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Product Activation Thoughts …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

As I talked about in my last post, I moved to Windows 7 over the weekend.  As I was installing things, I had problems activating several applications.  Some of the companies were pretty easy to go fixed with a quick email, but some still have not been fixed.

One application that I use is locked to a hardware key that is generated when it is first installed.  The key is transferred it the vendor, and if you reinstalled the application it compares the keys.  The funny thing is that the keys NEVER match, but a quick email to the vendor and they send a new key within a hour most times.

Three companies allow five activations before they disable your software.   Two of the companies, Nero and Diskeeper, reset my account with a simple email.  Both companies took about two days, but the problem was fixed.  One company has basically said, too bad that is the terms of service.  I do not recall ever purchasing something that said you could not reinstall if needed on the same hardware.  That program was ScanSoft PDF Converter Pro, which has been purchased by Nuance.  I’m not sure if that has something to do with them not reactivating it or not.

I have to say that this will make me think twice about continuing to purchase software from companies that require activation, because one day they may not be there and you will be out whatever application it was.  I know this was a large point of contention when we were getting ready to release our 911 dispatching software.  My partner wanted to lave the software call home to check and make sure that the users service contract was current.  If it was not, he wanted to shut the application down.  The problem was that were selling them a license to run the program, if they didn’t want a service contract they would not receive updates.  What he wanted was more of a SAS, software as a service, type plan.  I do believe in getting paid for commercial software, and have always used software keys to unlock applications that I have developed.  I have always tried to embed the department/dispatch centers name in the key, and used that name on any reports that are generated from the application.  It will not stop piracy, but it will look fun if every report that Town A files says Town B at the top of the report.

I also feel to this day that I would be sitting in a prison somewhere if a dispatch center tried to dispatch apparatuses to a fire and the program would not let them, because there service contract was expired.  That idea never set right with me.