Microsoft tightens Windows 8 activation policy to curb piracy

By on August 6, 2012, 2:00 PM

Piracy is a fact of life for Microsoft. Case in point: just two days after the company began distributing the finalized version of Windows 8 to partners around the globe, the code became publicly available across various file sharing sites. Microsoft declined to comment on the leak but, presumably, someone working at an OEM was responsible.

Previous products have leaked online as well, and while its very unlikely they’ll get rid of the problem altogether anytime soon, Microsoft is looking to close down a few of the loop holes that made life easier for pirates and rogue OEMs. In particular Microsoft is looking to change the way they deal with OEM activations for Windows 8.

OEM Activation (OA) allows PC manufacturers to ship systems with Windows preinstalled and already activated, so that customers don't need to take any additional steps to activate the OS when they first use a new computer. In the past, a single activation key was used by most OEMs to activate all of their shipped machines. However, going forward, manufacturers will be required to write a unique Windows product key into the BIOS of each new PC, based on each particular system’s hardware.

This key isn’t automatically generated by OEMs either. They will need to obtain it directly from Microsoft via electronic delivery and factories will be required to file production reports to Microsoft detailing their license compliance, thus making it harder to avoid paying licensing fees to Microsoft.

The new activation scheme hasn’t been officially confirmed by Microsoft -- details are based off a series of leaked slides obtained by The Register. According to the site, OA 3.0 will only apply to new PCs running Windows 8. Other versions, including Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 and earlier are not affected.

At this point it’s unclear what the move will mean for individuals buying OEM versions of the OS, or if the hardware based activation will somehow affect users manually upgrading their laptops’ storage or memory.

Microsoft has set a release date of October 26 for Windows 8. Upgrade pricing is set at $39.99 for those running legit copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Those that purchased a Windows 7 machine in the months leading up to Windows 8’s release, are eligible to upgrade for just $14.99.




User Comments: 69

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Why would you want to pirate something that costs a lousy 40 bucks? Especially something as important to your system as an operating system.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Some people just don't have or want to part with it I guess. In my younger years I've been guilty of doing similar things. I think it will take a bit of maturity and respect for the IT industry and its processes for something like this to pass.

avioza said:

Currently we buy all HP Pc's that use the same OEM key pre-installed though they have different keys on the license tags. It is tied to the BIOS somehow to only allow a WIM image syspreped with an answer file created with WSIM ustilizing an HP Windows 7 Source CD to activate.

Hopefully this just means it will be more of a hassle for the Manufacturer forcing them to be more responsible with the licenses granted them. Otherwise it may become more difficult to make one master generalized image for a company.

Guest said:

I think the majority of windows 8 pirates are going to be people who do not have a genuine windows OS

Zilpha Zilpha said:

I think it will take a bit of maturity and respect for the IT industry and its processes for something like this to pass.

Agreed, but that maturity isn't going to come anytime soon. In fact, I think that the technology age has brought upon us the biggest generation of "adult children" humankind has ever seen.

andy06shake said:

Game on then Microsoft eh? It will be cracked 1 week after it becomes available and thats a fact! Just before I get the "Your the reason the industry is dying" lectures just remember that its Microsoft, there notorious for releasing incomplete garbage and deserve what they get in my opinion!

Dont hate the player, hate the game and trust me its Microsofts monopoly set in question!

ikesmasher said:

People will still find a way to pirate it.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Why would you want to pirate something that costs a lousy 40 bucks? Especially something as important to your system as an operating system.

LOL. $40 means nothing to you huh? In that case, you can buy every one of your readers a copy.

OS is important? Tell that to the users still on XP.

Guest said:

I'll stick with my bootleg-ed windows 7 for now. I just got windows 7 in 2010, and in 2012 were already updating to 8?

I use to think we'd have a 5 year period between operating systems. I assumed vista being such crap, that the speeding out of windows 7 was a response to vista's crappyness. then we'd we resume 5 year intervals.

howzz1854 said:

maybe, and just maybe because the Retail (non upgrade) version of windows is way out of reach for an average consumer. to get a copy of Win 8 and qualify for the quoted $40 upgrade, one would still need to shell out $200~$280 for a copy of windows 7. that's a whopping $250~$300 price tag for just one computer license. consider XP is no longer on the market for sale. I would say realistically, $250~$300 is more in line with what would pay for a new copy. and I wonder why more and more people are ditching PC altogether for a Macbook pro, which btw is selling like hotcakes. a stand alone version of the OS along is like what $25~$50 (if I can recall), and that's not even for the upgrade. I guess if one really wants, you can go hunt down an old copy of XP from some relative somewhere and install it on your machine, and purchase the upgrade, and install the upgrade and, but then everytime you reinstall your PC you'll have to go through the same process. see the problem there.

Chazz said:

I'll stick with my bootleg-ed windows 7 for now. I just got windows 7 in 2010, and in 2012 were already updating to 8?

I use to think we'd have a 5 year period between operating systems. I assumed vista being such crap, that the speeding out of windows 7 was a response to vista's crappyness. then we'd we resume 5 year intervals.

Are you serious? You just said you pirated your copy of windows 7, and you're complaining about speed of OS release?

You are upset that Microsoft is making you steal more frequently? huh?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

LOL. $40 means nothing to you huh? In that case, you can buy every one of your readers a copy.

OS is important? Tell that to the users still on XP.

Who said $40 "means nothing" to Tom? Just because he thinks $40 for an OS is a good deal doesn't mean he lacks an appreciation for the money. In the grand scheme of things, $40 is relatively inconsequential. That costs less than virtually any individual component in my aging mid-range PC. Also, just because someone finds XP sufficient for their needs doesn't mean they don't think their OS is important.

Puiu Puiu said:

I'll stick with my bootleg-ed windows 7 for now. I just got windows 7 in 2010, and in 2012 were already updating to 8?

I use to think we'd have a 5 year period between operating systems. I assumed vista being such crap, that the speeding out of windows 7 was a response to vista's crappyness. then we'd we resume 5 year intervals.

It's just vista that came out really late. the rest had much shorter intervals.

Chazz said:

maybe, and just maybe because the Retail (non upgrade) version of windows is way out of reach for an average consumer. to get a copy of Win 8 and qualify for the quoted $40 upgrade, one would still need to shell out $200~$280 for a copy of windows 7. that's a whopping $250~$300 price tag for just one computer license. consider XP is no longer on the market for sale. I would say realistically, $250~$300 is more in line with what would pay for a new copy. and I wonder why more and more people are ditching PC altogether for a Macbook pro, which btw is selling like hotcakes. a stand alone version of the OS along is like what $25~$50 (if I can recall), and that's not even for the upgrade. I guess if one really wants, you can go hunt down an old copy of XP from some relative somewhere and install it on your machine, and purchase the upgrade, and install the upgrade and, but then everytime you reinstall your PC you'll have to go through the same process. see the problem there.

[link]

That's if we're talking about the majority(average) of people. They can shell out 179 for windows 7(which btw would probably be around the price of the new windows 8 home version). And the average performance/price ratio is in favor of systems with Windows on it. So you shouldn't compare prices and then add Apple's name into the equation.

But since we are talking about your average customer. They will get a copy of windows from HP,Dell,Acer,Toshiba... for little to nothing cost.

Macs are selling like hotcakes using previous Mac sales numbers as a measuring stick. It's still insignificant.

howzz1854 said:

Macs are selling like hotcakes using previous Mac sales numbers as a measuring stick. It's still insignificant.

keep telling yourself that.

insect said:

This isn't particularly new. BIOS based keys have been around a while for Microsoft. The problem is, BIOS's can be read and modified relatively easily (not the settings, the raw BIOS). There are already many bios SLIC mods out there for Win7 alone to perma-activate without key. And those are only the relatively "hard" hardware mods.

There are software BIOS emulators called "loaders" out there too that load in after the BIOS but before windows and trick Win registry into thinking you are running a different BIOS and key.

Guest said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

howzz1854 said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

glad someone agrees with me.

insect said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

Except MS gives FREE updates/patches for decades whereas if you want to patch/update MacOS you have to pay ~30-40 bucks every year.

Guest said:

Why would you want to pirate something as lousy as Windows 8? I doubt you could pay a pirate to use this release.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Honestly Windows 7 was the first affordable OS, OEM at least, which is how I sold it. For $120 you got Win 7 HP, $160 for Pro. The retail copies are just there for the uninformed. They really shouldn't be too concerned with piracy this time around either, anyone already running Win 7 has no motivation to upgrade to it, and if this new activation system doesn't affect current OS's even better. However at the end of the day, it will be cracked, its inevitable.

Guest said:

"This isn't particularly new. BIOS based keys have been around a while for Microsoft. The problem is, BIOS's can be read and modified relatively easily (not the settings, the raw BIOS). There are already many bios SLIC mods out there for Win7 alone to perma-activate without key. And those are only the relatively "hard" hardware mods.

There are software BIOS emulators called "loaders" out there too that load in after the BIOS but before windows and trick Win registry into thinking you are running a different BIOS and key."

You seriously need to learn, because obviously you don't get what has changed in this area in Windows 8.

Guest said:

maybe, and just maybe because the Retail (non upgrade) version of windows is way out of reach for an average consumer. to get a copy of Win 8 and qualify for the quoted $40 upgrade, one would still need to shell out $200~$280 for a copy of windows 7. that's a whopping $250~$300 price tag for just one computer license. consider XP is no longer on the market for sale. I would say realistically, $250~$300 is more in line with what would pay for a new copy. and I wonder why more and more people are ditching PC altogether for a Macbook pro, which btw is selling like hotcakes. a stand alone version of the OS along is like what $25~$50 (if I can recall), and that's not even for the upgrade. I guess if one really wants, you can go hunt down an old copy of XP from some relative somewhere and install it on your machine, and purchase the upgrade, and install the upgrade and, but then everytime you reinstall your PC you'll have to go through the same process. see the problem there.

Whoever is paying $200-300 for win 7 is a sucker. You can get oem or during sales for about $100-120 here in the US.

By purchasing your MB pro, you already given Apple plenty of $$ from their markup on hardware.

howzz1854 said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

Except MS gives FREE updates/patches for decades whereas if you want to patch/update MacOS you have to pay ~30-40 bucks every year.

sounds like you obviously have never used OSX. they come out with software updates just like windows to patch and update. the major updates like lion, snow leopard, tiger etc are major OS updates like going from win95~win98~win2000. at least that's the closest comparison.

howzz1854 said:

maybe, and just maybe because the Retail (non upgrade) version of windows is way out of reach for an average consumer. to get a copy of Win 8 and qualify for the quoted $40 upgrade, one would still need to shell out $200~$280 for a copy of windows 7. that's a whopping $250~$300 price tag for just one computer license. consider XP is no longer on the market for sale. I would say realistically, $250~$300 is more in line with what would pay for a new copy. and I wonder why more and more people are ditching PC altogether for a Macbook pro, which btw is selling like hotcakes. a stand alone version of the OS along is like what $25~$50 (if I can recall), and that's not even for the upgrade. I guess if one really wants, you can go hunt down an old copy of XP from some relative somewhere and install it on your machine, and purchase the upgrade, and install the upgrade and, but then everytime you reinstall your PC you'll have to go through the same process. see the problem there.

Whoever is paying $200-300 for win 7 is a sucker. You can get oem or during sales for about $100-120 here in the US.

By purchasing your MB pro, you already given Apple plenty of $$ from their markup on hardware.

I can easily argue that for the price different in hardware, I get a sturdier, better material, better designed hardware. and for the record, no one is talking about OEM copies of windows. you can't migrate the OS from one machine to another with OEM copies, hence why OEM is much cheaper. I was talking about a stand alone Retail windows. and if there is one for $100 or cheaper, please by all means point it out to all of us and problem will be solved.

KillerClown KillerClown said:

LOL I'm sure of that

Guest said:

Haha, I think they've already done enough to curb piracy. I tried it for all of 3 hours as my main OS, upon realizing how unproductive it was, I formatted and returned to Windows 7.

Don't worry Mircrosoft, maybe after Windows 8 bombs you can have a bake sale to raise money. I heard selling lemonade can turn a pretty good profit too!

Chazz said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

glad someone agrees with me.

[link] or

[link] if you prefer it direct from apple.

If you love Apple, thats fine. There is no need to justify it.

SlimJimmy said:

I'll stick with my bootleg-ed windows 7 for now. I just got windows 7 in 2010, and in 2012 were already updating to 8?

I use to think we'd have a 5 year period between operating systems. I assumed vista being such crap, that the speeding out of windows 7 was a response to vista's crappyness. then we'd we resume 5 year intervals.

Well I usually skip one MS OS and buy the next release which is the better one. So I will wait for Windows 9 before getting rid of Windows 7 and skip 8. That may work out to 5 years of windows 7 use.

Guest said:

M$ is heavily dependent upon the profits from Windows as they currently do not make tangible profit off of hardware. This is why their is great pressure on them to coerce people into paying big bucks for it. On the other hand, OS X overwhelmingly plays to Mac owners where Apple can absorb much of the cost of the OS into the profits from the hardware and Apple eco system in general which benefits greatly by keeping users current. Because Apple makes such compelling hardware, this is a big advantage for Apple and they are doing their best to make the most of it.

OS X has become a great operating system that suffers from about 10% of the problems that Windows users often encounter. Most of these problems are exploit related but many have to do with sub-par driver and driver availability due to the fact that the hardware is largely out of Microsoft's control. The expectation of Microsoft to maintain backward compatibility with age old software does not help either.

At the moment, the Apple tax is less costly than the Microsoft over-priced OS that works so-so with third-party cheaply built, badly supported and poorly designed hardware. The Apple experience (productivity, enjoyment, life of product, support, and especially resale value) is generally significantly better for the average user compared to the MS\PC offering.

Microsoft has their work cut out for them.

EEatGDL said:

Quoting the article:

"However, going forward, manufacturers will be required to write a unique Windows product key into the BIOS of each new PC, based on each particular system?s hardware...

...At this point it?s unclear what the move will mean for individuals buying OEM versions of the OS, or if the hardware based activation will somehow affect users manually upgrading their laptops? storage or memory."

I don't see it that "unclear", unless you change your OEM mobo it's clear you'll be affected, but changing storage or memory... is not like you flash your BIOS to do that.

Guest said:

I believe this is a marketing technique by micro soft. Release a crap version so you can apreciate a less crappy version. Same was true with malenium and the same trend is here like 6 years later. So I think 8 should be the crap version. Skip it.

Guest said:

if it sends thieves (they are thieves nor pirates) to butt rape jail where they belong then go for it microsoft!

howzz1854 said:

If Windows costed $40, there would be no more piracy. It costs 5-10 times as much and it just reeks of corporate greed. Apple is selling their OS at a reasonable price point.

glad someone agrees with me.

[link] or

[link] if you prefer it direct from apple.

If you love Apple, thats fine. There is no need to justify it.

so you quoted some report that apple's quarterly income was down. Bravo... anyone with any sense of accounting or finance understand that's just part of the business. or maybe because apple is now the most valuable company in the world based on market cap, but I bet you missed that piece of info. either case, you sounded pretty insecure that you actually went I dug up some quarterly report. I for one own both apple and pc and I find both have their pros and cons, and I certainly wouldn't be the first to side with either. whatever product has the best quality, design, and performance has me sold. I happen to think spending $250+ on a piece of Retail license happens to be stupid. I also happen to think spending $79 on a license that's not migratable to be stupid too. I do find spending a few extra bucks on the hardware that has solid metal casing and nice keyboard to be money well spent, as oppose to some plastic rectangle box that looks like a turd. this is why I build my own pc, do my own custom casing paint job, and fabricate my own brackets and build my own watercooling system; but hey it's just me. and just so happens the OS that comes with the SOOOOOO overpriced Macbook Pro can also be bought for less than $50 on a dvd alone that you can install on any Mac. seriously.. don't be so hateful on apple. if you're happy to spend $250 on a stand alone retail copy of windows.. good for you.. I bet microsoft LOOOVES you. but for the majority of us.. I happen to find the price tag to be ridiculous. that's my rant.

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

I'll stick with my 'Free' Operating System that does 99.99998% of what Windows does, and does it ... did I mention for free?

You Windows losers never cease to amaze me. Paying more than $100 for something you can get completely free is just stupid ..

Guest said:

and what os do you use then?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You Windows losers never cease to amaze me.
Excuse me, I don't care if you talk about Windows, Linux, or Mac as if they are the worst OS's on the planet. Before you open your mouth again and decide to call Windows users losers again, think of this. I will never call someone a loser based on the Operating System they use and neither should you. Where is that dis-like button when you need one.

Guest said:

I "pirated" this latest version because I was really really curious about the changes since the release preview :) just to run it in virtualbox and check it out, not to use it fulltime.

I'll be buying a legit upgrade once Windows 8 is released, but I really couldn't ignore my curiosity here.

Though there's plenty people who feel paying for software is silly, I used to be one of them, you're young, you don't have any money, and you don't "yet" respect developers for their hard work.

I found that once I finally gained some disposable income that attitude really changed.

Guest said:

Born with a silver spoon in your mouth huh? Must be nice.

Clearly you've never heard the song, Mr. Wendel, or engaged in an AMD vs Intel CPU discussion, or bought the cheaper brands at your local grocery store. The point is, $40 is a lot of money to some people. You'll see it too if you can ever get off your high horse.

3 people like this | gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wow, its amazing how buying an Apple product either makes you stupid, or just confirms your stupidity in the first place.

We're talking about Windows. And its $40 cost. Anyone who owns Windows can buy it for $40. Well, I guess except if you own Windows 95. I guess your 17 year ride is over in that case. So as long as you own a legitimate copy of Windows, the upgrade costs you $40.

Where the hell does Windows cost $300? I bought Windows 7 Ultimate for $150. Are we really going to find the most expensive example to prove a point? You could have bought, at several instances, a 3 pack of Windows 7 for $150. That's $50 per license.

For a legitimate Windows user, the new OS will cost $40. Period. If you want to pirate an OS, and then ***** that you'll have to pay full price to upgrade, then you made your bed. And is someone who really pirates Windows 7 going to bother with buying Windows 8? Really? I'm going to start bitching how I'm not going to buy a Ferrari cause it doesn't have a cup holder.

And of course Apple users conveniently forget to mention that each upgrade of OSX costs you about $40. Lets add those up, and see how much you get for your "free" OS. Apple could easily give you each upgrade, but they ream you for some more money, and watch as you froth at the mouth to give them the money eagerly.

And then my favorite:

"You get better components"

Are you guys living in some kind of dream state? Apple uses components from other OEMs, assembled by the same Chinese wage slaves every other factory uses.. Lets ignore the fact that Apple fanboys are not going to go on forums and ***** about having to replace something. They keep that quiet, and just slink off to Apple Care, and then perhaps, way later, smugly proclaim how their computer, yet again, overheated, and Apple replaced it "for free!"

You guys wonder why people keep talking shit about Apple? Its all of you. We're talking about Windows 8 here. Has NOTHING to do with Apple. But of course, have to roll in here "Apple is better, Apple is better." And then of course start coming up with stupid reasons why Apple is better.

I could tell you a long list of reasons why Apple is better FOR YOU, but why do you guys always pick reasons that are patently false, or use stupid analogies like OSX is "Free" but then Windows costs $300. Any person with half a brain understands that OSX isn't free, but because you don't get charged a discreet cost, that doesn't register. And when you add up the cost of the components and manufacturing, and you're still left with a difference of many hundreds if not more dollars, you somehow start explaining it that you pay for "better hardware", "better manufacturing". But the OS is free.

Guest said:

I'd hate to really state this for those who claim, that a retail copy of Windows isn't upwards of $200 as an *****. I bought a full XP Pro copy (yes Home vs Pro isn't too important) at the time, for a retail of $250 which is insane. Do we see Microsoft willing to consider actually being reasonable? No we see them throwing multiple copies of the OS, which you can basically call tiers of the OS. If you want x instead of y, then you better upgrade to the more expensive one.

I've always found it highly pointless, to sell 3 copies of the same OS. Put the same thing in all versions, shut up about how lackluster your income is and be happy. We don't need things to be more confusing, sure all the tech users know what's what. Does it help the general consumer though when all it means, is that retailers can sweet talk you into spending more money? I don't mean better hardware overall, I mean general OS tiering systems like this. Which of course unlock certain things, that the OS could otherwise already do.

Offer a reasonable price for an OS, then you won't likely see all this piracy. It's not an Apple vs Microsoft vs Linux debate here, it's all about how unreasonable pricing tends to be. Which is usually the main reason, people will completely drop interest or go pirate the software instead.

1 person liked this | yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wow so many crazies in one thread.

Microsoft have announced that you can "upgrade" to Windows 8 RTM from the Consumer preview for $40 dollars.

That means anyone with half a brain cell can download the Consumer preview, stick it on their computer (for free) and upgrade for $40. Where is all this talk of $200-300 dollars coming from? Haters, pure and simple. But haters that are making themselves appear stupid. They are the best.

[link]

Neojt said:

the problem with upgrades has they have been like this from microsoft is

you have vista you get a win 7 upgrade well my friend everitime you want to format you machine you need to install vista THEN install the upgrade..

no thanks il pass

avoidz avoidz said:

Even for $49.99 I will be passing on Windows 8 and seeing what they do next.

Guest said:

Just pirate the OS Microsoft has been killing everyone with high prices for no reason, If Microsoft sold their OS for $10 then there would be no need for piracy at all.

Windows 8 has already been cracked, the cracks are all over the internet go get them and pirate till Microsoft decides to be reasonable.

No software (OS) should be more than $10. considering the software needs the hardware to run and there are free OS out there eg Ubuntu, and al the other free OSes

Guest said:

the point here is microsofts efforts are in veign anyways. windows 8 will still be pirated.

Guest said:

Why would you want to pirate something like Windows 8?

Chris Just Chris Just said:

I downloaded the copy of Windows 8 build 9200 you bet I did! There is no crack and I will buy the Full Windows 8 when you make them available Microsoft! I have clients that will want to know if it is worth getting so I need to know in advanced. I also only ran it for as long as I needed to test it out then reformatted my test PCs last night. You can't blame GEEKs like me that are not in the loop for taking a peek, we have clients that rely on us as we rely on sites like this to bring us the tech news. We need to keep on top of the game just like any one else in any job field. Not all people who torrent are bad I own more payed for copy's of programs , music and DVDs then any one else I know but yah I check to see if I am spending mine and my clients money wisely.

Guest said:

Because some people in poor countries make 40 dollars a month and cannot afford it.

Bill Gates wanted Windows everywhere, so without pirates it won't be.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Just pirate the OS Microsoft has been killing everyone with high prices for no reason, If Microsoft sold their OS for $10 then there would be no need for piracy at all.
As much as I might agree with you on the high prices, we are not the ones running Microsoft and would never have a clue as to how much it cost to create and deliver Windows worldwide.

butt rape prison is where all you thieves (you are not pirates but thieves) will go
If only wishes could come true.

Because some people in poor countries make 40 dollars a month and cannot afford it.

Bill Gates wanted Windows everywhere, so without pirates it won't be.

Thats is what you call justification, come on be serious. Windows is just a fraction of the cost to put a computer in your home.

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