Microsoft Decides It's Better To Switch Than Fight - InformationWeek

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Commentary
10/5/2007
12:08 PM
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Microsoft Decides It's Better To Switch Than Fight

While software piracy is a problem that should be taken seriously, it seems that many companies have placed the burden of dealing with anti-piracy inconveniences on the individual user -- sort of like handcuffing the guy who forgot to pay for a lollipop while ignoring the safecracker in the back of the store.

While software piracy is a problem that should be taken seriously, it seems that many companies have placed the burden of dealing with anti-piracy inconveniences on the individual user -- sort of like handcuffing the guy who forgot to pay for a lollipop while ignoring the safecracker in the back of the store.Microsoft followed that philosophy with its Windows Genuine Advantage program. The idea was that, in order to fight piracy and make sure every copy of XP was genuine, users who wanted to install or update Windows software would have to run WGA first. If your copy of XP failed the test and you had bought it (or the system) in good faith, you had three options: (1) figure out what had gone wrong with the OS install and fix it; (2) apply to have Microsoft send you a legitimate copy; or (3) go out and buy one. All of which were a royal pain in the neck.

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't seem to realize there was another option: (4) don't bother to install the software. It seems very probable now that this is what happened with the company's latest version of its browser, Internet Explorer 7. Many, if not most, of the users who either failed the WGA test (or got antsy at the notion of testing their OS for legitimacy) probably simply shrugged and either stuck with Internet Explorer 6, or, if they wanted tabbed browsing, went off to download Firefox, Opera, or one of the other alternatives.

However, now Microsoft has removed WGA from IE7, and all those recalcitrant XP users owners can download the browser -- or, if they don't feel like taking the trouble, Microsoft will be happy to deliver it to them via Automatic Updates. At the least, that will considerably expand IE7's installed base -- which is, after all, the point of the exercise. Whether it will persuade those who moved to another browser to switch back remains to be seen.

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