DRM Breaking Games Again, This Time Due To New Intel Chip Architecture

from the chips-and-blip dept

We were just discussing how Denuvo’s inability to renew one of its domains suddenly prevented lots of paying customers from playing several of their paid-for video games. While we can laugh at Denuvo’s ineptitude, the real point in all of that is once again how DRM in video games tends to prevent nothing when it comes to piracy, yet paying customers tend to get impacted for a variety of reasons. DRM, in other words, almost universally functions to punish paying customers, which is stupid.

And now here we are again, with DRM suddenly preventing paying customers from playing their games, albeit for a completely different reason. Intel released a list of something like 50 games where DRM breaks playability as a result of Intel’s new chip architecture. While the reason this occurs on these chips is somewhat technical, ArsTechnica has a writeup that includes a reasonable summary.

We’ve already covered how Alder Lake’s hybrid “big.little” design splits the CPU’s workload into high-powered “performance” (P) cores and low-powered “efficiency” (E) cores. But after hinting at the potential issue in a developer FAQ last month, Intel is now confirming that some games contain DRM that Intel says “may incorrectly recognize 12th Generation Intel Core Processors efficient-cores (E-cores) as another system.” That issue can lead to games that “may crash during launch or gameplay or unexpectedly shut down,” Intel says.

PC Mag’s Chris Stobing explained that the issue arises from the DRM middleware treating the two different types of cores as two distinct systems. “Once it detects that some portion of the load has been split between the P- and E-cores, it sees the new cores as a new license holder (a separate system) and force-quits the game to prevent what it believes is two PCs trying to play one game on the same key,” he said.

That makes technical sense. What doesn’t make sense is why this DRM is used in the first place. Again, I can just about promise you that all or a majority of these games are being pirated anyway, despite the DRM. So here again we have the classic DRM scenario: pirates going to pirate, while the paying customer finds out the game they bought suddenly isn’t operable any longer.

Now, Intel has indicated that it will be patching this issue out and is working directly with game developers to do that. In addition, it has provided workarounds, such as:

Intel says users can get around the problem by upgrading to Windows 11 (in some cases) or launching into the BIOS setup and turning on Legacy Game Compatibility Mode, then activating it with the Scroll Lock key. But an Intel spokesperson told PC Mag that this mode isn’t yet available on at least some Alder Lake CPUs and “should be included in a future BIOS update.”

But when viewed through the lens of the average PC gamer, this is mostly absurd. Upgrade the entire OS to play a game you already bought? Making changes in the BIOS? Come on.

DRM needs to die. It’s almost entirely useless at everything other than screwing things up for game companies’ actual customers. How can all of this be worth it?

Filed Under: ,
Companies: intel

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “DRM Breaking Games Again, This Time Due To New Intel Chip Architecture”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
55 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

It is a pity that we can’t get a law.
Imagine if they had to display what DRM was in every game on the outside of the box.

People could then see easily which bullshit they will have to put up with (we registered a domain we forgot to keep going that all of our protected games use).

Pretty sure it would crash sales and finally make a point to companies… if you DRM it we won’t buy.

There has not been a single fscking story of DRM making a game better for paying customers, but many talking about how stupid this shit is & makes the problem worse because ‘pirates’ get better gaming experiences. (Not to mention sometimes the ‘pirated’ copies run better).

I get people want to play the new games, but perhaps its time to stop playing the battered wife in the exchange. They say sorry, promise it will get better, and then fsck you over again & again.

Games that don’t work from day 1.
Games that might work as advertised in 6 months.
Games that might stop working because we didn’t pay for a domain.

All to stop pirates… who have working games to play without all of these hassles… only at the expense of paying customers being satisfied. Seems simple yet somehow they refuse to remember that consumers are the customers & you should put more into pleasing them then screwing them over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually It seems kind of like fraud would probably cover some of this (they knowning sold a product that will refuse to work…).

I do not buy many games now (basically since I became an "adult"… all that RL stuff that needs attention). However I wonder if they have correctly and sufficiently disclaimed warranties. It also seems like some implied warranties (especially of "fitness for a particular purpose") could potentially come into play.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Actually It seems kind of like fraud would probably cover some of this (they knowning sold a product that will refuse to work…)."

Except that the standard EULA means you, the consumer, have already agreed that if the software detonates your computer, incites a mutiny in all your IoT devices, sells your wife and daughter to azerbajiani traffickers and starts a nuclear war…the developers will not be held liable.

In the EU at least when Sony tried its rootkit approach of bricking every consumer’s cd-drive they were sued because of consumer protection law – and even there that’s what it takes.
In the US though, I doubt there’s much you can do.

Now for a lot of these triple-A titles, costing around 59,99 USD or Euro, most people might agree that some unaffiliated third party screwing up really shouldn’t be allowed to affect your purchased property. You don’t buy a car and accept the damn thing may stop working if GM change a detail in their current assembly line.

But this is copyright we’re talking about, where you pay good money for the fraud of ownership where the vendor, in the fine print of a bucket full of legalese, changes the details to mean "lend-lease" and strips away all your ownership rights. Including the one where the product works as advertised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Very valid points.

Which shows I spoke poorly. I was trying to highlight that we already have laws (in the US) that should cover these cases. If they don’t, that seems like holes that should be patched, rather than inventing whole new legislation to cover the same thing, but "on a computer".

Also. Good point about EULA. However It does occur to me that a "you must agree not to sue us if we actually sold you a pile of crap" agreement before use of a product (but the text of the agreement is only available after purchase) smells a lot like fraud to me as well.

If US fraud laws do not cover that, it seems a lot to me like they should.

Finally: Last I check (which admitted was quite a while ago) how legally binding EULAs are in the US had not been tested in court (since their text is only available after purchase).

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"However It does occur to me that a "you must agree not to sue us if we actually sold you a pile of crap" agreement before use of a product (but the text of the agreement is only available after purchase) smells a lot like fraud to me as well."

It is. However, courtesy once again of the US lobby, EULA’s are often legally binding.

"If US fraud laws do not cover that, it seems a lot to me like they should. "

Problem is that the various courts all have separate opinions, mainly concerning the specific legal terminology. Generally speaking, however, if you had to click a button agreeing to the terms before installing you’ll need a high-priced lawyer racking up a lot of hours making your case if you want to dispute.

"how legally binding EULAs are in the US had not been tested in court (since their text is only available after purchase)."

After purchase, not so much. But with software a lot of the US court system is fully on board with software being "licensed not purchased". I.e. you may spend your money thinking you bought a game or software but what you got is a limited license to use – which came with a free copy of that game or software.

Copyright is centered around the premise that you, the consumer, never own anything which could be copyrightable. In practice you only ever get to lend-lease it.

Hardware OEM’s weren’t dumber than that they’d notice the benefit of effectively turning a sale into an indefinite lease while retaining plenty of property rights over what they "sold" just by the expedient act of adding a microchip to what used to be pure mechanics. The consumer "buys" the license to operate the code in the microchip – the toaster/microwave/fridge/car or tractor being an "add-on".
Cue how John Deere and Tesla can suddenly demand farmers and drivers pay an extra to get their expensive agri machines or cars fixed at a licensed shop rather than letting their resident mechanic spend an hour fixing what’s broken and Apple gets to sue indie phone repairmen out of existence for daring to offer replacing the battery or screen on an iPhone.

I keep saying that there is no law which is so open to exploitative abuse as copyright. And no wonder given the way it reverses a number of core principles of ownership from its most basic principles.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Steam does actually have a bolded colored warning box saying if the title has Denovu or other DRMs with known issues."

Yep. Steam may have a few issues but the fact that their own DRM is unintrusive and that they have a warning label on the stuff which might seriously impact your gaming…that just shows why they made it big.

Know Thy Customer.

Anonymous Coward says:

I still remember why I pirated games, sample before you buy.

Could trust the magazines back then as much as these days, advertisers got the reviews they want. Even then just to many games coming out for a student to pay for.
And in more then a few cases due to DRM warnings from friends/the grapevine (which also meant that these were not to sample but ‘screw you, you won’t get my money’).

So why hasn’t changed anything? The beancounters cannot put a price tag on the the negatives of putting in DRM so they don’t even bother with it, just mentioning enough of it for CYA purposes. And for the games that they do the balance is $ > negatives.

About the only good use for DRM that I can see is stopping people from having the game before the official release day and even that is an iffy reason.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

"That makes technical sense. What doesn’t make sense is why this DRM is used in the first place"

I can probably answer that. The videogame industry right now is a very crowded marketplace, and it’s hard to guarantee any specific level of sales. Shareholders will demand constant increases in profits. If those fail to materialise, there’s all sorts of reasons, ranging from a bad product, bad marketing, bad timing among competing products, general fatigue among gamers surrounding a specific genre, etc. These are complicated to sort through with a post mortem investigation, and certain managers will be on the hook for those.

But then, there’s piracy! Pretty much every game is pirated, so you can blame piracy for any shortfall in sales. It’s a fantastic scapegoat for any bad move on your part. It doesn’t matter what the real issues were in failure – look over there! The game was pirated so that’s the reason!

So those managers insist on DRM being included. But, DRM is constantly broken, usually rather quickly. So, they enter into a never-ending, constantly escalating arms race against the pirates. To fool those shareholders, they have to prove that they’re working against new ways of breaking DRM, which leads to idiocy like this. It essentially works as designed – the shareholders get someone to blame for lower profits, the management involved in the bad decisions get to keep their jobs and bonuses, and none of those people care about the welfare of customers after they made their purchases.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"But then, there’s piracy! Pretty much every game is pirated, so you can blame piracy for any shortfall in sales. It’s a fantastic scapegoat for any bad move on your part."

I think you may be on to something. Statistics speak for themselves, really – DRM does nothing of what the copyright cult envisions. It adds significantly to the game development cost, reduces performance – or breaks the damn thing completely, as in the OP…and most importantly, it means the pirates get a better version of the game than the paying consumer does.

But it’s become the lucky charm. The ritual meant to appease the gods of the market. The cumbersome dressing up, chanting and smearing every product with goat’s blood. The four-leaf clover which has to be attached to every item to be sold or disaster beckons.

And with that bullshit already accepted as "real" it’s a very short step towards just pointing at the supposed evils the cumbersome mojo is supposed to ward off and exclaim "It’s all their fault the <broken crock of shit> didn’t sell like we thought it would! We need to start taping dead frogs to any future offers as well and hope that serves to deliver us from this eeeeevil!"

I mean, this is the normal spiel any old school shaman or priest used. It’s just weird that we’re still dumb enough to suffer that pseudo-religious ritual of grifting and blame projection to be built right into business models and law.

The copyright cult, ladies and gents. For when you want the medieval-style conmanship and graft in your future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

tangentially:

there’s been all this mindless blather about "download a car".

But there’s a much more important issue to address. Why can’t we download kittens (real kittens, not just multimedia. And it needs to qualify as ethical treatment of animals to).

I would totally download a kitten (I mean barring all the real world reasons why owning one would be problematic for me).

PS. OK I’ve done my obligatory mockery of people who aren’t present/party to this particular conversation.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
BG (profile) says:

No, it doesn't make technical sense

"That makes technical sense."

No it does not. Multicore CPUs have been around for years at this point in time. A system that that has all the evidence to indicate to it that it has encountered a multicore CPU (reports the same IP address, MAC address, machine name, group name, Windows license key, same Steam / GOG/ UbiSoft / EA account, etc.), and incorrectly classifies it is 2 separate systems does not make technical sense.

Instead, it shows me the system is badly flawed and was not written with a scrap of future proofing in mind. New CPUs are to be expected, if you’re hardcoding your software for specific CPUs I think the 1990s is calling on line #1 and would like you to stop being a Luddite.

Granted we are talking about DRM here and the end user experience is something no fucks were given towards at any stage in the development of the software.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rocky says:

Re: No, it doesn't make technical sense

Well, it does when you factor in how some security-features in DRM work. If the E-cores are identified differently from P-cores it’s entirely possible that if you use that identification to determine that you are running in an ICE or on a virtual machine etc that condition will suddenly be satisfied and the DRM kicks in.

There are extremely few systems that have heterogeneous CPU-cores, almost all systems only have the same type of cores and when it comes to x86 cpu’s I can’t think of ANY cpu before Alderlake that had different types of cores.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: No, it doesn't make technical sense

"…if you’re hardcoding your software for specific CPUs I think the 1990s is calling on line #1 and would like you to stop being a Luddite."

The copyright cult is usually behind the times. The Sony rootkit, father of all modern-day DRM, struck in 2005. The methodology and mechanics seem not to have been fundamentally changed since.

The idea is to be intrusive. Every last component contributing to the PC working is to be infiltrated by the DRM. And if anything changes in any of these units which isn’t specifically on the developer’s whitelist…the deadman switch applies and the malware in question blocks whatever executable it’s supposed to guard, an in all likelihood enough intrinsic OS processes to cause a CTD or hard freeze as collateral damage.

"Granted we are talking about DRM here and the end user experience is something no fucks were given towards at any stage in the development of the software."

This seems a recurring theme in every aspect of the church of copyright. Legislation is drafted in the same way as soon as it concerns copyright. As are the business models where the customer is considered a beholden serf rather than the king.

The harder part to swallow here is that this was all very predictable from the first time the guild of stationers tried to push the political-religious censorship tool they’d been responsible for maintaining into the private domain under Queen Anne. It’s how this shit has to work.

And everyone just went along with it, leaving that monster to grow. Back then you could have taken it out and only lost a few disproportionately influential middlemen. Today a lot of industries would be left swaying if you eliminated the parasitical growths they’ve had to build themselves around…

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

myvisioncare myvisioncare (user link) says:

Eye Doctors Woodbridge Va

If you looking for an eye doctor Woodbridge va, Than You are at the right place to find eye doctor in woodbridge, My Vision Care PLLC.

The American Optometric association recommends an eye exam for adults in order to maintain eye health and early detection of visual problems. We “Focus on you” is not only our mission statement, it’s our trademark.

Anonymous Coward says:

"should be included in a future BIOS update."

Yes, a future update that my motherboard manufacturer might one day decide is worth actually posting. Even if we could trust users to update their BIOS (we can’t), and trust that firmware updates are reliable enough people will want to apply the update (mostly, they are – but the failure mode is so horrible that many people still won’t), this still assumes that the required BIOS update will actually be made available at all. My experience in that area hasn’t been particularly encouraging.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Imagine, for one second, that because a number of states update the roadsigns on their highways, half of the Fords in the US stop working.

THAT is the insanity level of the crap described in the OP. And that people still accept DRM in the games they buy is beyond me.

I guess that’s why quite a lot of them just choose to pirate a copy instead. Why buy the kool-aid containing poison when you can make a copy not containing that part?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"I simply said – albeit in slightly different terms – that people who continue to support shitty DRM practices simply deserve what they get."

There’s some truth to this…though there is a but here also; the time when you could vote with your wallet in the US is basically gone. DRM being built into everything digital as a matter of course increasingly means it’s getting harder for developers to not use it. Pressure from shareholders rolled by the persistent nagging of copyright shills and lobbyist, your team of IP-specialist lawyers gleefully insisting you need to set them up for thousands of billable hours within their specialty, a toolset which includes key DRM components by default…

And then of course the fact that copyright is about monopolies. If what you want is a good car you’ve got plenty of choice; Ford, Volvo, Tesla, Skoda, etc. Same with everything else. Black & Decker, Bosch, or ATG?

You want Assassin’s Creed? It’s Ubisoft or bust and comes bundled with their bloody connect latching on to your game rig like a rotting barnacle. You want Dragon Age, almost any sports or FPS game? Congratulations, feel free to infest your poor rig with Origin, courtesy of EA.

It pays to note that some or all successful game manufacturers started out and grew popular with a non-intrusive DRM model – but as soon as the brand was strong enough, EA buys them up. And all the fans are left with the choice of dropping their favorite franchises like a sandwich someone just shat in, or hold their nose and keep eating in the hopes it won’t be that bad.

Margins being what it is around the gaming industry and triple-A titles I’m fairly sure the likes of EA and Sony already made the calculation that their business will keep doing just fine as long as a fraction of the market will persistently agree to being the indentured serfs blindly paying good money for bad product.

Rekrul says:

Not just games are affected. I have a friend who recently had someone screw up her computer. He then said he needed to reinstall Windows 7. She gave him the copy of Windows 7 Ultimate that she had bought. As far as she knows, it’s a legitimate copy. Now it’s complaining that it needs to be activated and telling her that the product key she entered is invalid.

Microsoft doesn’t give a shit about Windows 7 any more, so what do they care if people have a valid license or not? Release a patch that does away with the activation bullshit.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"As far as she knows, it’s a legitimate copy"

Playing devils advocate that doesn’t mean that it is actually legit. Also, she could have had a legit pro or other licence that doesn’t give her access to Ultimate.

"Microsoft doesn’t give a shit about Windows 7 any more, so what do they care if people have a valid license or not?"

Unless they released a patch to remove the licence check, the software cares as much as it did on the day of release.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

Playing devils advocate that doesn’t mean that it is actually legit. Also, she could have had a legit pro or other licence that doesn’t give her access to Ultimate.

She says that the package looks legitimate, and it’s a retail package of Windows 7 Ultimate.

It’s hard to diagnose stuff over the phone, but it seems like the guy who did it, may have used the number on a sticker on the outside of the package, rather than the product key contained inside. I’ve been wanting her to try changing it to that one, but so far she hasn’t felt like dealing with it. She sent me a screenshot of the activation message and I notice the key it shows has "OEM" in the middle of it, which seems like a red flag for a retail package. If he truly did enter a number he found on the outside of the package, that’s probably the problem.

Unless they released a patch to remove the licence check, the software cares as much as it did on the day of release.

Yes, I realize that. I’m wondering why Microsoft cares if some has a legitimate copy of a piece of software that they no longer care about. If they’re not selling or supporting it any more, why does it matter to them?

What happens when Microsoft no longer wants to activate older versions of Windows and people can no longer use the software that they bought?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I notice the key it shows has "OEM" in the middle of it, which seems like a red flag for a retail package."

That’s what I suspected. Windows 7 can still be activated (and in fact last time I needed to activate Windows 10 for someone I used an old Windows 7 key to do so – not sure of that’s still possible but it was within the last year). If there’s a problem then it’s most likely a problem with the key and not the activation, especially if you’re trying to install the way more expensive Ultimate edition (I believe there was $100 difference on retail launch).

"What happens when Microsoft no longer wants to activate older versions of Windows and people can no longer use the software that they bought?"

It’s still within Microsoft’s best interests to keep activation servers online and at least issue patches for known exploits that are being used to create botnets, etc., as these affect current customers even if they stopped officially supporting an OS years ago.

If they totally bring down all activation, they have the offer to release a separate patch to disable activation, but if not then thats the time to criticise Microsoft, not the moment you have a problem with a licence key… and I say that as someone who really doesn’t want to defend them.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So I need to do a big mea culpa here…

I thought she had bought a legitmate retail copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. She said the seller had good feedback, and the supposed IT guy who worked on her computer didn’t notice anything wrong with it. However I had her watch a video on how to spot a fake Win7 package and sure enough, hers is counterfeit.

When she tries to activate it, it tells her that there’s a problem and offers her the option of buying a (supposedly) legitimate license online. Am I correct in assuming that this is just another scam? Or will Microsoft let you buy a valid license for a counterfeit copy of Windows?

She’d really like to buy a legitimate, retail copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, but so far I’m not having much luck locating one. There are a couple on eBay that look like they might be authentic based on images of the COA sticker, but I don’t want to recommend something that might be another scam.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Am I correct in assuming that this is just another scam? Or will Microsoft let you buy a valid license for a counterfeit copy of Windows?"

Literally, the only difference between a counterfeit Windows copy and a legit copy is the licence. There do exist heavily modded copies of Windows discs out there for various nefarious purposes, but usually they’re just copies installed and activated using some kind of recycled/stolen corporate key or otherwise cracked in some way. You can basically install from any disc, or an ISO, it doesn’t matter since the licence key is what makes it legit. The CD itself is worthless if the key on the box doesn’t work.

Now, I was about to say just download the ISO from Microsoft if you’re not sure and obtain a key to install it, but it seems that they’ve disabled the option to download it directly from their site since it’s out of official support. It seems a little strange that they’d offer a licence and not the media, but there might be some other page I didn’t see on a quick search. However, offering you the option to buy a licence if you fail an activation check is definitely standard procedure (whether or not the link they give you actually offers a shiny new Windows 7 key rather than an attempt to upsell you to Windows 10 or 11 is another question).

You can, however download Windows 10 from here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO, and then apply a licence to it (bought from Microsoft directly or elsewhere). In the past I’ve used a Windows 7 key to get a "free" upgrade, but I’m not sure if that’s possible any longer.

If she really just wants Windows 7, the first thing I’d ask is if she actually needs Ultimate. I doubt it, since the major differences (seen here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7_editions) between Ultimate and Pro are enterprise level functions, such as the ability to switch display languages, and using encryption and VHD booting. I somehow doubt that she needs those, so Pro or even Home Edition might be suitable, and not only will those usually be cheaper but there’s typically less scam artists for those versions, especially Home Edition.

I hope that all helps. There’s not really any insight here, just some vague memories of my long gone former days supporting end users and a couple of Google searches.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Now, I was about to say just download the ISO from Microsoft if you’re not sure and obtain a key to install it, but it seems that they’ve disabled the option to download it directly from their site since it’s out of official support.

Someone on another forum gave me this link;

https://www.heidoc.net/joomla/technology-science/microsoft/67-microsoft-windows-iso-download-tool

I don’t know if it still works, or if it’s even safe to use.

If she really just wants Windows 7, the first thing I’d ask is if she actually needs Ultimate.

I doubt it too. The system came with Win7 Home and she never had problems, then someone who worked on her system installed Ultimate. That was probably a pirated copy (unless the guy who did it had a volume license), but it worked until this other guy screwed it up.

I somehow doubt that she needs those, so Pro or even Home Edition might be suitable, and not only will those usually be cheaper but there’s typically less scam artists for those versions, especially Home Edition.

I just spoke to her and she told me that she finally found the re-installation discs from Dell for her system, including the OS disc for Win7 Home Premium, SP1. No product key on the disc envelope, but there is one on the Microsoft sticker on the computer case. The system was bought new, so it should be valid. She wants to try re-installing it this weekend.

I hope that all helps. There’s not really any insight here, just some vague memories of my long gone former days supporting end users and a couple of Google searches.

Thanks, I appreciate it, and she appreciates it. I know I sometimes annoy you, but I really appreciate the information.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Yeah, I’d always be wary about random ISO links though most of them are safe.

"That was probably a pirated copy (unless the guy who did it had a volume license)"

That’s the most likely. I’ve seen it many times before where someone will "borrow" their employer’s volume licence to do some side gigs, and if they’re only doing it a few times people don’t notice. Also, like I mentioned before, in this day and age quite often the only difference between a "pirated" copy and a legit one is the presence of a valid key.

"I just spoke to her and she told me that she finally found the re-installation discs from Dell for her system, including the OS disc for Win7 Home Premium, SP1"

OK, in that case please ask her to try. IIRC, Dell’s install media checks the BIOS for something and if it’s a legit Dell machine it skips the licence check (going from vague memory here, but I do seem to recall that I preferred reinstalling Dells in companies where they didn’t have an internal licencing server).

With her having these discs, I think that all that’s happened is that whoever set the machine up for her was doing her a "favour" by upgrading the Home Edition to Ultimate, but if she has the original media then she’s probably going to be fine. If there’s still a problem when she does this, it might be worth checking with the Dell support pages in case there’s a BIOS setting or something that needs to be set, but I don’t recall seeing that happen very often (although again I’ll admit this is going from vague memory, I ditched Windows entirely at both home and work not long after Windows 7 SP1 was released)

"Thanks, I appreciate it, and she appreciates it. I know I sometimes annoy you, but I really appreciate the information."

Hey, no problem, I’m glad that one of my rare defences of Microsoft might have led to someone getting their problems solved. I just had to leap to their defence here as I’m aware that they’ve actually gone out of their way to extend support to legacy OSes, so it didn’t sound right that they’d just not activate a copy of Windows 7 at this point in time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond…

Also, like I mentioned before, in this day and age quite often the only difference between a "pirated" copy and a legit one is the presence of a valid key.

It’s really a pain in the ass how many different versions of Windows there are. Not only the home/pro/ultimate, but retail, versus OEM, etc. All with unique keys.

OK, in that case please ask her to try. IIRC, Dell’s install media checks the BIOS for something and if it’s a legit Dell machine it skips the licence check (going from vague memory here, but I do seem to recall that I preferred reinstalling Dells in companies where they didn’t have an internal licencing server).

Skipping the license check would be nice.

Is installing Win 7 from the Dell media at all difficult, or is it all automatic? She was the OS disc and a drivers & utility disc.

I ask because she is not at all computer literate. She can run the programs she uses every day, but even something as simple as copying her Thunderbird profile folder is a mystery to her.

If there’s still a problem when she does this, it might be worth checking with the Dell support pages in case there’s a BIOS setting or something that needs to be set, but I don’t recall seeing that happen very often

She occasionally talks to a support guy at Dell, so I suggested that she contact him, explain the situation and ask if there’s anything she needs to be aware of before trying this.

Keep in mind that she doesn’t even feel confident enough to install Media Player Classic by herself.

Hey, no problem, I’m glad that one of my rare defences of Microsoft might have led to someone getting their problems solved. I just had to leap to their defence here as I’m aware that they’ve actually gone out of their way to extend support to legacy OSes, so it didn’t sound right that they’d just not activate a copy of Windows 7 at this point in time.

I think it speaks volumes that the supposed IT guy (as in that’s actually his job!) who worked on her system didn’t realize that the Win7 retail package she gave him was a fake. It had the COA sticker that said "Made in USA", white hub on the disc, not black, and clear tape around the rim of the disc rather than the logos being printed in the disc. Granted, I wouldn’t have known these things if I hadn’t watched the video, but then again, I don’t have a job in IT.

Everything I know about computers, I’ve learned through manuals, experimentation, friends and the net. And sometimes when stuff breaks, I’m not sure how to fix it. A while back, I discovered that my system has lost the ability to play MIDI files/music. The music tests in DXDiag work, but I can’t play MIDI files in Media Player Classic (I used to be able to) and programs can’t play MIDI music either. The MS Wavetable Synth won’t stay selected as the MIDI device. Someone suggested re-installing it, but I don’t know how to do that as it’s not listed as a separate component. I suspect it may be some conflict between the onboard RealTek audio hardware/drivers and my Nvidia graphic card’s audio hardware/drivers, which I disabled (I use a VGA monitor with separate speakers, but the audio hardware on the card only outputs sound over HDMI, so if I enable it, I get no sound at all). Having said that, I’m positive MIDI was working long after installing the card and the drivers, so I have no idea what changed. I tried re-installing the RealTek drivers, but that didn’t fix it. I haven’t yet tried installing a third-party MIDI device.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

"Is installing Win 7 from the Dell media at all difficult, or is it all automatic? She was the OS disc and a drivers & utility disc."

So, in my experience it was always as easy as any OS install can be, assuming that everything is in place. If there’s a problem (for example, the Dell installer not recognising the PC as being a valid Dell PC to use the with disc), then it’s not.

"I think it speaks volumes that the supposed IT guy (as in that’s actually his job!) who worked on her system didn’t realize that the Win7 retail package she gave him was a fake"

Did he not realise, or did he thing that he was doing a favour by "upgrading" to Ultimate? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that someone did something like that and not think far enough ahead to think about what a reinstall would require, or know that there would be problems but be out of the picture long before it was needed. Then, is a reinstall required at all, or is this just the easiest solution to many problems? One reason I prefer the FOSS world is that people will try and fix problems rather than nuke the system at the first sign of a potentially challenging problem.

As for the MIDI issue you describe, I usually find that audio drivers are the issue there, but it can be a bit of a rabbit hole in terms of your particular combination of hardware, drivers and so on. It’s a possibility that Windows Update automatically updated drivers and introduced a bug that could be fixed by reverting to the older drivers, but again it’s not really the venue here to diagnose such a thing. I can just say that it would normally point to a driver issue or some update somewhere has introduced a conflict.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

So, in my experience it was always as easy as any OS install can be, assuming that everything is in place.

The plan was to reinstall Windows this past weekend, but she said she didn’t feel like doing it. For one thing, this guy had put a pirated copy of Word 2007 on her system a couple years ago, and even though she absolutely loves Word 2003 and doesn’t want to switch to any other version, she’s become obsessed with having Word 2007 on the system as well. She never uses it, but she wants it. (insert eye roll here)

I think she may have gotten it into her head that she needs it to support newer DOCX files, even though I helped her install an update a few years ago that allows Word 2003 to read/write them. We tried reinstalling that update, but she said it didn’t work. Then again, I’m not sure she was actually trying to load a DOCX file rather than the directory she created for them.

It’s very frustrating to try and help someone who doesn’t even know how to properly describe what they’re doing. Everything is a "file" to her.

Did he not realise, or did he thing that he was doing a favour by "upgrading" to Ultimate? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that someone did something like that and not think far enough ahead to think about what a reinstall would require

I would say that he didn’t realize that it was a fake because if he had, I’d like to think he would have warned her before installing it, and/or applied some kind of a crack to it, rather than just installing it and leaving her with an unactivated system and an invalid product key.

I think he upgraded her system to Ultimate in the past because the case sticker says Win7 Home and she’s had Ultimate for a few years now. However, she’s not sure if he did that or if it was someone else. Whoever did it, did it properly, as she never had any issues with it.

As for the MIDI issue you describe, I usually find that audio drivers are the issue there, but it can be a bit of a rabbit hole in terms of your particular combination of hardware, drivers and so on. It’s a possibility that Windows Update automatically updated drivers and introduced a bug that could be fixed by reverting to the older drivers, but again it’s not really the venue here to diagnose such a thing.

I did try reinstalling the driver with the one supplied by HP for this system, but it didn’t fix the problem. Everything else works fine sound-wise, it’s just MIDI that doesn’t work. Yet the MS Wavetable Synth works in DXDiag. Weird…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Pirates gonna pirate

Yup. And usually it only takes once; A paying customer spends the money, gets upset over the DRM breaking their game or cooking their PC…and from that moment on what you’ve got is a pirate.

The fact that everything about copyright is about making the paying consumer accept a far worse and more limited product than the pirate gets for free is really what makes it lose every battle where progress manages to happen.

Imagine if Ford tried to make a living selling model T’s today if every bypasser had the ability to build a copy sans all the limiters and end up with a Fiesta instead?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Sometimes Pirates Don't Pirate

To be fair, I’ve noticed a reverse marketing strategy works on me: Now that you’ve played our game for free, you can buy this token cosmetic to show support

I received Deep Rock Galactic as a birthday present and was impressed enough with the game to go ahead and get the supporters upgrade (which gave me some cosmetics and a swanky badge).

Pirates gonna pirate, except when they don’t.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Now, Intel has indicated that it will be patching this issue out and is working directly with game developers to do that.

Intel, please don’t. Let this be a lesson to game companies, otherwise you will always have to limit creativity in order to accommodate these parasites of the video game industry.

DRMs are a plague and now we want the plague to decide how to develop new architecture to benefit them? My only option is to avoid DRM’ed games to the best of my ability, so I’ll continue voting with my wallet.

(I imagine an actual plague making people not take precautions against contagion… Oh, wait. That sounds familiar.)

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...