I read with interest the posting by fellow Lockergnome writer “userbingeeks musings” in which he made reference to an article by Brian Livingston concerning running Microsoft’s Vista operating system and being able to use it for one year without having to activate the software. But what is even more interesting is that Brian Livingston takes this one step further and thinks there may even be a way to extend the activation indefinitely.

What is surprising about Mr. Livingston’s statements is that he is not a hacker but is a highly respected member of the computer technology industry. He also publishes a highly regarded newsletter and has written many books over the years about the Windows operating system and other Microsoft products. But his recent statements are putting him at odds with Microsoft and a controversy is now brewing.

It began with being able to extend the activation process from 30 to 120 days, which Microsoft confirms is in fact supported by Vista and is a built in feature and does not violate the EULA. Everyone agrees that this is OK. But now Microsoft says that extending it one year or beyond is a no-no. My question is WHY?

Now before I proceed let me state that I do not condone piracy. I personally feel that software vendors have a right to expect a return on their investments and that hacking any software should be and is illegal. Now with that said, let’s look at what Microsoft has done with the Windows Vista operating system.

First, it has too many different versions of Vista, which basically adds confusion to the marketplace. Windows XP had three versions: Home, Pro and Media Center, which were easy to define by the consumer. Home was for the home consumer, Pro for business, and Media Center for those who needed the bells and whistles for home entertainment. Vista has six versions. Why? Microsoft says it is offering more choice to the consumer. Baloney. Premium is for home users, Business edition for businesses and, oh there is no and.

Second, Microsoft offers a System Builder edition which is less expensive and allows for a clean install without having to resort to a workaround to obtain a clean install. And Microsoft then says it is OK for ANYONE to use these additions. Why? Who is sitting at the top of the ivory tower in Babelonland in Redmond, WA interrupting the EULA? Maybe someone can point out in the fine print to me where it says this is OK.

Third is pricing. Hello, Microsoft, your pricing scheme is way out of line. Your Ultimate edition at $399 for the full version is ludicrous. Not too many will opt for this edition just to play Texas Hold’em and to use the Dream Scene moving screensaver option.

Fourth is telling the world it is OK to pirate your software. This is plain nuts.

So when I see someone like Mr. Livingston – who is well respected – telling the world of your failings, what chance do you have against the hackers who are going to have a field day with your new operating system? If this is the best you can do after five years of development, you already have a major problem. Some of us might even wait until Vista service pack #2 or later is released before taking the plunge. 🙂

Comments welcome.

[tags]windows, vista, activation, extended[/tags]