Re: Nanotech/Opensource: Opinions Needed.

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Sun Jul 09 2000 - 20:14:35 MDT

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> On Sun, 9 Jul 2000, Paul Hughes wrote:
> > 1) As you may have heard Microsoft is trying very much to regain control
> > by putting all of their software back into their central servers.
> Could you cite a reference for this? (It sounds a bit far-fetched.)
> Perhaps you mean that they intend to move to an active license
> monitoring system for their software -- i.e. their software comes
> from their servers when you need it. This is "software on demand"
> or "software rental".

No, he means "putting all of their software back into their central
servers". Yes, it's boneheaded. Yes, it'd be massively stupid for
responsible consumers to switch to. Doesn't mean they ain't gonna try
to get away with it, and doesn't mean a lot of people won't buy it
anyway just because it's "the latest version from Microsoft" (and older
versions, as always, aren't supported anymore). Reference what little
*is* known about their .net initiative.

> > The only way you'll be able to use software in the future is by logging
> > in to their system.
> Hmmmm, I doubt it will fly. I can always disconnect my ADSL line
> when I boot my home PC.

Which means your application fails when the critical piece of code on
Microsoft's servers can't be called.

> > Wow, this sounds secure. Just think, all those things you do on the
> > computer - private memos, dictation's, dirty pictures, all of it will
> > be stored and manipulated via programs you login into at Microsoft's
> > 'Central' servers.
> Nobody in their right mind will buy this option. Corporate presidents
> will not store corporate data at Microsoft unless Microsoft accepts
> liability for data loss, guarantees privacy, etc. Even Microsoft
> doesn't have pockets deep enough for that.
> I think you may be confusing getting the software "on demand" from
> a remote server with where the data the software uses is stored.

Microsoft's logic seems to be: "if the software is stored on our
servers, and people have to connect to us - through a script that
verifies they paid to use it - then there can be no more piracy, plus a
bunch of neat monitoring and easy upgrading becomes available". Nowhere
in there is there any acknowledgement of the customer's needs. (For
those who disbelieve that corporations can act this dumb, I typically
point to DIVX - and its demise, and the reasons for its demise - as a
good analogy.)

> > Regardless of anything they may claim, they will have
> > full power to control what you see, use and do, and ultimately have all
> > the tools necessary to collect complete dossiers on what we all use,
> > how we're using it, and where their software is being accessed.
> Yes, they could monitor you every time you start Excel or Powerpoint
> but that would require permanent connections for all PCs and we are
> a long way away from that.

Not in offices and business situations, we're not. (Not quite *there*,
I'll admit, but close enough - or, at least, so Microsoft believes, for
good reason - that forcing the rest to upgrade to use Microsoft's
software is a minor loss.) And for a number of the applications they're
looking at doing this for, businesses are the main users.

> How you extrapolate that to "full power to control what you see or do"
> isn't clear to me. You can make your data arbitrarily secure by simply
> encrypting it.

For those of us who think to do that, and can put an
encryption/decryption filter over the data going into and out of
Microsoft's applications, yes. That's < 1% of all users.

> If Microsoft makes their licensing of software more restrictive people
> will simply move to other suppliers, esp. open source systems if they
> feel so inclined.

Which is why a lot of open source advocates are cheering Microsoft's
latest business plans, or at least this aspect of them.

> > This whole thing bothers me a great deal, and for all intents and
> > purposes is a return to Orwellian thinking with a vengeance.
> > What do you think?
> Most software is licensed, not owned. If the supplier wants to "fix"
> the software so the license conditions can be verified (to reduce piracy)
> then they have the right to do that. If they do it in a way that annoys
> people, then they will lose market share.

Only so long as there are competitors. Even with the OS split off, the
applications group will still have a monopoly on Office file formats
(which, having tried to reverse-engineer one once, I can tell you *are*
sometimes encrypted). People keep reverse engineering these, true, but
the formats change with every revision...and if it takes you long enough
to reverse engineer the format that, by the time you're done, another
revision has been released, well...

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