Microsoft has introduced its Windows XP Service Pack 1 which, according to Microsoft’s documentation, is “aimed at ensuring licensed customers receive full benefits… product updates and Access to Windows XP Updates.” What Microsoft XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) is really designed to do is “to make it more difficult for those who pirate software to steal these same benefits.”
A summary of SP1’s changes from Service Packs of the past includes:
(1) When XP SP1 installation is attempted, SP1 will not load with previous “well known” pirated product keys, and will further verify the product key against a current product key list
(2) Once a hardware change is made to a PC that requires re-activation of Windows XP, licensed users will have a grace period of 3 days (previously required immediately) to re-activate Windows XP
(3) SP1 includes a Volume License Key (VLK) encryption that is added to unattended setups of Windows XP
(4) A product key used to install Windows XP will become part of the Installation ID for all future activations after SP1
(5) The entire product key will be sent upon Internet log in/activation, while a hash value of the product key will be sent upon telephone installation
(6) “Fixes” to software piracy cracks will be embedded in SP1 to prohibit SP1 activation
(7) Installations of Windows XP that have been repaired/patched by a crack must be completely reactivated upon SP1 installation.
Reports have been coming in from retailers and companies all over the world to us saying that Microsoft (sometimes via the SPA) has been aggressive in auditing (or sending letters threatening to audit) them to make sure that are fully compliant with Microsoft licenses.
This has led to a mad rush for many companies and users to “true up” now or be forced to deal with the consequences later. Many are convinced that this is nothing more than a strong arm harassment tactic by Microsoft to raise their stock price and teach the government a lesson. No matter, Microsoft is going after these missed profits and unhappy or not customers are paying the price to get legal.
Personally, I can’t wait to see the expressions on all of the faces of those running illegal copies who happen to have auto updated engaged, if and when they start forcing Service Pack 1 down to all of the XP machines and one by one these systems stop working or need to be reactivated. We are not going to say that we told you so, but when product activation was first announced, we were sure that this was going to be a possibility as soon as the cracks arrived so publicly on the Internet.
Next will be Microsoft’s master plan to start to rent the use of software to users on a per term basis. Yep, this is where I think this is headed folks, so don’t be surprised if this is the next move in the game.