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I just read the most intriguing article about the new licensing changes to Windows Vista. According to Paul Thurrott's article on the subject, very little has changed; I beg to differ.
As Paul points out, Windows has always been fairly restrictive in it's licensing, particularly with the software purchased with a PC which is the way most of us buy Windows software. Technically, in vague terms, XP was licensed to your PC, and if you should buy a new computer without an operating system, you were not "allowed" to transfer it to the new PC.
However, this has not been the practice. Koroush Ghazi's reply to Paul's article indicates that there are at least 50 million people out there, like myself, who continually upgrade or even replace significant portions of our PC hardware on a fairly regular basis. We don't expect to dish out $300-500 a pop to buy a new copy of our Operating System every time we do this. We expect that if we purchase new components, we should be allowed to remove our copy of Windows from our old components and install in for the new ones. We do this very same thing by taking our old hard-drives and putting them in our newly upgraded/updated systems. We use our old network cards in newer machines. We use our old mouse, keyboard, monitor, and other hardware as well.
We are allowed to install our application software such as our anti-virus software and our video games on the new machine. We are allowed to install our photo-editing software, DVD Movie making software, FTP and/or Website Editing software, our productivity software and so on. There's no problem with these, so long as we honor the agreement which states that we can only use them on ONE PC at any time... a fair and understandable requirement.
Microsoft doesn't think that's the best way to make money. Why let someone who has purchased your software migrate it to their new system, when we can force them to buy another copy instead? Sure I get the point, Microsoft wants to make a lot of money from their efforts, we all do! But that's not how the world works guys, and they know it! I guess that's the benefit of a monopoly... who's going to stop them?
So now I have a tough choice to face. Do I buy Vista (Ultimate of course) for $300 and expect that when I'm done with my current PC that I have to dish out $300 for another copy of it? Even though the old machine will no longer have any use for the OS, as I usually part it out and re-use what I need in the new PC and sell the old parts, I'll now have a useless software license collecting hard-earned dust.
As a long-time Linux and Unix webserver systems administrator, I'm still a happy Windows XP Professional user for my desktop. I've played with Linux as a desktop over the years, but until now have been satisfied by Windows and never felt I had to rely on Linux for this task. Now I wonder if I can? Can I use Linux for my day-to-day work and only buy the cheapest, most inexpensive copy of Windows Vista to use for those tasks, games and hardware which Linux cannot handle? This is what I'm strongly considering. I don't believe I could do everything I do now without at least some copy of Windows available to me, but MOST of what I do every day I can do on Linux.
Linux has great email and browser software available. I can install Skype to handle my phone calls and instant messenging needs. I have already been using Open Office instead of Microsoft Office for years, so that's not a problem. I can use FTP and SSH right from the command line, or install a Linux GUI for these tasks. In fact, as I write this and look at the software I need from day-to-day really doesn't require me to run Windows.
I would still need a copy of Windows around to remain familiar with the software, to run my games, and to handle some of those occasional tasks that Linux variants don't handle too well; but the point is, if I actually wanted to, I could continue running my business and working my day-to-day job without much need for Microsoft Windows. Honestly, I don't want to go down that road. I'm satisfied with the simple use and widespread support of Windows. The point is, I'm not happy with the price they are demanding for my complacency.
I don't object to paying for Windows Vista - once. I don't object to paying a reasonable price for updates. I don't object to complying with fair and understandable software licensing rules that require me to run software on one PC at a time. What I do object to, is having a software provider dictate what I am allowed to do with my computer. I will upgrade whenever I choose. I will continue to purchase faster processors, better video cards, bigger hard-drives, and more powerful motherboards. I will do all of those things, even if it means I have to stop or reduce my dependancy on Windows.
Wake up Microsoft. 50 million PC enthusiasts is a huge market. At $100-200 per "copy" of Windows, that's $5 to $10 BILLION worth of business. Someone out there must realize this and want our business more than you do... hmmm... maybe it'll be me?