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Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact
The Great Microsoft Plan 25 September 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Does anyone remember the good old days when buying a piece of Microsoft software meant that you could use that software on a single PC without the need to fill out a lame registration form and without regard to the exact configuration of that PC?

Ah... memories...

You could see what you were getting for the money you plonked down on a copy of Office 97 or Windows 98 -- there were no catches or strings. And that's the way buying software ought to be.

We trusted Microsoft to provide us with the best software they could produce and they trusted us to use it fairly.

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Well it seems that this relationship of trust has been well and truly broken.

Was it those who freely pirated copies of Microsoft's software who are to blame?

Or was it Microsoft's awareness that the market is maturing and that people will no longer continue to spend good money on buggy and insecure software?

Whatever the cause, we're now all branded as pirates whenever we buy a copy of Microsoft Office or the upcoming Windows XP.

There can be no other reason why Microsoft would make us register our hardware configuration against each and every copy of the software we purchase.

Well Microsoft claim that it's an anti-piracy measure -- but I'm not so sure.

Readers Say
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  • Covering your butt?... - Martin
  • Micro$oft... - Michael
  • Microsoft Software... - Alan
  • Should we be surprised?... - Dominic
  • Microsoft XP... - Gregor
  • Have Your Say

    It strikes me that the reason for this new anti-trust (in more ways than one) forced registration system may lie more in the fact that Microsoft realises it's reaching the end of its gravy train.

    When Windows 3 was launched it was a runaway success and sold like hotcakes.

    After a while, people got really pissed off with its propensity to crash and trash your data on a pretty regular basis -- so when Windows 95 promised a new level of performance and reliability we all ran out and plonked down our cash in a flash.

    Then came Windows 98 and, just like before, we were lured by the prospect of fewer crashes and better stability so we forked over more cash.

    By the time Windows ME came around, the market had grown rather wary of Microsoft's claims and, as far as I can establish, people no longer ran out like sheep to swap their old lamps for new.

    And now we have Windows XP which, according to reports, is a great step forward in reliability.

    Odds are that Microsoft knows this is the last chance they're going to get to milk the cash-cow of the upgrade ladder. After all, if XP is as good as they claim, why would anyone need to upgrade again for a very long time?

    If it's more performance they're after then increasing hardware speeds will take care of that. More reliability -- hey, XP is already rock-solid right?

    Faced with such a dilemma it's only natural that Microsoft has had its gurus huddled over the midnight pizza working out ways to generate new revenues.

    Hey, here's one!

    Wait a year or so until people have upgraded to XP en-masse and then start charging a hefty fee each time they need to obtain a new unlock number because they've made more than a minor change to their hardware.

    Now, whenever they upgrade their PC hardware, Microsoft will be able to rake in a whole lot more cash.

    This is even better than the software upgrade game because they don't actually have to pay expensive programmers to write new code -- they just have an automated online system and a bunch of helpdesk people standing by to take your cash.

    If you don't believe me -- bookmark today's column and re-read it on the day that this little move is announced.

    Tell Me What You Want
    It's the time of year when I have to ask Aardvark readers to send me their ideas and suggestions on ways in which I can improve the content or presentation of that content on this website.

    Here's your chance to tell me what I'm doing wrong and what I should be doing to make this site better.

    Come on now, don't be shy -- let me have it -- both barrels.

    One thing I've learnt over the years is that, as the industry, the market, the technology and people's expectations change, you've got to be prepared to adapt or die.

    Just drop me a line with your comments and suggestions.

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    If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.

    Just drop by and hand over your loot.


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