Windows-Help.NET Newsletter 25 Sep. 2004, Vol 7 No. 32

In this issue:

w   Microsoft Trials License Validation
w   Windows XP SP2 Update
w   Recent Support BBS Postings
w   Administrivia

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Microsoft Trials License Validation

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Microsoft has started running a trial on their download site, whereby to get access to select downloads, users must first complete a validation process, which checks if their copy of Windows is genuine.

Right now, the validation process is voluntary, but Microsoft says that it might be required in the future to access their download center.

Should it become required in the future, only users of Windows XP and Windows 2000 (client, not server) will be required to validate - according to Microsoft. Windows downloads will continue to be available, without validation, if you are running Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Server 2003, and Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3.

The validation process itself does not require Internet Explorer to be used as your Web browser, and I have personally successfully validated using Mozilla's Firefox (RC1) browser.

Information Collected.

According to Microsoft, the validation process will collect information about your system, such as Windows product key, PC manufacturer, and operating system version, to determine if Windows is genuine. This process does not collect or send any information that can be used to identify you or contact you. This is the complete list of information collected:

Data Value Usage
OEM product key Web page flow, confirm user input, demographics
PC Manufacturer Web page flow, confirm user input, demographics
OS version Demographics
PID/SID Demographics
BIOS info(make, ver, date) Web page flow, confirm user input, demographics
BIOS MD5 Checksum Demographics

On the Genuine Microsoft Software Web site Microsoft promises that (successful) validation will benefit you greater reliability, faster access to support and an overall richer experience, while in the future it might be a requirement to get access to downloads from their Web site.

The validation process is strikingly similar to Windows Product Activation: your PC's hardware profile is matched up with the 25-character Product Key. If automatic activation is not possible, you will be asked to type in your Windows Product key (seems most OEM software users will have to do this. This is because OEM's usually use a single image (with a signle product key) to install multiple computers).

Now I really must ask why Microsoft thinks this is a wise thing to do. What will it solve? Do they really think that people who use Windows in illegal ways (using widely distributed random Windows product keys) are going to give a hoot about not being able to download from Microsoft? People will just start distributing the files on the file-sharing networks. And it leaves me as a "genuine" (I already start hating the word) customer feeling that I have to prove over & over again that YES, I did buy your software, now can I PLEASE get the update... Please? I already activated my Windows installations, so if that's not enough, Microsoft should just fix their activation instead of throwing up another hurdle legit users have to take!

If you want to try to validate without first finding a download, you can go to the Microsoft How to Tell Web site, and initiate a validation.

Give your comments on this article.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Update

Update for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (KB884020)

This update helps resolve an issue on computers running Windows XP Service Pack 2. Programs that connect to IP addresses in the loopback address range may not work as expected and you may receive an error message indicating you cannot establish a connection. After you install this update, you may have to restart your computer. For more information about this update, read Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 884020.

Recent Support BBS Postings

Poll: Are you interested in a WindowsITPro Subscription?

XP QuickLaunch gone (Poof) Everytime - Windows XP
Outlook Express - Minimize To System Tray - Internet Explorer
Aida32 reborn as Everest - Other Software
New popup blocker stopped working - Windows XP SP2


How to surf the Internet more safely with Internet Explorer (Windows XP Service Pack 2 version)

Despite a security overhaul in Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, Internet Explorer still is the weakest link in any system. And we all know that a chain is as strong as its weakest link.

Read Full Article

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Data Execution Prevention

In Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft introduced Data Execution Prevention (DEP). DEP is a processor feature that prevents execution of code in memory that is marked as data storage. This limits the "attack surface", specifically for the so-called "buffer overrun" vulnerabilities, where an attacker would typically overrun a buffer with code, and then executing this code.

Read Full Article

"Limited or no connectivity" Network Error in Windows XP Service Pack 2

I have heard several people complain about this problem: After upgrading to Windows XP Service Pack 2, they lose their network connection. The Local Area Connection Status will show a warning that it has "Limited or no connectivity".

Read Full Article

Microsoft Time Zone

Microsoft Time Zone conveniently runs in the system tray and allows you to easily view the date and time in various locations around the world. You can also quickly and easily add your own personal locations to customize Microsoft Time Zone the way you want.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2003, Windows XP.

Required: Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 or Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 SP1 must be installed.

Download [779 KB]

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