XP: eX Pain?

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Product activation turns out not to look so bad.–Ed

Here’s a link to Microsoft’s technical
description of what product activation will and will not do.

They’ve considerably modified and loosened it up, and in all honesty, it’s pretty hard to say that its requirements are going to crimp any hardware enthusiast’s style much if at all.

The changes/clarifications to PA are:

  1. Up to three hardware changes (six if you keep the same network adapter, and come on, how often do you change that?) can be made without triggering reactivation.
  2. Multiple changes to one components only “counts” as one change. For example, three processors, one change.

  3. If you substantially change the hardware, automatic reactivation (as opposed to calling Redmond) can occur up to four times in a year.

These modifications seem to meet the needs of even hardware reviewers, so it’s hard to argue that even hardware enthusiasts will be triggering activation left and right.

Other Reasons

I see two groups continuing to object to this. I don’t count the typical warez puppy because that person wasn’t going to pay, period,
product activation or not.

The ones making the most noise will no doubt be the anti-Microsoft fanatics. If you believe Microsoft is Pure Evil, there’s no point even trying to have a rational discussion on this issue.
We’ll just tell the truth when they don’t, and the truth is PA will not be a hassle for the vast majority of people.

It’s Mine!!

The quieter, but actually far more significant group are those who believe in “one man, one OS” as opposed to MS’s “one machine, one OS.”

A person who buys one copy of MS OS whatever and installs it on five machines breaks the licensing agreement four times more than a warez puppy downloading one copy.

No, it’s not your property and you can do with it as you like. You didn’t buy it lock-stock-and-barrel, you bought the right to use it on one machine, as is very clearly stated in the MS license.

If They Let Me Once, It’s Forever

Maybe somewhere back a long time ago the MS license let you use multiple copies. That’s nice, and completely irrelevant. You aren’t using DOS 5.0, you’re using Windows 95 or 98 or 2000 or XP, and you’re subject to the license terms of those programs. There’s no grandfather clause.

The point to this is, like it or not, what Microsoft is doing is perfectly legal, and what you’ve been doing isn’t.

The law doesn’t require your approval for it to apply to you; it doesn’t matter what you think of it. Nor is the law whatever you want. You don’t like the law, use the mechanisms available to change it.

I’m Entitled To Sneak My Family Into The Movies!

When you go to the movies, do you pay for one ticket and then say that one ticket gets the rest of the family in for free?

Now what’s been happening is much like you buying a ticket, going in, finding a side door, and sneaking the rest of the family in. Product Activation is like the movie theatre putting a lock by that side door. You can get as mad as you like, but they have the perfect right to do it.

After you’ve calmed down a bit, you have several options:

  1. You can buy tickets for your whole family.
  2. You can pick the lock on the side door, which makes it a lot harder to pretend to yourself, the movie theatre or a court that you had no idea what you were doing wasn’t legal.
  3. You can sulk and not decide to go to that movie theatre anymore. You can go to the retro-Windows theatre, but they don’t have any new movies. You can go to the Linux house, but the movies don’t seem as well put-together, and besides, everybody in the audience speaks a different language.

In most cases, what will probably happen is that you’ll stay away awhile, maybe a few years, then you’ll come back when the pain of boycotting exceeds the pain of paying more.

Please spare me “Never.” A small proportion will go to Linux and not look back. But seriously, if you don’t do that, do you really think you’ll still be using Windows 98 in 2010?

They Don’t Trust Me!

First, as a whole, MS has very good reason not to trust everyone to honor the license agreement.

Second, just how are they supposed to figure out just who you are, anyway? MS would really have to become Big Brother watching your every move to know whether you’ve been “good” or not.

Third, lots of places don’t “trust” you. As I’ve mentioned before, any store with security systems doesn’t trust you. Do you stop patronizing them?

Most restaurants don’t trust you with telling the cashier what you ate, they give you a check. Do you not eat out because of this?

Every store with a collection agency doesn’t trust you, either. If they did, they wouldn’t have one.

Your town doesn’t trust you if it has police. If everyone could be trusted to obey the law, why do you need police? For that matter, if everybody always did the right thing, why do you need laws?

The reality is in most realms of human endeavor, people won’t do the right thing, and that’s why we need enforcement mechanisms.

They’re A Monopoly!

So? Since when does their lawbreaking authorize yours?

Now the Parker Brothers game has “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, but life doesn’t, and the responsible courts certainly haven’t.

MS will pay any legal penalties for any illegal practices as determined by a court, but they didn’t deputize you to impose any punishments.

This Is A Job for Judge Judy!

If I were head of Microsoft Anti-Piracy Division, I wouldn’t try to prosecute people in real courts. I’d just bring a bunch of them over to Judge Judy (and equivalents).

Then they could try all these arguments out and millions could watch them get flattened like pancakes.

Actually, a lot of these arguments rather resemble the kinds of arguments losing defendants use on those court shows. They boil down to “well, I don’t think so” and those defendants find out real quickly how much their opinion is worth.

And that’s why I keep talking about these things. People have all sorts of strange beliefs about law and how it applies to them that wouldn’t hold up two seconds in court, just like the defendants on Judge Judy.

The longer I do this, the more I realize how much people react emotionally to these sorts of issues. Now maybe I’m a bit on the Vulcan side, but there are some areas in life where this is just not a good idea, and legal matters are one of them.

Realistically, it’s very unlikely you’ll end up in Club Fed over this, but if your general attitude in life is “I am the law,” the odds on you saying “I fought the law, and the law won” increases dramatically.

Now I can’t stop you from deluding yourself. All I can do is tell you that you are, and someday, in some area of life if not this one, that attitude is likely to cost you.

If your reaction is “Don’t tell me what to do,” well, that’s what laws are for, to tell you what to do and punish you if you don’t, no matter what your opinion is on the matter.

Email Ed


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