“The release of Windows 2000 marks Microsoft’s strongest anti-piracy effort to date, but privacy advocates caution that new registration procedures may have been designed to do more than thwart counterfeiters.
The new Windows and Office 2000 CDs, due out next week, have an edge-to-edge hologram and a new process requiring users to register their software. “The [etching] process is so complex and complicated that the slightest mistake … could cause damage to the code. So that will make it really difficult and expensive for counterfeiters to do,” said Jackie Carriker, group manager for worldwide anti-piracy marketing at Microsoft. A second layer of protection is the certificate of authenticity, or registration tag, which OEMs and system builders will be required to attach to the specific PC where Windows or Office is installed. When users boot up the software for the first time on a machine, the registration wizard will require them to contact Microsoft — via the Internet, email, phone, fax, or snail mail — and get the second half of a registration key that matches their software certificate. If this registration process isn’t completed, the software will stop working after it’s been launched 50 times. The registration key will only allow users to install the software on two machines. There will be no such restrictions, however, for network managers, who will receive site license registration keys that allow them to install one copy on multiple machines. … “We saw [counterfeit copies of] Windows 2000 out quite a bit before it was released to manufacturing, selling for $1.50 to $400,” Carriker said. “In January alone, we shut down 100 sites that were distributing Windows 2000.”
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