I was curious to read today about Microsoft’s new Windows Genuine Advantage changes coming in Windows Vista Service Pack 1.
The current draconian system of locking down machines that appear to be running pirated versions of Windows has not been well received, apparently, especially a few weeks back when a buggy update was released prematurely and left thousands of “genuine” customers without working copies of Windows. So Microsoft is softening the approach, as described in the article linked above.
In the new version, PC users found to have a pirated copy of Vista will continue to be able to use their computers, but with unmistakable signs their operating system is a fake. The desktop wallpaper will turn black, and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time they log in, they will be prompted to buy legitimate software, and every hour, a reminder bubble will appear on the screen.
Users with a high tolerance for irritation can put off switching to genuine software indefinitely, but those who relent and buy a real copy of Windows can do so at reduced prices — $119 for Windows Vista Home Premium, half the regular retail price.
OK, well that does seem to be an improvement, but… wait a minute! Read that second paragraph closely. Surely it can’t mean what I think it means, but it sounds like what they’re saying is that if you pirate Windows first, and then after enduring the automated nagging for an indefinite period of time, you’re entitled to buy Windows for half the regular price paid by loyal customers who purchase a legitimate copy up front.
Well, at least it’s consistent with Vista’s backwards approach to system security. (Throw up excessive warnings to the user about nearly everything they’re about to do, but don’t actually restrict their access to those things based on permissions.)