Microsoft Office 2000 Raises Privacy Concerns

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Microsoft has plans in the works to introduce mandatory software registration coding into its new Microsoft Office 2000 software technology, said a source who has been tracking the company. Computer users who refuse to officially register their new product will find the software no longer functional after 50 start-ups.


Microsoft officials were not available for comment.


According to the source, the registration Wizard is planned for Microsoft Office 2000 versions that will be sent to Australia, Brazil and New Zealand, and mandatory registration coding will be included in some academic packages planned for shipment within the United States and Canada.


Although it is unclear if Microsoft's new technology is going to be incorporated into U.S. corporate versions of Office 2000, privacy groups are sure to raise legal questions. And consumer activists will no doubt react to any plan they see in the works that eventually ties mandatory software registrations to new computer hardware containing Intel user-identifying chips.


Several consumer and online protection groups spoke out about privacy issues this month, forcing Intel to back down from a plan to ship the new Pentium III chip with its user-identifying technology feature turned on. However, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington, and Junkbusters Inc., Green Brook, NJ, said they are continuing the boycott and may expand computer distributors of the product.

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