Microsoft has quietly killed off its Office Genuine Advantage program, which forced users to re-enter passwords every time they wanted to update the suite of productivity software.
According to an anonymous ZDnet reader, the layer of anti-piracy security, which meant that even trying to install a template or plug-in would set alarm bells ringing and force the software to phone home in a panic, has been removed without ceremony.
A deeply-buried notice says, "The Office Genuine Advantage (“OGA”) program has been retired," but still provides a link to a recently updated OGA information page.
The policy change doesn't affect initial online activation, and users will still have to input the 25-character key to download certain services such as Microsoft Security Essentials, but routine upgrades and installing add-ons will no longer mean a journey into the loft to find the box.
Microsoft has given no indication why it has removed the irritating validation process - but the fact that it's probably quicker to download and install the likes of OpenOffice.org than to dig out your product key might have something to do with it.