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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
An interesting thing happened over the weekend: Microsoft WGA servers, used by Windows Genuine Advantage to validate Windows installations as being legitimate, crashed. For 19 hours they were apparently inaccessible.
The upshot? For 19 hours some legitimate and legal users of Microsoft Windows were being told that their copy wasn't. Their copies of Windows crippled themselves until some time after the WGA servers came back up, at which point the computer did the moral equivalent of "never mind" and returned to full functionality.
While I support attempts to stop software piracy, this isn't it folks. Tools and technology that prevent legitimate users from doing what they need to do is simply wrong. As others have suggested, imagine a coordinated attack against the WGA servers - could they really bring the majority of Windows machines to their knees? It sure looks like it.
Let's face it, honest users don't deserve this. Paying customers shouldn't have their work or livelihood put in jeopardy by ill-conceived schemes that are poorly designed to ultimately protect only Microsoft's bottom line.
It's sad. Having worked there for so many years I know that Microsoft is full of passionate people that really, honestly care about the user experience and the quality of the products that Microsoft produces. Unfortunately those folks are apparently powerless against boneheaded decisions that lead to things like Windows Genuine Advantage.
WGA is trying to control the uncontrollable - not unlike any another form of digital rights management, if you ask me.
Ultimately WGA is perhaps better termed "LGA" or "MGA" for Linux or Mac Genuine Advantage - because it's those systems that apparently have the advantage. If this weekend's activity is any indication, if Microsoft continues to use heavy-handed tactics that harm honest customers and put those customers at risk, then they my find those same honest customers becoming honest customers of other solutions.
More and more, Linux and the Mac are viable alternatives to Windows, but Microsoft certainly isn't acting like it. In fact, this weekend probably did more for Microsoft alternatives than they could have hoped for themselves.
Microsoft needs to spend more time actually thinking of its customers than trying to figure out how to spin broken anti-piracy solutions into some so-called "advantage".
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11785 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,200 technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.
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