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Can Windows 8 tempt hackers, crackers or anyone?

If we’re lucky, then each new operating system makes the world a little better for everyone. Microsoft’s approach is more of a 2 steps forward, then 3 steps back. One very specific feature in Windows 8 could put off a chunk of the enthusiast market. KitGuru gets a little Doom9 with its investigations.

Was a time when if you needed an operating system, you borrowed the disks off a friend and installed it. A combination of the internet, improved serial code science, near 100% bundling with new PCs and Microsoft’s ingenious early distribution method (which gives you a relatively full and final OS, free of charge, many months before launch), have combined to end that method of cheap acquisition.

Microsoft still operates in the world of monolithic installations with ‘second mortgage’ pricing. If early reports are correct, then Windows 8 hits the high street at anything up to £150 – while Apple offers (what it calls) the world’s most advanced desktop operating system (Mountain Lion) for just £13.99.

It’s enough to make you laugh/cry – depending on which company you hold shares in.

But no matter which OS you go for, or how you choose to buy it, there will be a section of the population who feel that they should not have to pay for software. Apple’s approach has been to create pricing that makes ‘stealing software’ much less appealing. It also has the benefit of ensuring an easy flow of money from Apple’s App Store to smaller/independent developers. The success of this model has been plain for all to see.

We’re not going to go into detail about the following conversation, just enough for the issue to make sense. We want to discuss an issue – not become involved in a ‘How to crack’ guidance piece.

In conversation with one of the IT society’s darker elements, we were given a completely different view on the suitability of Windows 8 for people of a less-than-rigid moral persuasion. One issue in particular came up as the number one reason for this masked man (and people with his tendencies across the globe) to NOT move across to the new Microsoft OS. Windows has something called a hosts file. This is like a little phone book for software to do an ‘ET Home Phone’ impersonation. New software will open the file and pick up the right address. It then calls home and looks for authorisation to run.

To get around this phone call, some people ‘change the address book’ and save it – so programs get the ‘wrong address’ and authorise themselves when they shouldn’t.  According to our source, Windows 8 will let people open and edit the phone book, but part of the operating system (integrated Windows Defender) refuses to save that change. Microsoft’s public-facing reason for this safety measure is to protect your machine against malicious attempts to get you to visit malware sites, which is no doubt true to some extent. The blocking of certain software hacks/cracks is probably a secondary benefit.

So, right now, it seems that Microsoft’s offer is a new desktop operating system that was designed for a tablet, but with a significant price premium and measures put in place to ensure that everyone pays top whack for software going forward.

Ballmer feeling grey under the shadow a ghost. In an interview given to Maximum PC in 2010, Ballmer said his job was "Not just to deliver products, but to deliver products that people want to buy". Give up. Seriously mate. Just give up.

KitGuru says: No doubt, people that are really determined to get around this kind of security will manage it. However, we’re left with the feeling that if Microsoft sorted out its cost of purchase/ownership issues for software, then the majority of people with dodgy copies would probably come back to the path of software righteousness.The same goes for music and films. Get the price/access right and the problem disappears. Meanwhile, Microsoft seems determined to maintain an operating system price that’s almost 10x more expensive than its nearest competitor. Smart?

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