Intuit to implement product activation for TurboTax

Intuit announced today that it will implement product activation using Macrovision technology in the next federal versions of TurboTax. The move is similar to Microsoft’s implementation of product activation for Windows XP and Office XP.

Product activation in TurboTax software is part of the product’s simple installation and is based on the exchange of numeric codes between the customer’s computer and Intuit. None of these numbers contain personally identifiable information nor can they be used to identify any personal information about the customer or any characteristics of the customer’s PC configuration.

To ensure a high level of reliability and the optimum customer experience, Intuit has implemented proven technology from Macrovision Corporation, the leading developer and supplier of digital rights management (DRM) and copy protection products.

During product activation, two sets of numbers, one assigned to every TurboTax CD and one randomly generated by the product at activation, are sent via secure Internet connection to Intuit. A final number is immediately sent back to the customer via the Internet, automatically activating the software so they can begin preparing their tax returns immediately.

It looks like copy protection of software is coming back — not from secret codes encoded on disks but largely thanks to the Internet and the ability of newly installed client software to exchange keying information with a central server.

Interestingly, Microsoft is about to ship SP1 for Windows XP and has made some “enhancements” to product activation with the service pack — basically fixes to get around pirates who compromised the original XP product activation.

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