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Apple drops anti-piracy measures from iWork '09


Apple has dropped serial number verification in the new retail box version of iWork 09, making the revised office suite simply "just work" for new users who have purchased it.

Previously, all versions of Apple's iWork productivity suite have always required obtaining a serial number to work past the free thirty day trial. This included the version installed on new Macs, the downloadable trial, and retail boxes.

In contrast, the companion iLife suite installed without any serial number system, as it was always bundled free on new Macs, and the company did not ever offer a trial download version. Once installed, versions of iLife just worked. Apple used serial number verification on iWork, as it does on its Pro Apps, to limit piracy of the productivity suite.

Apple is still selling iWork separately, so the free trial versions that can be downloaded and which will appear on new machines does require a serial number to unlock, which can be obtained by directly purchasing the software online.

However, anyone buying the new iWork 09 retail version introduced at Macworld will have the software unlocked as part of the install process automatically, sparing users from keeping track of their software key when they reinstall the package.

This will ostensibly allow users to pirate iWork 09 slightly easier, but it appears the company has determined that the risk of losing sales to piracy is less than the annoyance consumers face and the customer service efforts wasted in helping people find a lost serial numbers.

Piracy has also historically contributed to the popularity and market share of many apps by allowing users who are unlikely to ever pay for anything to use the software, resulting in wide adoption and subsequent sales from businesses, institutional buyers, and others who do pay for the software they use.

Apple may likely be hoping that the relaxed serial number restrictions will incite wider use of the iWork suite, resulting in greater exposure for the company's online collaboration service as well. The service is now in beta, but the company hopes to eventually begin charging a subscription use fee for it, similar to MobileMe.