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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Upgrade Trick Still Present In Vista SP1 373

Posted by kdawson
from the pricing-is-an-art dept.
Chris Blanc writes "The new Service Pack 1 version of Windows Vista allows end users to purchase the 'upgrade edition' and install it on any PC — with no need to purchase the more expensive 'full edition.' The same behavior was present when Vista was originally released, but the fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more appealing to sophisticated buyers."
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Upgrade Trick Still Present In Vista SP1

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  • by adpsimpson (956630) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:28AM (#22951860)

    I hear Ubuntu allows the full installation on any machine too...

    Yeah, ok, I'll accept my -1, Troll.

    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:47AM (#22952870) Journal

      Yeah, ok, I'll accept my -1, Troll.

      I wouldn't worry about that.

      See, you've used the time honored Slashdot tradition of daring the moderators to mod you down. Such statements display a remarkable understanding of /. politics and show that you aren't afraid to go against the group. I'm hard pressed to think of a better way to ensure that your comment winds up with postive moderation -- short of a 4 digit UID, large cash contributions or being a former actor [slashdot.org] from Star Trek: The Next Generation ;)

      Statements like "don't worry, I've got karma to burn" or "how long until I get modded down?" seem to be particularly effective ;)

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:28AM (#22951864) Homepage Journal
    You're suggesting that sophisticated buyers are buying Vista.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BSAtHome (455370)
      You must give them some slack for being optimistic. Sitting with a sour face does not help the bottom line, does it. Then again, a sophisticated /buyer/ is merely a consumer that has had its brain turned off by advertising spin.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dynamicdesign (776547)
      Why do people constantly bash on Vista. It runs great on my computer and I have no problems with it. They probably didn't fix the upgrade trick because if you're buying their product then they still hold onto that part of the market. If you bash vista it's because you haven't used it, you're a slow slow learner, or you've used it but hate microsoft so much that you didn't actually give it a chance. To many people bash vista and they've never owned a copy, used a copy, and just go off what other people sa
      • by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:24AM (#22952606) Homepage Journal
        An honest question gets an honest answer.

        Many tweaks to the UI cause you to jump through new hoops, slowing down productivity and causing me to get irate. An OS should enable me to use my computer, but slow me down.

        Last week I was in a store purchasing a new computer for my step-dad, and all he needed was a web browser. I was damn tempted to give him a Linux box, and I'm not sure he'd notice. But we buy a new PC with Vista. He's used XP for years, but now he is totally lost. And the salesman was insisting 2 gigs of ram isn't enough for Vista, and that we needed a box with 4. Here is the crux of it. Vista offers no new features that will blow anyone away, yet the requirements are considerably higher.

        Why slow down my machine with something that is going to cause nothing but trouble, when I get no benefit out of it?

        There are people who cope reasonably well with Vista, but that isn't a reason to upgrade.
        • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:57PM (#22953952)

          Many tweaks to the UI cause you to jump through new hoops, slowing down productivity and causing me to get irate. An OS should enable me to use my computer, but slow me down.

          Like what ?

          Last week I was in a store purchasing a new computer for my step-dad, and all he needed was a web browser. I was damn tempted to give him a Linux box, and I'm not sure he'd notice. But we buy a new PC with Vista. He's used XP for years, but now he is totally lost.

          Someone who is "lost" in Vista after using XP for years, is going to be vastly more "lost" using Linux (or OS X for that matter).

          Seriously. The fundamental UI in Vista is still the same as Windows 95.

          And the salesman was insisting 2 gigs of ram isn't enough for Vista, and that we needed a box with 4.

          Of course he'd say that. He's on commission. 2 gigs is plenty.

          Here is the crux of it. Vista offers no new features that will blow anyone away, yet the requirements are considerably higher.

          One could make that same argument about just about every version of Windows since Windows 95 (and every version of every other OS from some time back in the '90s, with the exception of OS X since it was so late to the party).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Enderandrew (866215)

            Like what ?

            Where do I begin? UAC, for one. Deleting a shortcut shouldn't ask me to approve three times. I have to move over and scroll within a start menu, and then click on folders instead of mousing over. Dialogs, control panel extensions, and options are nested and hidden all over the place, making me take extra steps here and there. Plenty of people have documented the list of issues, and usability studies have shown that people are less productive since the UI slows them down.

            Someone who is "lost" in Vista after using XP for years, is going to be vastly more "lost" using Linux (or OS X for that matter).

            Sadly, this is why I didn't ju

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:37AM (#22952766) Journal

        Why do people constantly bash on Vista. It runs great on my computer and I have no problems with it

        I have to say that I've gotten it here at the office and I haven't noticed any major problems with it. Take that with a grain of salt though because my environment doesn't involve any legacy software.

        It's actually remarkably usable once you disable the Vista UI and return it to a Windows 2000 look (I never used the XP UI either), though it is a resource pig. I'm using over a gig of ram right now just for Outlook, a few putty sessions, Pidgin and Firefox. On XP I'd still be under 512.

        All that said, after having used it for two months I really don't see any compelling new feature or reason to upgrade from XP -- particularly when Vista will require much more powerful iron to run as fast. Factor that in with all of the anti-consumer "features" (*cough* protected media path *cough*) added in by Microsoft and I'd still have a hard time recommending it to anybody and I doubt I'll be upgrading at home for the foreseeable future.

        Ignorance and blatant disregard for how something works seems to be what the internet is for in todays society

        You must be new here ;) (sorry, couldn't resist)

        • by Rary (566291) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:21PM (#22953354)

          ...though it is a resource pig. I'm using over a gig of ram right now just for Outlook, a few putty sessions, Pidgin and Firefox.

          No it's not. It's actually making better use [codinghorror.com] of your RAM.

          In my opinion, Vista is only for sophisticated users. Sophisticated users (developers, for example) tend to already go for high end systems, and are willing (and able) to learn new stuff. Ordinary users are resistant to change. They don't want to learn a new way of doing things, and switching to Vista would force them to do that (as would switching to Linux or OSX). There are generally (though not always) pretty good reasons for Vista changing the way these things are done (ie. additional functionality), but those who refuse to learn something new should just stick with what they know.

          All that said, after having used it for two months I really don't see any compelling new feature or reason to upgrade from XP...

          I'm inclined to agree. If you're happy with XP, stick with it. But if you're out looking for a new computer, unlike most Slashdotters (who have likely never even tried Vista), I'd happily recommend getting one with Vista -- as long as the person I'm recommending it to is willing to put in the effort to learn something new.

      • by k3vlar (979024) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:44AM (#22952842)

        Ignorance and blatant disregard for how something works seems to be what the internet is for in todays society.
        Yes, that is what the internet is for.

        On a related note, I've used Vista, extensively, and don't like it. I don't bash it at every opportunity, but I do discourage its use for the following reasons
        • - UAC is still the most aggravating privilege prompt I've used
        • - Vista, compared with Ubuntu or OS X, runs extremely slowly
        • - Control Panel, and other OS dialogs have been obfuscated and made extremely convoluted for no apparent reason
        • - (Subjective) I dislike the Aero user interface
        So there are three valid, and one personal reason that I prefer to use Ubuntu and OS X for my computing needs.
      • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:44AM (#22952844) Journal
        People constantly bashed on the Yugo and Chevrolet's Vega. It wasn't that they didn't go down the road perfectly for some people. It wasn't that they suited some people's need just fine, it was that they were unsafe and got people killed. Ironically, a relatively small amount of people like that but it happened.

        Hence you ask why do people dump on vista when it works just fine for what you do. And the answer is because it has metaphorically killed others in ways that it shouldn't have. Why? Because they used their computers in perfectly legit ways that you don't seem to do.

        It might have something to do with the Vista capable logo too. Where a computer was presented as having the ability to sufficiently run vista but in reality lacks a lot of what is neccesary. However, the people I know, have systems that meet the Vista specs well above the minimum and still have issues.
      • by pmbasehore (1198857) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:46AM (#22952860)
        Actually, I have used Vista--I have Home Premium running on one of my desktops. Before I say I don't like it, allow me to explain how I am educated enough to give an opinion on the subject.

        If you bash vista it's because you haven't used it,

        I believe I have shown that I do, indeed, use an OEM Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium on my Acer Aspire T180.

        you're a slow slow learner

        What does this have to do with anything? If I was a slow learner, I would complain about many pieces of software, not just Vista/Microsoft products.

        or you've used it but hate microsoft so much that you didn't actually give it a chance.

        This is really the only bit of your argument that could theoretically apply to me--so allow me to refute that. I see many improvements in Vista over XP and 2000. I will never deny that Vista is an improvement in some areas. My problem lies in two places:
        1) The OS has been out for a year now and there are still major driver and software compatibility issues. An example: My ATI HD2600 video card driver was technically "supported" by Vista, but I had so many problems with the driver (including BSODs, screen lockups, and framerates in the single-digits) that I had to get an nVidia card. And before you say the problem was with my hardware, the card worked perfectly on my Linux installation on the same box.
        2) It took Microsoft engineers 5 years to develop Vista? That is around twice their normal average development time of 2-3 years! What major improvements have we seen? The start menu was redesigned, UAC (need I say more), the GUI takes up a lot more memory and hard drive space for not much return in looks, and the "Explorer" file manager has copied so much from Apple's "Finder" that I expect to have a mouse with only one button!

        Vista has improved, yes...but the improvements are not complex enough or adequate enough to warrant twice the development cycle on the same product. I am a Linux user. I am a Windows user. I am also a Mac user. Just because I use a certain operating system or software doesn't mean I love it and hate all others. If you don't like what people say about Vista, get over it. Use what software you want to use and let us do the same.

        In the meantime, how about we get back to some decent conversation about the upgrade trick!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671)
        In response to your sig... "I don't do genocide, but I don't bash it"

        Sometimes, there's a reason to come out against something. I purposely chose a highly hyperbolic example, but it's only to make a point. Sometimes you do need to speak out about something being bad... ignoring it will not make anything better, it will just reduce conflict, which means that nothing will improve.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by teflaime (738532)
        Why do people constantly bash on Vista Super invasive DRM.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          Super invasive DRM.

          Not at all. "DRM" is quite possibly the biggest non-argument about Vista there is (with the possible exception of "hardware requirements").

          It boils down to two possible scenarios:
          1. You don't have DRM-encumbered media. Therefore the DRM is irrelevant.
          2. You do have DRM-encumbered media. Vista lets you watch it. Vista doesn't impose any more restrictions than any other player. Therefore, the DRM support is good, because the alternative is either a degraded output or none at all

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:32AM (#22951920) Journal
    I have a full version of Windows 95 lying around, and it has saved me quite a penny over the years.

    It's definitely a scam; there is no reason why the "upgrade" should cost less, since it is identical to the full version and you can "upgrade" using an original disk that wasn't used to install the OS that's currently on the machine.
    • Re:Ahhh upgrade... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by headkase (533448) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:04AM (#22952382)
      It's a loyalty ploy - agree or disagree. It's the same thing as one of those "free sub" Subway® cards. You walk in off the street and you pay full price but if you've been hanging around for a while you get a discount. All loyalty programs are like bribes too, "stick with us and you'll get a discount" instead of going over to the competition. Whether or not you should go to the competition is another discussion.
  • by imstanny (722685) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#22951962)

    but the fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more appealing to sophisticated buyers
    Dave: Excuse me, but the car you sold me is missing a gas tank. Salesman: Yes, we know. This is an upgradable model. We sell them to sophisticated buyers, hence the discount. Dave: So I can upgrade for free? Salesman: You're sophisticated, you'll figure it out. Dave: Well, what does it upgrade to? Salesman: All updated GPS maps can be downloaded directly from the dealer's website. Dave: Great! And what about the gas tank? Salesman: .................. Dave: Sir?!?!
  • ..it's just a simple trick.
  • by dlsmith (993896) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:39AM (#22952014)

    the fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more appealing to sophisticated buyers
    And I'm sure my neighbor leaves his front door unlocked because he wants me to come on in and make a sandwich.
    • by Triv (181010) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:54AM (#22952234) Journal

      And I'm sure my neighbor leaves his front door unlocked because he wants me to come on in and make a sandwich.

      That reminds me: You're outta mayo.

      --Your Neighbor

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      In many states, if you improve a portion of your neighbors' property and use it, but your neighbor does nothing, you eventually can sue for ownership of the property.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      If you really think that is a comparable analogy, you really don't understand the issues at all.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:39AM (#22952022)
    Perhaps Microsoft is "letting" people get away with this and counting on the BSA dropping by later to collect.
    • by mbge7psh (633184) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:40AM (#22952800)
      From the EULA [microsoft.com]:

      13. UPGRADES. To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from.
      Buying the upgrade version when your not entitled to it doesn't make you copy any more legal than a pirated copy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pegr (46683) *
        Buying the upgrade version when your not entitled to it doesn't make you copy any more legal than a pirated copy.
         
        But before you can get in trouble, they have to prove you don't own a prior version. Good luck with that!
  • Research shows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Starturtle (1148659) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:41AM (#22952052) Homepage
    ...you're more inclined to buy something you don't want if you think you're getting a deal or getting away with something.
    • we still do not want
    • by techpawn (969834)
      like the problem that occurs when people focus too hard on the idea that economics is the study of resource allocation in the presence of scarcity [techdirt.com].

      Or the researcher who did the work on people willing to waste time for a free ice cream cone over paying for one with no line? Seeing how much of a loss their willing to take (in time, because we know our worth in time thanks to hourly wages) for "free"?
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:42AM (#22952074)
    I actually considered upgrading recently, just because I wanted to set up a remote connection server on my home PC. Then I found out that, as with XP, this doesn't come with the Home edition (even Home Premium) of Vista. So I'm going to get stuck buying the $200+ "Vista Ultimate" edition for one lousy crippled feature. Thanks, MS!
  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:44AM (#22952094) Homepage Journal
    They could do what Symantec, McAfee, and a lot of other vendors do:

    Antivirus: $50 - $30 rebate - $20 upgrade rebate

    Only it would be

    Vista Home Basic: $399 - $100 rebate - $100 upgrade rebate = your price $99

    Dear Sucker, we mean Customer:
    To get the upgrade rebate, fill in the form with the version and registration keys or "Registered to:" number for both the old and new copies of Windows. Limit one upgrade rebate per new copy. Limit one upgrade credit per old copy. Violators will be persecuted, we mean prosecuted, to the full extent of the law.
    Sincerely,
    Microsoft Customer Relations
    • Only it would be

      Vista Home Basic: $399 - $100 rebate - $100 upgrade rebate = your price $99


      OK, I see this post was modded as "funny", but
      $399 - $100 - $100 != $99 (try $199)
      Unintentional mistake? Or an example of what we might call "Microsoft Math"?

  • by victim (30647) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:44AM (#22952098)
    sophisticated adj - aware of or able to interpret complex issues

    But you've used it in a sentence where you meant "willing to commit fraud to steal a license, but not willing to outright steal the license in its entirety". We don't have an english word that completely covers that, but "criminal" would do. I'd rewrite the last line to end...

    "the back door as a way to make Vista more appealing to criminals."

  • Still Illegal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoToMo (17253) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:47AM (#22952136) Homepage
    I'm sure that the upgrade license agreement does not allow this, even if it is technically possible, so why would i spend money and still have an illegal copy of windows? If you're going to use an illegal copy, use one, if you're going to do the right thing and purchase a license, you might as well buy the right one.
    • by iainl (136759)
      You're right it's still illegal to use the upgrade without owning a legitimate XP disc.

      However, I suspect the real reason that they left it in is that it's also legal to use the 'trick' to perform a clean install of Vista, when you have an XP disc sitting around, but don't want to fill your drive with cruft before you start.
      • Re:Still Illegal (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sancho (17056) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:22AM (#22952584) Homepage
        Never upgraded Windows before, eh?

        Since at least Windows 2000, you've been able to just pop out the disc, put in the older version to prove that you own it, then switch back and continue with the install. This gets you a clean install of the new OS while still verifying access to the older media. It takes less time, too (don't have to install the new OS twice in order to get a valid activation.)
  • Not just Vista (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:54AM (#22952232)
    ...the same capability exists in the upgrade versions of WinXP. If no Windows version is present on the hard disk, it asks you to briefly insert a disk of a qualifying version, including 95/98/Me, and it activates on the new disk's product key.

    rj
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think the point is that vista doesent even ask for previous media, it just installs no questions asked
      • Re:Not just Vista (Score:5, Informative)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:11AM (#22952446)
        I think the point is that vista doesent even ask for previous media, it just installs no questions asked

        That's nice of them, because I do have a fully licensed version of XP MCE that came with a machine I bought a few years ago. However, it was an HP, so I only have the crappy "Restore" discs that it let me make, which includes all the crapware they were paid to include. I'm fairly certain a Windows upgrade disc wouldn't accept these as "genuine" media that's eligible for upgrade, even though they should be. It's nice to know that I can install Vista onto a fresh HD without having to deal with first installing XP and all the extra crap, only to blow it away with the upgrade.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Did you even read the article? Vista upgrades can only be applied to an already-installed Windows 2000, XP, or Vista (not simply by validating against one of their installation disks). The trick is that you can do a clean install using the Vista upgrade disk, then do an upgrade install over the clean install. The upgrade install will recognize the clean install as a legitimate qualifying version to which the upgrade can be applied.
    • by mauthbaux (652274)
      ...a qualifying version, including 95/98/Me...

      Interestingly enough, even the first gen "XP Pro Corporate" disc qualifies as valid media. At least it does when installing XP home SP2 upgrade.
    • If no Windows version is present on the hard disk, it asks you to briefly insert a disk of a qualifying version

      Most consumers don't have a qualifying Windows install disk. They have the system restore CDs supplied by their OEM. Let's say you install Vista on one of these machines and later decide that you want to do a clean install or maybe the HD dies and you need to start fresh with a new HD. If they were to close this back-door they would have plenty of pissed off customers who cant install the upgrade

  • by weicco (645927)

    For some reason this came to my mind instantly when I read the summary (in the sound of Hubert J. Farnsworth) "Yes, yes, let's all break the law and buy upgrade versions and use it against the license."

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#22952280)
    I can't imagine that MS is completely unaware of this workaround. After all, they have a licensing department that is larger than many (most?) corporations.

    That inclines one to suspect that this hack was left in intentionally.

    Now why would Microsoft let people steal from them so easily? That seems diametrically opposed to most of their past behavior. However, if their brand is indeed on a "sharp decline [infoworld.com]," then this action would suddenly make sense.

    But it is still amazing to see Microsoft to be (seemingly) actually encouraging theft of their product. What will they think of next? Voluntarily coding to standards?
    • by ozbird (127571)
      But it is still amazing to see Microsoft to be (seemingly) actually encouraging theft of their product. What will they think of next?

      Fixing it in SP2 once enough people have taken the bait?
  • Methinks sophisticated buyers will simply continue buying a $5 mouse from their favorite online retailer, thus fulfilling the vendor's "must be bundled with hardware" requirement for a $169 OEM Vista Ultimate full version instead of a $199 boxed upgrade in which you have to jump through hoops for a clean install.

    I posit that there's one market for those boxed upgrades on the shelf at BestBuy, Target Etc... and "sophisticated" they ain't.
    • by hidden (135234)
      Actually, this wording was changed in Server 2003. it's now something along the lines of "Must be bundled with a fully functional computer capable of running this software" I'm assuming Vista has the same change, though I haven't actually checked.
  • Conspiracy? Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:59AM (#22953020)

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. --Robert J. Hanlon

    Considering the other more important fixes that Vista SP1 needed, I'm sure it was just overlooked or ignored.

  • Some other people have said it, but I'm going to just echo the sentiment of foolishness. These Vista folks are still paying a few hundred bucks, at which point, they'll done the wizard hats and find some way to hack up an upgrade into a full edition, under the light of the full moon, with an animal sacrifice, while standing on one hand upside down with a 45 pound weight tied to your leg, and then, say, "thank you Microsoft, for allowing this workaround that lets me license the product at half price....and
  • Don't let the fact that this install won't be legal stop you. Pirate.

    Just because you can technically do something does not mean that the vendor has granted you permission to do it. You are violating the license agreement if you do this and the copy is no more legal than if you just pirated the whole darn thing. Why even bother paying for an upgrade license if the result is still an illegal installation?

  • People who took place in the Vista preview programmes (i.e. used the betas) are entitled to 'upgrade' to the final version of Vista - and thus this 'trick' is both required and legal for them to use.
  • Anytime Upgrade (Score:3, Informative)

    by RWarrior(fobw) (448405) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @07:03PM (#22958440)
    Great to know this thing still works on SP1.

    What does NOT work on SP1 is the Anytime Upgrade I bought. I have a copy of Vista Business OEM, and for various reasons I bought an Ultimate key through the Anytime Upgrade program.

    It works like this:

    - Install Vista Business OEM
    - Activate Vista Business OEM
    - Run key package for Vista Ultimate Anytime Upgrade
    - Run installer from Vista Business OEM DVD, that actually does an upgrade install - takes hours

    Here's the wrinkle:

    - Install Vista Business OEM
    - Activate Business OEM
    - Use Business for a while because I have more pressing things to do than a second OS installation.
    - Install SP1.
    - Run key backage for Vista Ultimate Anytime Upgrade
    - Run installer from Vista Business OEM DVD, but instead of doing an upgrade install, the upgrade option is deactivated and it will only do a full format and install.

    Thanks, MS. Guess I'll wait until the next time I format the machine (two or three months) to go back to Ultimate.
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:58AM (#22961020) Homepage
    "the fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more appealing to sophisticated buyers."

    Are you saying that MS deliberately levies an idiot tax on customers who are not smart enough to (well, partially) pirate their product?

    That sounds a bit implausible to me.

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