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Download legal copy of Windows XP
August 12, 2005 7:51 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine purchased and downloaded a CD image of Windows XP; complete with activation keys. According to him, it was perfectly legal.

I've been unable to reach him to find out the name of the site or where such a service exists. Do any of you know of a web site that offers downloadable legal images of Windows XP?
posted by KevinSkomsvold to Technology (19 answers total)
 
Highly doubtful. In fact, I'm betting he heard about this site through a helpful email offering all sorts of "OEM, perfectly legal, discount" software. According to my spam server logs, my office gets a helpful email about this nearly once every 30 seconds.

Which is crap. The activations keys are most likely standard Corporate keys, and the image is of a corporate installation of XP.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2005


Another question about a similar site. It does looks fairly legit — if you're not skeptical.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on August 12, 2005


A pretty simple benchmark of legality when it comes to WinXP - how much money did he have to pay the site for the download?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:11 AM on August 12, 2005


According to him, it was perfectly legal.

I bet Microsoft or their pawns in the BSA would have a different take on it.
posted by grouse at 8:12 AM on August 12, 2005


If you have a MSDN subscription you can download just about any version of windows straight from MS. Other than that, I have to agree that it wasn't legal. There are keygens out there that will create as many valid keys as you want, so I wouldn't go by that to judge the authenticity. MS has a 800 number that you can call, I believe, if you think you have a pirated version.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:17 AM on August 12, 2005


Also, if as smackfu suggests, he was led to a scam purchase by heeding spam, he just paid a spammer enough $$$ to make thousands of millions of spam emails highly profitable. You say he's a friend, so you're probably reluctant to do the Right Thing (which is take him outside and shoot him, for the betterment of all humanity), but you'd definitely need to do whatever is the next best thing. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:18 AM on August 12, 2005


Oh and that softjack.com site is totally selling illegal warez. Just look at this BS from their about page:
In this situation we are restricted in selling the products for private purposes only! You will not be able to get a technical support and different rebates from the manufacturer. Updates are available for the most of our products (you may ask our support staff for the exceptions) that make them fully functional and operating.
If that doesn't scream "illegitimate software" I don't know what does, if not the fact that it comes as RAR compressed .iso files.

Even if they were selling OEM copies, it would still be illegal because those are only supposed to be bundled with new hardware. If you buy it as a standalone package, you're violating the license.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:21 AM on August 12, 2005


There are keygens out there that will create as many valid keys as you want, so I wouldn't go by that to judge the authenticity.

Except that Keygens won't get you around the requirements to use Windows Update. Windows Update installs an ActiveX package that authenticates your key against a known list of valid keys. If it doesn't check out, you're not allowed into the page.

Which, in my mind, is a bit of backwards thinking. I think they're on the right track, recently, with their "Genuine Microsoft" download perks (little apps, backgrounds, themes, etc). But to deny people the ability (even if they're using the software illegaly) to patch up with security patches and virus blockers seems a bit short-sighted. Yes, it costs them money to develop those security procedures, but they were the ones that introduced the vulnerabilities in the first place, so they should take their money-making asses out and offer every security patch up for free, no questions asked.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:46 AM on August 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


The poster didn't actually say whether this copy had passed the WGA check or not, just that it came with an activation key.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:50 AM on August 12, 2005


thanotopsis: you can get security updates even if you don't pass WGA:

Microsoft's WGA requires users to verify they are using a genuine copy of Windows before they can download software updates, although security patches can be downloaded without verification, even to a machine with a pirated copy of Windows running on it. via yahoo
posted by juv3nal at 9:16 AM on August 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


thanotopsis:

the activex control was cracked in like, thirty seconds. here's a short blurb on boing boing

However, I do remember that there were re-releases of XP when SP1 came out, because the cracked versions of XP wouldn't install them properly (I think possibly because SP1 required reauthentication of your software using a local tool). SP2 didn't required this, because microsoft decided it was more important to patch the security holes/etc than stop illegit software from installing the SP. SP3 (if there is a SP3) may require re-authentication -- who knows.

either way, it's always lame to sell cracked software, and I feel sorry for the folks who buy it.
posted by fishfucker at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


-harlequin- and Rhomboid: If I recall correctly (it's been a few months) my friend paid $60.00 for it (full version of WinXP Pro). He was able to activate it after installation so I assume at that point it's legal. Maybe not.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2005


Often, Universities and other academic institutions will have deals with MS that allow registered students to download copies of Windows for free, and sometimes even Office. This might be how your friend obtained it, if he is still considered a registered student (or has special alumni priviledges) somewhere.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:24 AM on August 12, 2005


Every modern microsoft license, except VLK licenses (as in you're purchasing 1000's of licenses for a school or business -- you'll have to talk with a REAL M$ employee for this) will *always* *always* *always* be accompanied by a genuine microsoft serial number sticker.

VLK sales are only good for certain purposes. As mentioned, a university might do a VLK purchase for all the students in the building. In that case the university/purchaser would be LENDING you permission to use the software under SPECIAL terms, such as when you leave the university you'll need to erase the software. You would NEVER own the VLK unless you were the buyer and had spoken with Microsoft (or had someone do that for you). It is likely you wouldn't even be TOLD the VLK number, and instead would need to bring your PC in to the university for installation.

If he got a downloaded copy and was sent the sticker in the mail, while highly irregular, it is possibly legal (although likely grey market OEM software sold separate from hardware or service). It sounds like he was sent a key in an email. Definitely illegal.

The funny thing is Microsoft doesn't care. I used to report these spam sites to them through their piracy reporting page. After months of seeing nothing happen (eg, visiting the site 2 or 3 months later) I gave up. It seems Microsoft likes these people to be in business. I can't figure out why...

Personally, as a computer repair shop, I love how tough M$ makes it to download patches for pirated copies. A customer with pirated windows will usually spend $200 a year repairing their computer. I always offer for them to buy windows, but they can't figure out how spending $129.99 today is going to save them money in the future. It's depressing but money making at the same time! Woohoo!

(No, I don't sell them pirated windows, I just REPAIR the damn thing)
posted by shepd at 10:47 AM on August 12, 2005


Just adding in- shepd is correct- if there's no actual Certificate of Authenticity, then it's an illegal copy. Volume (corporate) licensing is the ONLY exception to this- both OEM and Retail versions of the OS will come with the certificates, either on the manual on the Retail version, or on the purchased computer on the OEM version.

Of course, shepd is correct again: MS doesn't care about it except when there's a huge amount of distribution going on. They want their OS everywhere, no matter what, for market dominance. Mindshare is always more important than marketshare- it creates marketshare!

So, unfortunately, your friend just paid a intelligent pirate.
posted by id at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2005


Thanks everyone. I figured as much. Rudimentary searches only turned up warez sites but then since I'm always out of the loop, I assumed I was missing something. I appreciate your informative responses.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:47 AM on August 12, 2005


Except that Keygens won't get you around the requirements to use Windows Update. Windows Update installs an ActiveX package that authenticates your key against a known list of valid keys. If it doesn't check out, you're not allowed into the page.


Incorrect. The VLK generators use the cracked private key and will pass WGA with flying colors. Please research before speaking. Thanks.
posted by angry modem at 5:21 PM on August 12, 2005


angry modem, perhaps you are thinking of Windows Activation? WGA is an entirely different verification process. The workaround for WGA is running the authenticity check in Win2k compatibility mode.
posted by mr.dan at 10:07 PM on August 12, 2005


In that case the university/purchaser would be LENDING you permission to use the software under SPECIAL terms, such as when you leave the university you'll need to erase the software. You would NEVER own the VLK unless you were the buyer and had spoken with Microsoft (or had someone do that for you).

At my alma mater, you can use Microsoft software even after graduating, as long as the University continues its campus agreement. Before 2003, the licenses were not even dependent on the campus agreement being renewed. (Student License PDF)
posted by grouse at 3:27 AM on August 13, 2005


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