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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 winterspan on 4/17/2008 5:16:59 AM , Rating: 1
HAHAHAH.. I cannot even BELIEVE you have the nerve to call the OSX 10.4 Tiger to OSX 10.5 Leopard upgrade an "incremental update" versus the XP to Vista upgrade.
Just because MS calls it by a new name, doesn't mean it does ANYTHING remotely useful that the previous version doesn't.
In contrast with XP-Vista, the Leopard upgrade of OSX actually brought *significant* new features to all parts of the OS. And here is the important part -- features which AVERAGE USERS will actually find useful and improve their experience.

Now I have two computers sitting here and zero of them are Macs. One with Vista, and one with XP. The are literally ZERO meaningful differences between them, save some compatibility problems with Vista.

Oh wait, there are some great improvements over XP like that MS Paint now has a CROP FUNCTION! and "Sounds Recorder" can Save WMA files! oohhh and how could I forget "Chess Titans".

The only remotely useful things I can even think of are for developers and system admins, like pre-installed .NET framework 3.0, powershell, admin utilities, reporting, etc.

And for the average consumer?

Aero - piece of crap attempt at a graphically rich, video accerlerated interface. For real effort, See OSX or Ubuntu

"Flip3D" - paaaathetic. Again, for an actually useful implementation
of application windows management, see OSX "spaces/expose" or Ubuntu+Beryl

"Sidebar" - just as worthless as the other implentations from Apple/Yahoo/Google

"Windows Photo gallery/Contacts/Calendar/Mail/Movie Maker/DVD maker/Games Explorer" - All completley useless to anyone but a complete novice.

"Backup center" - I already use an excellent 3rd party backup software.

"DirectX 10" - not a gamer.. but If i was, it would be worthless as well

"HD Photo / XPS" - totally worthless

"SuperFetch"- totally worthless
"ReadyBoost" - has no effect at all. again, totally worthless

"Desktop Search" - Already available on XP
"IE 7.0" - Already available on XP
"Media center 11" - Already available on XP

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