Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yet Another Reason for Linux (YARL)

Ars Technica reports that Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage servers have been down since at least Friday, and that they will continue to be down until Tuesday of next week. This outage effects Windows XP and Vista systems that need validation as "genuine" Windows, i.e. it's not a pirated copy. Here's the skinny on what not to do until this is fixed:
If you use Windows, do your best to avoid anything that requires a ping to WGA. That means you should stay away from patches and add-ons until the coast is clear. WGA will not reach out across the Internet and deactivate your copy of Windows, but you should avoid talking to a WGA server for any reason.

For those of you doing installations and upgrades this weekend, we recommend that you avoid activation at this time. Remember that you can run Windows legally for 30 days without activating.

If you attempt a validation and it fails, your install may be marked as non-genuine, which could lead to several annoyances. First things first, do not reboot a Windows machine that has been marked as non-genuine. Once you do so, you will lose functionality and the Aero interface. It would be best to wait until this problem has been resolved.
Got all that? So how does it feel to be treated continuously like you're scum? You never notice until the system breaks, in this case quite spectacularly. This is what monopolies can get away with. Microsoft, back before it completed a total lock on the U.S desktop OS market, would have never gotten away with this, and Microsoft knew it. But now that there's nothing and nobody of real consequence to stand in their way, they've put in place WGA to make sure you've paid for everything, regardless of your receipts that show you paid good money for either the OS or the system it came pre-installed on. Microsoft's WGA is worse than guilty until proven innocent. With Microsoft, you're always guilty until you ditch their OS and their business model.

I toe the line and use Microsoft for business. My company has paid for my Windows notebooks and I am responsible for keeping them in excellent condition while they are in my possession. But for personal use I have become nearly Microsoft free. I still labor under the delusion that I need one copy of Windows XP for the little gaming I still play on the PC. I had a minor epiphany this past week that the last PC game I'd played was C&C, and that back in late March. The only reason now I boot into Windows XP is to run Thunderbird and check my RoadRunner mail. Ironic that I boot a non-free OS to use a free mail client because I'm just too lazy to move my account information from the Windows partition on europa to the openSuse partition. The only question now is when I'll finally show enough intestinal fortitude to completely rid all my personal systems of Windows.

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