Office 2007 won’t have built-in antipiracy feature, Microsoft says

Microsoft has no plans to add a controversial Windows Vista antipiracy feature directly to its Office 2007 suite, but will consider offering it as an add-on system, the company said Tuesday.

In an e-mail through its public relations firm, Microsoft said although it has not built its Software Protection Platform (SPP) into Office 2007, it is considering adding it to its Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) Program, a validation system that checks if a user has a legitimate copy of the software.

Windows Vista’s SPP feature requires users to activate the software with a valid activation key within 30 days of purchasing the OS. If that does not happen, the OS goes into reduced functionality mode, which lets users browse the Web for an hour before the system logs them out. To browse more, users must log in again, but they will only have another hour before the process repeats itself.

Office 2007 does have a product-activation feature that acts similar to SPP, but it is not based on validating the legitimacy of the software and it is not new to the application, Microsoft said. Office has had a product-activation feature since Microsoft Office 2000 SR1. Product activation requires the system to be activated with a product key after being started 25 times. If it is not, the application will go into reduce functionality mode.

Microsoft is going to make validation checks for Office 2007 mandatory for users of Office Update through its OGA program. Starting in January, users of Office Update will have to validate that their Office software is legitimate before they can use the service.

OGA is a sister program to Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), launched in July 2005 as a program that automatically checks a user’s version of Windows to ensure it is not counterfeit or pirated. WGA evolved into SPP becoming an inherent part of Vista.

Microsoft’s antipiracy checking systems have been unpopular from the start, meeting with some resistance from users. WGA was especially unpopular at first when early bugs in its checks were tagging legitimate software as counterfeit or pirated.

Microsoft also was forced to turn off a notification feature in the WGA that sent information to Microsoft from users’ PCs when some complained that the feature was acting like spyware.

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