I have had discussions with lots of people lately regarding Microsoft’s new licensing model they have debuted with the XP releases. In a nutshell, when you buy a license you register it with Microsoft after installing it, and you get a license key that ties that registration to the hardware in a particular computer. This means that you can’t install the same copy of XP on multiple machines without buying multiple licenses… Contrary to what most people are saying about Microsoft, I actually agree with them on this part of the license model. Perhaps it is because I am a software engineer, but I do understand why a company would wish to protect their software from piracy, and to tell you the truth, this is far less invasive than the dongles of yore… The license information is tied to a hardware ID which is generated by a function that is seeded by ids of the various components of your PC. If you change a few of the components in your machine you the ID becomes invalid and you have to contact Microsoft for a new ID. This part is mildly annoying, but really I don’t see another way around it.
I think any software developer has every right to protect their software from piracy within reason. I really don’t think that there is anything intrusive about this product activation…. This method prevents the need for more intrusive methods (like having XP connect back to the mothership via the internet to validate the install), but reasonably protects Microsoft’s software. And in reality, we all know that someone will crack this up before it is too long, so all you pirate kiddies have nothing to fear….
I guess the more controversial aspect of XP, and the aspect that I am having more trouble forming an opinion of, is the time-limited license. When you buy a copy of Windows XP, you are getting a license to that software that has an expiration date (I believe 3 years from activation). Now, I understand the financial reasons of why Microsoft would want to move to a subscription based system, and I don’t disagree with all their points, but as a consumer, it still seems like I am getting screwed over. I mean, the upgrade price for XP Home Edition is $99, $199 for the Professional Edition (which supports SMP). And that’s the upgrade price.. I really think that if Microsoft is going to start limiting the lifespan of it’s software licenses then the prices should reflect that accordingly.
But ultimately, the real power of this arrangement lies in the consumer, who makes the choice of accepting the license or not. But, in reality, what will happen is that the uneducated users won’t care either way, the educated users who disagree will complain alot but still accept the policy in the end once some piece of software they “need” requires XP… I will hold out a bit to see how it settles out, and to see if the upgrade is worth it… Otherwise I will probably just stick with what I have for as long as I can…