Most people really don’t seem to care for Windows Activation. I still remember talking to a few friends early on when XP launched and there was speculation that XP activation would allow Microsoft to look at your personal information and everything you do online.
Today most of us have come to accept that it’s just standard practice to protect Microsoft from copyright infringement. Unfortunately, many people just don’t want to pay for things and Microsoft has had to continually step up the security behind its activation.
Luckily, one way around Activation has been purchasing a name brand PC that has been pre-activated and that means no activation hassle for the consumer.
So how do these pre-activated machines work? System builders use a technology called OA (OEM Bios Activation) that allows them to mass install Windows while also pre-activating them for their customers.
This technology first debuted with Windows XP and has been subtly making changes ever since. For Windows 8, however, they are planning a major update to OA (Version 3) that has much stricter requirements than ever before.
OEM versions of Windows have often been the targets of hacker attempts to get Windows without having to truly activate and pay for it.
Illegal copies of Windows have been widely circulated across the internet thanks to hacker programs that bypass Microsoft’s OEM activation certificates.
This time around Microsoft is determined to change the score. Microsoft’s OA 3 is designed to make this process very difficult for hackers and hopefully prevent it altogether.
This sounds great but it seems every time a company tries to go after pirates with this kind of technology it only makes life harder for the honest folk involved.
Unfortunately the strict guidelines behind Windows 8 OEM/ODM activation seem to be causing a little bit of controversy and confusion.
This time around Microsoft’s OS will actually be installed into the firmware and have several special keys that have to be recognized to even boot Windows.
Installing to the firmware is a much more timely process and requires a watching eye during the process, something that isn’t going over well with OEM/ODM System Builders.
This new method will also require consumers to key-in the authorization key and will end the use of a COA label altogether.
According to system builders they can currently easily manufacture 1,000 PC units in a very short time, but with this new system of activation and firmware installation it could reduce this productivity by almost half!
Because of the extra steps and intervention involved companies will need to train their system builders on the new techniques further incurring extra unwanted expense.
ODMS are equally angered by the fact they feel that Microsoft is being two-faced about the additional costs. Microsoft has told notebook ODMs that the brand vendors will pay the increased cost, while supposedly telling brand vendors that the ODMS will be responsible for the cost.
With slowly production and extra costs though, it is likely that in the end consumers will be the ones incurring the costs. If production costs go up so will the cost of making PCs, and that’s bad news for everyone involved.
For now all we can do is wait and see what happens.
Microsoft didn’t become one of the richest companies in the world by lacking in business sense, and if this really is a bad idea for consumers, and PC system builders, we can expect that Microsoft will at least somewhat revise the strategy. At least we can hope that they do.