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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Software Arrogances

I have four computers, two each in two buildings, that I use actively -- or rather three, because my wife uses the fourth, but I am the one maintaining it. None are networked -- one of my forms of virus protection, under my impression that as yet no one has devised a computer virus that can walk, run, or fly, especially between buildings that are 200 feet apart. However, as I only use one at a time, and then for just a small part of the day, they are essentially just one computer, in which, however, I take a special pride, as I put all four of them together.

So I consider it a gross imposition by the millionaires and billionaires at Microsoft that, unlike the case with all their previous operating systems, I am "allowed" to put Windows XP on only one machine. That means that I've been forced for some time to stick with Windows 98SE on two of my computers, and to reinstall XP anew every month on a third, while the fourth machine, the one used by my wife, contains the activated XP.

This article explains the situation, and, after describing how XP has a way of checking your equipment to see that it remains the same as when XP was installed, the article contains the following statement:

At subsequent boots, Windows checks to see that it is still running on hardware that it can recognise as being the same. If it does not match well enough, you will be unable to do more than backup files until you call Microsoft to explain — for example, that the old machine broke down and had to be rebuilt — and get a new release code.

I am sorry, but that galls me no end. I'm not usually the stubborn sort, but I would absolutely refuse to call Microsoft and tell them anything, any more than I would buy four copies of XP. I'm not a company. I'm just one weirdo who likes to buy unusual computer cases and then can't help filling them up with components.

I understand that piracy is a problem and that this is Microsoft's idea of an anti-piracy measure, but in a company overrun with thousands of millionaires, I would doubt that they've ever been that seriously threatened by software piracy. In addition, I've bought a lot of software in my time, and XP and its upcoming successor, Vista, are the only programs that I've seen or heard of that impose on the users this much. And I'm certain the only reason they're able to get away with it is that, with the exception of Linux, which still has its drawbacks, Microsoft has a monopoly on PC's with its Windows.

This is arrogance in action, and it can be seen often in other forms in the computer world, especially in software whose makers don't trust the users who have paid their good money for it, not only in the field of piracy but also with regard to the users' common sense, so that these makers become like people with an excessive hormone count who feel that they have the right to make your decisions for you. You know the type. I had a friend once who, if he thought you were too slow in honking at other drivers, would reach out and hit your automobile horn for you. That kind.


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