Friday, March 09, 2007

Guilty until proven innocent!

A copy of my comments to The Register with regards to an article about the privacy-invading behavior of Microsoft's protect-Microsoft-first approach to 'security':

Just a second while I warm up my harp... Now for the harping.

"Guilty until proven innocent." That's the 'legal principle' of WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage). Next thing you know, they'll be trying to repeal habeas corpus. Oh. Wait.

I suggest that you try to change the terms of the debate. It's okay to refer to it as WGA for purposes of official identification, but for the sake of reality you should call it "Microsoft's Advantage Program", since the only advantage of this program (both as software and as a policy) is to help Microsoft squeeze the last few drops of blood out of some poor turnips somewhere in Africa or South America.

Me? 90% of my home computing is on Ubuntu Linux now, and about 20% of my work computing. The work-side is gradually increasing, and my current dream is to avoid Vista as completely as possible.

I better clarify that the basic premise of Microsoft's software is that you are *NOT* authorized to run Microsoft's software unless you can prove you're a legitimate customer. Unless you (with your computer acting as your proxy) can prove you're an innocent and legitimate customer, Microsoft assumes you're a pirate--even though they have a track record of creating miserably buggy software. It's not even limited to the bugginess of their software making false accusations and putting the onus on you to prove your innocence. It's that Microsoft also defines the rules of the game in their shrink-wrap legalese so you can't even be sure you are *NOT* a pirate as Microsoft has defined it.

In addition to making the twisted rules and prosecuting you in advance, Microsoft is also a crooked judge in this situation. It is in Microsoft's interest to claim the piracy problem is large, and to make their 'damage' claims as large as possible. Po' widdle Micwosoft. Don't you just pity them for all the money they've lost to those vicious pirates? Next thing you know, they'll be in the poorhouse, right? Wrong. Much more likely you'll be bankrupt and jailed for copyright violations. Microsoft is working on that one, too.

Right now the secondary point of enforcement (once you've gotten past the primary point and gotten the software to run in the first place) is that they will block you from updates (but I'm sure they're working on stronger alternatives). In other words, they will withdraw their token protection for your vulnerability to their security incompetence. They not only created the disease, but they don't care if it fries your computer. As usual, the #1 concern of Microsoft is to figure out new ways to squeeze money out of people who don't want to do business with them in the first place.

Think about the other side of it. Pretend that Microsoft was actually held liable for all the losses and problems caused by their incompetence in writing software. Pretend that they weren't permanently immune from all liability thanks to their magic shrinkwrap contracts. If Microsoft paid for the damages, I'm sure they would be bankrupt.

<sarcasm> However, it's possible that you've somehow detected that I wouldn't cry too hard at the demise of Microsoft.</sarcasm> Why? Because I like my freedom and I'm tired of Microsoft stomping on it for profit.

Another example of the fish rotting from the head up. BushCo is leading with the policy that anything you can get away with is okay. Microsoft has always lived by that policy, but just more so now. Me? I continue to believe that freedom and democracy confer competitive advantage--and America is losing those advantages. Microsoft is just following BushCo's lead down the drain, and taking the country with them.

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...