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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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By Belard on 4/17/2008 4:50:04 AM , Rating: 1
Okay - you guys own the PC market... why not actually make a usable OS that more people will buy? Be happy that anyone is buying your junk called "Vista" - Sure there were issues going from Win98 > WinXP, but not like the mess I'm seeing here which is basicly Windows 5.5 (Original XP is offically 5.1, I'd "personally" consider MCE 5.3)

First: Vista upgrade, without the loop-hole trick would be a nightmare to install, every time if for whatever reason is needed. Like lets say your HD dies... okay, dig-up (if you have it) an XP CD or key, install that for 30mins, then install Vista for 3hrs... oh wow.

So IF you have to do a REINSTALL for the reasons stated above - then the END-USER is NOT breaking the EULA! Its saving step of an already extra complicated setup. And considering how many TIMES Microsoft has been SUED for stealing software and other technology from other companies - this exec should shut his trap.

Perhaps, if M$ would stop spending time find ways to screwing its customer base and treating them like crimminals, perhaps they'd get a higher rating. I also trust Vista less with my personal info than WindowsXP.

How to make "vista" or more importantly, Windows7 (be honest, call it Windows6.0 if it warrents that much advancement) is to do the simple thing that Apple does.

$110 = Apple OS X (~They are still version 10.x after 8 years) The disc will DO upgrade or clean install. Simple. None of this 20 differnt SKU game you guys are playing. The OEM 64bit verison should still come with 32bit disc incase the end user is having problems with 64bit.

But no, we have $100~400 for Retail, OEM, Upgrade versions. All with various degerees of pain-in-the-ass licencing of what it may or may not do.

And your OTHER Microsoft RIP-OFF is they're double-licencing! Like from this line:
DeGroot stated, "Many corporate customers still think they can buy bare PCs and image them with volume media."

First, a Corporate licence is that a company PAID M$ thousands, if not hundred of thousands of dollars for a number of WindowsOS installs. This is LEGIT. But then M$ says that the Client/Corp who orders, lets say 1000PCs from Dell - can't buy them Bare-bones... so (A) Dells makes money from selling a PC with Windows. (B) M$ makes money from both Dell and customer by selling the PC with Windows. (C) Microsoft makes even MORE money by selling the licence direct to the customer for installs.

For various factors, a company may want to use a specific key/licence for all their inhouse desktops for easier management, etc. So all their new Dell boxes would have to be wiped and re-imaged with their already legit OS/Office/etc software. What a RIP-OFF! BTW: Dell tried to help out in this area by selling Dell PCs with Linux for a lower price... this was years ago, guess who put a stop to that?

Now, the volume Licence shouldn't include a free OS upgrade - of course. But we have companies, who continue to upgrade thier systems by ording Dells, HP, etc with Vista and then re-image them with their corporate licence of XP.

- To Microsoft: You guys suck. Your development team sucks, your business practice sucks. Vista sucks, that is the BEST you could do after 7 years? What are you, a 3rd rate company? Actually you guys are a very successful 3rd-rate company, nothing more. Most people don't buy your product because "We love you" - we buy your products because we have to . Its business, you don't care, its about the bottom line; money.

But at least use some KY before sticking it to us, again.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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