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One Microsoft executive is rather ticked at sneaky users and their "hacks".

In an openly sarcastic blog entry, Microsoft's Eric Ligman tore into users who have been exploiting a workaround to allow a Vista upgrade to install on a computer that did not previously have a Windows OS, such as a new PC.  Ligman, Microsoft's senior manager of community engagement for small business in the U.S., had no sympathy for these users, who he labels as "clueless" criminals.

It was reported last winter by DailyTech that by using an 11 step process, a cheaper Vista upgrade could be installed on a PC with no pre-existing operating system.  This gaping loophole was apparently left wide open by Microsoft and stood in contrast to previous versions of Windows that required a copy of the previous Windows OS, with no exceptions. 

While many noted that the OEM version of Vista tended to be cheaper, the upgrade version did have some advantages, in that you could switch between 32-bit and 64-bit versions (OEM only allowed one specific OS), it had a more flexible license allowing easier reinstalls, and it could be found at significantly cheaper if you were a student. 

In the Windows Secrets newsletter early this month, Associate Editor Scott Dunn asserted that he believed that Microsoft purposefully left the loophole open to encourage savvy users to adopt Vista.  Said Dunn, "the fact that the upgrade back door is still present in Vista SP1 is a strong indication that the feature has at least the tacit support of Microsoft officials."

In his blog Ligman offers up a raving retort, arguing:

So if you see anyone stating, or writing, that buying an upgrade by itself (Windows Vista Upgrade for instance) without having a full license first gets you the rights to run the software, just realize that what the person is actually stating is, “I clearly have no clue what I am talking about and so I am writing a bunch of gibberish that proves this hoping people will think I have a clue, even though I obviously don’t.

If they continue to tell you that, “But I can get it to physically install, so it must be legal,” this further shows their complete lack of comprehension. Just because something will install does not make it legal. For example, a pirated piece of software will (usually) physically install; however, running pirated software is 100% illegal (and who knows what else it will install on or do to your computer). If you don’t believe me, try calling 888-NO-PIRACY and letting them know that you are running pirated software throughout your company. Explain to them that you feel it is legal to do so because you got it to physically install, so it must be legal and ask if they would mind auditing your company to verify the legality of this. Let me know how that turns out for you.

In order to clarify for "clueless" readers, Ligman offers the shortened explanation on the legality of the upgrade workaround using only three letter words or shorter-- "It is not ok to do so. It is BAD to do so."

Ligman encourages users to voice their anger against the "pirates" who have been exploiting the upgrade "hack".  He also encourages his readers to play advocate and inform news publications that have been writing about the workaround that what they are "encouraging" is wrong or illegal.

While Ligman wants to blame the users and the journalistic community for what he says is unlawfulness, many think the blame rests with Microsoft for not providing clear enough licensing terms and information.  Among the supporters of this philosophy is Paul DeGroot, an analyst with Directions On Microsoft.  DeGroot stated, "Many corporate customers still think they can buy bare PCs and image them with volume media."

DeGroot also blasts that Microsoft won't allow users to transfer installs between computers on some version, stating, "The prohibition against moving it to another computer is counter-intuitive for most people, and it smacks of revenue maximization rather than reasonable restriction."

Ligman's rant is not unfamiliar territory in the tech industry.  From Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs to Mark Cuban and Michael Bay, it seems these days nobody is afraid to opine on tech topics, and oft sarcastically and noisily at that.

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RE: Microsofts disregard for customers
By omnicronx on 4/16/2008 2:52:15 PM , Rating: -1
I think it they are simply one in the same. There should be NO upgrade or full install disc, just disc. The disc should save your data (if any) and remove the previous version (if any) and replace it with Vista. And the prices should be as such:
This totally defies the reason for most people upgrading, they want to migrate from XP with their files and some of their programs. Furthermore 100$ for an OS? Keep on dreaming, it is not worth the time money developing a new OS in the first place (for thousands of pieces of hardware) and the support that microsoft has to offer for a mesly $100. After the cost of shipping, the CD, the box, the marketing, the R&D, it would barely be worth it. And if you think Windows costs too much don't pay! Microsoft sure as hell doesnt care, 95%+ of their business is with OEMS and business licensing. I for one did not pay 400 dollars for Vista ultimate, thats for damn sure.

I'm tired of multiple versions. Just have one. If it eats too much resources on your computer, TURN OFF AERO. Turn off the stupid animated windows with its transparent bars and "smooth" transitions and animated cascading windows. You'd be surprised how much faster things run. Vista Basic is essentially Windows XP with Vista skin and Directx 10.
Vista Skin and DX 10 eh? I think its time to go sit in a corner because you don't know what you are talking about. Vistas shortcommings come via crappy hardware support. And mostly you can thank your friendly manufactuers ATI, NVIDIA, Intel and creative for that(although MS is to blame for certain things like terrible networking, although when turning off QOS all my problems disapear). Like it or not, it is a reworked OS, sound and video API's work in a totally different way, and in my opinion the features they implemented will be better, not worse for us in the future.
So if you don't like it, don't use it, but I have had enough of the complaining when people like you don't even have their facts straight.

RE: Microsofts disregard for customers
By goku on 4/16/2008 4:29:56 PM , Rating: 4
omnicronx, you've obviously not been alive or at least conscious very long because had you been, you'd know that only 13 years ago, Windows COULD be had for that price, in fact I believe you could have had Windows 95 for even $50... But I do know that Windows 95 did NOT cost significantly more than $100, so what now?

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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