Vista kill switch may push people to linux



It’s not really a surprising headline. I think anytime a proprietary vendor tightens the screws a bit to limit piracy they are going to force people to other, competing products. Especially when there’s a significant cost difference involved. If there are three t-shirts for sale, one for $5 with no logo and another for $50 with a brand logo (we’ll say nike) and yet another (pirated) with a nike logo for $10 and everybody thinks the nike logo is cool and in… they’ll buy the $10 “pirated” shirt unless they know that it’s pirated and are morally compelled to spend the $50. If piracy is cracked down on and you have a choice between the $50 logo shirt and the $5 no logo shirt….. hmmm I’d rather have $45 extra dollars than a swoosh on my shirt.


Of course, we heard something like this with XP and product activation, that this would drive people to linux and it may have, but not in huge numbers. However, what is being reported that Windows will have in Vista is a bit more of an ultimatum. (From Between the Lines)

Windows Vista will have new antipiracy technology that locks people out their PCs if the operating system isn’t activated within 30 days after installation….If Vista is not activated with a legitimate product registration key in time, the system will run in “reduced functionality mode” until it is activated, said Thomas Lindeman, a senior product manager at Microsoft. In this mode, people will be able to use a Web browser for up to an hour, after which time the system will log them out, he said….The new technology is part of Microsoft’s new “Software Protection Platform,” which the company plans to announce on Wednesday.

George Ou also thinks this will be a good thing for Linux citing the ridiculous price of the core operating system for people in the developing world.

A person in China for example making $300 a month will save up and spend $400 on a computer. They will spend 100 Yuan (about $12) on home grown software but they will never spend $100 on software when they can buy a black market copy for $1. If that wasn’t available or if Microsoft made it impossible to use the software because of WGA, they’ll simply stop using Windows and stop using Microsoft Office and use Linux and Open Office.

The main question, I think will be how limited the operation mode will be in actuality. Hopefully the various linux distributions can take advantage of this opportunity to broaden their user base. The only problem I see is the possibility of linux developing a “stigma” associated with the “cheap alternative”. In many ways linux is so much more capable (even in an absolutely free version) than a $200 copy of XP Pro could be.

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