Open Source Fears Fuel Microsoft Pirating Policy


Microsoft is reassessing security systems that disable pirated
programs on users' computers in favor of the approach employed by “trialware”
and “shareware:” constant nagging.


While the current version of Microsoft’s Genuine Advantage
tool will disable pirated software, the newer version being released with Vista’s first Service Pack will instead display warnings,
constant reminder bubbles, and similar “nags” to a user, but will not disable
the software.


Microsoft says it wants to create “opportunity” for
customers to “get legal” with the new policy, even offering very substantial
price-cuts on Vista Home Premium to users of pirated software. While that is
likely some part of the story, the very apparent “unspoken” reason is
Microsoft’s fear of driving customers to competitors, such as Apple and open
source alternatives like Ubuntu, with their current policy.


Microsoft understands that much of its success depends on
Windows® being the de facto OS in the
marketplace, even when it is illegally employed by users. The more Windows®
users, the more likely that third party software will be developed with
Windows® as the standard operating system. The more third party software
available for Windows®, the more likely a user will purchase Microsoft’s OS.


Given its change in direction, Microsoft seems to have now
correctly determined that being a standard in an industry has greater value
than a few million additional paid licenses. Settling for being a standard is better
than having nothing if users, even the illegal ones, move competing operating

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