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Gartner: Microsoft Should Pay For Vista's Anti-Piracy Hassles

Enterprises should demand some kind of compensation from Microsoft for implementing the Redmond, Wash. developer's new product validation and activation schemes baked into Windows Vista, a Gartner analyst said Monday.

Last week, Microsoft announced new anti-piracy plans for Windows Vista, Windows Server "Longhorn," and other upcoming products. The new technologies, which Microsoft collected under an umbrella dubbed "Software Protection Platform," will require volume license customers to validate the new operating system and activate copies for the first time. Previously, consumers and small businesses that bought Windows singly or in small numbers were the only customers forced to activate Windows and verify that it was genuine.

The new burden, said Gartner analyst Michael Silver, is not enough to make companies reject Vista, but it "adds more management and makes things hairier," he said.

"It's not a significant amount of work" to manage the new process -- which requires that customers to activate and validate Vista -- "but it's enough of a pain that people will resent it."

The process, which Microsoft calls "Volume License Activation," can be carried out with one of two techniques. One, called "Multiple Activation Key" (MAK), is similar to retail product activation, and requires that companies' PCs are always connected to the network. PCs activated and validated via MAK connect to a Microsoft server. The other technology, called Key Management Service (KMS), uses an internally hosted service, said Silver, and is the best choice for systems like laptops which are often outside the network perimeter.

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