But there was one complication - the customer has Office XP. I hadn't thought about that until I'd already gotten the old machine cloned over to the new one, all the driver issues fixed, and Windows itself working fine. Then, luckily, I decided to open up Microsoft Word. Oh YEAH, I forgot... Microsoft helpfully sabotages your computer if too many physical components change, since it assumes that you're a thief and therefore you must be attempting to pirate their software!
But you know it's funny; I'd never actually SEEN this particular screen before. So I read it. Hmmm... now is it just me, or does that look at first glance - to Joe and Jane Six-Pack, in particular - a lot more like "we need to do technical stuff to make sure your program works right" than "we're deliberately keeping your software from working because we suspect that you pirated it?" Well. Let's just click that "Help" button for more information, shall we?
Oh, I see, some important information about my computer needs to be restored in order for it to function properly! Well gosh, that clears things right up!
There are people who defend Microsoft's product activation scheme. To those people, I have one question: if it's on the up and up, and if it's not a horrible insult to their customers, why can't they be HONEST about what they're doing? Why do they attempt to mislead the victims of the practice into believing that they're having a technical issue, rather than Microsoft suspecting them of software piracy?
Once again, I'm reminded of the parallels between the Microsoft of today, and the computer gaming industry of the mid-80's. Remember code wheels, and floppies that HAD to be in the drive even though the game itself was on your hard drive, and word lookups in the game manual - remember the way you had to try to prove to your game that you'd actually purchased it before it would let you play? The net effect was, eventually more and more people realized "hey, if I use the cracked version, I don't HAVE to dig around for any stupid code wheels or the floppy disk or look up the third word of the fifth paragraph in the second column of page 32 of the manual, I can just PLAY!" Game piracy INCREASED - and increased substantially - as a result of all that crap, which is why you almost never have to screw around with any of that stuff when you buy a game today.
Microsoft needs to learn the same lesson. If you treat your customers no differently than thieves, eventually they will simply BECOME thieves... or simply cease to be your customers at all. (OpenOffice, anyone?)