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Friday, November 11, 2005

Product Key Failed Validation

Microsoft's initiative to prevent unlicensed installation from benefiting the Windows Update is effective now.

The message reads :

The product key found on your computer is from a Volume License Key (VLK), which has been blocked. A VLK is typically licensed to organizations who want to use multiple copies of Windows. However, if a VLK is reported as stolen or leaked, it is then blocked from passing through validation.

  • If you received a computer with a VLK, and you do not have a Volume License Agreement with Microsoft, then you may be a victim of software piracy. If this has happened to you, please see below for the steps you can take.

  • If you do have a Volume License Agreement with Microsoft, you believe you are using the appropriate VLK assigned to your organization, and your VLK has not been reported as stolen or lost, please contact your system administrator, Large Account Reseller (LAR), or Enterprise Software Advisor (ESA) to report the problem.
Of course, many Malaysian's PC are running pirated operating system. This is partly due to the pasar malam (night market) culture where people always look for the cheapest thing around whenever doing shopping. In fact, many of them have taken things for granted especially for those who can really afford legitimate software.

Pasar Malam

Pirated Software:

Pirated software was originally meant for people who are struggling financially for a temporarily basis, such as students, unemployed people and lower-income group whom, for the sake of survival, have to opt for "clever ways" to bypass the burden of living up to the social needs.

However, pirated software business proliferated when even rich people who can afford luxury car actually chose pirated software instead of the more-expensive legitimate copy. This scenario is very pre-dominant even in Singapore and China.

Microsoft hasn't step up its toe on china yet because the timing is still not ready. Currently, they are targeting countries like Malaysia and Singapore where collaborative effort were formalized with the government authority.

Lousy PC Packaging:
When you purchase a PC with pre-installed Windows O.S from Dell, Mimos or Compaq, usually would include with you a set rescue CDs which contain Disk Image of your default PC installation.

The purpose of the rescue CDs is for someone to restore the PC to the orginal installation as provided by the supplier. For instance, when your PC is totally unbootable, these are the CD to be used.

Most of the time, for non-technical people, during such encounter, a technician would be engaged for the reformating of the PC. In most cases, technicians are expected to take advantage of the rescue CDs because that would save hell lot of time. However, sometimes technicians might not want to utilize that for reason that they would like to provide value-add service to the client.

In my cases, I would usually reformat the PC from scatch using O.S installation disk. And before I do that, I would usually create extra partition for the PCs. The extra partitions are to be used for data backup and most important of all, storing the clone image of the installation using Symantec Ghost or Disk Image (unless the image is stored to another location in a network)

Nevertheless, this process usually took a few hours(including Windows Update) and we only charge our customer RM 80 per PC.

They(Dell, Compaq and etc) should have prepared a disk image which is multi-partition.

Thefore, when technicians chose not to use the rescue CDs, piracy issues arises because technicians might not have a legitimate copy for the O.S

Sometimes, customers might not have a legitimate copy even.. and thus to get the job done quickly, technicians would simply resort to pirated copy of the O.S

Another reason for popularity of software piracy is that..

Linux is not the solution:

Linux will never going to be the white-knight for software piracy for the reason that Microsoft's platform has been the monopoly in the corporate market.

For obvious reason, Microsoft has figured out many strategies to prevent Linux platform to be able to sit within a Microsoft platform seamlessly. To argue this point, let's take two scenario.

1. Peripheral's driver

There are certain peripheral like Lexmark X83 - scanner which Linux don't support. Thus, if you are thinking of switching to Linux platform, you might need to change certain peripherals which might still be working fine.

2. Microsoft's Active Directory
Having a Windows LAN in the office would most of the time, the system administrator would set-up Active Directory (A.D) to maintain the user-profiles for the computer network.

Active Directory is in fact a superset of LDAP (open standard for network profile).

Microsoft specifically altered Active Directory in such a way that it is very difficult for non-A.D systems such as open-LDAP to communicate with A.D itself.

Reason ? Simply because they knew that some organizations besides using Windows platform, might opt for switching to Linux platform in incremental manner. Not many companies can afford total changeover because the cost and risk are high. Thus, if one is having an IBM Netfinity Server which runs Windows 2000 and hosting the Active Directory and would like to introduce to the current network another Linux system server for trial as experimental server for the switch over. To do that, the Linux server must also host an image of the A.D from the Windows server.

By virtue, the purpose of LDAP is to allow for easy communications between two directories. But because A.D is a product of Microsoft, to configure LDAP at the Linux server which would talk to the A.D at the Windows server is not an easy task.

3. Linux-Windows Communication
If one has a Windows Laptop and plugged into a Linux platform, to access the network printer and file server is really quite a bad experience; very slow. For most cases, one might doubt that the process could have been hung, but actually it is due to the low-responsiveness binding process at the backend.

Therefore, if you are thinking of creating a hybrid LAN for your clients who don't appreciate computing, please think twice because everytime they access the printer, they think that you are doing a lousy job.

Linux is not meant for crazy people like me and my colleague who still preferred not to purchase legitimate Windows XP license for personal usage.

Crack ?
Not long before this, someone by the name of Ryan Hemelaar did mentioned in his tech blog that there is a bypass to this problem.

Perhaps you can check it out too.


Justin Lai said...

Regarding the OSS vs proprietry software, just a question, are you a OSS supporter or a proprietry supporter?

What I came to realize is that, most of the time the fight between OSS seems to be centered around Linux and Windows. For 10 reasons Microsoft comes out with why is better with MS there is another 10 reasons that says otherwise.

Even as an OSS evangelist, I must agree with you that for Linux to dominate the Operating System market is very unlikely due to the market share and the acceptance of Windows. However, this hold true as far as desktop operating sys is concern. From a survey from Novell, Linux is gainning foothold (exponential growth in terms of Linux server installation) in the Server operating system as it will not distort the end users experience. This is why, Novell is bundling their Suse Linux with their infamous Netware.

Anyway, my point is that OSS goes beyond just Windows and Linux, in fact many OSS projects runs very well in MS environment. Eg. the famous MySQL database. It is in fact a very stable and active open source project with tonnes of documentation to support your migration and your installation. Another example is Apache. Apache has been running at the back most servers in this world, without bothering whether you are using Windows or Linux.

If you look closely, there are tonnes of OSS projects that are way better than proprietry solutions. As far as I am concerned, there is open source ERP (Compiere), CRM (sugarCRM), CMS (OpenCMS), DMS (KnowledgeTree), Office (Open Office), Business Intelligence (Pentaho) and many many more.

However, with open source you need to do some homework on researhing which is good solution (in terms of activities, support and product maturity) rather than having a sales person overwhelming you with their bias product catalogues, brochure and white papers. Even their research papers that they show customers are to their favor.

Brandon Teoh said...

thanks justin for the great infor.

actually I am still a OSS supporter even I don't regard myself as OSS evangelist.

I tried compiere and it really took me a long time.

Anyway, I hope that the community will appreciate OSS more.

Brandon Teoh said...

With inflaming popularity search of this blog..

I just like to share more about this issue.

Perhaps, you guys should just turn on the automatically download updates function. It can still work!

Microsoft blocks manual update but still leave the auto mode door to be opened. I am not sure why..

~Happy New Year 2006~

Brandon Teoh said...

I am not sure if what the following links going to offer still work, you may want to test out..

Bypass Windows XP validation check"

PRETTY OUTDATED I SUPPOSED, microsoft people are not so stupid.

Otherwise just get a genuine copy, or downgrade to Windows 2K. --> Why they still open up for Win2k? Probably because it is not longer supported. More more new support, you are just using obsolete technology.

4/5 of US households use Windows XP as the Operating System.