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MS' Mr WPA says no new corp keys for SP1

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Microsoft licensing technologies lead product manager Allen Nieman (Mr WPA) has denounced last week's WinXP product activation revamp story as FUD, a rumour that is "entirely untrue," and that has been "parroted by some folks without validating with us" (by which we fear he means us).

As it turns out, the tests on which the "rumour" was based had one fatal flaw - they did not distinguish between corporate and non-corporate versions of XP SP1, and so when a non-corporate SP1 was slipstreamed (i.e., applied in combination with an XP install) into a corporate XP, the installation was turned into a retail XP Pro one, and the corporate keys - naturally - didn't work.

Nieman made a posting to an SP1 beta group on Friday, saying:

"Here's the deal: There is no truth in this rumor. We are not changing the way volume licensing customers install or deploy Windows XP. We are not issuing volume licensing customers new product keys. Volume licensing customers are not impacted by any of the changes we are making to activation in SP1. The only folks impacted by the changes we are making in SP1 are people with illegal copies of Windows."

"We are planning to completely discuss and document what is changing in activation to address crack and pirate issues as part of the overall SP1 comm planning and included in that will be a technical marketing doc I am writing that explains exactly, detailed, what the changes are, how they work, and why we are doing them. Our goal here is to be completely transparent and forthcoming - fully open kimono if you will. As soon as that doc is complete (early to mid next month) I'll post it here."

Note that although Nieman is categorically denying the rumour, which has in any event debunked itself, he is confirming that there will be changes in WPA in SP1, and as he proposes to explain them, one is inclined to conclude that they will be of greater significance than simply the blocking of a few leaked corporate keys. For, how long does that one take to explain?

Microsoft does need to do something about WPA in order to negate keygen routines being used to generate working XP keys, so changes in the generation algorithm are probably still on the cards. If that is the case, then we'd still be likely to see a new variety of key being phased in via new OEM machines and in the various different editions of WinXP Microsoft currently has on the stocks. But as Nieman proposes to go public by the middle of August, we'll soon know. ®

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