Vista’s TUR-DRM In Action
This blog posting at the Washington Post describes exactly the reason why so many people will be switching to Mac OS X and Linux over the next couple of years. A known legitimate installation of Windows Vista suddenly went into Reduced Functionality Mode. Now, I am not sure what programs are blocked in this mode, but I think it is most of them.
Now imagine this: Your timesheet or invoice or something else that is critical to your wallet is due at 5 PM today, with its supporting data that is saved on your hard drive, but when you arrive at work, your computer has switched into this mode and the only thing you are allowed to do with it is login to pay-me-again.microsoft.com with your credit card number. The IT staff cannot help you, except to call the supplier of the computer and wait for them to decide how to fix things without wrecking all of your saved data.
How Vista came to this conclusion was not clear. The Gateway laptop didn’t have the company’s standard configuration; Gateway’s PR department had put a stock install of Vista on the thing. But Vista had not alerted me of any problems prior to flipping into the “reducedfunctionality” pay-up-or-else mode. (What a great phrase that is! The operating system didn’t kneecap the machine, it merely “reduced” its “functionality.”)
Anyway, Gateway’s publicists had no idea how this could have happenedeither, so the only thing I could do was ship the laptop back to thecompany and let their folks figure it out.
You know that Microsoft isn’t going to be concerned about getting you access to your computer. They just want to warn you to pay up “or you could get hoit!”
So you see? Somewhere, someone high up in that company decided that end-users and support staff like you and I are their enemies. Surely they check to see whether the software is stolen when you first activate it. So why do they feel the need to come along after the fact and revoke your license?
They like to call this “digital rights management,” or DRM. I think it is more accurately called “technological usage restrictions,” or TUR. In either case, this is NOT going to affect the organized rings of thieves that breaking through this kind of “protection” and then selling the products for greatly-reduced prices. They could, of course, reduce their pricing, so that the thieves make less money selling stolen software (and perhaps even have to get honest jobs). But instead, they choose to take it out on innocent users like the Russian teacher that has been in the news.
Hopefully, more and more people will awaken from their slumber this year and the next, choosing to purchase computers that come pre-installed with Linux, Mac OS X, or even PC-BSD. In this way, the pirates at the helm in Redmond may see that it is end-users that they need to court and please, not the content cartels.
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