Windows Genuine Bullshit
In any case, I run Windows and, the other day, was alerted that "New updates were ready to be installed." Now, I like to keep my machines well-updated and taken care of, if only to defeat the baffling number of security flaws in the Windows OS, so I checked to see what these updates were intended to do. The answer was so fantastic, I took a screenshot for your viewing pleasure:
For those who are wondering: yes, you absolutely read that correctly. Microsoft is offering me an "update" that will determine if my copy of windows is "genuine" and, if not, will help me obtain a legitimate copy. So, in other words, it's a part of Microsoft's copy protection/authentication program. One can only imagine what would happen if my copy of windows weren't genuine. Would I fall victim to annoying Microsoft-derived in-OS popups? Would it randomly crash my computer* until I obtained a legitimate copy? Would it somehow enter my name onto the sex offender registry?
Now, as it happens, my copies of Windows ARE legit but I still didn't install this bit of spyware. There are, frankly, better things to use CPU cycles for than calming Bill Gates' anxiety about software piracy. That said, however, I really wonder about the utility of this approach. I mean, think about it: what sort of person is going to be caught in this dragnet? The hardcore individual pirates probably check all updates before installing the same way I do- and so will thwart this puppy before it gets loaded. The computer startups that put cracked copies of Windows on the machines they sell** won't be the ones who suffer since only their customers will be subject to this idiocy. Oddly, the only pirates who are caught by this will be the unwitting ones- the people who bought a computer for an unreputable dealer or who don't really understand how this works. In other words: the people that are the smallest part of the piracy problem.
Then again, maybe Microsoft has done us a favor. It's given us a little warning about the next program from the Department of Homeland Security: Genuine Homeland Advantage. In the new GHA! program, a DHS agent will be dispatched to your home, will eat a meal with you, and will then search your entire house. If he discovers that you're involved in some sort of subversive activity he will helpfully escort you to a location where you can receive government-sanctioned help. That's awfully nice of DHS, don't you think?
I just have to wonder: if warrantless searches are too dangerous a power to allow a government to possess, why on Earth are private corporations different?
* More than it does now, I mean.
** Happened to me the last time I bought a machine. My copy of Windows came on a burned CD with a hand-scrawled note on it reading "Windows ME." Since then, I've gone to building my own stuff.