The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 October 2006

Coming soon: Windows 1984

"Forbidding Vistas," says Wendy Seltzer as she decodes the next Windows End-User Licensing Agreement:

It is unlikely that a home user looking for a computer operating system has any of these "features" of the Vista EULA in mind:
  1. Self-limiting software
  2. Vanishing functionality through invalidation
  3. Removal of media capabilities
  4. Problem-solving prohibited
  5. Limited mobility
  6. One transfer only
       and a bonus,
  7. Restrictions on your rights to use MPEG-4 video

Number 4 perplexes me greatly: "You may not work around any technical limitations in the software," it says. The proper response to that, of course, is "Wanna bet?"

Users never asked for these impossible limitations. Microsoft decided unilaterally to add them, claiming it could abrogate personal ownership, fair use, and first sale rights because "The software is licensed, not sold." If Microsoft faced real market competition on the home desktop, users could vote with their wallets.

On the other hand, those Macs look better every day. Even Trini, our IT tech, who knows Windows backwards and forwards — backwards works better, she'll tell you — is contemplating going Apple.

Posted at 6:18 PM to PEBKAC

I'm thinking about finally making a serious try of Linux. I've dabbled slightly, but never ran it on a machine I was actively using.

I see XP as the Office 2000 of Microsoft Windows. Nobody has any reason to want the next one. And really, 2000 was the Office 97 of Windows; you could stop there and remain stable and happy.

What a weird model. You have an incentive to make software so much better and more compelling than the prior release that people will want to upgrade, while not making any release so good that you'll have a hard time persuading people to upgrade. Vista looks to be one of those brick walls, and they only make it worse by going all license heil at us, and by making the cost even more prohibitive than ever. Plus it's a dramatic enough change to be a de facto version 1.0 package, to be fun for the early adopters to break and made stable possibly not until de facto version 2. Or beyond.

I'll probably end up with a Vista machine sooner rather than later just because I'll have to learn it enough to support it, but that may be my only reason. It certainly won't be because I "agree" to the license terms.

Posted by: Jay at 8:37 PM on 25 October 2006
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