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Windows Vista and software freedom

When you buy Windows Vista, you’ll be purchasing a product that is, to borrow a phrase from the anti-DRM guys, defective by design.

Microsoft announced enhanced anti-piracy measures for Windows Vista today. If Vista detects a pirated computer, it will lock down your system to a reduced functionality mode after a certain amount of time. And lock-down means the following: critical applications like Microsoft Office will refuse to start, and you’ll be limited to browsing the Web for one hour a day. This despite the fact that their current WGA program has been known to produce a high rate of false positives (detecting your software as pirated even when it’s not). And once your computer is locked down, your choices are either to go online and purchase a valid key; or, if you’re running genuine software, prove it to Microsoft support who will then hopefully activate it for you.

For the first time, your computer, all your data on it, and the computer’s very operation are at the mercy of Microsoft. If Microsoft feels that your OS is pirated, you will not be able to edit or view that presentation you were working on – even though that is unequivocally your own work. Whether you have an urgent assignment to submit tomorrow or you’re trying to save a patient’s life now – Vista will not care. And since the company has indicated an intent to deliberately break your system, you depend only on their good will to not interfere more drastically with it.

The dictionary should have a new definition of irony.

In our society, if you’re accused of killing another human being, you’re innocent until proven guilty. If you’re accused of having illegitimate software, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

…I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.

— Morpheus, The Matrix