Bill Depierri wrote me with a question about Microsoft’s new registration policy on software:
I enjoy your newsletter! Keep it coming.
When I read your newsletter this afternoon, I thought of a topic that I
would like to read about. Yesterday, I installed a copy of MS Office 2003
on a new computer that I recently purchased for Ellen. After the
installation was complete, I did the “Product Activation” bit. Then, a
pop-up asked whether I wanted to “Register” the product.
The “Registration” required that one have a “Windows Live ID”. I have never acquired a Windows Live ID as I have always been concerned about the possible ramifications of having this ID. I read the Wikipedia item about Windows Live ID, but still have questions about whether or not it is a “Good Thing”.
What is your take on the “Windows Live ID”? Are my concerns justified?
What are the advantages of registering this copy of MS Office? And the
drawbacks of not registering?
If you think this an appropriate item for discussion in your newsletter, I
would like to read your opinions on the matter.
I wrote back to him to say I’ve never heard them requiring Windows Live ID before your email. Windows Live is the new, renamed Microsoft web platform that provides Windows Live Mail (formerly called Hotmail) and replaced MSN.com as Microsoft’s web search site.
My philosophy is that I never "register" a piece of software unless it’s required to make the software work. All you’re doing is handing the vendor an email address for marketing.
I never register Microsoft products. But, I always activate them (which is necessary to make them work).
The Live ID sounds like it’s probably a new name for the Windows Passport, just as MSN is now renamed Microsoft Live. I never had a Windows Passport ID and I never wanted one. I’m not interested — until it’s mandatory for something I really want — and that certainly isn’t getting one so I can register my software.
If I ever get one, I will give it a unique email address so I’ll know how much spam arrives through it. By the way, Gmail has a great feature that is also free — you can pull your other email accounts (those on POP3 email servers) into Gmail, so you can use Gmail’s great spam filtering on them!
Back to the subject at hand, originally, the claimed purpose for requiring your email address as part of software registration was so that companies could notify you of updates. I guess you know how often that’s ever happened…