2013-12-08 20:57:33

A tale from the world of Bad Licensing™

A while ago, we had to buy a laptop for running Windows so we could operate the vinyl cutter at our makerspace. So we went for a refurbished T61 with Windows 7 and installed the cutter software on it.

To activate the license of the cutter software, you have to connect to the Internet (which is already something we didn't really want to do, but in the world of Closed Source software you already know you don't usually get what you want). So we tried to fire up the online activation feature, but it failed right away stating that the support has been notified of the failure.

Since we're a volunteer driven organization, we are mostly present outside of working hours, so we tried to use the half-offline activation workflow. We generated a license request file and uploaded it to the website of the vendor. We received a license file back. The web site also stated that we'll receive an e-mail with details on how to install the license.

In the meantime, our Windows had noticed that it has been connected to the Internet. Windows Defender fired up, installed some update and then notified us that it had found and deleted an “activation hack”. Then, Windows claimed that we had an illegal version installed and offered us to buy a new license for a mere 169.- CHF.

Luckily, the shop which sold us the refurbished laptop was around at the time and told us to just go through the activation process again. We typed all the numbers in once more and our Windows was happy again.

However, in all this time we had not yet received an activation e-mail from the vinyl cutter vendor. The vendor was not available for comment. So we looked through the documentation, trying to figure out what we should do with the license file. The documentation said: “Just execute the license file”, however, it was merely a text file.

We assumed that what they meant was to open the text file using the cutter software, but starting the cutter software only asked to enter a license key (which would create another license request file). So we thought that running the cutter software with the license file as a parameter might do the trick.

Unfortunately, it didn't. It opened the cutter software in some weird mode where it showed all options but no cutter could be selected. We assumed the license would be accepted now, but when we re-opened the cutter software, it asked us to enter the license key again.

So to summarize, we cannot use the software for the cutter we bought and we randomly had to re-activate our operating system. For now I'm back to the land where the license says “Keep the copyright license, use and distribute it as you like but don't blame me!”

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: broken