Posts with tag "Microsoft"

PatchGuard – another viewpoint

While PatchGuard; Microsoft’s protection scheme for the main OS kernel in Vista, has been raising the hackles of a few security software vendors the Hardware 2.0 blog on ZDNet suggests that PatchGuard is far more reaching than just OS security.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes the article author maintains that is has more to do with DRM (Digital Rights Management) than it does security. Which he says will lead to the most locked down Windows OS to date – albeit the 64bit version.

In order to create a protected path between software DRM components and the system hardware, Microsoft has to make sure that third-party code can’t be allowed to insert itself within the media path, because this could intercept protected content and allow leakage.  Make no mistake,  Microsoft is positioning Windows Vista as a safe platform for the delivery of protected media content, not as a platform to protect you.

I’m not sure I really follow his reasoning here; or whether he is insinuating that the security flap over PatchGuard is nothing more than a red herring so that MS can ensconce DRM protection from the core up without showing its hand.

Either way I still find it strange that the moment that MS has done something like PatchGuard to protect the OS core; which they have been hounded to do by security firms for years, in order to protect the user everyone is getting pissed off.

Full Article

Vista, EULA’s … and the rest of us.

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat – I think that the current wording and usage of EULA (End Users License Agreements) is nothing more than a prime example of Dire Straits song title Money for Nothing.

Depending on the software company they are the most restrictive language to come out of a lawyer’s mouth and it continually amazes me that we click that install button every time knowing that we have spent good money and really have absolutely nothing to show for it.

Can you imagine the uproar if you had signed on the dotted line for a new car, committed yourself to paying for it and then the salesman’s says – “Oh by the way before you can drive the car off the lot you have to sign this EULA (just substitute any car company for a software company in just about any EULA).

You can bet Ford would have loved to have something like that during the time the Pinto’s were blowing up; or Firestone when their tires were having blowouts left right and center.

Now being upset about EULA’s is really nothing new; after all they’ve been around for almost as long as we’ve been installing software. However this latest growing uproar is because of what is being written regarding the EULA that is supposedly shipping with the release of Vista; and to anyone that has taken the time to read any of the factual reports about its contents you will see that it is living up to the reputation of restrictive legalese.

We all bitch about it and threaten that XP will be our operating system for life; or we’re going to switch to something else but in reality nothing will change except the weight of our wallets and that is a shame.

It’s too bad because I believe that it would be possible to make a change here and one that wouldn’t just affect Microsoft but all software companies that employ such legalese strangleholds on our software.

How?

Well for one act like an intelligent community of computer users and not a bunch of hax0r wannabe’s that seem to have forgotten English 101 and inundate every feedback pipeline available to Microsoft. That means their sales, support and developer feedback avenues. Let them know that your are fed up.

Create a nice polite form letter explaining exactly how you feel about their Vista EULA; hell all their EULA’s for that matter, then save it to your desktop where it will be handy and then every time you are on a Microsoft related website look for a feedback/contact link and send them your letter. If you can’t be bothered to take the time to do that then you rightly deserve the EULA you get.

And just to help you out here is a list of Microsoft related sites and/or email link:

MSDN Blogs – everyone of those blogs belong to a MS developer
TechNet Blogs – everyone of those blogs belong to an MS tech type person
MS Contact Form Letter – Main MS Contact Us form page
Vista Innovate On Us Contact Page

There are many more out there and if you care about your rights as a computer user maybe you will take the time and add your voice to the crowd that wishes Microsoft would wake up and smell the coffee – we’re forking over good hard earned money Microsoft quit screwing with us…..

Sanity and stupidity – Vista Pricing

Since the accidental (ya right) publishing of the Vista price listing on the Microsoft Canada website everyone has been bitching about the $399.00 price tag that is being quoted as the final price.

Well get a grip of your shorts and calm down a minute and realize that this price is 1- still months away from final release and as such could very well change and 2 – this is for the Vista Ultimate build release which really will only be of interest to maybe 5% of actual purchasers.

I stress actual for a very good reason and this is where the sanity comes in.

What we have to do first is breakdown the future buyers into two main groups; well three if you count OEMs, and they are:

  • Corporate
  • Personal Use

Now right off the bat we can ignore the corporate sales as you can be sure that as with all previous versions of Windows they will have a totally separate pricing scheme that has already probably been agreed upon.

So we are left with the personal user segment and this too can be separated into two distinct groups:

  • I bought a computer and I just want it to run
  • Tweaker geek’s  – don’t touch anything I will build it myself

The first group as always will make up the majority of this demographic and as far as they are concerned that since the operating system comes with the computer it didn’t cost them anything. This sense of it being free is regardless of the fact that the OEMs incorporate what Vista will cost them; and you can be assured that there is no way in hell that it is the same as retail, into the retail cost of the computer.

Now if you accept the fact that the possible percentage of the first groups will be in the range of 80 to 90% of all possible personal users that leaves the second group sitting at 10 to 20% that will have to pay retail prices for Vista. After all tweaker’s and power users really do make up an extremely small percentage of users – even if we don’t like to think so.

As far as Microsoft is concerned this small minority is really only a blip on their sales radar and there will be enough sales and eBay deals that they can be kept happy once they get past  the first blush of release.

And really if you look at the version that are going to be available for Vista and then compare them against their XP counterparts the prices really aren’t that much different that what we were paying for XP (a good article on the comparison can be found here).

The only difference is that with Vista we have the new Ultimate version; which is the price that everyone is focusing on. As I stated earlier though this version will only appeal to an even smaller percentage of that 10 or 20% market.

So in reality; and once you have gotten your panties unbunched, the prices as they have been leaked really aren’t as heart pounding end of the earth and computing as we know it.

Now comes the stupidity part – the price of Windows; or any software for that matter, itself.

At one time this type of pricing scheme could be justified as there were actual manuals to have printed, cardboard boxes to be made and truckloads of floppies to be formatted. So there were a lot of real costs associated with releasing a software package.

Today in the age of high speed Internet connections and the total decline in brick and mortar type sales of software this archaic method amounts to nothing more than wallet robbing.

When was the last time you even purchased a software package from a store let alone get any real manuals other than an Internet website address to download a PDF file from.

You don’t think that the sale of Vista would be possible as an download only – think again and just look at the popularity of the Vista RC2 release. They met their self imposed limit of 200,000 downloads in a matter of days; and what did it cost them – their bandwidth; which is a write-off as a business expense so really it didn’t cost them a thing.

Now lets say they had decided to charge 10.00 to download Vista RC2. Sure it might have taken a day or two longer to reach the 200,000 due to people bitching about paying for beta product but they still would have made it and on top of that made 2 million dollars in the process … not bad for under a week.

The day of needing a brick and mortar release of software is fast fading and so is the whole basis of pricing your product based on an antiquated distribution model.

So here’s an idea Microsoft and I won’t charge you a cent for it.

At some point shortly after the official release to the public of Vista in all its flavors Microsoft has a sale for a 24hr period where a person could purchase a licence for Vista Home for $25.00 with a maximum of 5 licenses per person (with a similar stepped price for other versions of Vista) and then they could download at their leisure a copy of Vista to burn at home.

In one fell swoop Microsoft would have the greatest marketing coup and establish an extremely strong foothold for the new operating system.

At the same time I would really suggest a true re-evaluation of their whole pricing scheme for the home users and one that isn’t based on an old and fading hard copy distribution system and its costs.

Would they do this … not likely but I think they would be stupid not to at least entertain the possibility given the massive PR boost and goodwill it would bring them. Not to mention the solidification of the Windows home users desktop against a growing alternative OS marketplace.

MS getting ready to shoot itself again…


UPDATE (Oct 17):

Ed Bott – the so-called pundit referred to by Thurrott comes back with pen drawn and ready to defend his original statements and basically tell Thurrott that he’s been drining too much kool-aid. You can read Ed’s response here.


 


UPDATE (Oct 16):
Paul Thurrott has just posted what is suppose to be the last word clarification of the whole EULA matter. You can read it here  

 


The word is starting to getting out about the changes coming with the EULA (End Users License Agreement) that will be a part of your Vista purchase; and the reaction is not a good one and bound to get worse.

From Ed Bott’s blog at ZDNet:

But I have yet to see anyone point out one significant change in retail licensing terms. Think you can transfer that retail license to any machine you want? Think again

and

With a retail version of Windows XP, there are no restrictions on the number of times you can transfer the software from one computer to another in your household or office. That’s about to change for the worse in Vista, with only one lifetime transfer allowed. It makes the outrageous price difference between retail and OEM copies even more difficult to justify.

(Full article)

Then over at the Houston Chronicle TechBlog Dwight Silverman has this to say:

Boettcher was very aware of the concerns over the licensing terms, and said Microsoft is listening closely to them, but at this point the company doesn’t plan to back away. He said the issue will affect only a small group of people — the average Windows user doesn’t routinely swap hardware or rebuild his/her own system. 

However, the people who do are influencers — they’re the gurus others turn to for computing help and advice. When a non-techie asks one of these folks about the wisdom of upgrading to Windows Vista, don’t you think Microsoft would want them to have as many good things to say as possible?

(Full Article)

After reading through those two articles and trying to wade through the legalize bull of the actual EULA all I can say is that Microsoft is more than deserving of the harsh words that are going to be headed its way. In one fell swoop they could ruin all the good work that Robert Scoble had done as their blogging messiah.

While there is more than enough furor being raised over the Vista pricing scheme it will pass without more than a grumble; but that is another story another day. However the Vista EULA is worth raising a big stink over (we’re already talking about it) and could turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes Microsoft could be making in the upcoming release.

Microsoft may believe that only a very small number of potential Vista users will be affected by the new restrictions contained in the EULA and that the defection of them to another operating system is something that they could take in stride. This screw ‘em attitude could potentially have some very wide and far reaching side effects. After all if the dissatisfied head to another operating system they won’t be purchasing any of the often needed Windows applications that are also sold by Microsoft. So Microsoft will not only loose out on OS income they will also loose related monies as well.

Then there is the trickle down effect that will happen as more and more people move to competing operating systems; and the software that runs on them. They tell their friends – they tell their co-workers. The word spreads and as more and more mainstream tech oriented folks find happiness in a non-Microsoft world their friends will slowly begin trying it themselves now that they have contacts who can help when needed.

If Microsoft goes ahead with this EULA you can be assured that almost over night you will see an increase in downloads of Linux distros and the purchase of Mac OSX compliant hardware. The grumbling that we saw with the XP EULA is nothing to the roar that is gaining momentum in regards to the Vista EULA and the side effects are going to far worse.

I know myself as much as I like Vista; and in all likelihood will run for good, I won’t be recommending it to any of my tech oriented friends and contacts as long as the EULA goes ahead as is.

I also know that if they go ahead with this new EULA Microsoft will exist to regret it.