Monday, October 20, 2003

Intuit users force rethink on Product Activation

I love MS's latest OSs, and I can't wait for the next one (longhorn). I derive great satisfaction out of testing and using them. While I love the OS, and nearly all of the features, there are some things I really dislike, and a few I'd gladly re-design. But the top of my dislike list is product activation. Yeah - I know the arguments, and I openly respect Microsoft's issues with piracy. I still think product activation sucks.

My first taste of product activation came with Novell, many,many years ago when they were the market leader in PC Lans. I had to install several servers, in an office late at night. With two of the four kits, there were problems with the serial number disk. One had been seemingly dropped in something, and the label was only partly legible, and the other floppy was destroyed. We never did figure out how either happened - but knowing the shipping guys I can guess. But I managed to get the servers up and running, and am forever grateful to some great help I got from Compuserve (and not from Novell). I'm sure I aged greatly that night.

By comparison, Windows NT 3.1 was a dream. I remember so vividly the openness MS UK presented with this release. They were talking to ME - the IT Pro - and made it easy. Well easier - don't forget that NT 3.1 was released at a time when CD Roms were very much the upcoming things. After doing ONE installation of 3.1 Advanced server by floppy, a 2xCD was heaven! By way of diversion, the CD along was �400 ($US600) and the whole system nearly �4000 ($6k). Just imagine what you could get for that today. Oh never mind - I just did :-). Opps, I did it again. But I digress.

In summary: I just don't WPA.

I've listened long and hard to most of the arguments for, and against it. It's certainly been a hotly debated topic. I'd like to think I've helped argue MS to be a little more lenient in their application of WPA. WPA has been good for Microsoft too but when I see the WPA stuff, I just see an attitude of "we don't trust you" that's very much in my face.

It's much the same resentment I feel towards the 'security' at US airports these days. Traveling in/through several of the bigger US airports (Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Dallas, Lax, and Boston) in the past few weeks, well all I can say is it sucks. There are all these folks just there hassling a population that is overwhelmingly honest. This is another manifestation of the "I don't trust you so you really have to prove yourself" attitude. I find it bordering on degrading to have to nearly strip off (having to remove my shoes and walk across a pretty filthy "carpet" and removing my belt and having to hold trousers up with my hand) as well as having to unpack my bags (I managed 4 trays on the last trip to the US) then repack them (much to the annoyance to the people behind and to the TSA bods who seem to have partly lost the will to live and seem just a bit highly strung. I put up with it because I have to, but that does not stop me for wanting to get rid of it (and the associated costs). At the end of the day, I'd like it to be a lot simpler - and I'd love to get rid of all forms of product activation. It's nice to see I'm not totally alone in disliking "we assume you are dishonest" type product activation schemes. Intuit users didn't either - and they let Intuit know. It's really nice to see that Intuit listened to their customers and removed product activation. See the PC World article where Intuit Apologizes for Product Activation.

Well done Intuit.

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