Had to buy Word XP today for a writing project. First experience with Product Activation. I’m told Windows users have to deal with this kind of nonsense all the time. It made me feel dirty just thinking that after shelling out $$$ I still had to call Microsoft and let them “uniquely identify” my PC before the software I bought would run on it.
To make matters worse, I found out that there are limits to the number of activations… in a 30-day period as well as for the lifetime of the product… and if you surpass these, you have to re-license (i.e. pay again for the software you already bought) in order to be activated. I upgrade components regularly. It’s part of the business I’m in. My PC rarely stays the same for 30 days in a row. I soon realized that the $$$ I spent on the product aren’t likely to generate much return for me, since within a few months I’d run out of activations.
But the big “I should have known” came when I realized that virtual machines (I needed to run the software in Linux) are conveniently incompatible with this type of scheme, meaning that this brand-spanking-new program I’d just bought wouldn’t run— even though it was technically compatible– simply because the product activation would refuse to identify the PC. Microsoft doesn’t want Linux users running Office any longer (because naturally we haven’t paid our “Microsoft Tax” by buying copy after copy of Windows over the years).
All I can say is that I feel sorry for all of the Windows users out there. You pay $300 for the operating system, $500 for an office suite, $100 for a money manager, $100 for a virus scanner, $700 for an image editor for a grand total of $1700 in software and then have to call five companies and promise them you’re not a pirate every time you add a little RAM, replace a hard drive, etc… and eventually, when you’ve “upgraded enough,” they won’t re-activate you until you pay them again for what you already bought, just so that you can get at your files.
As a Linux user, I get all of the above for free. Linux: $0. OpenOffice: $0. GIMP: $0. GNUCash: $0. All legal. No need for a virus scanner, you can count on one finger the number of viruses and worms that have affected Linux in the last ten years. And here’s the kicker: I never have to activate. I can mix-and-match the parts of my PC all I want and my software won’t ever start popping up dialog boxes that say: “Either you replaced a system component or you’re a filthy pirate and will go to jail/hell. Call us now and we might let you see your data again someday (after you pay a second or third time). We’ll talk.”
Microsoft = low quality artificial scarcity from thieves.
Linux = high quality infinite bounty from shared work.
No wonder the big IP companies like Microsoft are freaked out about it. We’ll destroy the ownership of thought yet. And when we do, maybe Billy G. will be first against that bloody wall.