Time to short Microsoft stock.
January 9, 2001 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Time to short Microsoft stock. After building a behemoth though a quarter-century of tacitly encouraging piracy to increase market share, Microsoft appears to be getting ready to drink the anti-piracy kool-aid. Look for revenues to shrink accordingly.
posted by aurelian (11 comments total)
This has been coming for a while now. I reckon a crack will be out before the product.

From a serious standpoint this has huge implications for select liscensing and support for orgs of of more than about 50 desktops.

Are microsoft about to alienate their business customers?
posted by fullerine at 9:12 AM on January 9, 2001

"Alpha-blending technology"? Is this just alpha channels in icons? Is that anything new? I've had it (and been annoyes by it) on Macs for a while now.

Aurelian, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Revenues will drop because pirate users won't pay? Or because once the pirates stop using Windows, MS market share will drop and crowd-following managers will switch to linux/MacOS? Or people just won't upgrade? Or what?

(Off topic: the link in this thread is broken for me because the first 3 and last 3 characters are obliterated by an HTML comment. I've seen this happen on a variety of sites, but this is the first time on MF. Has anyone else seen this? Any explanations? I've been trying to track down the source of this problem for a while. If anyone knows more or wants to share info, please email me. Let's not discuss it here, though. Thanks.)
posted by rodii at 9:13 AM on January 9, 2001

WPA will tie a Windows product key to one specific PC in order to reduce casual copying.

Anyone know how this is done, exactly? From an ID of the motherboard or HD? From general hardware profile?

This would seem to imply one would need a new Windows license any time you upgraded a significant component. How many times do you need to say 'copy protection always inconveniences the legitimate user whilst failing to stop the determined pirate' before anyone listens?

Alpha-blending, eh? Woohoo. Excuse me if I give this 'upgrade' a miss.

posted by BobInce at 9:19 AM on January 9, 2001

rodii, I'm saying that rhetoric aside, making something copyable has always led to increased sales. The most obvious example from Microsoft's own history was DOS (and later Windows) vs. the MacOS... But do you remember the situation in the 1980s at all? Copy protection for business applications was by far the norm -- until MS and Borland blew everyone away with Quattro and Excel, neither of which was copy protected. Lotus, in fact, dragged their feet for years to even provide on-line help, mostly because they saw manuals as a de facto form of copy protection.

Excel came along, run-time Windows included, non-copy-protected, fairly decent online help file... and just blew 1-2-3 out of the water. Borland's Paradox demolished Ashton-Tate's copy-protected dBASE. WordPerfect ditto against WordStar. (Microsoft got a leg up on everyone in the next generation of apps because no one took Windows seriously, but that's another matter.)

Who knows... Maybe this is an indication that MS doesn't take anyone as a serious threat after all, and can afford to copy-protect because there isn't really competition anymore. If so, maybe the peevishness factor for StarOffice and linux will increase even more. :)

posted by aurelian at 9:31 AM on January 9, 2001

The operative term here re: copy-protection is beta. If it's more trouble than it's worth, it (probably) won't happen.
posted by xiffix at 9:32 AM on January 9, 2001

[fullerine] Are microsoft about to alienate their business customers?

On the contrary, now that MS has eliminated any real competition in the office desktop software market, it can start trading off ease-of-use for strict license control. Businesses rarely try to defraud software companies, but often it's hard to keep track of the proper number of licenses, etc. If MS forces businesses to comply, revenue will probably increase.

[rodii] MS market share will drop and crowd-following managers will switch to linux/MacOS? Or people just won't upgrade?

In my opinion, the most likely outcome is a slower upgrade pace. It's hard enough to learn new ways of doing things every time MS releases new software. Most people will put this one off as long as they can. Unless MS comes up with some spectacular reason for upgrading, I don't see it happening. Windows 2000 is pretty decent, already, and if the shots I've seen of the new Whistler interface is any clue, learning to use Windows 2002 or whatever it will be called will be a big PITA for anyone but the most dedicated Micro-phile.

[BobInce] Anyone know how this is done, exactly? From an ID of the motherboard or HD? From general hardware profile?

Generally IDs like this are generated based on the MAC address of your network card (which has sufficient range to ensure it will never be repeated). But since network cards aren't universal, there is, apparently, another way to do it.
posted by daveadams at 9:40 AM on January 9, 2001

WPA will tie a Windows product key to one specific PC in order to reduce casual copying. I just experienced this with a small shareware program that I downloaded and then paid for online. This particular program, I think, used a formula that combined my name with the machine number of my computer, to produce an original 'keycode' password. If you want to use the program on an additional computer, you simply have to write to the company and ask for another keycode (they're not charging for extras up to 5 I think). Just after all of this, a friend wrote with a hack program that will generate appropriate keycodes so you don't have to PAY to make all the features work. (I would have payed for this little program anyway, since it's excellent. LOL.)It's my bet too that there will be hacks out there before you can say "what's a copyright?" I think its time for a new attitude about this whole thing - this includes software, the music industry, etc... people WILL PAY for things they like - people LIKE having official copies. Get over your fears and just focus on developing a good product. (Take a look at how successful the recent blogger request for donations went if you have any doubts.) "Casual copying" isn't your bane, it's your FREE RIDE - USE IT! Don't FIGHT it. What a waste of energy. [rant mode off]
posted by thunder at 9:52 AM on January 9, 2001

I use software that I buy on a lot of computers. Two computers at home, a laptop, a computer at work. Would I even consider buying four licenses? Not a chance. I'll find some other solution that isn't so draconian.

I'm hoping that this will bite MS in the ass. Office 97 was good enough for all the office suite stuff I needed. Hopefully enough people will decide to stay pat with Office 97 or 2000.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:48 AM on January 9, 2001

Will I get arrested for insider trading if I do? :-)
posted by baylink at 1:45 PM on January 9, 2001

rodii: do you use banner-ad blockers or anything of that sort? I ran Webfree for a long time and occasionally ran into problems like the one you describe.

posted by Mars Saxman at 2:22 PM on January 9, 2001

Mars. . . I kiss you.
posted by rodii at 5:09 PM on January 10, 2001

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