Microsoft to offer 'family plan' for Windows XP


September 23, 2001



As an increasing number of homes have more than one PC, Microsoft plans to offer discounts on its upcoming Windows XP operating system to users who want to install it on several PCs.

While site licenses are nothing new in corporate computing, this marks the first time Microsoft has offered "family licenses" for any of its products.

The family licenses allow additional installs of the full version or upgrade version of Windows XP within one family.

The prices will be discounted by $10 to $30 from the full-price single-install version.

The family license is a work around for Windows XP's new security feature, Product Activation, which will -- for the first time -- prevent home users from installing the same copy of the software on multiple PCs.

Windows XP users will be required to obtain a code to reactivate the software if the computer the software is installed on is significantly upgraded, or the hard drive is reformatted, requiring a re-installation of the operating system.

Windows XP is set to go on sale at retail outlets Oct. 25, though you can order a new PC with the operating system now.

The Product Activation scheme is part of Microsoft's crackdown on piracy. Windows XP must be activated within 30 days by using an activation wizard to connect to Microsoft online, which ``locks'' Windows XP to the computer's existing hardware configuration.

If the software isn't activated, it stops working and directs customers to the Internet to automatically activate the software. Users who change their hardware configuration or reformat their hard drives must obtain a 44-character code from Microsoft to reconfigure Windows XP.

TERRORISM'S IMPACT. Microsoft and other developers of computer games have delayed the release of their games, and several have changed them in the wake of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Microsoft has delayed the released of Flight Simulator 2002, and plans to remove the World Trade Center towers from the New York skyline.

FS 2002 was due for release in the next couple of weeks, but the company plans to delay that a while, a spokesman said.

Microsoft is also offering a patch for Flight Simulator 2000 that will alter the New York City skyline in the wake of the attacks.

Canada-based game company Digital Leisure has canceled plans to release its ``Crime Patrol'' game indefinitely. The game pits players as police officers fighting terrorists and criminals.

Electronic Arts suspended its interactive phone calls and e-mails for its ``Majestic'' online game after the terrorist attacks. Players can return to the game, but must opt-in to do so.

Electronic Arts plans to revise its packaging for its ``Command and Conquer 2.'' The original packaging showed the World Trade Center on fire.

FREE NO MORE. Yahoo! announced recently that will begin charging a fee for its once-free Yahoo Personals, its online personal ad service that has been online the last four years.

Users will still be able to post ads and answer them; visitors wishing to scan through the lists of ads posted will have to pay.

Beginning Oct. 3, Yahoo will charge $19.95 a month for membership to its ClubConnect service, which will give access to all the personal ads on its site. Discounts for longer-term memberships will be available.

The move comes as Yahoo tries to create more non-advertising revenue, which has faltered over the last two years. The personal ads are popular, and the company believes people will be willing to pay a subscription fee.

NAPSTER CLONES PROLIFERATE. The number of file-swapping services that have filled the void created by the fall of Napster is staggering.

And while they are keeping low profiles, most are still hoping to make a profit on their operations.

Millions of users are downloading and signing up for the services, which have yet to be targeted by the recording industry.

Services like Aimster, Audiogalaxy and MusicCity have begun to provide the service that Napster used to -- file transfers, and while most are MP3 music files, some services allow transfers of video clips, applications and documents.

These services -- even if they dropped music files -- could be turned adapted for use in large corporations where files are frequently updated and shared.

The new file-swapping services are relatively inexpensive to operate. The services' expenses are mostly legal, they say. Since they use true peer-to-peer networking, none of them depend on their own computers or servers. Each user's computer becomes a part of the services' network.

File-swapping veterans, like Travis Kalanick, founder of former file-swapping giant Scour, say that the services allow the swapping of copyrighted materials, they too shall have their reckoning day. ``It doesn't matter how legal you think you are,'' he said. ``You are going to get hammered if your intent is to distribute (potentially) infringing content.''

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