Rational Technology for September 11, 2005
September 16 is marked on a great number of people's calendars. It's supposed to be the day when local law enforcement agencies will swoop down on business establishments nationwide to crack down on illegally-installed software, said software specifically being the different iterations of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
Now, this is supposed to be confidential information, of course. Raids like this, to be effective, should be prepared in secrecy and rely on the element of surprise to net the greatest number of miscreants. And being confidential information, in the Philippines anyway, everyone already knows about it.
Seriously, though, the element of fear is of probably greater use in this situation, precisely why the rumor is already making the rounds of the IT community. Microsoft, being the multibillion dollar business concern that it is, has less interest in making crooks of potential customers and more in making these potential customers legalize their software. By paying the necessary fees, of course.
Let's take a step back and review what this is all about. The following guide questions should help.
1) Are you running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or any other flavor of Microsoft Windows on your computer? If the answer is no, congratulations, you don't need to read the rest of the article. If the answer is yes, proceed to question 2.
2) Are you using a branded computer (IBM, Compaq, Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc.)? When you got this computer, was Windows pre-installed? If the answer is yes, proceed to question 3. Otherwise go to question 5.
3) Did you or anyone install a different version of Windows on your computer? Example, perhaps your computer came with Windows 98, you might have decided to install Windows XP. If the answer is no, proceed to the bonus question below. If the answer is yes, proceed to question 4.
4) Did you install your new version of Windows from a licensed upgrade pack? Did you pay for your upgrade pack? Do you have the necessary papers to prove it? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you are in violation.
5) Since you are reading this question, most likely, you had this computer assembled in a shop. Did you buy an operating system license with your computer? Do you have the necessary papers to prove it? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you are in violation.
6) Special question for Internet cafe operators: Even if you passed questions 1 through 5 with flying colors, did you sign up with Microsoft's special licensing agreement for Internet cafes? No? Then you are in violation. You see, the license you bought to use Windows only allows you, the buyer, to use it. You are not allowed to rent it out to other people.
Bonus question: Are you running Microsoft Office on your computer? If so, did you purchase the license? Do you have the papers to prove it.
If you are in violation of the Microsoft licensing agreement in any way, what are your options?
Option one: you can legalize your software by buying full licenses of Windows and Office. This means paying anywhere from P5,000 to P8,000 for each machine on which you are running Windows, and P15,000 for each machine on which you are running Microsoft Office. And of course, you would do that, because we can't live without Windows and Office, right? I mean, it's ingrained in our very DNA, we drink the instructions along with our mother's milk, and our brains are simply far too atrophied to learn anything else.
Option two: move to Linux. But really, this isn't an option, right? Linux is simply too difficult to learn because the icons are all in the wrong places and it simply just kills you that they are in the wrong places. Because Linux doesn't run Windows viruses and spyware. And we can't live without viruses and spyware, right? After all, viruses and spyware, like Windows, are part of our DNA.
Option three: hide. This whole week, bring your computers home. When the Microsoft people come asking, tell them: this is Dumaguete, so please explain to me what a computer is, because I've heard so many great things about it but I don't have any idea what it looks like. And just in case they decide to visit you at home, make sure you have backups of all your important data.
And there's the fourth option: scoff at rumors. This is just another scare for Microsoft to increase sales. After all, these raids really don't happen in a small town like Dumaguete anyway, right?
It can't happen here. Can it?