In my recent column “Are you in favor of Microsoft’s new XP licensing program?” I examined the new licensing system Microsoft plans to use with Windows XP and Office XP. I then asked TechRepublic members to share their opinions on this issue. Members responded with over 300 posts. This week, we’ll take a look at some of those responses.

A snowball’s chance
It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of the members who responded were upset about the new license-activation process created by Microsoft.

TechRepublic member Nbdyfool says he doesn’t see how software piracy could be truly hurting Microsoft and its profits, as its chairman, Bill Gates, is one of the world’s five richest people. He also finds it hard to sympathize with Microsoft when it’s apparent that the company is doing so well.

Another member, TechBoy 606, says he will not be making the jump to Windows XP because of its limited installations. He remembers when software installations were done by floppy disk instead of CDs, and the floppies counted the number of installs made by each disk. TechBoy also says that his job requires a lot of time already, and he won’t do anything that will require more time by e-mailing or calling a company about issues with licensing.

Member Nick Clark asks why Microsoft didn’t ask its clients for their opinions about piracy prevention:
“With this becoming such a BIG problem for us to adhere to, why hasn’t Microsoft asked us what we thought about piracy prevention? I know for a fact there are some TechRepublic members that have had good ideas in the past when asked for ideas to real world issues. Microsoft has to do the same! It appears to me that all the flack they’re getting will result in a lot of new UNIX/Linux admins out there.”

Is it time to turn your back on Microsoft?
While some TechRepublic members expressed their views on the new licensing scheme, other members had opinions to share about alternatives to Microsoft products.

TechRepublic member Cutplug believes that the new licensing program will move people away from Microsoft products and toward Linux as the new OS of choice, specifically Red Hat. He continues by saying that no one in their right mind would pay such a large amount of money without control over the product that they’re purchasing.

Member Raheesom says, “I KNOW Novell technology is better than MS, but Novell is no longer popular enough for the IT professional to take it seriously.” Raheesom says he will have to look for a Linux or UNIX alternative.

Finally, TechRepublic member FrankArrow asks members to consider MacOS X. He says that the new Macintosh operating system is based on the Free BSD UNIX kernel and doesn’t require any kind of registration. He further states that purchasing Macs over PCs would send a strong message to Microsoft: Don’t push us, because we have alternatives.

If you can’t join ‘em, work around ‘em
The discussion also focused on ways to get around Microsoft’s new licensing system.

Some members, such as Tetsu96, expressed an interest in cracking the license in Windows XP and Office XP. He believes that if Microsoft continues with their activation plan, hackers will have a field day finding ways around the license registration. Tetsu96 says that there are too many variables that would keep Internet registration from being practical for an average Windows user.

TechRepublic member RobertR explained that there are already ways around the licensing scheme:
“[There are currently] several ways around the [Windows XP] online process. When registering the final version, you will be able to get a ‘code’ via the phone. Just use the same code when you reinstall. As for Office XP, the phone option exists and the code is reusable! Also, you can crash the install by saying no to the registration, reboot, then ‘unregister’ a certain dll, add a certain registry key, reboot, and, poof, it’s ‘registered’!”

Some TechRepublic members, such as Brian Gray, expressed a concern with supporting users in business environments and home use. Brian explains that he carries a case of burned CDs with him wherever he goes in order to help him do his job in a “timely manner.” He says that he knows he isn’t the only IT professional who uses this method. He goes on to say that he isn’t a software pirate; he only wants to fix the problem quickly. He believes this won’t be possible if he’s waiting on the phone with a Microsoft representative, which will in turn cost his clients time and money.

Some will support XP no matter what
While a large majority of the TechRepublic members who joined this debate stated that they don’t like Microsoft’s new licensing program, other members support Microsoft’s side of the argument.

A good example is Bergeo, who is a product demonstrator for Microsoft in Belgium. Bergeo explains that the product activation can occur in one of two ways: Internet or telephone. According to Bergeo, both are painless, often quick, and require no personal user information. Bergeo also explains how the hardware changes in a PC might cause a product to stop working:
“For people who often change hardware pieces in their PC, Office XP will refuse to start after five changes in the configuration. All you have to do is to call Microsoft and tell them to cancel the activation you’ve made before.”

TechRepublic member Sdouglas thinks that the product activation feature is actually a clever idea. Sdouglas believes that using the activation feature will force users to be honest about their use of Windows or Office. Sdouglas also says that anyone who is complaining about the new licensing activation is most likely involved in pirating software.

Finally, member JPR states that Microsoft has every right to protect its intellectual property. The loss of software sales is passed to consumers via increased prices. Like Sdouglas, JPR believes that those individuals who complain about the licensing activation have been using illegal copies of Microsoft software.