Thursday, October 25, 2007

They've ruined that Vista

Via Daring Fireball, here is a tale of woe from a Vista user: apparently, if you add too many bits of crucial software and add new bits of hardware, you may find yourself having to re-authorise your system.
After weeks of gruelling troubleshooting, I've finally had it confirmed by Microsoft Australia and USA -- something as small as swapping the video card or updating a device driver can trigger a total Vista deactivation.

Put simply, your copy of Windows will stop working with very little notice (three days) and your PC will go into "reduced functionality" mode, where you can't do anything but use the web browser for half an hour.

You'll then need to reapply to Microsoft to get a new activation code.

When the machine is first activated, Windows establishes a baseline based on the installed hardware, but interestingly the information is not gathered from hardware IDs (which are not necessarily unique), but from hardware information as reported by device drivers. Any changes away from this baseline are weighted depending on the change (for example, a new CPU counts much higher than new RAM) and once the baseline threshold is passed, Windows deactivates and a new activation request is generated.

The problem with using device drivers as the basis for activation information is that a change in the driver model which has the result of changing the way that the hardware information is reported back to Windows can be enough to register as a physical hardware change.

For example, if you install and activate Vista using some Microsoft drivers downloaded from Windows Update (which is a very common practice) but then discover that a manufacturer driver gives better functionality (as is often the case for audio, video, storage and network drivers) you are running the risk that the drivers use different reporting models and will register as a physical change.

So what this essentially means is that keeping your drivers up-to-date is a potentially very risky process, with all changes monitored and changes weighted cumulatively.

Yes, I know what the guy's talking about; I have had that happen to my Apple O... Oh, no, no I haven't, because Apple OS distributions don't have a serial number and you don't have to activate them: they just rely on people being honest. Aaaaahahahahaha!

Seriously, how can you Windows people live with the very idea that your entire system can be shut down, simply because you have been keeping your essential software up to date, whilst Microsoft arses around attempting to get a new activation code to you?

For fuck's sake, the things that people will put up with are just extraordinary...

Windows is one of those things: this fucking government is another. In fact, that's it! This NuLabour government is the Windows of politics. Now, if we can just find a way to deactivate the fucks, not bother phoning Microsoft and then switch to Apple...

DISCLAIMER: I own Apple shares.


Fidothedog said...

Ah yes the lovely activation problems, and when having begged them to let you use your own bloody pc you then hit the other vista problems.

Devices not recognised, vista being a pain in the arse when it stops or try to stop you from installing drivers that you need to run devices that vista refuses to bloody recognise. Despite the fact that XP had no problem with that device what so ever.

An arsey security system that keeps interupting and treats you like a 5 year old - agreed much like New Labour -

Then the fact that it hogs the system, I have seen people install vista and turn a fast running pc into a latter day Spectrum.

As much as I hate the EU I have to chuckle at Microshaft getting shafted by them, something they have done to their customers for years...

knirirr said...

This NuLabour government is the Windows of politics.

Indeed so.
There is a strange similarity between the attitude of people to our government and of users to Windows. I have often encountered Windows users who complain of its faults, but when I suggest that they use Linux instead they ask if it is "just like Windows" to use. On hearing that it is not, they decide that the effort to change is too great.

Bag said...

Yes, Vista is crap. Our firm buys the licenses because they have to. XP is no longer available but then installs XP on the systems. We have a robust XP build.

Sadly I don't see the situation changing for the forseeable future. Most people don't actually change anything on their systems and those that do it automatically also let the system register automatically with M$. Corporates get special systems to bypass this crap by maintaining their own license servers. Just imagine a special system just to keep M$ licenses on. How crap is that? With a big corporate one more PC is not an issue smaller firms can put it on a lightly loaded server.

So it is only the few technical people who regularly upgrade cards and change drivers often who really hit these problems.

Plus, I also have a standalone system and so I have to phone up. First time I hit it and I discovered I would have to phone up every three months. The system validates itself that often. I wiped Vista straight away and installed XP.

The Chinese versions of Vista may be much better. (The ones from Hong Kong lol) I wouldn't know I am happy with my copy of XP.

To be honest every year or so I look at the latest versions of Linux. Soon I won't have the problem.

Roger Thornhill said...

This NuLabour government is the Windows of politics

Been my mantra for some time. The term has legs. I am not sure if Libertarianism is the Linux of politics or the Apple.

Old BE said...

I have gone back to XP.

dizzy said...

I have an OEM copy of Vista upon which I have changed and updated drivers etc. I have never had this problem. Having said this, I didn't register it.

Anonymous said...

"something as small as swapping the video card"

The Mac answer is, of course, not to give you this option.

chris said...

Apple OS distributions don't have a serial number and you don't have to activate them

'cos it is software to sell hardware, and the hardware is where Apple's margins are. Amelio forgot this and nearly killed the company before the Second Coming happened.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

DISCLAIMER: I own Apple shares. ~ DK


As long-standing Mac and (more recently) a Linux user, I have committed the cardinal sin - I have bought an XBOX 360.

I know, I know. Unforgivable. But I just had to play Halo 3 online...

Now I get enjoy suckling the sweet milk from Bill Gate's teat. In his very secure XBOX Live Playpen, naturally.

Anonymous said...

Look, my husband fixes other people's pcs for a living. We rely on people fucking up their machines by installing nonsense and Microsoft being utterly shite to pay our mortgage. As far as I'm concerned, the more rubbish Vista is, the better. And if it is so bad that an entire operating system can be shut down by farting in the same room as your computer then hey, we might just be able to go on hokiday next year. Hurrah!

Anonymous said...

Apple is a bigger rip off though. Costs more, updates are considered new versions of the OS. So they fuck you over even more. Only loners own them.

Ina said...

Ok, lots of interesting points here, let's try to respond to a couple of them in turn.

1) Main point from the article(s) - Change stuff and Vista requires reactivation:

Now, I've never actually seen this happen in the case of software, but I am aware it happens when hardware changes. There are various good reasons for this (hardware anyway) that I won't bother debating.

I will say though, that it happened to me, not too long ago, and I made a 50 second call, at 1am, and had a new code given to me with no fuss or bother.

2) "Despite the fact that XP had no problem with that device what so ever."

Unfortunately, XP didn't have the same kernel as Vista, there's no reason anything should work on the two with no changes, but the MS guys have been nice and fixed some of the hardware companies' mistakes.

The person who sold you the hardware, who made sure it worked on XP, hasn't yet made sure it works on Vista. Go bitch at them, not Microsoft.

3) An arsey security system that keeps interupting and treats you like a 5 year old VS We rely on people fucking up their machines by installing nonsense and Microsoft being utterly shite to pay our mortgage

So, some people are so retarded they should never bet let near technology. Unfortunately they are, and therefore they break their machines. Therefore, Microsoft put in lots of security controls to try and prevent idiots from messing things up.

Advanced users, however, of course know exactly how to customise UAC to suit their needs, so this isn't a problem. Right?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Tim A,

Well, that's not entirely true now, is it? In the mid-90s, when Macs used onboard VRAM it was true. It isn't now, and especially not so in the professional machines.


Buy more XBoxes! I believe that MS are still making a loss on the hardware...


"Apple is a bigger rip off though. Costs more, updates are considered new versions of the OS. So they fuck you over even more. Only loners own them."

When will people stop peddling these ridiculous lies? For similar spechs Apple are a wee bit more expensive, sure.

Now, I am on a Mac running system 10.4.10. Do you know what that last 10 means? That's right, it means that there have been 10 entirely free updates since version 10.4 was released.

Major system updates with large amounts of new features are paid for updates, sure. But that is true of any commercial application and it's certainly true of Windows.

The difference is that Apple system updates are released every 12 to 18 months and Windows updates are released every... well... 5 years?


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