Posted 05 July 2006 - 09:13 PM
As much as I hate the fallacy of slippery-slope arguments, I'm going to present one here:
First, they came out with this great idea of activation for preventing piracy. You have to activate your copy of Windows within thirty days or it stops working.
Many thought that it was really an annoyance, that the product key we used in the past was enough. But we clucked and shook our heads and said, "Well, we all understand that piracy is theft."
Then, we were offered free programs. Microsoft Antispyware. But there was a catch: you had to let Microsoft install a tool on your computer that would check for the validity of the operating system. OK, so the activation scheme seems to have run into a snag: the operating system is still being pirated. But it's still more annoyance. The already-clogged internet's bandwidth is being used for the express purpose of protecting Microsoft's profit margin, which certainly isn't hurting.
But again, that wasn't enough: now, you get regular injections of their latest anti-piracy software when you thought you were getting some sort of protection. Indeed, they're presenting it as if it were protection for the user! It's installed without the average user's even knowing about it, because of the automatic updates, and it phones home, again without the average user's knowing it's doing it. This is deceptive, and again, a waste of bandwidth as millions upon millions of computers are phoning home all at once. And we're supposed to trust that they haven't made some secret deal (Yes, going into wild conspiracy theories now!) with the government to search for keywords or something. We all know how the current administration loves to spy without anyone knowing about it, how they like to use banks and demand information from other sources, such as ISP's - we're supposed to trust Microsoft that they aren't gathering personal information.
So here's the slippery-slope part: what's next? They've gotten this far. And let's face it, they're a monopoly. They know they've got us. Sure, we can switch to Linux and abandon our most-cherished programs for an operating system that we don't understand. I have no doubt that the latest antics of Microsoft are giving some folks the idea that it's finally time to switch.
But if the big giant heads in Washington get the idea that they can pressure MS into using our computers for information, what could we do, and how would we know? And if MS wants to escalate the program further to gather more information about us, what's the difference between that and Dell putting MyWay Search Bar on their computers? The consumer's desires no longer matter - the corporations get what they want.
It's not that it's just a small annoyance; it's that we're all being treated as potential criminals. The lie that Microsoft's purpose is to keep pirated copies of their software from causing their users problems is just too ludicrous to be borne. Or did I read that wrong?
What's next? We need to find out what programs you're using to make sure they aren't in conflict? Hey, isn't that serial number on that 2000 version of Word the same as the one on six other computers? Well, that's piracy - we'll have to shut you down. We need to watch for terrorist keywords. Whoops - you just used a word that is questionable. Expect to see men in black suits at your door presently.
My opinion is that Microsoft should stay out of the police business and just build the software, but I fear that we're entering a new era of corporate domination. Do we own the software?
MS EULA excerpts:
1.1 Installation and use. You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Software on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device ("Workstation Computer"). The Software may not be used by more than one processor at any one time on any single Workstation Computer.
3. RESERVATION OF RIGHTS AND OWNERSHIP. Microsoft reserves all rights not expressly granted to you in this EULA. The Software is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws and treaties. Microsoft or its suppliers own the title, copyright, and other intellectual property rights in the Software. The Software is licensed, not sold.
No, we don't.