Dear Windows-Help.NET Subscriber,
Last week I wrote about the upcomming anti-piracy measure being added to Microsoft's new OS ("Whistler"). Since then many reports have surfaced on the 'Net. Customers are crying foul.... So what's the deal?
While I haven't seen the new "Microsoft Product Activation for Windows" (as the anti-piracy measure is called my Microsoft), reports suggest that it will be similar to the code used on the current retail release of Office 2000 (SR-1) being used in the United States and six other countries. With the product activation feature in Office 2000, Microsoft allows customers to install one additional copy of Office on their laptops - in addition to their desktop computer - but requires a second activation and verification of the license.
According to Microsoft the product activation technology detects the hardware configuration on which the product is being installed, but not through any kind of scanning of a customer's hard drive. It also doesn't register the make, model or manufacturer of the PC or peripherals, nor does it register any of the software loaded on the machine.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm against piracy. Microsoft has every right to do what it wants to. Every time you install their software you agree to the EULA (End User Licence Agreement), which states all the obvious rules (that you can only use their software on one machine, and sometimes have an additional copy on your laptop).
What is Microsoft after here? It's the casual copying. People who have 3 or 4 PC in their household, buy one copy and use it on all.
But think of this: how many users would want to buy an additional copy of Office at $450? For a family this is a lot of money. Windows 2000 Professional retails around $319, so we can expect "Whistler" to cost roughly the same.
Now if Microsoft would drop their prices drastically - say Office for $99, Whistler for $69 - it would make some sense. But somehow I don't think they will.
I think a few things would happen. First off all, 99% of people would perceive Microsoft as the "big bad bully". It would also be the final straw that will drive a lot of people to start using competing (free) products: Sun's Star Office for their "Office" needs, and Linux as their operating system.
Another group of users would probably not upgrade their software. If you were running Windows 200 right now, why would you want to upgrade? This is also true for Office. I have been using Office 95 (7) for a very long time, and only recently upgraded to Office 2000 because I couldn't read/write the Excel spreadsheets people were sending me. For the casual use I have for Word and Excel, I don't intend to upgrade, I just hope that Microsoft doesn't change the file format (like they did before) to force me... If they did, I would take a serious look at Star Office - which I haven't, so I don't know if it will read/write the Microsoft Office file formats.
Oh, and it won't do anything to stop the professional piracy industry, they will surely find ways around it.
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