Fair enough, too. I'm prepared to pay for my own copy of Windows, or any other commercially-licensed software, and don't feel that others should be able to obtain and use a pirated copy.
I have no beef at all with the concept of free software, but -- especially being an author of commercial software myself -- don't think it's right for commercial licenses to be dishonoured. If you want free software, there's plenty of excellent stuff to choose from (Linux and all the rest).
Pirated software is a violation of intellectual property and can cost the developers dearly, poses a security threat for users (loss of privacy and/or valuable data, not to mention money), and carries with it no vendor support (such as help desk, bug fixes or upgrades). Much has been written about this so I won't delve into it, but even as late as last week there were reports of illegal downloads of the new Windows 7 Release Candidate containing malware.
With the largest installed base, Microsoft is by far the biggest target, and has been at the forefront of the battle against piracy. They think that on a worldwide basis as much as one-quarter to one-third of Windows copies are counterfeit, and that a significant percentage of these people do not know the software they are using was pirated.
Their WGA program (Windows Genuine Advantage) has been operating for a number of years. I've never myself had any difficulties at all with the way that WGA works, but some people have. Even if it's only a small percentage of Windows users, that adds up to a huge number of cases.
The worst affected were those people for whom WGA erroneously flagged their valid copy of Windows XP or Vista as being non-genuine, some half a million or so according to an admission by Microsoft in early 2007. A change to WGA in late 2007 seems to have fixed this aberration.
Williams said: "The Windows 7 activation experience is based on that of Windows Vista SP1 and should appear familiar to users of Windows Vista SP1. This includes the notifications that alert customers if they need to activate their copy of Windows and helps them with issues that may occur -- including the possibility that they might be a victim of software piracy."
"We heard feedback from customers that while the notifications that appeared in Windows Vista were effective at helping alert customers, there might be more we could do and say that would be helpful."
"So for Windows 7 our goal was to do a better job of helping customers make decisions with confidence about which action to take. In Windows 7, we're being more descriptive about what Windows is actually doing and providing more information about what, if any, actions the user should take as a result" he continued.
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