Software Registration

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Software manufactures are increasingly turning to technical control measures as a way of preventing software piracy. The field of Digital Rights Management (DRM) involves incorporating levels of copy protection directly into the software. A common DRM measure is the requirement of a password in order to enable a program's full functionality. The password can only be obtained after the software is registered with the manufacturer.

"Product activation" refers to the practice of distributing software with limited functionality as a means of promoting software registration. The manufacturer provides the user with a custom encrypted key code, which unlocks all of the software's features upon registration. In turn, the registration process links the user with a unique identification code, helping the manufacturer track legal use of the program. This process usually entails the collection of system specific information, which it hashes to the software, enabling its use only on the registered computer.

History Of Software Registration

Microsoft was the first large company to implement software registration as a prerequisite for product activation. It first experimented with the concept with its ebook viewing application, Microsoft Reader. After the Microsoft Reader results appeared successful, Microsoft expanded software registration requirements to its Windows XP and Office XP software. Registration is also employed by many shareware manufacturers, who provide free evaluation copies of software, but require registration to either unlock any limitations, or to access the program after the trial evaluation period expires.

In addition to protecting manufacturer rights, software registration is also beneficial to users. Vendors who don't use registration-activated measures still usually request that users register the product. This type of registration benefits users, as it confirms their legitimate purchase of the software. As a result, registered users are entitled to technical support and warranty benefits that are unavailable to people running pirated copies of the software.

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