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New Software Activation in Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009?
Marvin Hlavac
It is only mid June 2008 - still several months before the release of the next version of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009. It's too early for anyone (outside Microsoft) to know what new features the next version will include. Nevertheless, it has always been fun to speculate, based on bits of info we overhear online.

Minutes ago I came across a blog where a person describes his experience with Streets and Trips 2008. He installed and activated the software on a laptop and a desktop, but later he changed his mind, and he wanted to use Streets and Trips on a different computer. The maximum allowed number of activations is two, but he expected to be able to successfully activate the product online, after he perform uninstallation on one of the previously mentioned computers. He was surprised when it didn't work as expected:

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I went to activate it and lo and behold, it announced that I'd reached my activation limit.
He later found out how the software activation works in the current version of Microsoft streets and Trips 2008:

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Although the license says I can de-install it and put it on another machine, the activation technology doesn't work that way--when you uninstall it, the software doesn't phone home and say this machine no longer has it installed (a Microsoft Support Manager confirmed this behavior to me later).
Some laptop GPS software programs do let users to deactivate the software online, so later the activation can still be performed for example on another computer. Two products that allow this (that come to mind right now) are ALK CoPilot and iNav iGuidance.

If users uninstall S&T 2008, and then install it on a new computer, they can phone Microsoft Technical Support, who will activate the product over the phone. But it would be simpler if users could do it by them selves online.

Streets & Trips 2008 was the very first version of S&T which introduced software activation. Is it possible Microsoft received enough user feedback that would prompt them to add online de-activation to future versions?

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Since it was clear I was irate, the nice Support Rep transferred me to her manager when the call was completed, and he told me that this problem was fixed in the next release.
Read the whole story: The Product Manager Should Be Shot

Any other good/bad activation-related stories? Anyone?
taoyue
There's not enough information to conclude anything about future product activation plans. A direct quote would have been helpful. For a self-proclaimed "IT Industry Analyst," he's also not very skillful at working a call center. Actually, he probably mirrors a typical user in that regard.

The guy also complains about file format changes. There's a fairly simple explanation. The S&T file format is simply a Jet database (aka an Access file). In Office 2007, all the file formats changed.
Marvin Hlavac
It's nothing one could rely on, but the "fixed in the next release" does give hope
whoster69
I am so sick of Microsoft's activation system. If they keep this in, I will probably buy something else. It is a terrible way to treat customers.
taoyue
I do not recall any case where a Microsoft product has gone to requiring activation, then backtracked. One certainly hopes the big bug in 2008 is fixed in 2009, but complete removal is rather unlikely. (Actually, if you check Microsoft Connect, you'll see that the Streets & Trips activation bug actually breaks other Microsoft programs as well. I suspect other teams at Microsoft have applied some pressure on S&T to fix their bug.)

Actually, which GPS mapping software does not require activation right now? Martin, you probably know. As you pointed out, iGuidance and CoPilot do. GPS mapping software is probably one of the most frequently "shared" software genres.
Marvin Hlavac
There is a known fix for the 'big bug of 2008', so I think this will no longer be an issue in future versions. But the blogger, mentioned in the first post of this thread, was not affected by the bug. He was simply upset that his computer didn't automatically 'call' Microsoft to let them know he uninstalled Streets & Trips on one of his computers. And that's what I understand the MSFT guy in the story referred to as "fixed in the next version". So I'm hoping Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009 may include online deactivation (not just online activation).

And yes, no matter if we like it or hate it, software activation is here to stay. Even if we dislike it, I think many of us understand that developers have the right to get paid for their work, they have the right to protect their intellectual property, and they have the right to fight software piracy.

Few years back most GPS navigation programs didn't require product activation. Nowadays most of them do. Actually Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 is one of the very last of the GPS software products to implement software activation.

P.S. Tao, it's Marvin, not Martin. But don't feel bad about it - many online people do the same to me.
whoster69
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Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
And yes, no matter if we like it or hate it, software activation is here to stay. Even if we dislike it, I think many of us understand that developers have the right to get paid for their work, they have the right to protect their intellectual property, and they have the right to fight software piracy.
I agree that it is here to stay and that developers definitely have a right to get paid for their work (many are underpaid sadly), but disagree that it actually fights piracy. Pirates break the activation so that they don't have to put up with this junk. It doesn't delay them from getting the software because they usually get it before it is released to the public. This stuff is widely available online in a variety of avenues. Pirates are well connected and know how to move quickly. The only people harmed by activation are legitimate users and the clueless. It is a common fallacy among legitimate end users that software protection is there because it works. It doesn't. Companies put it in out of fear. Any company that really looks into it closely finds that there is a lot of deception going on in the market place. Take a look at companies like Stardock. When they stopped using software protection schemes, two things happened. Software protection companies tried to pressure them into using it again with all sorts of sleazy tactics and Stardock's sales went up dramatically. I know this sounds contrary to what most end users would expect, but it did happen and they aren't the only ones. Stardock has since moved to get more companies to go without these complex protection schemes because they end up hurting legitimate end users more than anyone else.

It annoys me to no end that I pay good money for software and one of the guys I work with gets the very same software before it's released and without activation schemes and other annoyances that as a legitimate user, I have to put up with because the company that decided to use them thinks it actually protects their software when in fact it does not. I just annoys people who were honest enough to buy it. I wish more companies would take the time to really look into this and weigh the costs versus the alleged protection.

In a fair world it would only stop the pirates, but sadly, this isn't the case at all.
taoyue
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There is a known fix for the 'big bug of 2008', so I think this will no longer be an issue in future versions. But the blogger, mentioned in the first post of this thread, was not affected by the bug. He was simply upset that his computer didn't automatically 'call' Microsoft to let them know he uninstalled Streets & Trips on one of his computers. And that's what I understand the MSFT guy in the story referred to as "fixed in the next version". So I'm hoping Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009 may include online deactivation (not just online activation).
A couple of points, coming from my background in software engineering:
  • The thread you linked to discusses not a fix, but rather a workaround that cannot be shipped with the product. There is no known fix that's publicly available. What I'm saying is that, independent of the workaround, I would be surprised if there weren't a fix.
  • Without a direct quote from the support manager, my first thought would be that the manager was simply referring to the main activation bug, while the caller understood it to refer to his own problem. When you're very upset about something, you tend to hear things differently.
  • Streets and Trips is too small a product to force through a change like deactivate-on-uninstall to a shared component like product activation. If it were to come, then it would more likely be a side effect of a bigger Microsoft product getting the feature. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I think we're reading too much into that blog post.

Sorry, Marvin, I actually know your name, but my fingers keep typing Martin. For what it's worth, people have bungled my name too, which is half as long as yours but less common.

To whoster69, you should not expect software activation to combat all forms of piracy. Software companies use a variety of techniques. Software activation is specifically designed to fight casual piracy ("Let me borrow your DVD to install on my computer"). The professional pirates (DVD factories) and the dedicated pirates (1337 h0xx3rs) are fought investigatively, and followed up through police and the legal system. They tend to go after the distributors, not the end-users, because the legal system is too expensive to go after individual cases. The guy you spoke to at work may not face problem of his own, but he probably knows of sites that have been shut down, or heard of people getting arrested.
whoster69
I don't expect it to combat all forms. My point is that it does a pretty poor job of combating much of any yet it infringes legitimate users use to varying degrees.
Alan_
Software activation is a pain and my past experience does show it can break other software and cause computers to act goofy as well as have the purchased activation software crash. It would be much better end user experience to get rid of copy protection so everyone could enjoy the software that was bought without having to suffer all these problems in keeping our computers running.
Marvin Hlavac
Tao, I've always enjoyed reading your postings. They've always been technically very accurate, and your background in software engineering is reflected in them. You are correct, the ResetST-new.exe file apparently just resets a number of registry values, so to name it a fix would not be appropriate. A work-around is the proper name for it.

The blog doesn't say anything about this issue, though, and I hope the MSFT guy was really referring to the problem at hand, which was the inability for users to de-activate online. But it also is possible that the meaning is lost because we don't have a direct quote of the support manager.

I personally don't think the inability to deactivate Streets & Trips online is a big issue. If one needs to install S&T on a new laptop, it only takes a quick phone call. I've been through it myself.
chenmoon
I believe there are many issues with MS S/T 2008's Activation, of course we can buy the MS ST 2006, 2007, 2008..., but we can not foever, we need to protect my money. ( The GPS software is not for daily based software for me)

In my understand, different version's function can very, but the map data should be same, for example the Norton's AntiVirus data, if the MS ST's Map data can not up compatible, I just prefer to another GPS software even little bit more expense.
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