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MS applying prod activate tech to Win2k et al?

Well, if they're going to do it, they're not going to do it just a bit, are they?

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A post on The Tech Report suggests that Microsoft just might be preparing to retro-fit XP’s product activation to Win2k. According to the author, installation of the Internet Explorer 6 preview on a Win2k machine resulted in the addition of a new, suspicious-sounding registry key.

The item appears as \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSLicensing, and there are two sub keys - HardwareID and Store. Says the author: “Under the HardwareID key is a ClientHWID binary value entry, containing what I'll assume is a hash key generated off my system's hardware.

“Under the Store key is another key named LICENSE000, which contains four binary values named the following: ClientLicense, CompanyName, LicenseScope, and ProductID.”

This certainly sounds like it contains the kind of info Microsoft is using for XP product activation, but it also seems to be a different way of doing it from the one used in XP beta 2. In the interests of The Truth, The Register has just turned itself in and finally got around to activating the office test rig, and although the MSLicensing entry existed both before and after activation, it obstinately remains as “value not set.”

It seems most likely that Microsoft is experimenting with a number of different ways to handle activation, and that the code in the IE6 preview is just another one of them.

It certainly can’t be the case that Microsoft intends to make you activate products you’ve already bought and installed, and that didn’t ship with activation built in. But it does seem inevitable that, so long as the system actually flies, it’ll get fitted to new revs of earlier software. It’s also likely, as it’s Microsoft’s intention to roll out product activation across all its software, that the tools to execute it will appear in your old OS as you install new software.

Friends, there is no escape. Well all right, there is one, before you lot all start bombarding me again. It begins with L, OK? ®

Related links

Tech Report article
WinXP product activation: is MS only kidding?

The next step in data security

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