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Windows XP Activation

The mandatory activation for Windows and Office XP has angered computer users across the country. As an IT professional, I have followed this subject since XP was first introduced. XP is one of the operating systems I use regularly and I had no problem with activation online. On the other hand, as a person who builds and upgrades his own computers, I understand the concerns.

Some of the critics of activation say that Microsoft is overreacting because the software piracy problem is not with individual users but with pirates in other countries who steal and copy the software for sale at low prices. Others say it is a waste of time because hackers have already figured out how to overcome the activation process and even posted web sites with instructions on doing it.

As a fan of Microsoft operating systems and software, I am pleased with their contribution to computing over the years. I also recognize that Microsoft has treated many of their competitors unfairly in an effort to control the software industry. There is no question that Microsoft is the eight hundred pound gorilla in a tough business.

All of this being said, it isn’t difficult to understand why Microsoft has opted for activation in an attempt to reduce piracy and I believe they will see worthwhile results in spite of the criticism. I disagree that it is a waste of time because hackers will figure it out quickly. Security is a worthwhile effort and ongoing because hackers are constantly figuring out how to break through. That does not make it less important or unnecessary.

I also strongly disagree that software piracy is just a problem with crooks trying to make and sell thousands of copies. Certainly, that is a serious problem requiring special attention, but individual users may well pose just as big a problem. Part of my job involves being the helpdesk for about 80 users. I also help many individuals with computer problems as a sideline. It is amazing to me how many people will ask to "borrow" my copy of a software application or ask me to make them a CD copy so they won’t have to buy it. And I know that many people share software applications among their friends and think nothing of it. It is interesting to hear people talking about software thieves one moment and then "lending" someone a copy of MS Office and not consider it stealing.

I spent many years as a self-employed woodworker and a writer/publisher and never appreciated having my designs or writings taken without payment. I can certainly understand the efforts of Microsoft and other companies to protect their products from theft.
I often hear people justifying software theft by saying that Bill Gates has billions so he can afford it. To me, that sounds like, "it’s OK to steal from rich people". I really wish that’s not what they mean. Part of the problem may be that computing has become so user friendly that people take for granted the complexities of creating software applications.

Another excuse I hear is that Microsoft issues software prematurely with many problems requiring a lot of patches. I believe that to be true in some cases but I appreciate that they proactively produce and distribute these patches to resolve these shortcomings. In any case, it’s no excuse for taking something without paying for it.

XP Activation is a direct response to an acute and worldwide problem. This attempted solution may not be the best but it’s time to acknowledge that the problem is real and thousands of individuals contribute to it everyday. When someone takes proprietary software without paying for it, it isn’t "borrowing".

To those who want free software, why not surf the enormous number of web sites that distribute freeware. It is easy to find great software applications to do almost everything and it is really free. Or, if you aren't certain that a software will work for you, obtain a trail version before you buy.

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