Microsoft just released the licensing agreements for Windows Vista, and I read them carefully. Buried in the fine print is a dramatic change in licensing terms from the Windows XP versions. Think you can transfer a retail Windows license to any machine you want? Think again.
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Two months ago, I documented widespread problems with Microsoft's update servers. No problem, they said. Everything's perfectly normal. Today, those same servers are offline and technical teams are "working around the clock" to fix them. Hmmm.
Much of the DRM code in Windows Vista is a straightforward upgrade of the XP infrastructure. But one key chunk of code is brand new. It prevents tampering with the Windows Kernel. Does it also prevent tampering with new hardware and software designed to handle protected digital media?
Since when did the criteria for being named a Microsoft MVP include pushing adware, spyware, and malware? That's what a couple of longtime MVPs want to know after seeing a controversial software developer receive official recognition from Microsoft despite longstanding complaints about his product.
Will Microsoft ever get WGA right? Last week, I reported on a mysterious outbreak of failures that were causing legitimate Windows XP users to fail validation and be tagged as pirates. This week, Microsoft's support forum is awash in reports from corporate and academic customers that volume license keys (VLKs) are suddenly being reported as blocked.
For Windows Vista, Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its Windows Genuine Advantage program, complete with a new name: the Windows Software Protection Platform. This time, they mean business. Corporate customers have a new Volume Activation program, and anyone accused of piracy will be thrown into "reduced functionality" mode. Technically, it's not a kill switch, but for your Windows PC it's a near-death experience.
If you allow yourself to look at big corporations through the filter of conventional wisdom, all sorts of distortions emerge. Case in point: A couple of premier Web 2.0 sites this week praised Yahoo and Apple for "getting" what Google and Microsoft don't. But a closer look at the example they used shows that it's just business as usual.
Another Firefox update. Ho-hum. Oh. Wait. This one's an official release from ... Microsoft? If there's a browser war going on, someone forgot to tell the folks who are supposed to be doing the fighting.
Microsoft continues to insist that there are no problems with its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program. But pesky customers keep spoiling the illusion by posting problem reports documenting the flaws. One recent example comes from a hospital, where doctors in the operating room can't view X-rays online until they click past bogus messages warning them that they may be victims of software piracy and demanding that they Get Genuine.
As I noted at the end of my earlier post on WGA failures, I contacted Microsoft last week and offered to brief them on my findings so that I could include a response in the original story. Despite repeated follow-ups, they declined that opportunity.