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Microsoft Blocks Pirates From Security Essentials Software

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-for-you dept.

Security 291

CWmike writes "Microsoft will block users running counterfeit copies of Windows from installing the free Security Essentials antivirus software, said Alex Kochis, director of Microsoft's Genuine Windows team, in a post to a company blog. On-again, off-again debates about the wisdom of blocking security-oriented downloads like patches or defensive software have centered around the argument that Microsoft should protect all users, including pirates, since hijacked PCs threaten the entire Windows ecosystem. In this case, though, one analyst isn't buying that line. 'I can't see any justification for making Microsoft give away Security Essentials [to counterfeit Windows users],' said John Pescatore, Gartner's primary security analyst. 'Those people have many other choices, including free. There are plenty of alternatives to Security Essentials,' he said, adding that that makes a difference. Windows patches, on the other hand, aren't available from anyone but Microsoft."

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Herd immunity (5, Informative)

shipbrick (929823) | more than 5 years ago | (#29600343)

With vaccination, this is known as herd immunity [wikipedia.org] . Basically, even if an individual is not vaccinated (or virus/malware/etc protected in this case), by virtue of others being vaccinated, there is less chance the non-vaccinated will become infected since there are less people who they are coming into contact with who are harboring the virus. Following with this, the greater the number of immune, the less likely the unprotected will become ill.

I strongly suspect the same concepts would apply to computers, and allowing pirates to have this protection would indeed provide greater security to ALL the unprotected windows users. Thus, the choices for MS are 1) increase security for all users (paying or not) by allowing even pirates to download in order to increase the protection via herd immunity or 2) increase company profit by trying to coerce hackers into buying a copy by not allowing them this download. Since the latter will never happen, all MS is really doing is simply missing an opportunity to increase security because they *think* they can increase profit. Alternatively, maybe they think they are simply teaching those pirates a lesson, but sadly it would be at the expense of others.

Re:Herd immunity (2, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29600463)

I strongly suspect the same concepts would apply to computers

Unless there are viruses around that attack random IP's. There's no biology equivalent to that. And with p2p (and implicitly pirating) these attacks might not even be detectable. If your computer makes and receives 50-100 network connections per minute legitimately, who's going to notice a couple more?

Re:Herd immunity (4, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 5 years ago | (#29600839)

What?

More infected machines = more machines doing said attacking

If you have 1 machine infected, you have 50 connections. If you have 10, you have 10 fold the number of connections, which makes it easier for them to find the 25% of machines (that's a steady number) that are unprotected. Reducing the number of machines able to be infected reduces spread rate, which increases security since those who do get infected can get rid of it before it finds another host more often.

In biology, that would be the equivalent of changing the time between the symptoms' appearance and the patient's becoming contagious, assuming symptoms come before someone is contagious. If you have a longer timeframe, the virus is more likely too be killed before it infects someone else. The same applies here, in exactly the same way.

Re:Herd immunity (4, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29600947)

The biology equivalent would be if someone sneezed in Beijing and you got the flu in Denver.

Re:Herd immunity (3, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | about 5 years ago | (#29600549)

Herd immunity works in biology because the distance to travel to another unprotected host is too far or takes too long for the virus to survive floating around. But with networked computers that isn't really an issue, is it? It might take a little longer to scan ports on more addresses but for an automated virus in a computer whose owner isn't patching it anyway, this isn't a big deal. Everyone who thinks they know better feel free to contradict me, I'm just speculating:

Re:Herd immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600637)

It's not a perfect analogy, sure. But the basic fact remains: the more infected hosts, the more crap (eg, DDoS) that can affect the rest of us.

Re:Herd immunity (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 5 years ago | (#29600861)

It also means that if it takes an infected computer 2% longer to find another host, there's a greater likelihood that it will be killed before it finds that host to jump to. It makes it easier to get rid of the virus from the whole network.

Re:Herd immunity (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | about 5 years ago | (#29600573)

Perhaps those without security(who are paying) should increase their security by simply installing something like AVG. Even its free antivirus program is better than most pay-for security suites by other antivirus companies(especially those which rhyme with 'imantec' and 'iccaffee'). While dedicated pirates will never pay for software, those who do pay have plenty of options(many of which are free) which they can protect themselves with. While I think that it would be in Microsoft's best interest to include security software for all people(legitimate and stolen), the expense of not including it because of non-protected people having a harder time is not something I am particularly sympathetic about.

Re:Herd immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600743)

AVG free better then most pay-for? Not a chance! People promote free; free sounds better then pay to most people, but it does not make it better. Check out http://www.av-comparatives.org/comparativesreviews/main-tests
Avira free (Yes I know the paid version was tested) blasts out AVG and heck you can get a free 1yr McAfee which if I recall took third place by just googling around enough.

Re:Herd immunity (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29600661)

I don't think it works very well, when the bad guys have an understanding of the herd's defenses.

If Microsoft's security software becomes de-facto standard, the blackhats will design their attacks specifically to circumvent or disable Microsoft's security products.

It's hard to elude a slew of thousands of different security products used by different people, but if everyone's using the same one, a bad guy really just has one type of defense to defeat, then...

And once the exploit sedates the MS security product, all the malware has free reign...

Re:Herd mentality (1, Flamebait)

uassholes (1179143) | about 5 years ago | (#29600753)

Perfect for MS users.

Re:Herd immunity (2, Insightful)

yurtinus (1590157) | about 5 years ago | (#29600793)

I can't agree with this ideology. The fact of the matter is that MS developed a product, have had it pirated, and really should be under no moral or legal obligation to support the pirates. They already *do* provide vital security patches to pirated versions of Windows, asking that this be spread to antivirus and antimalware software just seems greedy. This is *especially* the case when there are plenty of alternatives, many free and many open. This story seems meant to drum up some anti-MS backlash where I really don't think it is warranted.

I would also argue the effectiveness of herd immunity on a medium in which any one machine is capable of connecting directly to any other machine in quick succession. The Internet is one damn big herd and for whatever percent of it this software benefits won't be significant enough to reduce the risk for those that aren't. Plus, I'd imagine a great number of people running pirated Windows are aware of the security risks.

Re:Herd immunity (1, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 5 years ago | (#29600933)

Keep in mind though, that people willing to use hacked or pirated versions of windows are far more likely to encounter malware just from using cracked software.

If they did it once...

Re:Herd immunity (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601139)

Yeah, i keep hearing that repeated. "you are more likely to be infected using cracked software"

I've pirated (and bought) a large variety of software in the last 15 years. And the one time i have ever been infected. it came from a piece of commercial software right on the cd.

The 'pirates' and cracked software are WAY more trustworthy than any company out there. It only takes one or two bad comments to make people avoid using that cracked piece of software. With commercial software it takes thousands of bad installs before it makes the news and people avoid a bad piece of commercial software.

Just having a more tech savy audience the cracked software will be subect to far more scruntity than anything you'd buy off the shelf.

Re:Herd immunity (1)

ande1216 (1645587) | about 5 years ago | (#29601017)

This can only hurt MS. Of course they will try this coercion method, it's what they 'have to do' to show threy're being tough on piracy. MS probably knows this wont work but will anyway just to stay on the anti-piracy bandwagon; it's the 'right thing to do' from a corporate perspective. Anyway, those smart enough to steal windows are also smart enough to avoid windows programs such as Internet Explorer like the plague. Open source is the future of PC applications and MS should embrace it instead of whining. MS is an OS provider, not an OS dictator; the quicker MS realises this, the quicker people might actually consider paying for it.

Re:Herd immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601095)

Part of why herd immunity works is that an illness in one person can only reach the people that come into close contact. So if a high enough percentage of the population is immune, an infected person can't infect others.

Obviously the internet is nothing at all like that. An infected PC can try to reach out and touch everything on its local network and almost every IP address.

I agree with Pescatore, but... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29600345)

He's right in that many people who have the tech-savvy to pirate a copy of Windows will know what their options are regarding anti-virus.

On the other hand, how much does Microsoft actually stand to lose when it comes to giving this away?

I'm willing to bet that they ran the numbers... "how much will the bandwidth cost us" vs "how much do we lose in good will by weakening the herd immunity".

Now that would be an interesting (read: evil) spreadsheet to look at :D

Re:I agree with Pescatore, but... (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 5 years ago | (#29600587)

I don't know about you, but it seems that people who pirate windows would be the IDEAL people to give this to. I mean, it's a partial market segment you have right there. On one hand they aren't convinced that they want to BUY your product, but on the other hand they are using it - meaning that they are already identified as a very potential customer. I know I may be a bit utopian in my thinking, but wouldn't giving these users a good customer experience (as Microsoft calls it) the best way to convince them that they should in fact go out and buy the software - perhaps not even now, but the next time they upgrade their systems?

Re:I agree with Pescatore, but... (5, Insightful)

LinkX39 (1100879) | about 5 years ago | (#29600681)

I know I may be a bit utopian in my thinking, but wouldn't giving these users a good customer experience (as Microsoft calls it) the best way to convince them that they should in fact go out and buy the software - perhaps not even now, but the next time they upgrade their systems?

No, it would more likely convince them that "hey, I got this great customer experience without even ever spending a dime, why spend money for what I can continue getting for free?" Not that I disagree (or agree for that matter) with allowing pirated users the option to use the software, I just think your logic is off.

Re:I agree with Pescatore, but... (4, Interesting)

runningman24 (1172197) | about 5 years ago | (#29600983)

I've never purchased a copy of Windows before, but the experience I got from Windows 7 Release Candidate caused me to buy it. I'm certainly not the only one. There are definitely a nonzero amount of customers that can be gained by giving users something they don't feel cheated in paying for.

Re:I agree with Pescatore, but... (2, Insightful)

Stray7Xi (698337) | about 5 years ago | (#29600763)

He's right in that many people who have the tech-savvy to pirate a copy of Windows will know what their options are regarding anti-virus.

Yes because only computer geeks have pirated copies. There's a lot of people out there who don't know that they even have a pirated copy. Computer illiterate people often find help through shady repairmen, friends or relatives. These people come in find that Grandma didn't keep her license key or CD's, but the computer obviously came with XP. So they do her a favor, by reinstalling a pirated copy of windows but they're not there for longterm support.

Enlightened self interest (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 5 years ago | (#29600349)

Microsoft would be just protecting their own reputation when unknowing users of pirated installs are complaining less about Windows instability and others see fewer attacks from zombie farms. If you created a problem such as IE6, you should do everything in your power to solve it rather than ranting about others. Good for karma, good for pocketbook.

Re:Enlightened self interest (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | about 5 years ago | (#29600395)

Exactly. MS gives out free security tools, we don't sue them for making the stuff insecure in the first place when the zombies DOS our servers.

Re:Enlightened self interest (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | about 5 years ago | (#29600937)

So, you're telling me if you hand me an executable to run on Linux, Linux would tell me before hand if that the executable is going to delete my /home directory? Great, how do I use this feature ?

If not, how do I sue RedHat/Novell/Cannonical/+++ for hiring programmers that made Linux insecure?

The best things in life are free! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29600353)

But "the free Security Essentials antivirus software" isn't actually free anymore.

Wait does this include Windows 7 RC?

I sort of agree (5, Insightful)

sabernet (751826) | more than 5 years ago | (#29600357)

John Pescatore makes a good point. AVG, Avast, etc... are all free antivirus. When MS withholds patches, it can lead to stronger botnets and ID theft. However, antivirus applications are plentiful and the money MS will be investing in this thing makes them justified in not wanting to simply give it away.

As much as I hate to say it, I won't blame Microsoft for this move.

Re:I sort of agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600761)

John Pescatore makes a good point. AVG, Avast, etc... are all free antivirus. When MS withholds patches, it can lead to stronger botnets and ID theft. However, antivirus applications are plentiful and the money MS will be investing in this thing makes them justified in not wanting to simply give it away.

As much as I hate to say it, I won't blame Microsoft for this move.

I don't really care what Microsoft does here, but this line of thinking is flawed: If Security Essentials is better than $FREE_ANTIVIRUS then everyone is better off that even the pirates use it and keep their machines out of the botnets. On the other hand, if it isn't in any way better than the alternatives, then why did they bother creating it?

Epic phrost - err - PHAIL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29600359)

I have it installed on 5 copies of pirated Windows!! Whoot! And, I DON'T have it installed on my legal Windows. ROFLMAO

Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (2, Insightful)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#29600365)

Pirating is illegal.
Pirates are only ones really complaining.
Pirates switch to Linux
End of problem and it will takes windows out of the Free OS market.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

initialE (758110) | about 5 years ago | (#29600455)

Pirates do it for games and movies. Good luck with that.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600539)

Unless pirated copies come with the master key, it's more of a risk than pirating a game or a movie - breaking the drm of these doesn't risk turning your computer into a zombie.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29600553)

Yeh but good PC games really only work well in windows; not that I want it that way, but its reality. (I run linux, guys. Please don't tell me about the poor-ass shabby junkjob programs that resemble games on linux.. i've tried them and they generally suck).

I'm very glad to see the console market consuming gaming; it will have a noticeable impact on the number of MS OS installs in the future for sure.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | about 5 years ago | (#29600623)

>Yeh but good PC games really only work well in windows

The existence of "good PC games" is a matter of opinion.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601083)

I would be tempted to say Uplink and Penumbra were good PC games... oh, right.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

selven (1556643) | about 5 years ago | (#29600557)

I'm pretty sure Linux is 100% capable of playing all standard movie formats. As for games, maybe they'll realize that there's more to gaming than top of the line multimillion dollar physics engines.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (-1, Troll)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 5 years ago | (#29600519)

Pirating is illegal.

in the context of priating on the high seas you would be correct.
Piracy of software is ONLY illegal if you are distributing said software (thus infringing copyright).

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600741)

Making copies without explicit permission of the copyright holder is also illegal under Copyright law.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (0)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 5 years ago | (#29600765)

yes, but receiving a copy isn't.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#29600895)

But using it after receiving it would be

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (3, Interesting)

AK Dave (1459433) | about 5 years ago | (#29600591)

I don't believe that Microsoft considers itself to be part of any "Free OS" market at all. Maybe they should be. I can't speak for all linux users, but I hardly consider myself to be a pirate. I use a legal OS: GNU/linux. But, alas, I'm certain that Microsoft would hasten to point out how the license code for the copy of XP that resides in a Virtualbox guest is actually the license code that came with the copy of XP which was OEM'd onto the laptop that hosts that guest and that the EULA was for XP to run on a real laptop, not a virtual laptop. Which makes me already a pirate in their eyes.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29600935)

Pirates aren't complaining. They'll circumvent this just as easily as any of the WGA checks, most likely.

This will hurt joe clueless user who for some reason got a Windows install (maybe even a genuine one) that won't pass WGA.

In other words, like almost all anti-piracy measures, it will hurt the paying customers, and have very little effect on the pirates, in the long run.

Re:Get Microsoft out of the free OS market. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#29601035)

Pirates switch to Linux
End of problem and it will takes windows out of the Free OS market.

Someday - and it can't come too soon, to my way of thinking - the geek will understand why OSX and Windows own 99% of the desktop.

The pirate gets his free OS.

The honest Joe who shops for Windows or the Mac is in the market for a household appliance or an office workhorse sold under warranty.

The attractive OEM hardware and software bundle. Factory tested. All hardware and software issues resolved before it ships.

No googling for solutions - it works out of the box or it goes back to the store.

Running a pirated Win 7 x64 copy, no problems (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600371)

Just installed on a pirated Win 7 x64. Installs and scans without problems.

Re:Running a pirated Win 7 x64 copy, no problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600823)

microsoft is giving windows 7 away right now lol, its not pirated buddy

Who exactly are the going to be blocking? (4, Interesting)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 5 years ago | (#29600375)

Anyone running pirated versions of the OSs eligible for MSE will probable have cracked WGA, and will be able to install this if they wish.

Re:Who exactly are the going to be blocking? (1)

metalcoat (918779) | about 5 years ago | (#29600489)

Translated article: MSE will use WGA checks in order to verify it is a legit copy. If you can bypass WGA or crack it this will not effect you.

Pirated AV is much more detectable (1)

dallaylaen (756739) | about 5 years ago | (#29600603)

An antivirus is useless without constant updates, which makes it relatively easy to reveal cracked copies and/or duplicate serial numbers.

In fact, I see a number of people here in Russia who pay for the AV but not for Windows, Office, or e.g. Photoshop. Why? They are tired of constantly searching for cracks and getting infected in the meantime.

Now those freeloaders are given a choice: a pirated OS and paid-for AV, or a paid-for OS and a free AV.

Smart move.

Re:Who exactly are [they] going to be blocking? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 5 years ago | (#29600635)

That's the saddest part of this. MS ought to be going out of their way to rid the net of every Win* based bot, if only to protect its valued customers (from each other).

The only non-legit Win* users who will be able to protect themselves are those who can crack MS tech (hardly rocket science, but my Mom's not going to get it).

BTW, don't get me started on the relative usefulness of various AV Windows tech. It's a scam. I use FLOSS. I'm amazed MS has managed to get away with this !@#$ for this long.

Anyone remember when MS tried to steal tech from the father of ethernet? Redux, i4i anyone:

10/97--Alacritech files first provisional U.S. Patent application 60/061,809 on SLIC Technology ...

Many Legal Users (1)

Eadwacer (722852) | about 5 years ago | (#29600771)

If my experience is any guide (two different PC's with OEM installs flagged as pirated), the false positive rate on the WGA is so high that a significant number of legal users will be blocked. It's OK to be hard-nosed, with zero tolerance, as long as you make zero mistakes. WGA isn't even close.

Re:Who exactly are the going to be blocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601051)

my win7 with the supposed blacklisted leaked key got it fine.

confused about "have to" vs "should" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600383)

"I can't see any justification for making Microsoft give away Security Essentials [to counterfeit Windows users],"

Neither can I, but I can see how Microsoft might make more / lose less money by doing so.

I don't give a damn about the "Windows Ecosystem," but if I were trying to sell Windows to a 500-seat corporation, I might want to assure my potential customer that the botnets attacking them, are about to get weaker.

If I were trying to sell them Linux, though, I would hope Microsoft does just what they are doing: avoiding closing the holes. Let the pirates not only suffer, but let them bring down Microsoft's paying customers with them.

Pushing out "Security Essentials" isn't going to really protect anybody, but it might slow things down enough that the winmins can keep up with all the wipe/reinstall jobs.

A good way to punish pirates (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600387)

...and allow for the propagation of viruses at the same time.

This OS will self destruct in 5, 4, ... (2, Interesting)

piripiri (1476949) | about 5 years ago | (#29600401)

Knowing that, any user of a counterfeit version of Windows will not be fool enough to install such an application, isn't it ?

Attack the problem, not its results. (0, Flamebait)

cosm (1072588) | about 5 years ago | (#29600411)

This seems like another Microsoft initiative that just generates even more Microsoft anti-sentiment. Yes, these pirates are running illegal copies of their operating system, but holding features based on the legality of the license is not a very intelligent idea IMHO. Developing features that are dependent on the legality of the instance of the operating system install seems like wasted resources. If anything, they are fighting the problem, not the cause. This is just a message to pirates saying "Hey, we know the software your running isn't legitimately licensed, so we are going to disable some stuff on it so you don't get to use it to it's full potential." That will sure make the pirates want to buy MS software, but...oh. But maybe I am shooting myself in the foot. "Security Essentials"? Last time I checked MS stuff (OneCare anyone?) doesn't quite live up to anti-mal-spy-virus standards.
So from what I see they are debilitating worthless software for machines that are used illegally anyways because the folks running unlicensed copies generally believe their OS is worthless (at least in terms of MSRB).

Circular logic.

Re:Attack the problem, not its results. (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | about 5 years ago | (#29600731)

"If you don't purchase this software, you can't use all the features that come with it in its fully purchased form." This is done every day by thousands of companies and developers all over the world. This is nothing new. Tell me, have you ever used a trial version of software before? You haven't paid for it, so it doesn't come with all the features. Companies use this tactic to get people to purchase the software, so they can use all the features.

Before anyone goes on a 'free software' rant, remember, companies don't make software so people can use all the features and feel good about it, companies make software to make money. And if people think that the pay-for-software world doesn't affect the free-software world, just remember, hardware innovation would be years behind without those big flashy pay-for software programs that require more and more processing power. Whether it is the latest FarCry game or the newest version of 3d Studio Max, powerful software requires powerful hardware. Companies like Crytek aren't going to give away their software for free. It just won't happen. Free software is great, but pay-for software is great too. They each have their own pros and cons.

Okay, so that was more rantish than I was hoping for, but its been a long day, and I have to listen to a free software zealot earlier who had no concept of pay-for software usefulness, and would not listen to any reason at all. Forgive my ranting.

Windows XP (2, Informative)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 5 years ago | (#29600443)

elephant in the room... what if I want to run XP Pro?
my only option if I don't already have a legitimate copy is to pirate it, given that you can no longer purchase it.

(granted I could still buy Vista with downgrade licence... but I don't want to pay for something I will never use)

Re:Windows XP (2, Funny)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29600677)

granted I could still buy Vista with downgrade licence.

Granted I could still buy Vista with a upgrade license .

There, fixed that for ya!

Re:Windows XP (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | about 5 years ago | (#29600849)

I'm not aware when the plan to change things is, but you can still buy Windows XP from my local PC component shop. I saw a guy buy one on Sunday.

It was really funny actually, he bought the OEM version, which is $179 CAD. The clerk guy told him due to licensing restrictions, he could only sell the OEM version with a piece of internal hardware. The clerk suggested a SATA cable ($5). Deal done.

Re:Windows XP (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 5 years ago | (#29601117)

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2571830&CatId=672

That took all of 3 seconds to find.

Piracy love/hate (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 5 years ago | (#29600447)

The problem is microsoft has a love/hate relationship with the pirates. They have an absolute need for piracy to be possible but not to become attractive enough (in the first world) to become popular enough to eat into their profits overmuch.

Think about it, Microsoft could eliminate 99% of piracy overnight by using harsh copy protection combined with mandatory Genuine Advantage plus a couple of targeted logic bombs launched against a few of the more flagrant pirate copies. Problem is most pirates these days either built their PC from scratch (else they would have been force fed a license) or bought a PC from a pirate. The DIY crowd is too influential to piss off and what they are doing already stops the bulk of the chopshop pirates in the developed world. If they make pirate windows too unstable in the third world where it is popular they simply can't pay so would be driven to look for alternatives.... and would find them.

So this move is easily understandable, it gives the pirates a nudge but won't overly annoy any of the major groups who pirate. The DIY type who pirates Windows because those guys pirate everything just for fun will have little trouble finding cracked copies of whatever they have been using. At all appearances nobody in the secondary markets updates anything on their damned machines already, considering how much crap spews out.

Re:Piracy love/hate (1)

selven (1556643) | about 5 years ago | (#29600569)

And they don't want to give Linux a 300 dollar competitive advantage.

Re:Piracy love/hate (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 5 years ago | (#29600789)

I've long said that piracy was one of the big reasons for widespread MS adoption in the '80s and '90s, and therefore why they are successful today.

*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (3, Interesting)

maharb (1534501) | about 5 years ago | (#29600451)

Everyone can blab on about herd immunity etc but this seems like denying a stolen car a repair under warranty. Systems are going to be used for attacks, it might as well be the pirates systems and not mine. Security these days is more about running faster than your peers, not outrunning the hackers. Microsoft doing this will put paying customers closer to the front of the race. And I am not a microsoft fanboy so don't write some bs about that.

What will everyone want next? Metadata updates for your stolen music from the record companies? As much as I hate some things about companies, you have to draw a line somewhere.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (4, Insightful)

maugle (1369813) | about 5 years ago | (#29600511)

Except it's not the pirates with pwned machines that suffer, it's whoever the machines are currently targeting. Denying pirates security just increases the size of some Russian guy's botnet and makes life a little nastier for everyone, but it doesn't affect the pirate himself very much.

Of course, this is all assuming the pirated copy didn't come pre-infected...

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29600733)

If you know how to pirate Windows, you either 1) know how to get free AV software, 2) know how to fool WGA into thinking your system is legit (and can use MSE) or 3) know someone who got you the pirated Windows who can get you one of the first two options.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

selven (1556643) | about 5 years ago | (#29600905)

Or Joe's Cheap Computer Shop pre-installed it with a cracked version of Windows, so the purchaser doesn't even know his Windows is non-legitimate.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29601123)

Never, EVER heard of this happening. I call internet myth.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

maharb (1534501) | about 5 years ago | (#29601131)

Then what is the issue. The system either has AV software and it stops the attackers, or it doesn't and they get in. Regardless it is not affecting a paying users system.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

selven (1556643) | about 5 years ago | (#29600583)

When damaged cars can spread their damage to other cars just by being on the same highway, then your analogy might work.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (2, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 5 years ago | (#29600803)

If your damaged inner tie rod end breaks while you pass me, you just might inflict a lot of damage on my car.

I get your point, but I'm just sayin ...

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29601025)

Okay.. let's say the dealer refuses to repair a problem, e.g. "bad brake lights" or "randomly shoots fireballs out the exhaust pipe". And for some reason, that problem constitutes a safety hazard on the road.

Damaged cars can indeed "spread their damage" when they are operated, and the malfunction causes an accident on the road.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (1, Flamebait)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29600601)

Oh no you didn't. You didn't just say that people should actually pay for things they want on slashdot, did you?

That is absurd and you will be modded appropriately.
------

You want to know what I always wonder? There are probably thousands of people on slashdot that use linux/FOSS, but work for companies coding software for windows only. I always wonder why the workplace turns these big proponents into cowards and they never do anything to make real changes happen that they could *actually* be a part of.

But lets be honest here... the linux pride really only kicks in when we're not afraid to talk.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600883)

The funniest part is the second some company even so much as THINKS about infringing on the GPL, then the world is ending. Angry, fallacy-ridden rants line the comments page of the post. But those same commenters have no issue with people infringing on the copyrights of Microsoft or the music/movie industry at large. They don't see their own hypocrisy here. It is very much an entitlement mentality.

What makes it even better is the fact that oftentimes they are NOT running Linux. They're just running their mouth off about how great it is and how their employer forces them to use Windows. That, my friends, is the face of true oppression.

Re:*Takes stolen car to dealership for a repair* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600903)

It may be stolen, but why does every new vehicle off the assembly line require "repair".

mind play? (3, Interesting)

postmortem (906676) | about 5 years ago | (#29600471)

Giving this software free to pirates is almost a promotion of piracy - if you get same stuff when you pirate, then there is no downside to do it.
ll
Also, few pirates might feel bad about the fact that their copy is not 'genuine'. And some owners of valid copies might feel satisfied knowing that people who got free ride didn't get the whole package.

Re:mind play? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 5 years ago | (#29600963)

Giving this software free to pirates is almost a promotion of piracy - if you get same stuff when you pirate, then there is no downside to do it.

There's an obvious flaw with that thinking. Pirates and crackers often work together. Why do you think many people prefer cracked/pirated versions of software (or DVD's) to the originals?

When Windows product activation punished me for reinstalling Windows, I decided to get a cracked copy with no product activation/genuine advantage shit. It was so much easier.

And it's practically useless to restrict security updates from "pirates". Pirated windows users who really care about security, just pirate a copy of your-favorite-antivirus product.

The people who really are hurt with this are Joe users who for some reason have a pirated Windows on their PCs. They either don't know, or don't care.

I'm pretty sure this security decision is just a PR-facade to tell MSFT shareholders that they're not promoting piracy.

OH NO! (4, Insightful)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 5 years ago | (#29600473)

Wait I run Linux, thank god I'm already safe!

Obligatory analogy (1, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | about 5 years ago | (#29600505)

If Ford said they would install free car alarms in every Ford, do you think that would apply to cars that had been reported stolen?

Re:Obligatory analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600685)

Horrible analogy that is logically different:

Ford = Microsoft
Ford car = Windows
Car alarm prevents theft = Anti virus prevents viruses
Stolen = infected

If Microsoft said they would install free antivirus in every Windows, do you think that would apply to windows that had been reported infected?

You are confusing the issue. Besides, this is about protecting the ecosystem which goes beyond Windows. Infected machines are used to build botnets & perform other various illegal activities. I would argue that as a responsible company, Microsoft should release it, perhaps with a warning that it was an unauthorized installation, thereby notifying at least unsuspecting users of any problems. This at least reduces the infection vectors that attackers can exploit.

Re:Obligatory analogy (1)

Sparton (1358159) | about 5 years ago | (#29600693)

If Ford said they would install free car alarms in every Ford, do you think that would apply to cars that had been reported stolen?

Then some jackass wanders into the conversation and states that the cost to Ford for making the car alarms and hiring people to install them is not equal to the cost of just letting people download something you're effectively giving away for free (or at a very small loss, if you're thinking about bandwidth costs).

And if it isn't about the cost of adding this on, then why would Microsoft be disallowing this? To feel like they're on moral high ground?

Re:Obligatory analogy (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29601043)

Yeah, it would... but when someone brought in a vehicle reported stolen, i'd also expect that dealer to contact law enforcement immediately, when the dealer discovered the report.

Re:Obligatory analogy (1)

univalue (1563403) | about 5 years ago | (#29601097)

If Ford said they would install free car alarms in every Ford, do you think that would apply to cars that had been reported stolen?

Can I go in to the local copy place and copy me a new ford?

Wrong title (2, Insightful)

Vexorian (959249) | about 5 years ago | (#29600533)

"Microsoft attempts to block pirates from security essentials software"

No big deal (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29600535)

If the pirates want it, they can just get it from wherever they got their pirated copy of Windows.

Help Eliminate Software Piracy (0, Troll)

janhct (585508) | about 5 years ago | (#29600619)

The whole argument about software piracy is driving the world crazy. If Microsoft are serious about the elimination of piracy of their licensed software here are a few pointers they might consider:

1) Demand that all governments institute extremely severe penalties for every instance of copyright or license violation. At least that will ensure that the subject gets taken more seriously. (I can't advocate the death penalty, but something close to it would help make a resounding statement.)

Also, show zero mercy, otherwise the message will not be strong enough! (PS: The RIAA and MPAA should take hint also to help educate the public that use of proprietary copyrighted material is a VERY serious matter. Eliminate any concept or form of "fair use" - there is no room for it in a DRM locked up world.) It is only reasonable to make the consumer aware that organizations that pursue such controls really do not want customers, they want prisoners. Prisoners have no rights! It is time to come out of the woods and into the clear!

2) Eliminate the bundling of Microsoft products from all computer sales.

Microsoft should insist that the consumer must obtain duly licensed software (operating system and applications) and must comply with well published and clearly presented licensing terms. The current practice of bundling MS Windows with laptops and desktop systems is a source of endless confusion for the consumer. Microsoft are the primary cause of end-user confusion.

The purchase of a bundled system requires the consumer (or user) to enter into a compulsory contract (EULA) with a third-party who is NOT involved in the purchase transaction between the purchaser and the supplier of the hardware (laptop or desktop system). This is a patently unjust business practice because the user is coerced into a contract with a company that interferes with the purchase transaction between buyer and seller. Separating out the purchase of an operating system would clearly separate the business and licensing transactions, and thus will create greater awareness of the responsibility to comply with licensing terms.

3) Governments should insist that under freedom of information conditions all consumers must be made aware of the alternatives they can choose from when faced with a need to select an operating system and application software. The consumer should be made aware of the existence of free software so that the consumer is not coerced into an unnecessary financial or legally oppressive relationship.

4) Microsoft should educate their users that the original license to use a product they supplied applies only to the originally supplied product. In other words, all modifications made to the operating system, or to application software, as a result of a maintenance process is a sub-license of the original license and can not be severed from the original license. Please help loyal Microsoft users to keep the consumer honest.

Too often IT people are approached by someone who received a second-hand computer from which the original purchaser had erased the MS Windows operating system, but left the activation key sticker on the machine, only to be asked to install some version (any version) of MS Windows because they do not have original installation media, and yet believe that the activation key sticker is a license to any version of Windows since they can not use the computer without an operating system installed.

Microsoft, please help us to eliminate these myths! Why should Microsoft's loyal supporters make themselves out to be the bad guys? Gentlemen, the confusion does not belong to those of us who respect licensing terms. Most open source software advocates are zealous to ensure that the terms of use of open source software are fully complied with. With the right leadership from Microsoft they can be just as zealous to help educate Microsoft's customers of the importance of compliance with Micrsoft's EULAs. After all, this would be only reasonable. Right?

- A Concerned Licensing Advocate

Re:Help Eliminate Software Piracy (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29601091)

but left the activation key sticker on the machine, only to be asked to install some version (any version) of MS Windows because they do not have original installation media, and yet believe that the activation key sticker is a license to any version of Windows since they can not use the computer without an operating system installed.

It's the OEM versions of Windows that have these stickers.. The license is permanently tied to the computer and cannot be re-assigned to another computer (per the OEM EULA).

The purchaser has failed to live up to their obligations under the license, and surrender the media when surrendering the sticker.

Anyways, the sticker is confusing. Basically, Microsoft should either stop making the dubm stickers, or print a unique URL on each sticker to permit download the License and backup media corresponding to that copy of Windows (for a nominal download fee, to pay for bandwidth, of course).

Not all pirated copies are being blocked yet ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600631)

Machines validated using the leaked Lenovo OEM product key validate properly when attempting to install MSE, at least those that actually use a patched SLIC 2.1 BIOS (the alternative is a boot loader that soft-patches the BIOS on the fly but which may be more detectable).

Not hurting leet hackers, but fools and poor folks (4, Insightful)

farbles (672915) | about 5 years ago | (#29600701)

I don't see that many pirated Windows installs but the ones I do see are all from poor people who were given a bootleg XP or Windows 2000 disk with no product code and no questions asked. I mean, fair is fair and Microsoft is selling a product as a business not giving away their OS as a charity but in my experience the people they're hurting are the ones least able to help themselves.

The poor people I'm talking about here are usually seniors with little computer knowledge using out of date hardware and single parent families with few resources. They're not buying new computers and $150 for a Microsoft OS is too steep for their budget.

They're not leet hackers laughing at Microsoft, they're simple folk. One little old lady who had her computer in was completely horrified when I told her that her Windows was pirated, she literally had no idea. Our policy is we don't help you once we discover your Windows is pirated for the simple reason that we have no way of knowing what has been done to the OS or what has been corrupted or is missing. In that case she came in a couple of months later with a legal Windows disk she'd saved up and bought and I installed it for her gratis. I know the price tag hurt her though but she would have no truck with illegal Windows.

Anyway, my point is that these folks are for the most part clueless and are ripe targets for botnetting since they lack the knowledge to acquire and keep an AV updated on their own. Free Avast and Free AVG are available to them but without handholding they'd never figure out how to jump through the hoops to download, install and set these up. The beauty of Microsoft Security Essentials is that they've made it pretty much self-running and idiot-proof. Like I said in my post yesterday, I'd push it out to everyone not already running an AV if I were Microsoft. It increases the general health of the Windows eco-system, makes Windows more secure and run better as a result, which in turn makes the Windows experience better for everyone and increases the likelihood of Windows purchases down the road through good word of mouth.

The leet hackers have the tools to look after themselves. If it were just them running pirated Windows, I'd agree with Microsoft and say stuff 'em. It's not though and things look a lot different on the bottom of the food chain; it's those most unable to protect themselves who get hurt the most.

Norton a pirates best friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600787)

Nice ring to it.

Woah! Really? (0)

Civil_Disobedient (261825) | about 5 years ago | (#29600801)

Those people have many other choices, including free.

Wait, so we can use the free versions [google.com] ? Aww, thanks, man! And they said MS is full of jerks.

Non-WGA does not mean counterfeit (4, Informative)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#29600811)

"Microsoft will block users running counterfeit copies of Windows..."

No, try this rewording instead:

"Microsoft will block users not running WGA certified copies of Windows..."

It can be non-counterfeit and yet not registered or certified by the Windows Genuine "Advantage" stuff. It can even be non-counterfeit and REJECTED by WGA.

Re:Non-WGA does not mean counterfeit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601135)

You are right in the "It can even be non-counterfeit and REJECTED by WGA" part, but I am running a "non-counterfeit and yet not registered or certified by the Windows Genuine "Advantage"" and using Security Essentials.

I have to rearm soon...

Pirates? (5, Funny)

twocows (1216842) | about 5 years ago | (#29600857)

True pirates will use Avast! anyway.

One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600865)

Can Microsoft actually tell if a user is pirating Windows if a BIOS SLIC mod is done? What about the BIOS emulator that I've seen run on every startup on Vista before? What about the Windows XP WGA and AntiWPA hacks that seem to have no side effects?

By all means, I agree they are fully allowed to not let pirates use their free alternative virus protection, but I wonder what the point is if they can't defeat these ubiquitous hacks (to my knowledge). Mostly anyone who can figure out where to download a copy of windows and find a legitimate cd-key for it is probably also at least clever enough to run some possibly malware ridden (but possibly not, as well) WGA/WPA/BIOS hack, rendering this protection useless against them.

Anyone else who is not clever enough to find these hacks probably also don't realize the need for virus protection and updates in windows (unless Microsoft points it out), and these people COULD affect legitimate users as can be understood with botnets and the like.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600873)

Who gives a shit what Gartner has to say about anything? They are wrong far more than they are right.

Only the dumb pirates will be affected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29600899)

Windows 7 has to be the easiest OS to pirate. Microsoft really fucked up letting it self activate by just reading some bytes in the BIOS.

What if it was your daughter... (2, Funny)

Anonymatt (1272506) | about 5 years ago | (#29600913)

What if some dope was screwing your daughter and there was nothing you could do about it, but somehow you could magically make him wear a condom. Wouldn't you put the condom on him (magically)?

I've got one (1, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | about 5 years ago | (#29601009)

'I can't see any justification for making Microsoft give away Security Essentials [to counterfeit Windows users],' said John Pescatore

How about this: MS owes it to the world for putting out such a shitty, vulnerable operating system for so many years. Since 80% of spam comes from botnets, [arstechnica.com] maybe, just maybe there would be less spam in the world if there weren't so many shitty, easily-exploited Windows boxes out there. Not only should MS give this away, they should make it available for all XP users as well, legit or not. Bill Gates said in 2004 that spam wouldn't be a problem in two years. [cbsnews.com] He had the power to do so all along, he just never did. I'm sure he thought it would be an interesting solution, involving artificial intelligence and cool 3D worlds like in Hackers and Swordfish and Johnny Mnemonic, and lasers and magnets and sharks and God knows what else... not something boring like cleaning up the mess made by his own shitty products.

Re:I've got one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29601101)

Yes, Amen, Right on, Alright

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