Anti-piracy measures to be introduced with the next release of Windows 2000 - codenamed Whistler - will mean a major headache for companies.
The Product Activation technology is set to cause problems for corporate users of Microsoft Windows because it ties a licence to a particular PC's configuration. When a product, such as Whistler, is installed, the user has to send to Microsoft a product ID and a hardware identifier generated as the software checks the PC's configuration during install.
The company then issues a "product key" which must be entered to activate the software. If, at a future date, the software is re-installed and the PC configuration has changed, a new key will have to be applied for.
This will complicate re-imaging new machines and it is not clear how this will sit with systems and asset management software that supports remote roll-outs of software, such as Microsoft's Systems Management Server.
Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research, said, "This looks as if it is designed to be a pain in the neck. It will not be a popular move with corporates, especially those who burn a gold disc as their core model for roll-outs - and there will be a few bright young things who are already trying to see how to bypass the system."
Microsoft says it may extend the system to applications packages. Lock said, "Making applications available for install on demand will fly right out the window."