I'm a Unix guy. For the past ten years, I've spent the vast majority of my computing time in variants of Unix--Irix, Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, and others. Like any good Unix guy, it takes effort for me to suppress my anti-Microsoft feelings, and most of the time I don't even try. However,
for various reasons, I've usually kept at least one Windows installation handy.
Lately, the thing keeping Windows in my life has been my laptop. When I first bought it, I installed Linux on it, and found that the hardware just wasn't supported very well. Windows ME, as shipped with the laptop, worked much better,
and so I've been grumpily using that. To be fair, it's served well as a dumb terminal--running an X server, I've been able to do useful work remotely on my FreeBSD machine. But still, I've had to deal with IE, Media Player, and all the baggage that comes with those.
In other words, I've become used to Windows as a necessary evil in my life. But on Saturday, I was reminded that "necessary" is relative, and that "evil" is not to be taken lightly.
On that day, Slashdot reported Microsoft's latest shenanigan. In a security update for Media Player, they slipped a change into the EULA which gives Microsoft permission to "upgrade" OS components that enforce digital rights, and to disable software which doesn't (in their view) enforce digital rights.
Now, when it comes to copyright, licensing agreements, and other IP issues, I'm more obsessive than anybody I know. I don't pirate music. I don't pirate software. I've even paid for every copy of every Microsoft product that I use.
I do everything by the letter of the law--so what do I have to fear from Microsoft's enforcement of digital rights?
If digital rights management were really about catching the bad guys, then I would have nothing to fear. But the trend in digital rights management--established by ridiculous legislation and happily embraced by mega-corporations--is to make it harder to do things that might be illegal.
That established rights and useful capabilities are lost in the process doesn't seem to be a concern.
The wording in the new Media Player EULA clearly places it in this sinister category. What's worse, they've attached the new clause to a security update, which means you either a) grant them this new power or b) knowingly use a product with a security hole.
I choose c). I have once and for all wiped Windows from my laptop. By lucky coincidence, recent versions of Linux have come to support all the hardware I own--not just the laptop, but my USB mouse, flatbed scanner, and even my digital camera.
The Microsoft Tumor is almost completely excised. Our desktop machine still has Windows 98, because my wife and I need a word processor. I'm currently evaluating word processor choices on Linux. The choices aren't impressive, but we don't need much from a word processor, so one of them should suffice.
Any minute now, I may be free again. I'm giddy.