Upon attempting to download many new software titles available via Microsoft’s website, the user is confronted with a “Validation Recommended” message. At first glimpse, the procedure is a tell-tale signature of a pending ActiveX application. This won’t work on non-Microsoft browsers, so you’ll probably just close FireFox and open IE with some bitterness. Having done so, I then ask the question of ‘why?’. It says I am to validate whether or not I am running a genuine version of Windows (or the generic brand, ‘Wend-Oh’s). Really?!? I mean, I am downloading software that only runs on Windows – that only matters on Windows. I mean, c’mon! I know what the validation is all about, but I don’t see it at this level. I follow the links through to find out what this is all about and discover that it does indeed confirm that you’ve activated your copy of Windows XP (2003, what-have-you). If you haven’t, you are given the opportunity to do so at this time. I wondered about the discrimination of non-Microsoft browsers to do the validation checking; in many cases, you are required to validate prior to your download. So Microsoft does have a method for allowing other browsers to do the validation, though it’s not apparent by reading the prominent dialogs in the process. At some point, you are given the opportunity to download a program which does the validation and hands back a validation code to present back to the website. It’s more inconvenient, but I feel a little less threatened by the process because I can see exactly what is being given to Microsoft. There still leaves the question of Microsoft’s intent. It’s obviously to cut-down on hackers free-loading off of Microsoft’s free stuff. The effect is that rogue versions of Windows XP are left potentially unpatched, without the tools to even audit their environment, and otherwise ‘sore-thumbs’ to the viral community out there. Sure, it’s their own fault, but does that mean that they’re dutifully going to strip the machines from the public Internet and shuffle off to Fry’s for a legal copy of Windows XP? Doubtful. It probably just means that we’re that much more certain of a percentage of unpatched Microsoft OS’s on the public Internet. In the real world, we stamped out diseases of yesteryear by disabling them. If we left the Black Death growing happily in Western Europe, I’m sure there would still be problems with it today.
This download is available to customers running genuine Microsoft Windows. Please click the Continue button to begin Windows validation.