefox secretly paying for this great, new marketing strategy?
  • bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chalkoutline ( 854917 ) <matt.slashdot@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:35AM (#11698912) Homepage
    Didn't they do something like this with the Trillian protocol on MSN Messenger? They hate third parties.
    • Re:bah (Score:4, Funny)

      by hplasm ( 576983 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:36AM (#11698919) Journal
      I hate parties with no Wine...
    • Re:bah (Score:4, Informative)

      by Arctic Dragon ( 647151 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:43AM (#11699015)
      Yahoo! has been known to block Trillian users [] too, as well as AOL [].
    • Re:bah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spyffe ( 32976 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:58AM (#11699183) Homepage
      I don't see that this is necessarily discrimination. I would think that if they wanted to fail on Wine, and they had a way of knowing it was Wine (they do, the registry key) it would be trivial to fail in all cases.

      However, they don't. They only fail when Wine is emulating earlier versions of Windows, which might be a problem with Wine's emulation. Barring further evidence, I would look at the Wine check as a means to count Wine users, not to block them.
      • Re:bah (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Xuther ( 223012 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:55AM (#11699920)
        Except that MS already has a history of not allowing their programs to run on other operating systems and throwing generic error messages. You remember DR-DOS/win3.1 right?

        Wasn't that judged illegal?
        Now if they're doing the same thing with office or their games, and they're refusing to run on wine...
        • Re:bah (Score:3, Interesting)

          Yeah, but you had to pay for Windows 3.1. So it was a simple anti-competition move.

          In this case, Microsoft is denying giving Wine users the stuff Windows users have paid for (unless they download it via Windows.) I think that's different. It's a simple case of "You don't get a free gift unless you're our customer."

          • Re:bah (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Robert The Coward ( 21406 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:26PM (#11700511)
            Try again. 1st Yea a case could be made for windows media player and a few things like that but what about office. I bought office 2000. Outlook 2000 had a bug in that if you get more 2 Gig worth of email it will crash and no alow any changes including deleting old messages. So you have to get some utils from were to fix they file and to provent it in the 1st place again you have to go to So by proventing wine from working they are proventing my from getting import updates and bug fixes for a program I bought and paid for. So much for the free gift idea.

          • by 4of12 ( 97621 )

            It's a simple case of "You don't get a free gift unless you're our customer."

            Slightly more complicated.

            "You don't get a free gift unless you're our recent customer."

            It's another prod towards the apathetic that would be content to use Windows 95.

    • Re:bah (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:04AM (#11699266)
      Trillan can still connect, but it cannot use the HTTP protocol to get through firewalls as the M$ version of the client does. In a corporate environment it would force the user to go and download M$ Messenger.
      • Re:bah (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StonyUK ( 173886 )
        In a corporate environment where they _wanted_ you to be using an IM client, they'd have the correct ports open.
    • Re:bah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:16PM (#11701354) Journal
      This may be proof that Bill Gates is a liar...

      From interview: []

      JENNINGS: Everybody I talked to seems to, particularly if they are young, seems to think that open sourcing is important and that among the reasons it is important is that it enables them to run more secure systems. Is that true from your point of view?

      GATES: Actually no, but that is the kind of competition that we have. Is that they will innovate in that space, we will innovate in our space. And in fact, we do a lot of work to make sure that these things can inter-operate so that a company can have a mix of Microsoft products, Unix products, Mainframe products, and then each time they do a project they can look and say - is the Microsoft solution best? Is the other solution best? And so there will just be a lot of choices there, no one approach is going to replace the other. (emphasis above added)

      Now compare the above with this: []

      " If you visit the download center with IE you get an activex control, but if you try with Firefox, you'll have to download a little program, that returns a code you have to copy into the download page, to get access to the download you selected. By quickly looking at the program, I noticed it looks for a registry key, this key is... SOFTWARE\Wine\Wine\Config the wine configuration key. the Windows Genuine Advantage program press release says that in the second half of 2005, all users connecting to the Microsoft download center or to windows update will have to validate their copy of windows. Interestingly if you run the validation program on wine, and the version of windows you're emulating is prior to 2000 or is windows server 20003, you get a message saying a validation code couldn't be found, because of technical difficulties or because you're running an unsupported operating system."
  • by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:37AM (#11698932) Homepage Journal
    Don't drink and download.
  • by hanssprudel ( 323035 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:37AM (#11698938)

    It isn't like there is anything particularly ugly about what Microsoft is doing. I mean, they really don't have an obligation to provide downloads of wine users, who are using a (somewhat) compatible competing system rather than theirs.

    I use wine to run some things, and I have not paid a dime to microsoft, so I don't exactly expect them to provide me with any services.
  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:38AM (#11698942)
    Windows 3.1 deliberately refused to run under DR-DOS, the competitor to MS-DOS at the time. The deliberately vague error was caused by a block of obfuscated code--google for DR-DOS AARD.
    • by Garg ( 35772 )
      And let's not forget Windows for Workgroups 3.11... the only 'feature' added by that extra '1' on the end was it broke OS/2 for Windows.

  • by DelawareBoy ( 757170 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:38AM (#11698947)
    If it's checking to see if you have genuine windows, and it bails out because you're running WINE under Linux, then it is doing it's job correctly.

    Wouldn't we be complaining if it *wasn't* working right?
  • Advantage Microsoft? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PaisteUser ( 810863 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:38AM (#11698950)
    My question is who gains from using the "Genuine Advantage"? I don't see how that would change my Windows expirience on a day-to-day basis.
    • by mobiux ( 118006 )
      I see this as nothing more than something to appease shareholders and discourage the low end pirate.
      They are trying to make it look like they are trying to prevent the claimed "100 trillion" lost every year in software piracy.

      It's not meant to help thier customers, it's meant to help themselves.
    • by kawika ( 87069 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:21AM (#11699487)
      If you look on the Microsoft Genuine Advantage [] site, the focus isn't nerds stealing single copies; would you validate your Windows if you were the one that hacked it? It's the chop shops and small sellers that are cheating their customers by loading illegal copies of MS software but still charging the user as if it's legal. A non-techie consumer that got ripped off was the victim of a crime by the business that sold them the computer and misrepresented the installed software.

  • by tehshen ( 794722 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:41AM (#11698978)
    "At Microsoft, security is our number one priority. You should turn off ActiveX controls and click 'no' to any dialog boxes. Service Pack 2 adds protection against these ActiveX controls, and with Windows Server 2003 ActiveX controls and other harmful content are blocked by default. This is for your own safety."

    "Ignore all that, turn ActiveX on again, else you won't be able to download from us!"

    What the hell?
    • Re:Mixed signals (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sepluv ( 641107 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:09AM (#11699315)
      No. You don't understand. They originally put ActiveX (and other syware/malware) in MS Windows so they could spy on you and crack into your machine.

      They've realised that other crackers (not employed by MS) were using it too much, so they are now making it so only they can take over your machine with ActiveX. Makes perfect sense to me.

      BTW, I'm being totally serious.

      • Re:Mixed signals (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        Unfortunately, that's my perception of the situation as well -- I use and like Windows, but by damn I am NOT going to let M$ install any bloody ActiveX or other "authentication" applet. It's a very short hop from "authentication before you can download" to "your software is too old so we are disabling it" or "we are now inspecting your machine on behalf of our partners".

        If I need an update that bad, I'll find it somewhere else.

        But it's also going to cripple the ability of legit user to patch critically vu
        • Re:Mixed signals (Score:3, Informative)

          by sepluv ( 641107 )
          Very true.

          Aside: Funny the way even Microsoft-worshipping sysadmins (I'm not saying that's you and I'm not using "worshipping" lightly) often use GNU/Linux to get MSW installed.

          This sort of shit is I yearn for the day when everything I need and do on Windows can be seamlessly handled by some other OS.
          What do you need MSW for? I'm sure people can suggest alternatives.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:41AM (#11698985) Homepage Journal
    Unless you can prove you have a license, they dont have to give you squat.

    Having wine installed inst a license to use their DLL's. And in some
    cases, even Microsoft applications you have *purchased*. Read your EULA's closely people.

    Sure, its irritating as hell, and will make updating to run newer applicatinos a pain, but well within their legal rights.

    Best solution is not to have to run wine if at all possible.
    • I agree with your points, but MS are treading on dangerous ground if they actually plan to enforce the EULA clause that prevent you from using MS apps on non-MS operating systems.
  • by confusion ( 14388 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:42AM (#11698991) Homepage
    Sadly, the only people that are gaining anything, even when MS loses anti-trust cases, are the lawyers. I don't see this one getting that far, though.

    I'm guessing that the only real downloads a Wine user would be making are updates for Office, correct? I'm drawing a blank on what else it could be. I haven't had the time to read my MS office EULA yet, but I'm guessing it doesn't specifically call out that it has to be run on Windows. That doesn't mean that MS has to provide you support if you're not. This is an automated incarnation of what has happened for years:
    me> I need support
    support> You're computer case isn't blue, is it?
    me> yes, it is, thanks for asking
    support> We don't support our software on computers with blue cases. Thanks for calling.
    me> argh!
    I think we've all been in that boat at one point or another.

    Jerry []
  • by Peeteriz ( 821290 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:42AM (#11698992)
    It's just the same idea of 'compatibility' for Microsoft - changes are intended to break competitor's products.
  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keiferb ( 267153 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:44AM (#11699020) Homepage
    Wouldn't (shouldn't?) this violate some sort of anti-whatever judgement they've been slapped with somewhere?
  • by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:44AM (#11699027) Homepage Journal support his childish claims about OSS software having poor interoperability [].

    For me it's just another good reason to stay well clear from a software company with such business tactics.
  • Dr. DOS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey ( 83763 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:46AM (#11699048) Journal
    Reminds me of this...

    How MS played the incompatibility card against DR-DOS []
  • Bad because.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UlfGabe ( 846629 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:48AM (#11699069) Journal
    It's bad because they, under the guise of anti-piracy, (which some may compare to anti-terrorism initiatives) blocked WINE, and made it seem as though it was a pirated product.

    To my knowledge WINE is an emulator for windows, so that windows programs may be run without purchasing windows. It is NOT some sort of cracked version of windows. We all know Microsoft hates losing the bling bling, but few linux users are likely to front said bling on top of the cost for the windows program. It comes out to probably 100-2000$ depending on the program, and the cost of Windows Xp Home(which i use because it only costs 100 bucks for easy typing).

    That said, WINE shouldn't be reliant on Microsoft for updates. The WINE community should fix it(if it is a bug), no handout thank-you. And Microsoft is not responsible for WINE, they should just plainly state "WINE is not a supported Microsoft product and therefore does not get updates"

    Putting this under some cover is bad, and shows microsofts(already known) business tendancies, to be sneaky and mean.

    • Re:Bad because.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alberic ( 777137 )
      "To my knowledge WINE is an emulator for windows[...]" Wine Is No Emulator ! funny how people forget the meaning of acronyms...
    • Re:Bad because.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gowen ( 141411 )
      To my knowledge WINE is an emulator for windows, so that windows programs may be run without purchasing windows.
      Then WINE users should get their updated library file from [], and not rely on microsoft to provide free functionality for their own competitors.
    • Re:Bad because.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by mslinux ( 570958 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:16AM (#11699414)
      What planet are you from? These updates are not for wine, they are for MS products. Just because the product in question is running on wine doesn't mean it should not have access to updates.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:50AM (#11699092)
    I've seen a post or two here complaining that they bought MS software and they can run it on any platform they choose.

    Well, of they can. This move by MS won't stop that. They didn't buy perpetual upgrades, though, and MS didn't agree to provide perpetual upgrades at no cost to anyone.

    So, what are people bitching about? Maybe they'd be happier if MS offered piad subscriptions to updates to non-MS users?
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:51AM (#11699104) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. When I first installed Windows Media Player 6 a few years back, I was surprised to see that it was actually downloading codecs from MS. I figured they would have blocked non MS clients from doing this way back then. I can't say this comes as a shock.

    On the flipside, I wonder if this means that WINE has moved from the part where MS ignored them and will begin laughing at them. :) I also wonder how much code from the WINE [] project (and probably DOSBox []) made it into Windows XP for backwards compatibility? ;P I think DOSBox does a much better job of running old DOS games on XP than XP does.

    You have to figure that MS bought Connectix for their virtualization technology so that they could actually dump backwards compatibility from the core OS and just use limited virtualization for better backward compatibility. At the same time by dumping all that cruft from the core OS, they can make the OS something more advanced. XP was a pretty big leap from Win2K in that direction (dropping support for CPUs below P II for example). I would have to guess that Longhorn is going to be an even bigger jump which is why it's taking so long.

  • by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:51AM (#11699113) Homepage
    A lot of people are saying MS has the right to restrict downloads to people who own their software. I agree that they are liable to their customers, but some of their customers run wine.

    I have a legal copy of Windows which is currently unused. I don't like dual booting. I don't like running under an x86 emulator. I like using Wine (or commercial variants of it) if I absolutely need to run win32 software. At the very least, my license to Windows should entitle me to downloads from MS--not whether or not I am using Windows to download them. They should at least give you the opportunity to enter in your product key. I'd still feel like this was obnoxious & be pissed at them, but at least people in a similar situation would be able to download programs from them.
  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:56AM (#11699171)

    ... `till WINE won't run.

    Good old Microsoft.
    Same as it ever was.

  • IE + Wine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morcego ( 260031 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:59AM (#11699194)
    Just tested downloading using Internet Explorer running under Wine.
    Installed the ActiveX component, and downloaded just fine.

    Tried with the AntiSpyware product of theirs.
  • by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:06AM (#11699279)
    I had to go through their process the other day when downloading a Windows Mobile SDK and eMbedded Visual C++. Seems pretty dumb, because it's not exactly like you can get an illegal copy of Windows Mobile. Fortunately, I have a legal copy of Win2K, but I did have to dig up my serial number...
  • by omega9 ( 138280 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:08AM (#11699303)
    For the past four years I've been managing a couple of Windows 2K Server farms from a Linux workstation. The simple combination of rdesktop and a WM that has virtual desktops makes for a pretty kickass KVM-a-like with a full workstaton behind it.

    So just yesterday I'm at Microsoft's site grabbing a copy of Sonar, a file replication monitoring tool, and it wants to immediately verify my copy of Windows. But I'm grabbing the file from my workstation because the machines it will be applied to don't have direct access to the internet. Luckily for now, I can choose to skip the verification step, but eventually I know I won't be able to.

    I would imagine that my scenario is far from unique. It certainly isn't deceptive in any way, but I've got the feeling that it won't be an option for me in the near future.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:18AM (#11699438) Homepage
    You know, the thing that caught my eye the most in the summary was that they use an Active X control to check.

    My biggest problem with the way that Microsoft does a lot of things is this damned Active X stuff. In order to secure your system, everyone says turn this crap off because it's a huge gaping hole.

    In order to do anything with Microsoft's site, you need to set your security settings to abysmal in order to use the damned site. I'm sure a more Windows-savvy user can set it up to have these settings off and still use this stuff.

    I find it annoying and most people probably end up leaving themselves with insecure settings so they can get their security updates.


  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:19AM (#11699464)
    This is a sign of things to come for Mono.

    Sure, I know that you can do without Genuine Microsoft binaries for much of Mono, but being blocked from having updates sure hurts the compatibility argument to Mono. (ie. updates to the .Net project can easily be withheld and apps written on the MS platform can be forced to link against them)

    I know that many Wine libraries are needed for the Forms libaries and this will be a blow for dll updates and changes there.

    If Microsoft tries to enforce their patent protections on top of this kind of thing, it will be game-over for the new Gnome development on Mono. Score: Microsoft 1, Linux Desktop -1

  • Too funny (Score:5, Funny)

    by StillNeedMoreCoffee ( 123989 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:22AM (#11699496)
    "Windows Genuine Advantage already helps protect millions of Windows users from an inferior computing experience, viruses and other vulnerabilities that can result from counterfeit software."

    You should only have the inferior computing, viruses and vulnuerabilities that result from Genuine Windows products. Don't be fooled by immitations.

    Wait there's more....
  • by edward.virtually@pob ( 6854 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:16PM (#11700332)
    microsoft has used "generic error" messages to discriminate against users of software it doesn't like.

    After winning awards and besting MS-DOS in virtually every comparison, DR-DOS had the rug pulled out from under it when Microsoft released a beta version of Windows 3.0 that detected DR-DOS and gave bogus error messages. []

    print the article while you can. now that the records from the caldera trial have been destroyed [] (along with the copy of the beta they managed to find for the trial, no doubt), microsoft will undoubted resume claiming it's an urban legend, if they have't already, and all mention of this little bit of history is rapidly vanishing from the virtual world as well. pathetic.

    the destruction of the caldera trial documents has been mentioned on slashdot once [] or twice [], and i commented on it both [] times []. pity nobody cared. oh well. history repeats itself again.
  • Did anyone RTFP? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unnngh! ( 731758 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:49PM (#11701857)
    This all may be true, but I have my doubts that they're checking for Wine specifically. And, am I the only one who bothered reading further? Here's the first reply:

    When I run the validation program on my genuine Win2k system, I get the message saying a validation code couldn't be found because of technical difficulties or because I'm running an unsupported operating system. When using IE and thus the ActiveX control there is no problem and my Windows is recognized as genuine. Looks to me the standalone validation program is seriously broken....

    "You see, you have this mat, with different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO."

    But please flame me if I'm wrong;)

    • Re:Did anyone RTFP? (Score:3, Informative)

      by NullProg ( 70833 )
      but I have my doubts that they're checking for Wine specifically.

      Riddle me this, why does this appear when running strings on the program?

      strings GenuineCheck.exe | more

      SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion
      SOF T WARE\Microsoft\Windows Genuine Advantage

      Somehow I don't think that they are checking for Wine just to make sure they don't screw up your linux installation.

      But please flame me if I'm wrong;)
      Consider yourself toast :)

  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @03:50PM (#11703515) Homepage
    In high school and college I had a part time business cutting notches in the ends of cardboard tubes. The company my dad worked for made paper for thermal copying machines (long time ago). To force customers to use only that brand of paper, the copy machine maker built little metal pegs onto the hubs that held the roll, and they wanted my dad's company to cut notches in the tubes that the paper was rolled on, which would engage the pegs. My dad's company didn't have an accurate way to cut these notches, so through some wangling he got me the job as a subcontractor. For a while I used a table saw with a homemade jig to align the tubes. Later I designed a motorized notch-cutting machine and had a retired machinist down the road build it for me.

    Little did I know at the time that I was probably helping them violate anti-trust laws. But it sure did help put me through college.

    The moral is that this type of practice isn't limited to the software business or to the "big boys".
  • by speedbump ( 11624 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:48PM (#11705030)
    Brilliant move, Microsoft. Now some dweeb living in his mom's basement will write an ActiveX virus that creates the Wine key in the registry, then exits.

    The next time you go to Windows Update, whether you run Wine or not...

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead