by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/06/13 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/06/13/10023980.aspx
A few days ago I was talking to a friend and they mentioned one thing that pretty much everyone I know hates -- the fact that in Facebook, the only way to follow certain things is to Like them, even though sometimes one of the main reasons you want to follow something is that you dislike it. And the way that every person you connect to is your friendeven if there a myriad of other reasons you might connect with them (the game you are playing, the place you work, the people you've met and interacted with, the people you knew in high school that you've now reconnected with, the people you just want to keep an eye on even if you do not care for them much, and so on).
It reminded me of something
It was a scosh under four years ago in Intended Implicatures when I explained my thoughts about what I felt was a philosophical issue about the way that features like WGA and the overall Genuine Microsoft Software effort describes itself.
The point is perhaps a minor one to some (or perhaps to many!), but in my opinion calling it "non-genuine" when it is unknown feels like a bad thing.
When I say this though, I am not talking about the technical side of wanting to reserve some of the cool things users of Windows get when using a legally obtained version of Windows.
That part I am hugely in favor of -- and with MSKLC I'm actually a big "client".
If one doesn't like Microsoft (no matter what the reason, including not liking how much a copy of windows costs) then one doesn't have to buy Windows. But either way one shouldn't be stealing Windows.
And I have no problem considering those who steal with impunity to be not genuine people, which is why I have no problems if their software ends up being labeled as such because of a consequence of their actions.
I'm not going to be a zealot about it or anything, but the other day someone I knew was talking to me about that Intended Implicatures blog and they thought it was so brave that I was anti-WGA. But I explained I wasn't, it was just the way they described it....
Now perhaps one difference some might notice between these two instances of companies redefining words to suit their own needs a fundamental difference (in Microsoft's the connotations are sometimes negative in cases that are not truly bad, in Facebook's the connotations are sometimes positive in cases where no positive feelings are there), but I think that is really more about the context of what they are describing than any particular philosophy of good or evil, of evil or good.
In both cases, for expediency and simplicity of message and whatever other reasons, they abbreviated a whole bunch of complexities of human interaction into just a few terms.
But I worry about some of those between cases a bit.
I mean if you are frustrated after buying a computer with the wrong language version of Windows on it (perhaps not realizing that one of the reasons it was such a "good deal" is that in areas of the world where people don't have as much money the price might be a little different, and so too the language!), and a product claims to be able to fix that problem and change the language to what you want, then perhaps you'll use that product.
You might not even find out until months later that your copy is now considered not genuine because the way this product does its work screws with a genuinesystem in ways that negate the genuinality, the genuinosity.
That product does not warn you about these consequences, by the way. People are essentially assaulting (perhaps with intent, perhaps not) their genuine version of Windows using a weapon not being described as such, and circumstances sometimes cause them to be unaware of having done it.
The web is full of such cases; even our own site is full of them (see here for example).
In the vast majority of cases (I am tempted to say almost all of the cases like I described where people are then on Microsoft's site complaining!) I would not go so far to say that they are not genuine people, though they have performed some pretty invasive operations that have managed to invalidate a formerly genuine state.
I would not honestly object to another state for this case, though I understand the technical difficulties in solving that problem.
The (admittedly quite imperfect) analogy in my mind right now is a man dressed up, on his way to a sold out event somewhere. On the way someone picks his pocket and now his wallet is gone and the ticket for the event is gone as well. He finds out that he can't get in because he doesn't have the ticket (or money or identification). Obviously his intent was not to defraud the event, but at that point he has, and in most such cases he wouldn't be able to get in due to perfectly reasonable policies. His girlfriend (inside the event already) will hopefully be more forgiving -- he should remember to call ASAP -- but the venue may or may not be able to help him.
And in these cases my principal disdain is reserved for the mugger and the product screwing up people's systems without the courtesy of a warning.
Because in my view they are not genuine people but perhaps they deserve an even more negative term....
Now I want there to be a clean and easy solution (both for that guy and for those Windows users), though I understand that is complicated (I thought of a dozen solutions while thinking about it last night while I should have been asleep, and shot down every one as I gave each one further thought -- and most of those were fairly good ideas!)....
Random832 on 15 Jun 2010 5:38 AM:
Couldn't someone who doesn't understand in intimate detail how WGA works reasonably have the assumption that there's NOTHING that it's possible to do to a copy of windows that would render it non-genuine? There is a common misconception, for instance, [e.g. on the Wikipedia article] that *all* it does is check the product key [i.e. whether it has been reported stolen, or activated too many times, or found on public websites, etc] - nothing at all about it judging your modifications to your system files.
When there is no publicly available list of even what general areas can cause an installation to suddenly fail WGA if touched, how could the people selling these products know it would have this effect any more than the people buying it? I can see MS's reasons for not disclosing the criteria for denying WGA, but at the same time, by doing so you lose the ability to object to accusations that it sometimes does so for no reason at all.
For example; you've got the inside perspective of knowing that MS _does_ use language as a primitive form of region lockout. There's no way - without your pronouncement in this blog - that anyone outside of Microsoft could deduce that with any degree of certainty (speculate it might be possible, sure... but anyone can speculate anything). Without that crucial piece of information, there's no reason to assume that WGA checks for this, and therefore no reason to test for it - even if there were a reliable way to determine in such testing that the WGA failure wasn't a coincidence. Just as the customer doesn't find out until months later that the product broke their WGA, the person who _made_ the product doesn't find out until months later either. And they don't find out _why_ until they read this blog. And when they _do_ find out, they blame MS for deliberately making their product not work; an accusation which has often been made in the past and has quite possibly never been as true as it is here.
And without that knowledge, calling them "not genuine people" for circumventing a price differentiation measure they didn't know existed [for all they know, the only reason you can't switch the language on all versions of windows is because all the languages won't fit on one CD] seems like going a bit too far.
And all this assumes it's specifically looking at the language files. If it's a general check of all system files, then your talk about price differentiation is meaningless: there's certainly no similar reason to require, say, uxtheme.dll to be unmodified. MS is just lucky [even more so than with the signing requirement the unmodified one imposes] they ended up never selling visual styles themselves.
Michael S. Kaplan on 15 Jun 2010 7:07 AM:
Remember, the only people I am calling "non-genuine" are those who prey on the situation without full disclosure of what it does to the genuine status if their tool is run; they know the consequences and put it it there anyway and let it wreak its havoc. Those people know what they are doing. The folks in the specific scenario I mentioned? They are much more victims here than anything else....
Just my opinion (I'm hardly a lawyer or anything like that). But I know the people I'd be willing to have a beer with and the people I'd pour a beer on if they tried to hang out....
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