April 17, 2003

NewsForge proposes fix for MS Office 2K registration bug!

- Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -
After looking over proposed fixes and workarounds to the latest Microsoft Office 2000 registration bug detailed in a story at The Register titled Office 2000 SR-1 registration bug strikes corporates, NewsForge has developed a much simpler -- and very permanent -- solution to the problem.

The Register says this bug only affects volume-licensed commercial users, and that you can sort of ignore the constant MS Office demands for a new registration by clicking "Register Later" for a while. But, as The Register points out, this is by no means a permanent fix:

Unfortunately, clicking Register Later more than 50 times renders Office unusable. The Office Registration Wizard was introduced with SR-1 as an anti-piracy measure. Designed to be "simple and unobtrusive while protecting customer privacy", the Wizard requires you to register the product and obtain an eight-character activation code from Microsoft. The Wizard lets you use Office up to 50 times without registering, after which you must register in order to continue using Office apps.

Unfortunately (again), because of a documented bug in the Wizard, launching Office SR-1 after the fiftieth click causes the Wizard to Unexpectedly Quit. Microsoft has a solution for this particular problem, but it's a 23-step process involving editing Windows' Registry, a perilous process at the best of times. Even Microsoft warns uses that they "use Registry Editor at your own risk".

Our solution is simpler and easier than all this nonsense, for sure:

Download and install OpenOffice.org.

No registration hassles, no fees, no chance of the BSA coming after you if you can't find all your license paperwork.

We assure you, from personal experience, that installing OpenOffice is a lot easier than going through Microsoft's 23-step process to eliminate the problem to which they have assigned the apt and snappy title, "Program Unexpectedly Quits After You Click 'Register Later' 50 Times."

We have stopped and started OpenOffice w-a-y more than 50 times, and we have never had a problem like this.

Of course, if you have a die-hard need to spend money on software, you can choose OpenOffice's pay-for cousin, StarOffice, which has enough additional features that many people happily pay the comparatively low license fee (around $75 for home/small office users, as low as $25/seat for volume users, $0/seat for educational institutions) for it.

We can assure you that we have never had a registration problem with StarOffice even though we have... um... there is no way put this gently... installed a copy or two on other computers we had around, and clicked either the "already registered" or "register later" buttons because we were too lazy to put in names and addresses and all that.

Editor's Note: We are not the only ones to come up with this solution to the MS Office registration bug. A number of alert Slashdot readers also thought of it.

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