The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just Say NO to Windows Vista

There are two major reasons, and one major warning, why Windows Vista should be avoided.

First, the EULA, Product Activation, and the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) malware. These are Microsoft's anti-piracy measures, which are intrusive, inconvenient, and draconian. For example, look at this End User License Agreement (EULA) nonsense...

4. USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.
So you can't create a virtual image using Home Basic ($199) or Home Premium ($239). However, the EULA does allow you to use Vista Business ($299) or Vista Ultimate ($399). Hmmm... I wonder why? It couldn't possibly be because those editions cost more, could it? Wanna bet? The fact that there aren't any technical restrictions in place to prevent users from loading Home editions into VMWare, only legal and support barriers, sure lends credence to that supposition.


a. Software Other than Windows Anytime Upgrade. The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the "licensed device."

b. Windows Anytime Upgrade Software. The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time, but only if the license terms of the software you upgraded from allows reassignment.
As I read this, you go to the store and buy a copy of Vista, which you install on a PC you had in your office. A year later, another PC becomes available that's a bit more up to date, so you decide to transfer your Vista license to that machine.

You're now finished with that Vista license. Done. Game over, man. Whether you shelled out $199 for Home Basic or broke the bank with the $399 Ultimate makes no difference. You've reassigned the license twice, and that's all that Microsoft allows.

Here's something else that should piss you off:

Just look at these excerpts from their Q&A document...

9. Can I transfer my operating system license from an old PC to a new one?
ANSWER. Not unless it was purchased as a Full-Packaged Product from a retail store (i.e., Windows in a box). Current OEM licenses for all Microsoft operating system products are not transferable from one machine to another. The End User License Agreement (EULA) governs the terms for transfer of licenses. Some EULAs for copies of certain older OEM operating system products (i.e., MS-DOS®, Windows® 3.1, and Windows for Workgroups 3.1) distributed in 1995 or earlier may permit transfer of the OEM operating system software license under limited circumstances. (See Software Product Transfer section of your End User License Agreement.)

10. If I “retire” a PC with an OEM license on it, can I use that software on a new PC?
ANSWER. No. To put it simply, OEM product is “married” to the original PC on which it was installed. Current OEM licenses are not transferable from one machine to another. The software cannot be moved from PC to PC, even if the original PC it was installed on is no longer in use. This is true for all OEM software – operating systems and applications.

11. Rather than purchase completely new PCs, my organization performs in-place upgrades to the hardware on many of our computers. We often times only replace the motherboard, processor, and memory. Since the COA is still on the case and the OS is still installed on the hard drive, this computer is still licensed, right?
ANSWER. Generally, you may upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on your computer and maintain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software, with the exception of an upgrade or replacement of the motherboard. An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a "new personal computer." Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from one computer to another. Therefore, if the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect then a new computer has been created, the original license expires, and a new full operating system license (not upgrade) is required. This is true even if the computer is covered under Software Assurance or other Volume License programs.

Sheesh. This EULA crap makes my blood boil.

As for WGA, look at this:

Windows: Genuinely Disadvantaged

If a piece of software quietly installed itself, couldn't be removed, and phoned home with information about your system, you'd probably call it spyware. Microsoft has another name for it: Windows Genuine Advantage. Last April, Microsoft began distributing WGA as a "critical" Windows update that transmitted data back to Redmond after every reboot and nagged owners of counterfeit copies of XP (and some legit ones) to pony up for the genuine article.

WGA's installation and disclosure process caused angry users to sue the software giant. Microsoft backed off, slightly, by letting people shut off the nagging and reducing how often the software phoned home. But it still maintains that WGA exists to protect us from the evils of Windows piracy.

- from PC World

Also, these anti-piracy measures violate consumers' fair use rights. As a consumer, I have the right to install the operating system on more than one home computer, as long as I am the only user. Product Activation and WGA prevent this.


Second, the prices of the Windows products. Windows Vista Home Premium will cost $239. That's just the Home Premium version. The full, professional version with all the bells and whistles, Windows Vista Ultimate, will cost $399!

Compare those prices to the price of Mac OS X ($129) or Linux (FREE!). And neither of these products have the draconian EULA or intrusive anti-piracy measures of Windows Vista. Morever, both OS X and Linux are the full, professional versions, with all the bells and extra charge!

Microsoft will also make available "upgrade" versions of Vista which will require that you already have Windows installed. The upgrade versions cannot be installed by themselves only. For this reason, the upgrade versions are not desirable. Nevertheless, the upgrade versions cost $159 for Home Premium and $259 for Ultimate. Did I mention that Linux is free?

Oh, and one more thing: in addition to Vista's pricing, there's also the hardware upgrade costs. For example, the Aero graphical interface requires a pretty substantial video card for its 3D and transparency effects.


And the major warning? This first version of Windows Vista, "Version 1.0," will have numerous problems, such as poor device driver support, application compatibility issues, and the bugs and quirks that are an inevitable part of any "Version 1.0" product. I strongly recommend that, should you decide to adopt Windows Vista, you wait at least until Service Pack 1 comes out. I expect Service Pack 1 sometime in 2008.


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