Mom Faces Massive File-Sharing Fines After DOJ Sides With RIAA - InformationWeek
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Mom Faces Massive File-Sharing Fines After DOJ Sides With RIAA

CMP Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Thursday, Dec 6, 2007

Editor's Note

Introducing Windows Vista, Freeware Version

After hearing that Microsoft has decided to finally do away with Windows Genuine Advantage, I realized there was one enormous repercussion: It puts Windows Vista and Linux on a far more even footing than ever before. And it essentially makes Vista into freeware, but that's just a handy side effect.

First, the details. After a lot of negative feedback from all quarters about how Windows Genuine Advantage was, quite simply, too flaky to work properly in a real-world scenario, Microsoft has decided to change the way WGA works in Windows Vista. Right now, if you don't choose to activate a system after the timeout period, or if it's shown not to be genuine, the system gives you a three-day warning period and then enters "reduced functionality mode." After Vista SP1, the worst that will happen is a warning notice that forces a 15-second delay at login, and a reminder every hour on the hour to activate.

In short, after Vista SP1, anyone can run a fully functional copy of Windows Vista without having to pay for it.

That said, I'm fairly certain that Microsoft knows this, and is, in a way, banking on it to offset the growth of Linux. You'd never get it to admit it, of course.

First, Microsoft would rather run the risk of losing a little money upfront at the cost of having that many more copies of Windows running in whatever form. What people tend to forget is that as long as someone, anyone, is running Windows, even if they didn't pay for it, Microsoft still wins. They're providing that much more of a space for Windows software of any kind to run in, which for Microsoft is always a winning proposition.

Think about it: That many more copies of Windows means that many more copies of Office, that many more copies of the development environments used to build Windows software, that many more copies of games that require Windows, and so on. All of that is, in one form or another, money back into Microsoft's pocket. Yes, Windows programs also do run on Wine -- but I suspect people are not going to bother to try running Wine in Linux if Windows itself is that much more readily available anyway.

For more about why killing WGA makes sense for Microsoft visit the InformationWeek Blog.

Serdar Yegulalp

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