How to say goodbye to those Win98 ID number blues

MS issues patches, and a rip it out of your machine procedure does the rest...

Microsoft yesterday posted two fixes to deal with the privacy problems in Office 97, while lamely continuing to claim that it's only a potential privacy problem really, and anyway it didn't do anything. Two programs are available at the Office Update site, and they both deal with the identifier number that is embedded in Office documents. This is derived from the unique serial number for your computer that Microsoft Windows 98 generates without telling you, and is then stuck in every document you produce, again without your being told. One of the programs stops Office doing this, while the other takes the number out of documents you've already got. Stopping the identifier being generated in the first place, however, will have to wait for Windows 98 Second Edition and Win2k. As of this morning, incidentally, Yusuf Mehdi's privacy statement on the MS site was still saying the problem would be fixed in a future service release of 98, although yesterday the man himself was saying we'd be getting a whole 'new' operating system. (Official: Win98 new version to ship in Q3) Microsoft says it is deleting the ID numbers it has obtained via the registration wizard, and it seems it's also possible to rip it out of your machine locally now. Those nice people at Windows magazine have helpfully posted instructions on how you do this here. ®

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