Passwords, Activation Keys and Other Annoyances

Software companies invest time and effort into their products. They then try to sell them for the maximum price “that the market will bear.” I have no problem with profit, but when the profit is very lucrative it creates a major market for pirates, bootleggers and other ne’er-do-wells. The software industry‘s response, install special keys and filters so that copies can’t be used.

There’s a flaw in that theory.

Certain large Asian countries that do not honor our copyright laws reverse engineer our hardware, software and everything else. Hackers laugh at “your paltry little schemes!” They then share their tools and techniques freely on the internet and people happily install copied software with hacked activation codes or passwords.

In the meantime, honest people (well, even the dishonest ones) have computers crash and need to reinstall the software. This is a long and painful process even if you backup your data regularly.

It is even more painful if you can’t remember where you put the original disk with the activation code.

I upgraded the version of Windows on a computer that had come with a prior version of Windows installed. The motherboard (the main board into which everything else connects) failed, so I replaced it with the identical board from the original manufacturer.

Except that the folks at the computer company, which I won’t name, but the initials are H & P, had added one itty-bitty-tiny bit of code to the BIOS chip (the program that starts up the computer.) When I tried to reinstall the new version of Windows it wouldn’t accept that it was an upgrade because that code (called a tattoo) wasn’t there.

Customer service at Windows response – “That’s the way it goes.”

Fortunately, those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. The software companies are not studying history.

Remember when VCRs were new? (If you don’t, ask your parents or grandparents.) Movies on tape sold for nearly $80 a piece – thereby spawning the video rental industry. Remember Hollywood Video and Blockbuster? (If you don’t, ask your parents or grandparents.) The movie people soon realized that the people who were making the profit were the video rental stores. Their eventual response – make the price of a movie attractive enough so that people would be willing to buy their own copies.

Now people pick up movies by choice or even as an impulse purchase. I’ve even purchased a favorite, “Just in case I don’t already have it.”

The movie industry is going through another evolution as people shift from buying a movie on tape, then buying the same movie on DVD, then buying it again on Blu-ray. Now they’re streaming video through a service like NETFLIX and watching their favorites that way. It’ll be interesting to see how that develops; it’s great at home, but if you want to have a movie for the kids to watch in the car during the trip over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, you need to purchase the disc.

I wonder if the software companies are studying this, or just planning on doing more of the same.

Just thought you’d want something to think about.

One response to “Passwords, Activation Keys and Other Annoyances

  1. Really good article. keep it up!

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