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Symantec Hit by Product Activation Glitch

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the humbled-beginnings dept.

Bug 277

An anonymous reader writes "According to this article, Symantec has hit a snag in their product activation scheme. On a certain machine, the software machine would always ask for the activation when the computer is started or restarted, despite the fact that they have thoroughly tested the scheme." According to the article, Symantec has finally managed to replicate the problem, and those hit by the bug are asked to contact Symantec's support channels. However, there's no mention of a fix yet.

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277 comments

I GOT A GREASED UP LINUX SHOVED UP MY ASS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366385)

GO YODA!

YOUR FP HAS BEEN CLAIMED FOR THE GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366405)

Gay Nigger Association of America 0wnz j00!

FP UP MY A$$ (-1)

Captain Goatse (715400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366437)

SHUT UP NIGGER FAG, PICS OF OP SHOVING LINUX UP HIS ASS NOW PLZ!

Oh, and sorry for using all the CAPS, I forgot about the rules again :p

Oh, and SLOW DOWN COWBOY FAGOT JEFFK FANBOY!

Oh for the love of god (-1, Flamebait)

JayGuerette (457133) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366394)

Who CARES?

Re:Oh for the love of god (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366401)

This is showing evidence in favour that activation schemes are just plain bad business. E.g. the potential money you save by hindering piracy minus the lost sales due to pissed off customers => positive or negative?

This message was brought to you by the Manham Canning CanManer Tom St Denis.

Re:Oh for the love of god (4, Insightful)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366464)

It will always be negative. Always. Those who support copy protection tend to be in two camps - those who believe copy protection actually works (also known as the group who have their head so far up their arse that they can count their own teeth) and those who admit that copy protection doesn't prevent the pros copying the product, but it does prevent "casual piracy". The former group obviously has a connection with the planet more tenuous than that held by someone on an LSD trip so they can be ignored. The latter group sounds reasonable, until you realise that, on the whole, "casual piracy" isn't Joe Sixpack giving his mate a copy of the original CD, it's Joe Sixpack giving his mate a copy of the cracked CD. So It doesn't even have that much effect on so-called casual piracy either. So you piss off your customer base for a tiny reduction in copying, while the number of cracked versions in the wild will probably increase because the customers that actually want to use the product, but don't want to put up with the activation, will use the cracked version.

It is utter, complete and total stupidity.

The only explanations I can come up with for companues that actually waste their time on this crap is that the decision makers don't even know what these computer things are, they need their collective braincell examining or it's related to insurance premium reduction.

also known as the group who have their head so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366501)

also known as the group who have their head so far up their arse that they can count their own teeth

I don't understand this. Care to elaborate?

Re:Oh for the love of god (1, Insightful)

Mr. Dop (708162) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366639)

Any lock no matter if its software or physical can eventually be defeated. Actually that applies to any security measure, if it was designed by a human; it can be defeated by one.

All a lock does is keep honest people honest. It will never keep out a determined attacker.

Re:Oh for the love of god (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366758)

So, why complain when crappy software companies join the activation bandwagon?

Ditch them. Support their efforts by avoiding them by any means necessary until they start making good software or dry up and die, whichever comes first.

Symantec is nothing compared to the d day.. the day microsoft releases that longhorn bull crap. I bet that'll piss off the rest of the people who were thinking about whether to ditch xp or not.

Software activation is AWESOME. At least for us, "teh open-sore hax0rs" of evil openness.

THE PERSON WH O IS IN CHARTGTE IS MEW! (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366399)

that si the iper so b wboi s in charge BOMB!

Time to move (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366406)

To an Operating System that dosen't [lindows.com] have [suse.com] virus [mandrake.com] problems [debian.org] .

Re:Time to move (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366420)

Unfortunately, I've seen plenty of cases of viruses under Linux. My machine has been repeatedly scanned by other machines that are infected with a trojan that exists only under Linux. And don't forget the most insidious security threat - the rootkit. A number of my friends have had their machines rooted, probably for months, and don't even suspect anything. Oh, and there's plenty of poorly written software such as sendmail that aids in the rooting of machines. And some of this is in the default install of most distros.

Doesn't have virus problems? Whatever.

Re:Time to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366456)

Nice troll. It'd be better if you knew the difference between a virus and a trojan.

Re:Time to move (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366544)

It'd be better if you knew the difference between a virus and a trojan.

Easy: a trojan is a piece of rubber that you strip over your ... piece [tinyurl.com] ... to prevent viruses from spreading.

Re:Time to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366637)

I only wonder why the hostname is tinyurl... I wouldn't exactly call this piece of equipment "tiny"...

MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366518)

Obviously this n00b doesn't know you can't talk bad about *x (including Apple) without getting modded down.

Re:Time to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366642)

Troll! I call bullshit!

a trojan that exists only under Linux
and which one would that be? [pause] Uhhuh, thought so!

A number of my friends have had their machines rooted
Uhhuh, bullshit again! You have no friends!

Re:Time to move (1, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366692)

First, considering you don't even bother to _name_ the trojan in question, your claim that this trojan exists only under Linux is highly suspect.

Secondly, rootkit is only a problem for systems where the passwords travel unencrypted over the network. Most people with a clue do not do this anymore... passwords can easily be encrypted when transmitted as part of the login process. Even then, only the real dough-heads actually log in as root.

Thirdly, compile the Linux kernel with Exec Shield enabled, and "poorly written software" ceases to be a security threat (the software will simply seg fault and crash -- an inconvenience at worst, much less of a concern than the security threat of the possibility of root access through a buffer overflow exploit).

Re:Time to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366460)

hahahahaha

so funny

Honest users the victims (5, Insightful)

Gavin Rogers (301715) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366407)

How many times do we need to see stuff like this?

Product activation only irritates legitimate buyers of software and all it does to software piracy is encourage hacking or mass duplication of enterprise edition CDs.

When you have legit customers using 'pirate' discs because the product activation features annoy them (or completely prevent them from using the software at all) you've just backed the slowest horse in the customer satisfaction race.

Re:Honest users the victims (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366446)

Precisely. I recommended PowerQuest Drive Image to a colleague, because I did not realize they added "product activation." That is the last sale they will get from either my colleague or me. I had previously purchased several versions of their products over the years.

Re:Honest users the victims (5, Informative)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366503)

There is no point in buying PowerQuest Drive Image anyways, as there is plenty of free alternatives:

And with these kinds of application, the OS which it uses is of no concern anyways: these tools usually come with their own bootdisk, and there is absolutely no problem to duplicate a Windows partition using a Unix based tool!

Re:Honest users the victims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366523)

Sweet--thanks for the pointers!

Why the hell is the parent a troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366626)

Very informative post, showed me a number of free alternative to Ghost et al. Moderators these days. May you rot in metamod hell!

Re:Why the hell is the parent a troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366672)

How could anybody in their right mind moderate the OP as a troll?? It was one of the most informative posts I've seen here in a long, long time. Mods truly suck ass.

Re:Why the hell is the parent a troll? (1)

Anonnymous Coward (557983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366703)

My money's that some moderator's some kind of pro-product activation shill

Re:Why the hell is the parent a troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366750)

Or maybe, he intended to mod down another post [slashdot.org] of the Midget, hehe ;-)

Re:Honest users the victims (1)

WesG (589258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366448)

I think the hackers/crackers have released a no-CD fix for it.

Those silly hackers!

Re:Honest users the victims (0, Troll)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366497)

I just did a technote on product activation for one of our products, and in it I said it will cause more problems than solve. Our product isn't consumer product so I asked why do it in the first place (may because it will costs 3-4 million to purchase, guessing here). Also told them that once it is out of our hands any determined individual can compromise our product by doing memory profiling.

Now I'm I going to make the decision to incorporate product activation in our product? No!!!!! The business people will make those decision.

Re:Honest users the victims (2, Interesting)

Joe Tennies (564856) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366701)

If the product is so expensive, you should consider the hardware keys instead of product activation. I know CADKey used to have them. A small device that plugs into the... serial port (might have been parallel port) that had to be checked. Another possibility is a USB version.

Re:Honest users the victims (1)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366725)

dongle option is being considered.

Re:Honest users the victims (2, Insightful)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366530)

I'm waiting for it to hit the fan over Adobe's product activation that's required on their new "Creative Suite" products (ie: Photoshop and Friends).

Just like XP, you have to let your machine either contact Adobe over the internet, or phone their customer service number to get the activation code that's locked to your individual computer.

Oh yes, and apparently you can only activate twice over the internet, then you HAVE to phone their CSRs to explain why you're not a pirate giving copies to your friends to justify additional installs. Guilty until proven innocent I suppose.

I'm willing to bet there's going to be a backlash against them similar to the Intuit tax activation fiasco.

N.

Re:Honest users the victims (0, Troll)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366561)

Just like XP, you have to let your machine either contact Adobe over the internet, or phone their customer service number to get the activation code that's locked to your individual computer.

Heh. How long do you think it'll take for someone to come up with an activation code keygen? Honestly, do they really think this stuff works?

Re:Honest users the victims (5, Insightful)

diersing (679767) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366582)

I have a legit copy of Windows XP. Because of my work, I rebuild my home machine often to test and validate settings/configurations/builds. After doing MS online activation the first couple installs, all subsequent installs require me to call MS. I have to feed them a 42 digit string, answer a number of questions and explain to them why I've installed so many times, then have them give me another 42 digit string. The process adds 15-20 minutes of pain_in_the_ass to any install.

Re:Honest users the victims (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366581)

No kidding. I had a problem with my warcraft III cd for some reason. After dinking with it for a few minutes I went on the net and found a crack. I don't pirate but stuff like this is rediculous. Now at least I can play wcIII without fighting the cd.

I thought about calling tech support. Everyone knows how much I love (hate) talking on the phone. Also how much I love (hate) waiting forever on the phone. Maybe if they had a better support mechanism in place I would be happier about contacting them.

Re:Honest users the victims (1)

Anonnymous Coward (557983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366737)

You deserve to have problems for supporting the DMCA-wielding jackbooted thugs at Blizzard.

Re:Honest users the victims (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366717)

We went through all this crap in the 80's. The dishonest users still copied the software and the honest ones fell victim to stuff like this, and stopped buying copy protected software. A lot of companies went bankrupt and most of the rest stopped trying to put copy protection in their programs. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Is anyone surprise? (5, Insightful)

Darth_Foo (608063) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366413)

It's not like M$ didn't have the same snags over two years ago with XP. Product activation schemes are just another flavor of compatibility problem that the software/hardware industries have been having since the first geek stuck the first expansion card into bus slot. Try as they might, coders always miss SOMETHING and no matter how many hardware and software configurations are tested prior to release, there will always be more combinations than they can test.

Re:Is anyone surprise? (1)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366484)

Try as they might, coders always miss SOMETHING and no matter how many hardware and software configurations are tested prior to release, there will always be more combinations than they can test.

On a PC, sure. But not on a console. Or on tomorrow's all-in-one entertainment center appliances.

Call Tom Brokaw (0, Flamebait)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366415)

WOW, a bug cropping up on one weird machine, and the valiant efforts of Symantec to duplicate the bug.

Film at 11.

Re:Call Tom Brokaw (1)

SiliconBateman (719736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366482)

I agree.

Of all I dislike about product activation... the efforts SYmantec engineers have gone to... "As of last night, our engineers were able to reproduce the problem on one type of machine," said Del Smith, senior product manager for Symantec. "This really has been a top priority for our product activation development team."... is hardly representative on the story blurb.

Re:Call Tom Brokaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366786)

Its not just happening on one type of machine. It is happening on several. However there is one that it does seem to happen on more than than the others and that is the one most likely the one they have reproduced the issue on. And there is nothing weird about the machines. They are just IBM Thinkpads.

Glitch? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366416)

Guys, 4 of the last 6 stories have been about Microsoft. Give it a rest already.

Re:Glitch? (2, Funny)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366447)

Actually, none of the last 10 stories are about Microsoft.

My theory: You're a moron.

Product Activation doesn't work. (0, Troll)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366421)

Hi, folks. I'm Seth Finklestein.

As most of you know, concerns about privacy on the Internet have been growing. More than 45% of users now run a personal firewall. Of those, more than 80% are "very concerned" when a seemingly non-Internet-related application such as a disk diagnosis tool starts sending packets across the firewall.

The fact of the matter is, people will steal Symantec's products if they want to. It's just like in the movie and music industries: people have the right to download whatever they want, and the right to choose whether the content creators deserve compensation. It's very sad that Symantec doesn't trust its users who have made the conscious decision to send them money.

For that reason, I will continue to liberate Symantec's products off of KaZaA Plus [kazaaplus.com] , and I urge all of my followers [slashdot.org] to do the same.

MOD DOWN PARENT! Troll Fink.le.stein (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366480)

Mod it down. That's a troll, not Seth FinKELSTein.

Please MOD the parent down... (1)

budn3kkid (668179) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366748)

with people like him, it's no wonder major software developers want to come up with Product Activation schemes and the likes. But as it turns out, all it did was manage to help this guy up there (and other like-minded jack-@$$es) get his ego inflated exponentially for all to see. Sheesh...

Problems! (5, Insightful)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366426)

Product Activation on products as important as antivirus apps is bad IMO. When average users are confronted with this, its easy for them to get frustrated with, and what happenes when average users get frustrated with software? They dont use it.

As with all stories about virri, here [grisoft.com] is the link to a FREE Antivirus app.

virri? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366696)

i haven't seen many seen many stori about virri - please provide referenci.

Okay... (-1)

Captain Goatse (715400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366427)

...great news CN.

J/K.

Staring at Goatse-sama is more fun.

CapGo the Priest St:25 Dx:16 Co:16 In:15 Wi:19 Ch:9 Chaotic
Home 1 $:5201 HP:95(95) Pw:155(193) AC:-16 Xp:13/41992 T:12943 Stressed

Haha, early /oW, beat that ;) My second this week too.

Just some problems, no water walking/levitation... hmm I have a spell x_X n/m then, and no ways of getting to level 14 :/ Not a single !oGL in sight, no Wraiths or other stuff either. Grr...

When I die this will get quite a good position in the /dev/null luckily... oh and God hates me, I haven't been able to pray succesfully a single time yet... stupid God *ouch* ... sorry.

From the article (0, Offtopic)

John Paul Jones (151355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366428)

He also recommended that customers who encounter the problem not restart their computers.

Obvious jab at Windows and the three-a-day reboot plan aside, this is just dumb. In fact, the whole situation is just dumb. Why does it seem that Symantec/Norton <insert product here> consistently makes a bad situation much, much worse?

How Do They Not Get It? (3, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366433)

I have to assume that there are very many intelligent programmers at these companies. They have to know that everything they do can and will be cracked by pirates and that the cracks will be publicly available and easily accessible.

Is this just another case of managerial idiocy--the programmer grunts can't explain to the bosses that it is a futile misguided effort?

Or are the programmers just not really trying? Are they just going along with it because it's their job, rather than actually trying to make a quality product? (which, as it turns out, really isn't their job)

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (4, Informative)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366445)

This reminds me of what Eric Raymond said in the Cathedral and the Bazaar. He pointed out that better code is generated when there's an actual love for it versus some boss just coming to you and saying "we need this, this, this and this put in".

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366595)

Then be your own boss -you still have the option. When you are hired by a company you execute the orders you are given. When you will have you own company, then you can take all the risks and do whatever makes you happy. So yes, ERS is not saying anything new.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (3, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366459)

Actually, I just read the article, and it answers my question just fine:

"This really has been a top priority for our product activation development team."

They have a 'product activation developement team.' So, there's one group of people working on this, and that's their job. the people with other jobs aren't in the loop about product activation, and those working on it need it for job security.

I can't really see many people saying, "Excuse me, sir, my job doesn't matter."

I wonder if they actually decided to implement product activation without asking the programmers? It seems insane, and there's no way to know, but anything is possible.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (1)

The One KEA (707661) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366472)

I suspect that it's the former. In the current corporate culture of lining someone's pockets and believing that every customer is a lying criminal who only wants to warez their products, I don't think the programmers really have much of a say anymore when the managers dream up schemes like this. I'm sure that there are exceptions where the manager is not a PHB and actually listens to his subordinates (I've experienced that), but these days, that attitude seems to be waning.

I doubt the managers will get it until they stop making money. Or until they're all fired for not making money.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366526)

I suspect that it's the former. In the current corporate culture of lining someone's pockets and believing that every customer is a lying criminal who only wants to warez their products,

The customer is lying? What about the vendor himself! Customer's don't like some copy protection feature? Fine, just don't tell him it's there. Customer doesn't like that you run your corporate DB handling his service on Windows machines? Fine, just don't tell him you use windows, it might confuse him. Customer having doubt about the future of your product? Fine, just don't tell him that you are preparing to lay off your development team.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (1)

I Be Hatin' (718758) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366519)

They have to know that everything they do can and will be cracked by pirates and that the cracks will be publicly available and easily accessible.

Is this just another case of managerial idiocy--the programmer grunts can't explain to the bosses that it is a futile misguided effort?

It may be misguided, but it's not futile. Sure, their scheme gets cracked, and these cracks are easily accessible, to someone with enough knowledge to find and use them. But most people don't/can't/won't take the time to search them out and figure out how to use them. The main goal of all of these types of schemes (product activation, access control, etc.) are to stop casual piracy, which is a much bigger threat to their bottom line.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366521)

Are they just going along with it because it's their job, rather than actually trying to make a quality product?

ding ding ding.
Once a company gets to a certain size, big company mentality starts taking over. Benefits get reduced, frequent changes filter down from on high with no apparent reason other than cost cutting, etc. After a while, most people get ground down to where they just try to do what they're told as well as possible, rather than trying to innovate or argue.

This is one reason why, for instance, most really new ideas come from small companies or startups (or even individuals) and then are bought by large companies, rather than being invented there.

Re:How Do They Not Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366557)

and this poblem is self-correcting as the company is reduced in size due to their stupid decisions. I see the same thing happening to Microsoft real soon now.

should i be the first to do so? (-1, Offtopic)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366434)


/nick LiNuX4eVeR
h4h4h4h d4ts why 1 rUn LiNuX BeCaUsE mIcRoSoPhT sUcKs
/exec -o uptime

I run Solaris, BSD, and ocassionally Linux. I've yet to get hit with a virus, worm, or spyware. I'm not running zilch on one of my desktops and worry little about MS' security flaws since I keep nothing important on this particular machine. Sure it's shitty having a gap bigger than Bella Donna's teeth, but what 'impact' this has is small to me, at most I'm just going to have a slew of workers stop me in the hall whining because they're too clueless to stop downloading crappy tools filled with spywayre, or opening emails that promise to show britney or jho's panties... opefully there are others who'd look at this and say 'who cares' ... Give me some real news...

Re:should i be the first to do so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366625)

>I run Solaris, BSD, and ocassionally Linux. I've yet to get hit with a virus, worm, or spyware.

Thats because I hacked your box three months ago and cleaned it up for you. :p

That's Really Interesting... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366439)

The crack I used works just fine! :)

Yeah... (4, Insightful)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366452)

This is exactly why I bought a copy of McAffee's. I didn't want to have to deal with product activation on windows with something that could protect my data. I think of product activation in this case as getting mugged in a street and having a cop stand by while your getting mugged cause you didn't give him the product key for the taxes you spent.

Although I heard from a relative that they got billed by McAffee's even after they told them to cancel their subscription for virus updates. I was told they were basiclly ignored by the company. So if you have to run windows be very careful what you get when your dealing with anti-virus packages.

It's sad really, all of this adds the the nightmare of maintaining a windows system. My linux box has none of these problems and was 10x easier to install then Windows XP. (Mandrake 9.1)

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366588)

There's no real reason for concern over the billing. Call your credit card company. It costs the vendor relatively lots (in this case I'd guess at least 100, maybe 200%) if they don't comply.

Enough already (1)

krray (605395) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366455)

I've had to re-activate I don't know how many XP boxes. Office had a bought a while back and would always need activation.

Heck, even my Linux and OS X boxes keep asking for activation!

Login:

When will they learn?! (5, Insightful)

rs6krox (630570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366462)

Remember back in the day, when copy protected 5 1/4" floppies were all the rage? The software would lock up and freak out. And within a couple of days somebody would post a program to copy the disk without the protection to your local BBS. Sometimes just copying the floppy would make the software more stable. Remember dongles (some companies STILL use them)?! Remember the dongle remover programs that tricked the program into thinking there was a dongle there when there wasn't?

Copy protection rarely stops piracy, and usually screws with the customer. Online activation is just the newest wave. Even M$ can't get it right. Has anyone met somebody who really really likes online activation?

IMHO, the best way to fight piracy is to have a great product that's reasonably priced. And the purchase price buys you support and updates. Each CD key can only register once for a support/update password, so those who pirate the software don't get support. And catching a pirated key/support p assword combination is as easy as running your HTTP logs through an analysis program.

No vendor will ever completely stamp out piracy, the best they can hope to do is making purchasing the product as attractive as possible.

Re:When will they learn?! (1)

the uNF cola (657200) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366651)


Copy protection rarely stops piracy, and usually screws with the customer.


Duh. It's mostly to raise the bar for a sufficient amount of time so that money can be made. there are a lot of channels of piracy and copyright violations that aren't targeted because they are more expensive to go after and have smaller effects that going after the big fish.

Re:When will they learn?! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366668)

This is one thing that will gradually push me towards looking for free (both versions) alternatives to commercial products.

I don't like online activations, and now McAfee has an update system that won't just let you download a file, it needs their updater program and it only works with certain options and only works with IE.

Even "repairing" an installation in W2k pro means entering the CD Key. BAD! I have to dig up a key from my docs every time I fix something that goes wrong?

Then there's the Nero OEM CD that only works in systems that have the bundled drive. I have three Nero CDs and I've had to label them to make sure I don't confuse which drive it goes with.

I am an honest customer and do buy licenced products and I am tiring of these hoops.

What this article fails to mention... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366474)

...is that Symantec based their code on on open-source project on sourceforge.

Time for companies to reconsider using open-source, it would seem.

What this post fails to mention... (2, Insightful)

ptr2void (590259) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366545)

... is what project it is talking about.

Time to fill in the facts, it would seem.

Hello, McAfee! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366491)

Screw Symantec. What they are trying to do is to make you and me - and people like us - who own multiple machines at home, buy a copy for each computer we own. They actually think that we would shell out $500 or $1000 in multiple licenses, when in fact, the most amount any home consumer would pay for any software title is $100. And expect to install it on all their machines.

Are we cheating them? NO! Because FAIR USE allows you to run this software on as many machines as you want, just not at the same time.

But, these companies and their anti-piracy nonsense are enemies of FAIR USE, and would curtail YOUR RIGHTS in a greedy push to capture the marketplace not by innovation, but by fascism and via control of the government to alter YOUR RIGHTS to suit them.

Re:Hello, McAfee! (1)

MadAnthony02 (626886) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366716)

Are we cheating them? NO! Because FAIR USE allows you to run this software on as many machines as you want, just not at the same time.

Right. I'm sure a lot of people who run NAV on two machines with one license will do exactly that... disable it on one machine while it runs in the background of the other.

Do I think activation is a bad idea? Yes. But one can understand why they do it - because few people bother reading/following the EULA they said yes to.

A Fix (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366492)

Symantec could always ask the warez community for a 'fix'. *grin*

My product activation strory. (4, Interesting)

Adrian De Leon (30979) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366514)

Here is my product activation story, I frist posted this on my blog but I wanted to contribute it here too.

I had to reinstall one of the machines in the Web Cafe that I own. Since all the computers have the exact same hardware, the easiest way was to pull the hard drive from one of the PCs to the one that is acting as a file and print server.

Because of several reasons that I really don't want to explain right now, all the machines are running Windows XP Pro (yes, I did try using Linux first, no, the clients didn't want to use it.)

So I have all my licenses in order ( the BSA can come here and kiss my ass) and activated.

I swapped the hard drives, and of course, I knew I would had to activate Windows again. No problem right?

yeah, right

A message came up saying that I had exceeded the number of installations valid for my CD Key or something like that.

"Crap, now what? I paid for All these licenses!"

So I called the 1-800 number on the screen and tried to navigate the voice menu (I hate those). The system hanged on me twice before I could speak to a real person.

"What seems to be the problem"

I described to her the problem and I had to dictate her a 30 digit number that was on screen. After a while, she gave me another 30 digit number to type.

After we were finished I asked her If I would have to call every single time I needed to reinstall Windows. She said that she didn't knew.

If I have to call Microsoft every single time I need to reinstall MY machines, I am going to be very, very pissed.

With product activation, Microsoft is treating their customers, me in this case, like criminals. I could have downloaded a crack from the Net, but no, instead I spend 10,000 pesos (almost 1,000 dollars) in Microsoft software and I get treated like a criminal and waste my time calling them for permission to reinstall my machines.

This sucks.

As soon as I think my clients could start using a Linux desktop just by sitting in front of it and not needing any training, all Microsoft software is out from here.

Product activation sucks. The people who want to use software illegaly with product activation will find a way (cracks, serials, etc) and the only ones getting the finger are the honest paying costumers.

Re:My product activation strory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366575)

i have a idea, wny not all the peeved customers start re-installing XP every chance they get and flooding M$FT's product activation center till M$FT's employees can not cope with the flood of customers anymore forcing them to discontinue product activation

Linux in public access computers (2, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366608)

I've seen the same problem with public access terminals in a library. About half were linux, and the users would only use them if they had to (i.e., all the windows machines were in use).

Maybe, if you charge for use, you could try the following: start with a few linux machines, and charge less for using them -- and hang a little sign saying, "These machines use linux, they cost less because linux is free and windows is expensive". Make them as similar to windows as possible, with similar desktops and behaviors.

People might be willing to put up with something new if it will save them money. Just my $0.02.

Re:Linux in public access computers (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366685)

Another trick that helps is to always keep the Linux machines in perfect working order, and "neglect" the Winders machines. Do you really have to re-image a Windows as soon as some doofus customers catches a virus on it? Escpecially given the phone ordeal that you have to go through after imaging it!

So make it your policy that you only re-image those machines once every two weeks. If a customer complains, point him to the Linux machines (which do work fine, due to inexistance of viruses on that platform. And if something happened to them anyways, it's much easyer to reimage them!). After a while, the message should sink in.

Re:Linux in public access computers (1)

Adrian De Leon (30979) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366715)

The problem is babysitting the costumers. These are people that freak out if the MSN Messenger icon changes place. (and that's what all the people come here and do, chat on Messenger for hours, it is unvelibable)

I already have my share of babysitting problems by using OpenOffice.org on the WinXP machines, if the GUI is not 100% perfect (aka just like the MS Office they use at school) they freak out.

But the regulars have adapted pretty well to OpenOffice, and It has saved me a ton of money. And its MS Office filters are pretty good.

Sometimes fonts are screwy, but in my experience that happens with different versions of MS Office too. (If you want a perfect render/print you need to use PDF's anyway.)

I have setup another Linux macheine at my Web Cafe (running the new Fedora Core) and will see how the custumers react to it.

Re:Windows in public access restrooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366738)

I've seen the same problems with public access comfort stations in a pub. About half were had windows to the street, and the users would only use them if they had to (i.e. all the stalls without windows were occupied).

Maybe, if you charge for use (this is commonplace in Belgium), you could try the following: start with a few window'ed stalls, and charge less for using them -- and hang a little sign saying, "These stalls have windows, they cost less because they bring more customers to our pub, especially if you are a good looking young lady". Make them as similar to the other stalls as possible, with similar seats and paper rolls.

People might be willing to put up with something new if it will save them money. Just my $0.02 Belgian franc.

When will they learn? (My rant) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366536)

Product activation doesn't faze the pirates, all it does is enrage legitimate buyers and drive them to competitors (or to pseudo-piracy themselves).

Last week I started setting up two new G5s for a client. They use QuarkXPress, the 6.0 version of which has adopted product activation (I've been steering all my clients to Adobe InDesign, but this particular one was willing but unable to switch for some reason). Any Mac people reading this who historically know how bad Quark is can see where this is going. Three times, I retyped the two codes on the sheet that came with the upgrade CD to activate the software, and I'm punching the damn things in correctly-- what do I get? "Invalid serial number." So I have to call these fucktards to get this shit activated, which I'm not doing until I have the second machine running, so I won't have to call a second time if that one fails as well. And after I clone the build to the second G5, I'll have to uninstall the Macromedia shit they got and reinstall and activate it, because that has activation as well. What a colossal waste of time.

And all of these companies make it such a fucking hassle to get a multi-user install code, that when I do a build destined for multiple machines I just have clients buy single-user licenses so they're covered, and I install the shit with warezed site-license codes. Why doesn't every company simply offer a web page where one can go, punch in all of their single-user codes for a given product, and in return get a single code good for that number of licenses? I don't have time to sit on hold with the Volume Licensing Department, I have work to do! And Quark, those fucking bastards CHARGE you to consolidate licenses, so I just used warezed multi-user codes for them, too, as long as my clients have enough single licenses to cover themselves. You can take my Office v.X Volume License Edition install CD when you pry it from my cold, dead hands-- no more typing in those stupid fucking codes from MS, either.

Oh, and speaking of MS, last week I had to add 5 CALs to a client's Terminal Server. Microsoft e-mailed us two "proof of purchase" type codes, and we had to go to a web site and punch them in to get the actual install code. But did that work? Noooo, I ended up having to call them to get the fucking code. All this jumping through hoops, I ended up billing the client for an HOUR, just to punch in a fucking 25-character license code. It's ridiculous.

As you can see, these anti-piracy features do nothing but waste my billable time (and ultimately my clients' money), and force legitmate users to turn to cracks and hacks and codez to get things done in an efficient manner.

Symantec should be a Computer Associates company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366540)

It would be a perfect fit for Symantec to get acquired by CA. They're both perfect examples of companies selling mediocre crap and providing lousy customer service for said crap. I don't think Symantec tests *anything* before they ship it. Why hire a QA department? Our customers are our QA!

With that in mind, Computer Associates should buy them and integrate the stinking pile of Symantec sh^h^hproducts into their own fetid pool of merchandise.

Right, okay, uhuh, sure..... (5, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366570)

FTA:
"[the senior product engineer] also recommended that customers who encounter the problem not restart their computers."
Uhmm.... this *IS* for Windows,right?

You know... I'd really like to know just how they think a customer's gonna be able to pull that off.

Re:Right, okay, uhuh, sure..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366613)

reboot using a win98 floppy diskette, type in fdisk, delete ALL partitions, reboot with a Linux CDrom in the CDrom Drive, install Linux = problem solved...

Re:Right, okay, uhuh, sure..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366723)

I've heard about enough of this crap about Windows. I run XP home version and if the power deosn't go out or lightning hit the house, I NEVER, EVER have to reboot. The machine is rock-solid. Yeah, programs crash, but I have yet to see the OS crash.

Maybe you were referring to the older Win95, Win98, Win98SE, or WinMe? If your XP box is crashing, my guess is that you don't know shit about using a computer.

Serves them right! (1)

Ask-A-Nerd (590961) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366572)

It Serves Symantec right.. too bad for them. If they are successful in getting it to work they will see their virus product become the most unpopular instead of one of the most popular. What Symantec doesn't realize is that Peter Norton made the product great... back when it was Norton Antivirus he actually would release his product to the Pirate BBS's for the hackerz to beat up on.. we were his QA. Not to mention that we made him famous. Seems awful strange that all these companies forget what made them great, not to mention rich.. the pirates and warez groups. Even Billy Gates pirated, phone phreaked and other such activities.. that's how this whole business got started.

Catch 16h (4, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366602)


However, there's no mention of a fix yet.

And when there is a fix it will only be available to users who have properly registered and activated their copy of the program.

-- MarkusQ

Microsoft's Product Activation (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366618)

got to be such a PITA!

My company standardised on Office 2000 at a cost of > $300 per seat (10 seats). The original activation was sooo easy; we have an "always-on" Internet connection, the software connected to Microsoft's site and we were off to the races in about 30 seconds after installing.

As computers will do, several went belly up and I had to replace them. One needed nothing more than a bigger hard disk, but required re-authorization. In the meantime (less than 6 mos), MS had released Office XP. Wouldn't you know that activation was no longer so easy! The software kept coming up with "server not responding" and I was forced to call to get an authorization code. This activity included an extra copy that we bought that had never been activated! So much for their promises of being easy to authorize.

After a couple of 20 minute (mostly on hold) sessions to get authorization numbers, I tracked down a cracked copy of Office. I still keep the original licenses in a locked cabinet in case we are ever audited by the software gestapo, but I re-install off of the cracked copy to avoid the authorization. I personally think this is a forced upgrade policy.

We can no longer buy Office 2000. What do you think I'm going to do when we need a new copy of Office? Microsoft has forced me to pirate their software!

(posted as AC for obvious reasons)

Futile (2, Insightful)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366645)

Software copy-protection is like CD copy protection: its just not going to work: Anything you do to try and restrict software someone will find a way around it simply because every system out there is based on the same line of code:

if(product activated){run product} else {don't}

what ever method they use it all boils down to just running the program or not running it, at the most there will be afew extras that keep checking or individual modules activating, and the most complex might involve running some parts on a dongle but all these can essentially be bypassed. This is why microsoft is so keen to get TCPA off the ground because they know full well that they and most of their windows-developer friends' business models will colapse unless they can totally restrict the platform and have anyones ass if they try and bypass it.

Re:Futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366730)

Re: your sig

I am root and I started the war. Any questions?

A Big Thank You from Symantec (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366700)

To all our beta testers out there!

Product Activation thru the Net isn't there yet... (1)

budn3kkid (668179) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366711)

considering accessing the Internet by any means on a computer running on any OS (Windozes or Linux or Mac) hasn't reached it's peak yet. How easy is it to just get connected? Hey, it's not just about good ol' US of A we're talking about here... how about the rest of the "World"?

Alright, before you guys start raining balls of fire on me, consider this: How much would it take to setup a computer (PC/Mac/whatever) to establish an Internet connection? From scratch: an OS has to be installed, NIC/modem need to be configured, acquire an account with the local ISP, then authenticate the account to login (except Cable of course).

Even if an Average Joe would be able to get a pre-built Dell/HP/Compaq/whatever box from a local store, it would require them to have an ISP account or, at the very least, a Cable connection. Even then, how many people on the whole freakin' planet has access to Cable???

The day that an "average-non-tech-savvy" user can connect to the Net just by "plugging the cable into the wall" like a TV or a telephone, means the day Product Activation would work the way the "Major Software Developers" would want it to work. The more fuss one has to go through to connect to the Net, the more likely any Product Activation scheme would fail at some point. If getting from point A to point B takes too many steps, for seamless Product Activation, one point of failure is just one too many.

Just my 2cents.

This is particularly bad in this type product (5, Interesting)

henryhbk (645948) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366712)

The 2 kinds of products you don't want activations snags in(because they are really needed for emergencies by the consumer) are anti-virus software and disk-recovery software. I mean if your hard-disk is corrupt or you have a bad virus (please no debates on whether norton's has helped/hurt you, or whether you running some virus immune OS, I'm speaking conceptually here) and you can't activate your de-corrupting utility, then you a) wasted your money and b) are screwed!

Symantec should realize their market, and for those who paid, expect to be able to use their product.

Luckily they don't have this yet on the macintosh side...

Quit Whining (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366719)

Typical Slashdot Crowd responses.

Tell me, what is wrong with a company that wants to protect its products, regardless of what scheme they choose. Symantec makes a good anti-virus product which I have deployed across enterprises of 10,000 systems or more with no problems.

Why do we have to nitpick when it comes to product activation? Doesn't a company have the right to even attempt to implement some type of product control, considering the rampant piracy that goes on? It seems to me the that the typical Slashdot response to something like this is "FREE FREE FREE". Mp3s, CDs, software...it never seems to matter. If a company attempts even meager control over how THEIR product is sold and deployed, the Slashdotters have a knee-jerk reaction. Worse, when a company makes a boo-boo (and the GNU camp is JUST AS GUILTY HERE!) we all have to berate their efforts.

Re:Quit Whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366770)

Tell me, what is wrong with customers getting sick and tired of jumping through hoops to use a product after paying their hard-earned money for it? Would you do the same thing if it were your car? Would you like to call Ford everytime you serviced your Ford POS?

We're not nitpicking. If software companies insist on making programs that make me pull my hair out, I have a perfect right to bitch and complain, plus I have the right to use a different program AND tell everybody else about it. That's capitalism. Get used to it.

Why would NAV need it anyway? (4, Insightful)

nsxdavid (254126) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366735)

The interesting thing to me is that the big benefit of the current crop of antivirus programs, like NAV, is that they have this constant feed of updates to stay (nearly) up with the virus arms race. Symantec charges extra for that, and I think they should. I paid the fee gladly and they've keep viruses off my Winders machines purdy gewd.

So the real business model, like the one I rely on at my company, is recuring revenue. That's where the gold is because its multiplicitive with SKU sales. Mmm Mmm good!

End of the day, what Symantec should want people to pass around copies of NAV, but make it so it's only really effective if they keep it up to date through a subscription. I think in this case the subscription is warranted because NAV actually does have to do a substantial amount of work on a continuous basis. You are paying them to be your front lines in an ongoing battle and they, like many of the others, do a good job.

AOL got the model right when they put threw AOL disks out of airplanes for all those years just to get the subs. That model would work for antiviral software and many other things as well.

This is just one of a long history. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366741)


Symantec has a LONG history of releasing buggy software. That's why I don't buy anything from Symantec.

Twice Bitten, Forever Shy (1)

occamboy (583175) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366751)

People complain about Microsoft's flaws, but M$ is lightyears ahead of Symantec when it comes to testing.

I've had two bad experiences with Symantec's "let the end-users test it!" policy. The first was when Win XP first came out. Norton Antivirus (certified for XP) caused chronic swap file corruption. It was particularly amusing because NAV was included with the computer (a Compaq laptop).

A few months later, I (stupidly) tried to install NAV on another computer. It got stuck in an endless loop of demanding that I activate the product, then saying that activation failed. I tried uninstalling then reinstalling, but no joy.

Symantec's response was that one of my NAV registry settings must be bad, and since NAV's uninstaller didn't delete all of NAV's droppings, the solution was for me to manually go through my registry and clean every last trace of NAV, a time-consuming process. Of course, it didn't help.

I switched back to McAfee's VirusScan, and won't touch anything Symantec again. My company is now Symantec-free as well, as are my friends and family who ask for (and take) my advice.

Re:Twice Bitten, Forever Shy (0)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366784)

Amen, brother!

Only difference is that I tell friends and family about AVG - it's free.

Piracy, spam, and the BSA (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366785)

Symantec's stated reason to going to product activation is that NAV is one of the most pirated pieces of software out there.

Many of the pirates advertise their warez via spam.

Symantec is a member of the Business Software Alliance.

Symantec has an email reporting address specifically to foward spam advertising their products to.

Question: why doesn't Symantec have the BSA kick down the doors of these spammers, and haul them off to jail (the spammers are actually violating several laws, unlike most of the people the BSA currently goes after.)

My take: Symantec makes money off people "upgrading" their pirated versions to legit versions. Symantec beleives they will make even more money going to product activation. Symantec does not really care about piracy per se.
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