It has been in the news this week that Microsoft, with the upcoming release of Windows Vista (hopefully it will happen as planned), will be getting tougher on the pirates. I have read the news from various news sources and have read a couple of comments on the same and mind you there were loads of comments to go through. The new anti-piracy measures are not necessarily new to Vista only but the real difference is that they are build into the OS and hence will most likely have a much profound effect as time passes.
To state the obvious: Microsoft owns Windows and it is their business model to make money out of it but piracy gets in the way of that objective. This is not to say that I particularly like the way Microsoft does business and indeed the price they charge for Windows.
With Vista, Microsoft will require that OS be activated with a valid key and the anti-piracy technologies will continuously check to ensure that the key is valid. The part which gets me is the restrictions they have put in place if the license key is not valid: they will give a user a grace period of 30 days to get a valid key and then allow them an hour of browsing before shutting down the machine.
So, whose machine is it that the Microsoft is shutting down? I have not tested this new anti-piracy technology but I hope that they have an option for the user to remove Windows Vista from the machine all together. I mean, lets face it whether the copy of Windows is pirated or not, Microsoft does not own the hardware on which the OS runs and hence has no right deciding out right that you will not use that hardware while not providing you with the appropriate option to remove the OS from your hardware.
I am a student and as is the case with many students, I don’t have the money to hand over to Microsoft so that they give me their blessings to use their OS. The money a student can put together can afford him/her a great assembly of hardware and if the seller of the hardware says he can install a copy of Windows without increasing the price, then that what happens. That is the easiest scenario of how a person (a student) gets a pirated copy of Windows. With the new anti-piracy technology in Windows Vista, Microsoft will be demanding money from this struggling student before he can use Windows. It is only fair that Microsoft, while fighting piracy also provides the option to remove a copy of Windows Vista that does not have a valid license key.
There are free, easily accessible OS such as Ubuntu Linux and these can serve as good enough replacements for Windows Vista. At the end of the day, as a desktop OS Ubuntu has come a long way and will continue to improve as time passes. So to all the cash strapped students who can’t and/or won’t get around Microsoft anti-piracy technology, get yourself a copy of Ubuntu Linux and install it on your hardware. And if you are a computer science student, you can donate some of your expertise in developing an application that is missing in Ubuntu to make it better or better yet improve an existing application. You get the benefit of applying the theories you have read in books and heard in lectures.