Andre's Blog

Personal blog of Andre Perusse

Bitten By Windows Genuine Advantage

Last weekend I was home doing some paperwork and I had to send a fax to my insurance agent. I hadn't sent a fax in several months and not since I had reimaged my computer with Vista and Office 2007. So I opened Word and looked in the templates for a fax cover page. Word ships with several templates as standard, but it also includes a link to an Internet-based gallery of templates. I selected one of the Internet-based templates and was informed that this feature required that Microsoft verify that my Office installation was "genuine." Sure, whatever, I thought to myself and I hit the "Continue" button. To my shock, Office reported that the validation had failed! My Office installation wasn't genuine!

That's odd, I mumbled. There's a link that takes you to a more detailed explanation of what is wrong with the validation. I clicked on it and the resulting web page told me my Office installation hadn't been activated yet. It said all I had to do to fix it was run any Office app and it would automatically start the activation process. I shook my head and cursed at Microsoft for inflicting this garbage on me. I double-checked Word and sure enough, it claimed that it was already activated. So I concluded that Microsoft's "genuine" validation routine was on crack. I get all my Microsoft software directly from MSDN, so there's no way my Office installation was phony.

I futzed around with the web site a bit more trying to figure out how I could convince the Great Genuine Validation Gods that I didn't steal this copy of Office. No go. I called the tech support number and was quickly transferred to another call center because I got my copy from MSDN. This new call center told me they couldn't help me on the weekend unless my "business" was experiencing a Severity One emergency. Call back Monday, he said. I was irked as hell about this but there was little I could do. So I hauled out my laptop which had Office installed from the exact same CD. It worked fine, I got my stupid template, and I sent my fax.

Due to my employer's current MSDN configuration, it was difficult for me to log a support incident with Microsoft about this so I didn't bother looking at it again until this evening. I suspected that something went awry with my Office install on Vista so I set about trying to "repair" it from the CD. Nope, no good. I was getting ready to uninstall and reinstall as a last resort when I remembered that I had installed Microsoft Project 2007 at the same time I had installed Office Professional, but I had never run Project at all. Hmmm, I thought to myself, I'll bet the Genuine Gods are pissed off because I've never run Project, so they're not going to let me into their special Internet club! So I ran Project (which installed using a different product key than Office and thus needs its own activation), it immediately wanted to be activated, I activated it and promptly closed it. I went back into Word, tried to open an Internet-based template, went through the "Genuine" validation voodoo, and it worked!

So, my question to Microsoft is: Why the hell did I have to active Microsoft Project so that I could download a Word template? In what twisted demon dimension does this bent logic make any sense? Good grief. (But I still think the Ribbon interface is way cool.)

Comments (2) -

  • Darth Mac

    3/21/2007 6:46:01 PM |

    Three comments:

    1) What the hell is a fax??? Something from last century, no doubt.

    2) Repeat after me: Open Office, good; MS Office, bad.

    3) Buy a Mac!!!! (You knew that one was coming!)

  • Mike G

    4/27/2007 3:10:14 PM |

    Dude... I read this yesterday and had the same thing happen this afternoon.  I was  trying to get a Visio for Ent Arch Service Pack for a new (to me) PC.   Well... not quite the same - my tech support guy had used a shady CD key for office and project instead of the right one... either way, when I tried to get the Service Pack for the Visio I had installed from MSDN, no dice.  It was the MS equivalent of "no soup for you".  If there is any MS product on the PC that the Gods don't like, you're out in the cold.  100% compliant or nothin'.  Once I pointed it out (read: complained) to my tech guy (to his surprise) he found the real key for Office and I just removed Project (wishful thinking, I know it'll be back eventually).