You know the standard wisdom: Never send a flame email when you’re angry. I think the same rule applies to blogging, which is why I didn’t post anything yesterday. I spent way too much time yesterday writing about an encounter with the dark side of Microsoft—you know, the old culture of “We’re Microsoft and you’re not; so if you don’t like what we deign to give you, you’ll just have to get over it because we aren’t changing it.” I ended up trashing the rant I wrote, partly because it was incoherent and partly because it wasn’t constructive. I won’t mention the name of the condescending person or the technology involved, but I will say I run into these remnants of the bad old Microsoft more on the Vista and Office side than on the server side. As I’ve written before, I think the server product teams at Microsoft rely on IT customer satisfaction and have learned to respect (or at least pretend to respect) their customers’ feedback out of necessity. I have to think that the arrogance of people working on the traditionally consumer-oriented products will catch up with them eventually.
In response to Bill Stewart’s message about Vista activation and the implication that Microsoft doesn’t trust its customers (see http://www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/94839/Me_too_I_want_an_iPhone.html), David Lazar, a director in the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) group, briefed me on the program. The gist of the briefing is that Microsoft acknowledges that anti-piracy programs are designed to protect Microsoft from losing money when people intentionally or unintentionally buy illegal copies of Vista or Office—although I have to wonder how much money Microsoft actually loses when people in Third World countries buy a copy of Vista for a couple bucks on the street. Seriously. Would such purchasers ever be able to afford a legal version?
However, WGA, Lazar emphasized, is not just a benefit to Microsoft but also a protection for consumers and IT. Pirated software has been shown to create vulnerabilities and infect systems with malware. I asked Lazar how often IT pros actually purchase software through questionable sources and he agreed that piracy affects IT pros indirectly or through unauthorized volume license keys.
Lazar acknowledged that Microsoft needs to talk directly with IT about IT issues with WGA. I’ll keep you informed if Lazar’s idea of explaining things in a Microsoft blog comes to fruition.
In the meantime, here are some links that you might find useful:
Genuine Microsoft Software Home Page: www.microsoft.com/genuine
Risks of Counterfeit Information: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/update/wga
Genuine Windows Vista Experience: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/oct06/10-04SoftwareProtection.mspxhttp://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/oct06/10-04SoftwareProtection.mspx