Hardware locking

FAQ about hardware locking for Robert Inventor's Programs

Will my program be hardware locked when I purchase it?

A: When you purchase any of my programs, your unlock key will work on any computer - it is NOT hardware locked. If you use it on a friends computer, then uninstall it when finished, and answer yes when it asks if you want to remove your unlock key. Or if you want your friend to keep the freeware / evaluation version, you can leave the program installed and just remove your unlock key, which you can do from Help | Unlock | Remove unlock key.

Nowadays there is an increasing tendency for programs to be hardware locked, like Windows XP. So if you install your program on another machine you need to change to a new unlock key for it - this could be awkward if you need to move a number of programs to several machines in short succession. But that isn't the real drawback of hardware locking. It's main drawback is something the user will only notice a few years down the line.

Some programs, e.g. some software music programs, have been hardware locked for quite a while, if not particualarly on the XP model, more often used with dongles or cds. Older composers and musicians may be wary about buying hardware locked programs, and go for ones that aren't locked if there is any choice in the matter. However most other users don't realise what is involved yet. Older programs are bound to have less polished GUIs than the latest ones, but they may occasionally do things in a way that still makes them of value to some users maybe many years after they were originally written.

Then the problem is that if your hardware lock fails for any reason (dongle or cd doesn't work any more or you get a new computer for the XP style hardware fingerprint approach) - what do you do if the original company has now gone out of business. You will probably find that you simply can't play your old compositions any more with the original software. This has happened to older composers already.

It is only recently that it has become really easy to hardware lock your programs, and in the forums for software authors you see that many of them are really going for it as the great new trend in software technology. This is really new - the last couple of years at the most, when it has become the "in thing" to do. So its long term drawbacks are not widely apparent. In the future if someone wants to run an XP machine as a "classic machine", they simply won't be able to do it. If they do manage that somehow, they will then probably find that half their programs from our era will no longer run. They then have to try to locate the original authors of them all to obtain new unlock keys. How would you set about finding unlock keys for software written 20 years ago?

This isn't just for "classic computer" nerds - a composer or artist may well want to recover a piece made more than twenty years ago originally on an archaic machine. Maybe they transfer it every couple of years to a new computer and get a new unlock key each time, until the day comes when they can no longer contact the original author for whatever reason - then that is it, they can no longer recover it.

At least, all my programs will run anyway :-).