Remember when Microsoft introduced product activation with Windows XP? Remember all the squeals from people saying "But what if the activation system fails? What then?" Even if you don't, you can guess Microsoft's answer: "Couldn't happen. Don't worry. You won't even know that it's there." For Australian users last weekend, that was all too true -- it wasn't there. If you had to get a new version of Server 2003 going in a hurry on Saturday, forget it. All you got from Microsoft was a recorded message saying "Gone away. Come back later," leaving you to look at your very expensive CD and wonder whether it'd make a nice coaster. Perhaps that wasn't what you wanted when you bought a super-reliable, five-nines uptime operating system. Tough. Of course, Microsoft has responded superbly to the problem: the company said that it couldn't confirm that anything had gone wrong at all. Perhaps that wasn't what you wanted when you paid all that money to Microsoft in the expectation of support. Tough. If Microsoft remains hell-bent on keeping product activation, the least it could do would be to have a grace period of a couple of weeks on some form of emergency activation code to cover outages like this. Or perhaps the company enjoys giving Linux boosters yet more ammunition.