Microsoft to add more anti-piracy features to Office 2010

Microsoft to add more anti-piracy features to Office 2010

Summary: Microsoft is adding more "Genuine Advantage" features to its forthcoming Office 2010 release to make the product harder to pirate.


Microsoft is adding more "Genuine Advantage" features to its forthcoming Office 2010 release to make the product harder to pirate.

The company is planning to add new volume-licensing activation technologies to Office 2010 in an attempt to thwart the pirating of volume-license keys, Microsoft officials said via a press release. Microsoft also is adding more counterfeit-detection and tamper-resistant features to Office 2010, the press release says. It sounds like Microsoft will limit the ability of Office 2010 users to do an "Anytime Upgrade" to those users who those who allow Microsoft to do a Genuine Advantage scan:

“'While future (Office) consumer installations will closely resemble what we have today, additional advantages that customers can expect include the ability to issue product keys that upgrade the installed version to one that is incrementally feature-rich,' says (Cori) Hartje, (senior director of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative)."

I found more details about some of the planned Office 2010 Genuine Advantage volume-activation changes in an August 24 posting on the Office 2010 Engineering blog.

Microsoft already has made Office more like Windows, in terms of the way it nags users who fail to activate their individual copies of a new release.  With Office 2010, volume licensees will be required to activate, too. From the August 24 Office 2010 Engineering blog post:

"Starting in Office 2010, all volume editions of Office client software will require activation.  What’s great for administrators is that Office has adopted the Windows Software Protection Platform (SPP), which means that most of what you have learned (or will learn) about Volume Activation for Windows applies to Office as well. For example, the same Key Management Service (KMS) host can be configured to activate Office 2010 clients as well as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Also, there is no reduction in functionality in volume editions of Office 2010. Even if Office is not activated, your users will still be able to open, save, edit, and print. Office files, though users will see notifications reminding them to activate."

Microsoft also is expanding the Office Genuine Advantage Notifications program into 13 more countries, upping the total to 41 countries.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • It's been said before, but it bears repeating

    If Microsoft spent anywhere near the time it spends policing piracy on
    feature correctness, and bug squashing, there would be much less need to
    worry about piracy.

    Most people know that there are many ways to get Office cheaply and
    legitimately, and no one I know pirates it, because the updates are needed -
    otherwise things are left unrepaired causing more problems.

    It is odd that on my laptop, which runs Windows XP SP3, legitimately and
    fully patched, with the only other Microsoft products being the Office
    Viewers (not full programs), I got a Windows Office Genuine (dis)Advantage
    notification update add-in as part of an updates Tuesday. What is there to
    be Advantaged? AFAIK, no one is counterfeiting the viewers.

    Everything else on this machine is freeware, a fact I am proud of, and it
    really irked me that the time was wasted to send this down the line as a
    part of updates.

    To me, this WGA garbage is as big a waste as the Easter Eggs that show up -
    a company interested in being business-like would eliminate both, as they
    are a waste of my disk space, and WGA, a waste of my time.
    • I just can't get over they insist on calling it "genuine advantage"...I laugh my sides out
      every time I see that.
  • i4i May have something to say whats in 2010

    that would be so cool :-)
    Over and Out
  • More headaches for techs!

    So now, when a machine needs a complete reinstall, the
    tech has to go through the registration process? Isn't that
    what enterprise volume versions were supposed to bypass
    to make it easier to install onto machines.
    At some point in time, the product is not going to be
    worth all the hoops you have to jump through to get it and
    to keep it working. There are plenty of productivity suites
    that are catching the headlines and catching up to MS
    It would take some doing as I think Office is miles away
    from anything else, but I am getting seriously tired of
    having to prove my validity for products that I have already
    paid to use.
  • RE: Microsoft to add more anti-piracy features to Office 2010

    And Microsoft expects people to upgrade from Office 2007 (aka The Ribbon that Ate Redmond) just to have this kind of "we trust nobody" mentality thrust even more upon them? This will be good news for OpenOffice, which is free. Rather than keep treating customers as criminals, they need to re-price their products so "real" people, not just corporate customers, can afford them. They want Outlook to be the de-facto standard PIM, yet they don't even bundle it with their lowest price Office package, Home & Student.

    Ah, I forgot who runs the Office program... our old friend, Stinky Sinofsky!
  • They can use this to disable Word out in the field

    until they cough up a license fee for i4i
  • Hello Open Office

    Just installing MS Office is painful enough but now the hoops you have to jump through to make the software work is a nightmare - especially in countries outside of the USA. So I say "Hello Open Office" - I'm sure we'll be good friends for a while :-)
  • RE: Microsoft to add more anti-piracy features to Office 2010

    This will benefit Open Office for sure. Product activation will destroy Microsoft. I rebuild my system often and I have to deal with activation. The copy of windows that I legally bought with the legal Product key, I have to explain myself every damn time I need it activated. I not going to go and buy a new fuckin key every time I want to do something with my system. Why are they punishing me because of outlaws that steal it. The only reason I do not use Linux is hardware support.
  • Yum yum

    Its beyond me why anyone puts up with all this nonsense,
    on Fedora Linux if you need an app, ANY app, ya just type
    yum install "whatevertheappnameis"

    thats it, jobe done. App installed & ready to run. And any patches on any app will be automatically found & installed.

    I just want to use my computer, not spend half my working life jumping licence & install hurdles.
  • RE: Microsoft to add more anti-piracy features to Office 2010

    What's this i4i? Other than Ghandi's statement that "An i4i makes the whole world blind", I'm afraid the name means nothing to me. I must be out of touch.
  • Nearly every comment here is hillarious AND ridiculous

    To clarify things for people a little - PIRATING IS THEFT! If you had someone steal your property you wouldn't likely stand by while watching another thief enter your house each night and steal more of your money, would you?

    The point is that there is a reason that MS does this... pirating costs money. So if they spend $1M in depelopment that will return $10M in additional revenues they'll do it - AND SO WOULD YOU (and don't pretend you wouldn't)!

    For everyone that is complaining and insisting they'll switch to Open Office or Google Docs because of this - go ahead (really). If licensing "headaches" are that big a deal to most legit users and they see a wave of people leaving there product then this will send a clear message to Microsoft that whatever additional revenues they may gain through forcing legal licenses are being lost from prior customers that are leaving them. I say that sincerely.

    On the other hand, I'm really not impressed with Google Docs... nor do I like the fact that Google has all of my data. (I can't speak for Open Office which appears pretty decent). So I doubt we're going to see a mass exodus here.

    Everyone loves the idea of free software (hey, I go looking for freebies too if I can find them), but expecting all software to be free is just ridiculous. We don't live in a utopian society. Until you're willing to work for free don't expect other people to give all software away for free - just how do you think the software companies pay for their developers, development tools, and office expenses?

    And before I get a bunch of flamers responding, please know that I'm a tech with 20+ years experience - I have enough experience to know what I'm talking about. MOST (yes I mean most as in 95+%) Windows installs that I've seen that are legit will report as legit and vice versa... YES I know licensing can be a pain-in-the-a$$ (and I hate having to call MS and punch in 30+ digit codes by phone to reset a key), but isn't blaming Microsoft for piracy just blaming the victim?

    If someone has a good SOUND argument for why MS shouldn't be doing this please let me (and them) know.
    • I agree...

      I agree with you 100%. I commented on this article about Microsoft in general but it wasn't because of licensing... its just Microsoft in general seems to get enough things wrong these days, has enough bad guy history, and a long enough list of auto updates that have broken things... that people in general seem less impressed. I for one am.

      As for licensing software? I do it too... that is create software and sell licenses... even have activation... so I really just wanted to agree with you because this is a very realistic post.
    • Finally!!!

      Finally!!! Someone who gets it! A certain amount of free stuff is okay, but for everything to keep working SOMEONE has to make some money.

      This nonsense about wanting all software to be free is the same sort of mindlessness that led us the to "Free Health Care" fiasco and other idiotic ideas.

      I wonder if these people have ever stopped to consider all the free stuff MS has to offer? Thanks to MS, web browsers are free. Viewer software for Office programs can be had for free. Visual Studio Express: Free (and it's a good IDE, too). Tons of freebies at MS's website. But I suppose that doesn't count.

      I've tried Open Office. About the only use I have for it is the Impress application because it's easy to build .pdf docs with it. The word processor - especially the spell checker - is junk. Ditto the spreadsheet.

      Here's a tip for Linux users: If you like Linux, use Linux. I like Windows, so I'll use Windows. The only reason these debates pop up is due to the juvenile desire of some Linux users to prove their chosen o/s is somehow superior to Windows.

      My question: Why bother? No one cares.
      • Home isn't the only place you aren't

        (most) People don't not use Microsoft because it's not free.

        I, (and most others) used Microsoft and were happy to pay for it, UNTIL they started their ACTIVATION nightmare. Even then, it would have been acceptable if they only required activation on purchase or initial install, but this root-kitting every computer and surveilling for changes, and THEN requiring ANOTHER activation, is worse than outrageous.

        This "debate" is NOT about who prefers what. It is about Microsoft pi$$ing on their customers and trying to tell them its raining.

        If you don't value your privacy and freedom, Windows is the platform for you. For me/many of us, it aint.
        Ole Man
      • No such thing as free

        What is the free Health Care Fiasco?

        I've never heard of Health Care being free and I live in Canada where we have Universal Health Care. It's far from free but we share the cost which makes it quite reasonable. If I had to pay only when I needed health care it would bankrupt me the second I needed it. So I'd need insurance but insurance is scam. All the money I'd pay for insurance would cover the costs of universal health care in the first place with cash left spare. Only issue is profits lost for insurance companies and really that doesn't bother one bit. I'd much rather a lesser payment that is helping someone eles than fattening an insurance companies wallet on the off hand chance I might need medical care. You can call it socialism but it's the same system that gets a country a military, roads, and school systems.

        As for the freebies you think you are free from Microsoft. Well they aren't free either. You pay for them somewhere. It's part of the cost you and everyone pays to have Windows. I'm not saying this a bad thing. I like it actually. Microsoft subsidize the cost of all that free stuff I may or may not use across the huge user base that uses Windows. A form of corporate socialism I guess.

        I also like Linux too. It's quite a decent desktop. I'd pick Linux before Mac OS X and I run Windows mainly because I like my games and that's where they run. Not too big of Fan of Vista though but Windows 2008 as Desktop rocks. I'm hoping Windows 7 is more like that because Windows 2008 is expensive to run as Desktop.
    • Best (and obvious) reason of all

      Spit on your customers and they will spit on you.

      The recession is not the ONLY reason Microsoft is (to put it courteously) "in decline".
      Ole Man
      • A decline is a downward slope

        Two things:

        1) During the worst economic collapse in living memory, Microsoft's slope was essentially flat. Whilst most of its competitors were seeing massive losses Microsoft turned in a healthy profit. Not as big a profit as last year before the recession bit, but still a profit that dwarfs most companie's annual revenue.

        2) As was put so eloquently above, if you're happy with free software and all that it entails, then use it and be happy. But for the rest of the world, particularly the business world, Office offers incredible power and value which makes the per user license fees a trivial matter. This article is good news - a less pirated Office == a stronger Microsoft == better products in the future. And a better Office that is less cumbersome for enterprise admins to manage, the more effective and powerful that installation of Office will be.
    • What Bill Gates said about piracy

      "It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there's not," the Microsoft co-founder and chairman told Fortune magazine. (

      I'm not a big fan of MS. I wouldn't use any of their products if I didn't have to for work. I do understand their desire to stamp out piracy (although given the above statement I'm a little wobbly on that now), but I think there are better ways to do it then inconveniencing their paying, legitimate customers. None of their anti-piracy initiatives have ever stopped or even slowed piracy. There are other companies that have developed better models for dealing with the issue.
      • True

        ""It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there's not,"

        That makes a lot of sense actually, especially if you look outside of the narrow confines of the Western world. If you replace the word "Linux" with "OpenOffice", it makes sense in China, for example, where Office is pirated like crazy and OpenOffice has virtually zero adoption. Better to be pirated than to not be used at all. At least in that case, the users prefer your product, you just have to get them to pay a little something (enter the reason for this article).
    • Not Theft but worse

      "To clarify things for people a little - PIRATING IS THEFT!"

      No it's not theft but it is much worse than theft. Copyright infringement is much worse than any theft. Say someone steals $10,000 from you. You are out the money. With copyright infringement you are out $10,000 today and then out $10,000 tomorrow and the day after than and the day after that. Copyright infringement doesn't end with the initial action but theft does.

      To put it another way. I someone steals a single copy of Office from the store the store is out that single copy. Now if that copy is pirated and sold by the criminals in the black market for pennies on the dollar every copy sold is a loss to that store and to Microsoft. That's so much worse than simple shop lifting which is theft.

      I don't think casual piracy hurts that much mainly because if the person pirating couldn't get it illegally they wouldn't buy it anyways. So no real loss there but I also think that casual piracy isn't the as big as the blackmarket piracy from what I hear from family who work in China on regular basis.

      As for why they shouldn't be doing this? It's mainly because it is a waste of money. Pirates will figure a way to copy and sell the software. Once that happens that will filter down to the casual pirates, freeloaders as I call them and we start back at square one. The problem is all the money going to try to protect against pirating is lost and the cost is passed on to us the paying consumer.