If you hate Microsoft, don't steal their software. Hit them where it really hurts and start using open source.
Microsoft today launched Windows Genuine Advantage 1.0, a tool that verifies the authenticity of your software licence before you are allowed to download patches and updates.
In what must be applauded as a wise move, security updates are exempt from the WGA rules. This will prevent hackers from recruiting users of pirated copies for large scale zombie armies.
I know some people who will say that they like tool X or application Y, but prefer not to pay for it. I'd also like to get a new car, but prefer not to pay for it. The rules for supply and demand apply to software as much as they do for the physical world: if you really need an application, you will be prepared to pay the market price. Otherwise you probably don't need it that much.
Somehow with software (as with anything digital for that matter) we've created a situation where we feel it's OK to ignore intellectual property laws. Microsoft itself has helped create that situation with its past anti-competitive behaviour, much like the record companies fuelled file swapping with their initial refusal to offer music digitally.
If it works, the nice thing about Windows Genuine Advantage is that is will restore the balance between demand and supply. Users who feel that Windows is too expensive will go and look for less expensive alternatives, probably Linux. The same goes for Microsoft Office versus Open Office, IE and Firefox, Photoshop and Google's Picasa.
If anything, WGA can give a push to open source adoption and create some much needed momentum for Linux on the desktop. The open source community should thank Microsoft.
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