CyberTech Rambler

June 29, 2006

Windows Genuine (Dis)Advantage becoming killer switch (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:01 pm

[Update  3 July 2006] Microsoft denied WGA becoming killer switch in future. Instead, the spokeperson says they are going to make using pirated copy “unattractive”. I need to stress that I have no problem if WGA becomes killer switch for pirated copies of Windows, I just do not want to be one of the innocent victim who owns a legal copy of window but were caught in this crossfire. As about how to make using pirated copy “unattractive”, not being able to use the computer at all sounds to me like the absolute “unattractiveness”. 🙂

Over at ZDNet, Ed Bott is running an blog about Windows Genuine (Dis)Advantage becoming a “killer switch” sometime in the near future, where users of pirated copies of Windows will be served a warning about Windows committing suicide 30 days after first detection and switch off after 30 days. This is still a rumour, but frankly nobody will be surprise if it turns out to be true.

In fact, it goes some way to explains why Microsoft did not just switch off the “calling home” feature of Windows Genuine (Dis)advantage.

Opting to switching off pirate copies of Windows is Microsoft prerogative. Pirates have no rights to use the software in the first place. However, there will be a proportion of genuine customers that got caught incorrectly in this dragnet. They will be disgruntled customers. The trick for Microsoft is to keep this population of disgruntled customers to a minimum.

Can they pull this off? May be. Being a monopoly means there is not much competition to start with so the tipping point is high. It will be in Microsoft’s advantage to set the tipping point as high as possible However, the higher this tipping point is, i.e., the more customers that got wrongly got entangled in this piracy move, the more incentive customers will have to shop for alternatives. Thus, for Microsoft, the aim is not to eliminate piracy altogether, but push the equilibrium between genuine and pirated copies to its favour.

Finally, combating piracy is a neverending process. It is a bit like natural evolution where one species evolve to counter advantages developed by another. As pirating Windows is a very profitable for pirates, I can see this killer switch castrated by pirates in matters of months.

Good Luck to Microsoft.

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