april 28, 2007

My one and only Windows XP box got WGA'd today (Windows Genuine Advantage). Is it a big deal for me? Not really at this point because I doubt I will run Windows -- on my personal boxes -- much more. Yea, I will still run Windows on one of my work boxes (the other being FreeBSD right now, but I want to get converted to Red Hat Enterprise Linux). Microsoft spends so much effort trying to protect its Windows OS. Microsoft seems almost as "vigilant" (please notice quotes) as the RIAA is. I quote "vigilant" because in both cases, it is more "greed" than vigilance. When you look at Apple or Red Hat or Ubuntu, they all have a different way of selling their OSes. Apple sells one version of its consumer grade OS (not talking server grade): MacOS X. You can get a copy for $129 flat. You can install that copy to one Mac with no need to "activate" it. If you reinstall MacOS X on the machine, it is no biggie. You just do it. Got more than one Mac in the household? Great, for $199 you can get the Family Pack, which will let you install MacOS X on up to five machines. Red Hat Enterprise Linux does have activation since software updates are part of the subscription fee. But, the subscription fee ($80 for Desktop or $180 for Workstation) includes unlimited support from Red Hat's tech team. If you want to get support for Vista after the first 90 days, you pay $60 per incident. If your RHEL box goes down, you can simply deactivate the entitlement on the Red Hat Network website. All updates and upgrades to Red Hat Enterprise Linux are free as long as you keep your subscription paid for. Oh, Red Hat even fixes bugs that get escalated through the support system (I have one about to get escalated, it is concerning Wifi access dying on machine when it wakes up from being suspended to RAM). Ubuntu, it is free. You pay for support on a subscription basis ($250 per year for desktop support), but all updates and upgrades for the Ubuntu distro are free. I have my doubts about this business strategy since Canonical really has no reason to make the OS stable, since they earn money off the support. Anyways, Vista costs between $199 (Home Basic) and $399 (Ultimate). It comes with 90-days of support. And Microsoft is watching you with their WGA. They can disable your OS when they "think" you are a pirate. So, a quick run down of costs. If you want to install WIndows on five machines, it will cost you just a few bucks less than $2000 for Windows Vista Ultimate. With the crippled Windows Vista Home Basic, it will cost you $800. Compared that to $199 for MacOS X on five machines. If you have past your 90-days of support and ask a question, it is $60 on top of the $199/$399 you already paid -- compare that with the $180 unlimited support Red Hat provides and the $250 unlimited support from Canonical. And if you want to upgrade to the next Windows (whenever that comes out), you will be looking at somewhere between $139 (based on Windows Vista Home Basic Upgrade price) and $239 (based on Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrade price). That is compared with $129 for MacOS X and free with Red Hat and Ubuntu. Is there any compelling reason that Windows Vista is worth it? Unless you are a hardcore PC gamer, most of the stuff you do is OS agnostic -- web, mail, word processing, spreadsheets, calendaring, etc. Even gaming can be shunned off by buying a console. Shouldn't Microsoft adjust their monolithic OS business strategy? Perhaps sell it for less? Have Family Packs to encourage people to buy legit copies? This big brother WGA type strategy is annoying at the least and incredibly pathetic at the worse.

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