I found this interesting and, if it comes to pass, disturbing. Seems like MS has such a paranoia about piracy they are willing to risk losing customers because of it. Or maybe they don't care about Joe Consumer as long as they get the corporate $$.
From Yahoo Tech Advisor Chris Null
The Microsoft Office 2007 "Kill Switch"
Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:20PM EST
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In recent months, Internet chatter has hit boiling levels over Windows XP's Windows Genuine Advantage, which is Microsoft's way of assuring that you're using legitimate software and which nags you and nags you if it deems you are using a pirated version of the OS.
Well, it's about to get a whole lot worse. Early reports on Microsoft Vista said that it contained a "kill switch" that could radically disable the OS if Microsoft figured it was an illegal copy. (And there's no way Microsoft could ever be wrong about anything like that, could it?) But at the time, Microsoft hadn't committed to actually implementing the feature, so I breathed a bit easier.
Now arrives news that Office 2007, the natural companion to Vista, has anti-piracy features that are just as atrocious as Vista's. In "reduced-functionality mode" you will be unable to create new documents, edit existing documents, or save documents. It's called, of course, Office Genuine Advantage. Again, Microsoft is noncommittal on whether this feature will actually be used if it detects a "phony" serial number.
Now it's important to note that Office 2003 already has a feature much like this built in. Just like Windows XP, the software has to be validated (or activated) after it's installed (a one-time communication with Microsoft), or else it will cease to work. Many applications (even non-Microsoft ones) require activation, and that doesn't make this technology okay, but the WGA/OGA possibilities are far more invasive.
Namely, WGA and OGA communicate with Microsoft on an ongoing basis. You may activate the software when you buy it and have no problems, but if Microsoft later "decides" that your copy is actually pirated, it can turn that software off without warning. It can happen a week later or, in the case of those wrongly accused by XP's WGA, years after you bought your PC and tossed the documentation for it. Put simply, that's an abuse of power, and it's something that no user should accept lying down.
Still, there's no evidence that either Vista or Office 2007 will use these kill switch features, but Microsoft's avoidance of questions on the matter makes me nervous. I can only assume when Vista is in users' hands, we'll quickly see the truth of the matter, and then the lawsuits.