Friday, March 23, 2007

I'm not a Microsoft fan. I dislike their practices of perpetuating their monopoly, and I think consumer pressure works. If I didn't like them enough, I'd stop using them.

What I do like that have created a standard platform that's used by millions (billions?) I can pick up a file and send it to a friend without thinking twice. I'm not anti-Microsoft because they're large. I'm anti-Microsoft because I don't like how intrusive they've become.

I own XP legally and it resides on my only active computer (my apartment is just too small to set up another). It came with the PC I had built 3 years ago. They plastered the damn authentication certificate to my case; my pretty, shiny, piano black case. But I digress.

I noticed a new patch for XP yesterday called "Windows Genuine Advantage" (WGA), which as it explains, is basically software to check to see if you have a genuine copy of XP and help you get a genuine copy if you do not. I'm not going to install it, even if that means it's end of security patches for me.

WGA is like the DRM (Digital Rights Management) of the OS world. DRM assumes consumers are criminals. I don't like being treated that way (which is why I detest airports), but it seems more and more that corporations and the government seem to think that it's necessary.

Vista is built on WGA. You can find cracked versions of Vista, but you can not patch them with security updates through Microsoft. The best you could do is find a cracked patch down the road. But who would want to wait on security patches in this day and age of viruses and worms?

A better question would be, who is clamoring for Vista? It's a train wreck of unsupported drivers and permissions issues according to most users. It's not ready for mass consumption. Most people say they won't even consider it until after the first service pack is released and the major issues have been resolved.

But according to Steve Ballmer, the reason Vista isn't selling very well is because of piracy. I don't know anyone who wants Vista so badly that they'd pirate it and I doubt anyone that did would buy a legitimate copy anyway. The "lost income" they purport isn't really lost if it's never really going to be spent.

To give him some credit, I don't know how bad the problem is in China, India, Brazil, and Russia. Maybe Vista is so cool in those countries that everyone has to have it, security concerns aside.

I know eventually I'll buy Vista because it's the only OS that supports DirectX 10. I'm a gamer, primarily a PC gamer and other platforms (Mac, Linux) don't support PC gaming like Windows does. Somehow that makes me feel criminal.

Thanks to Dogic for the link.

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9 comments: to “ WGA

  • Sylvene
    Friday, March 23, 2007 at 7:13:00 PM CDT  

    If you don't install WGA you can't get further patches? What the hell? ..!.. Bill Gates!

    I will have to find a rotten tomato to throw into his yard.

  • ordinarygirl
    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 8:33:00 AM CDT  

    I think people are assuming that's the case (me included). I haven't seen anything official from Microsoft saying that WGA is necessary for future patches. I posted that as fact erroneously. But it's what I expect.

  • encephalophone
    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 11:32:00 AM CDT  

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • encephalophone
    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 11:42:00 AM CDT  

    WGA kind of makes you feel like Microsoft doesn't trust you (they don't), and maybe that just rubs us the wrong way, especially when we're trying to use something we've paid a lot of money for. I do updates constantly on rental machines, and WGA isn't a huge problem for me because we have legit copies of Windows and it's not really a huge inconvenience. It made me feel slighted at first, though.

    I expect OEM and retail versions of Vista will require "activation", which can be a real pain in the ass if you're trying to install without an internet connection. I've had to reinstall Windows XP Home a couple of times on different computers that required hardware replacements and couldn't activate online for one reason or another, even though I had legit product keys. I don't like that very much, and doing it over the phone is extremely tedious, but I understand piracy rates in places like China are extremely high. "Sales lost due to software piracy in China were about $3.9 billion in 2005, according to the Business Software Alliance, an industry group that tracks the illegal software trade." (from an article on www.sfgate.com). The citation hyperlink is long, I won't post it here.

    So I understand why Microsoft is making it difficult for people who are using pirated versions of the OS and I don't blame them. On the other hand, you can't treat all of your customers like criminals.

    Windows is just too damn expensive and has too many features that people would be better-off getting a-la-carte. Honestly, have you ever used Windows Movie Maker? OK, then, more than once or twice?

    I've tinkered with the Vista RC2 release on a new-ish Dell Core2 Duo-equipped laptop with a mainstream ATI graphics accelerator. The OS is very pretty, but device drivers were a bit of a problem, especially for wireless hardware. Unsupported, unofficial drivers--or worse, WinXP drivers--are likely to cause problems even if they seem to work. This situation will improve quickly, I think, but corporations would be crazy to roll-out a brand-new OS unless they really, really needed to. There aren't any must-have applications that need Vista or benefit from it, especially, that I know of. If Word launches .8 seconds faster, will that save you money? Windows XP is pretty good, overall, if you keep it up to date and watch-out for spyware, toolbars and all that crap that users inevitably accumulate, like that g**d*** RealPlayer. Most of the PCs out there in the world would struggle with Vista's memory requirements. Let's say you've got an 18-month old eMachine with a 2.8GHz Celeron CPU, integrated graphics and 512MB of RAM. OK, well, you might be able to run Vista but it'd probably struggle, and you may well not be able to use the pretty "Aero" interface, which is probably why you bought Vista in the first place. Bummer. Does the motherboard have a video upgrade slot? If it's a micro ATX board, (and it probably is), then probably not. If you're going to go with Vista, I say get it pre-installed on your next PC. Or maybe the next one after that.

    I'm not surprised that Vista sales are slow. Why is Microsoft?

    By the way, isn't that "Word Verification" feature in Blogger kind of the similar to WGA? Don't you trust me? It's a pain in the neck and I think it times-out too soon and then you have to do it again. Is that a '1' or an 'l'....

    Did you enjoy my coffee-induced rant as much as I did, ordinarygirl?

  • PBS
    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 9:40:00 PM CDT  

    Hmmm, that sounds like a crummy deal to me!

  • Wayne Frazer
    Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 10:50:00 AM CDT  

    I installed the new WGA thingie simply to get it to stop asking me. That's annoying.

    Not as annoying as a monopoly ... but still annoying.

  • Uri Kalish
    Friday, March 30, 2007 at 6:13:00 AM CDT  

    As much as we all instinctively dislike big-brother-all-knowing rich organizations, I think Microsoft has a right to do whatever she wants on her software in order to assure it is legal.

    p.s. I think you should wait for a few months before installing Vista (as I do with any new software version).

  • ordinarygirl
    Friday, March 30, 2007 at 6:37:00 AM CDT  

    Sure, Microsoft can do whatever it wants with its software, but that doesn't mean I have to purchase it. And that doesn't mean it has the right to prohibit me doing things on my computer. There is a fine line between an OS providing services and overstepping its bounds and intruding on the rights of the PC owner. I think Microsoft has overstepped those bounds in some cases.

  • ordinarygirl
    Friday, March 30, 2007 at 10:55:00 AM CDT  

    Encephalophone, the only reason I added the word verification was because I was getting spam comments. I don't like it myself, but I like getting spam notifications even less. Sorry about that!


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