hddgh is right,
we are missing some important points:
1. Even a miniscule false positive rate creates huge problems for the Microsoft brand.
2. The point Bruce mentioned to begin with: shutdown code would be a tremendous bonus for crackers.
3. Even the existence of an unactivated binary in the wild would give plenty of clues for where to put system hooks to capture user computers. Scenarios include phishing as Microsoft activation servers with a "if you want to use your computer again, insert credit card # here."
I was a little surprised that the phishing angle wasn't the first thing discussed. Are some of the regulars on vacation? Start your weekend early? Bruce, do you need to re-post this monday to see if anyone's paying attention?
The points raised above re:incompatible licensing schemes don't help the "moral appeal" aspect of convinicing users to do register their copies correctly. This is a classic blunder: customers can count, and really don't conceptualize software as something other than a physical product they paid for. EULAs don't matter in a _moral, practical_ sense if the customer doesn't understand them. Duh, they matter legally, but vauge legalese doesn't directly motivate human behavior. (Okay, information theory suggests that vague legalese promotes stalling behaviors, which isn't really what's wanted here.)
The points raised above re:lazyness in IT departments using the "wrong license" are also pretty good. Examples have already surfaced of lax policies at repair facilities leading to laptops suddenly being "not genuine." Sure, repair/IT houses should be doing things the right way, but it's individual users who will suffer. Individual users like doctors, x-ray techs, lawyers, engineers, cops, etc. People who need some level of reliablility/dependability in their hardware to do their job.
Another point, already raised, and mostly missed: this isn't good for the brand because it makes people like myself actually start weighing the options. I'm not talking about the open source kvetching earlier in the thread, nor the pro linux vs. pro microsoft piddling contests. What I'm saying is that I am now evaluating specific non-windows choices in a way that I have never done before.
In the past, I had always thought "gee, opens source operating systems are nice, philosophically, but so much work to fiddle with." I'm not inexperienced, though mostly I've used live cds to solve specific problems.
Now, I'm thinking "hmm, between open office, firefox, and picasa, 90% of what I do in xp I can do with Debian without having to learn a new UI." Quickly followed by "dual booting wouldn't be that difficult" and "mac books aren't _that_ expensive."
What I'm saying is that I'm thinking of sacrificing some utility in order to be freed from the uncertainty of suddenly being denied the use of my computer.* Unfortuantely for Microsoft, _they_, not the l33t hax0rz, are the ones prompting the thought.
p.s. Squid news is cool.
*I think that summarizes all of computer security philosphy in one sentence, eh?