Feeds

MS Office compulsory registration: does it really work?

According to a victim of the 'successful pilot,' not entirely...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The introduction of compulsory registration for Microsoft Office 2000 might raise spectres of Big Brother Redmond, but eye-witness accounts from the countries who're already on the receiving end of the system suggest Microsoft has a way to go before it ends up knowing everything about everybody. Australia, New Zealand and Brazil have been running with compulsory registration since O2k first shipped, but rather than being worrying, the process seems more clunky and humorous. The basic process is that you contact Microsoft with a 16 character code and some information when you're installing, and Microsoft then gives you an eight character unlock code. This can be done via Internet, fax, voice phone, or mail. A New Zealand Register reader chose voice, and at that point things started to get weird. About this information Microsoft wants - what is it? "'As little or as much information as you wish,' they said. 'What information do you want to know?' I enquired. 'Anything you want to tell us,' they said." You can imagine this kind of conversation going around and around forever, which is perhaps why Microsoft is now stressing that the only information it wants is the 16 character code and the country you're in. But the apparent nervousnessness of the New Zealand call centre jockeys makes it crystal clear that last year's storm over unique identification numbers in Windows 98 made a deep impression on Microsoft, and that at least for the moment the company really is concentrating on registration as an anti-priacy measure, rather than an exercise in information gathering. But there were more complications in our informant's experience. He was running a dual boot Win2k and Win98 machine, so needed to install Office 2000 on both partitions. Each install generates a unique 16 character code, which should match unique eight character keys supplied by Microsoft. So he has to do it twice, right? But thinking about it, he oughtn't to be able to do it twice without a posse showing up on his doorstep - if he's told Microsoft where his doorstep is, of course. None of this however seems exactly true. "I decided to keep the original key which MS gave me, and when I got a new install code generated on screen in Win98, decided to be a bit tricky and enter the same key as was given to me for Win2k." But although O2k is supposed to generate a different key for each install, it accepted the older one "but then automatically changed that key as soon as I typed it in." He phoned Microsoft again, pretended he hadn't entered the key, told them he was installing on Windows 98 and was given a new key. Which turned out to be exactly the same as the key Office 2000 was changing the old key to. This is of course impossible, as the key is supposed to be generated at the Microsoft call centre, not at the local machine - or is it? Whatever, we reckon Big Brotherdom won't be upon us until certain software companies get their systems under control. ® Related stories: Office 2k SR-1 makes registration with MS compulsory

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.