Once upon a time, Microsoft sold software. Lots of it. It did this by making complex technology relatively easy to use, at an affordable price.
Somewhere along the way, however, Microsoft decided that good products were not good enough to goose sales, and so it turned to threatening legal action against open source. In the background, however, the far more potent Microsoft threats have been aimed at its own users, as Computerworld describes.
In short, you're damned for using alternatives to Microsoft technology. But you may be even more damned for using Microsoft's products.
Microsoft's new Get Genuine Windows Agreement (GGWA) lets big companies that are discovered to be intentionally or accidentally pirating Windows XP Professional to quickly purchases copies via a reseller.
GGWA is part of a recent wave of antipiracy and license compliance efforts that Microsoft is targeting at big corporations, its most profitable segment.
Corporations have largely been exempt from past antipiracy efforts, which focused on software crackers and pirates distributing stolen license keys, resellers trying to save a buck by reusing the same license key with multiple customers and consumers.
But in the past several years, Microsoft has started to target companies with programs such as Software Protection Platform (SPP), which requires corporations to tighten up how they install software and manage volume license keys, and Software Asset Management (SAM) -- a thinly disguised corporate software audit that Microsoft, as part of its contracts with customers, is guaranteed.
The article then goes on to describe a range of customers - large and small - who have been drawn-and-quartered by Microsoft and made to feel like criminals. In several of the cases, the CIOs mentioned that they are happy to pay for the value that Microsoft provides, but that the licensing terms are so complex that they have no idea what they owe and how to track usage.
Enter the Microsoft goons, who are very happy to do the math for the customer, get them into an Enterprise Agreement, then jack up the price with Software Assurance.
This is the sort of negative relationship that proprietary licensing creates with customers. Microsoft has made itself an enemy of its customers. Whatever the patent threats it may lodge against Red Hat and others, the far more serious legal threats it uses are within the walls of its own "home."
It pays to be a Microsoft customer. Pays Microsoft, that is. Through the nose.