Microsoft is a corporation. As such it is devoted to extracting as much money as it can from its customers.
The 15 years war.
The original permissive licensing premise was: you bought it you own it, do with it as you will--as long as you do it on one computer at a time. This is not unlike a car or anything else you buy. You can even move it to another computer if you replace your old box. This was the prevailing dogma at the time; software was a physical object that you use as you wish. Because it was the first widely distributed digital, thus copy able product; Microsoft had to limit your use to a single computer at a time.
Microsoft was not concerned with how you used software, just that you used theirs. At the time there were real corporate options, OS/2 and Sun. Microsoft was in a fight for dominance in the workplace. Tactics to maximize profits were of much less importance than the strategic goal market share.
The computer desktop, not unlike a spoken language, is a natural monopoly. As groups of people need to communicate efficiently; they start to agree upon a common language. A common language results in a more productive and efficient environment. The efficiency of a common interface has the same benefit to society. These benefits are not unlike the gains in having a common electric grid or a common telephone system. The utility of an operating system has brought great power to an individual workers and productivity to their employers. Indeed the computer is unarguably an integral part of our modern economy.
Rapid advances in hardware in this era gave computers a realistic 3 year life. The real and perceived increases in computing power and the inexpensive software bundles in this era made an aggressive upgrade doctrine de rigueur. The increases in hardware speed and the addition of features to software made workers more productive. An CIO was foolish not to upgrade, the economics mandated upgrade.
By the late nineties, Microsoft had achieved their goal of market dominance. Indeed, M$ has subsequently been declared a monopoly by the EU and the US.
A M$ victory
M$ having won the OS wars was now in a position of unprecedented power. It now found itself in a position where it could dictate to its customers terms on its own choosing. It was at this point that M$ stopped providing new features, one can make an argument that every conceivable feature was already included, and started to change to a more restrictive licensing regime.
M$ had seen it's revenue and profits grow exponentially; as it should have, as it gained market dominance. It was not ready to relinquish these profits to lazy indolent CIO’s who were happy enough with the computing power at their charges fingertips.
New SKU's from M$ started to appear with different and more restrictive licensing. Indeed the concept of the license itself changed. Until this point, it was understood that you could use your software on any computer you wanted, as long as it was one computer at a time. This concept no longer suited the M$’s revenue demands.
Licensing silently changed to use on single computer for the lifetime of software. If your hardware broke, you had to buy a new OS and productivity suite. This suited M$ as the gains in computing power were no longer apparent to a normal user. Indeed computer upgrade times started to lengthen as faster hardware no longer yielded increased productivity. The difference between Word lunching in a .75 seconds and .25 seconds is not worth the cost of upgrading. In tying the licenses to use to a particular piece of hardware; M$ ensured a continual revenue stream.
Real world usage
It takes 2 to 3 hours to load an OS for a user. Once you have created a usable image, you would want to leverage the time it took to create that image. You cloned that copy and moved it to another computer. Cloning a workstation for a user took minutes instead of hours. By cloning you could create 100 workstations before lunch.
XP changed corporate distribution
XP now needs to be activated to use? XP can only be installed on the computer you bought it with? XP is branded with the MAC address and CPU S/N? WTF???? I have to manage how many 25 digit keys?
M$ knew this type of restrictive usage regime, you bought it, we control it, and you don’t own it; would be unpalatable to a corporate manager so it created the MLOP “Open License.”
Licensing regime changed! The corporate user had to buy an oem license, the one that came with the computer they just bought. If the purchaser wanted a truly usable license, they had to additionally purchase an Open license.
So what if you paid for the now ubiquitous OEM OS license. We, M$, think we should make more $. We think cloning is a feature for we should be paid.
M$ has their cake, the OEM purchase; and eats it too, the MOLP purchase.
XP is good enough.
A grizzled IT manager, veteran of the XP engorgement, fresh from the budget scars of XP, still paying for new OEM licenses; finds that XP is good enough. It doesn’t crash, often. The workers are trained, mostly. Everything works, almost.
M$: XP is must GO.
They are not upgrading and revenue is falling (or at least not rising quickly). How do we, M$, keep the perpetual upgrade machine (PUMp), aka our cash cow, running?
• We create API’s that are OS version sensitive.
• We make the most recent version of these API’s the default in the development tools that we sell.
• We keep poorly documented backward compatibility switches in these tools to keep the luddites at the EU and DOJ off our backs.
As new third party software is created under our New API’s, eventually these applications will obsolete the older OS. We will create obsolescence without being its direct agent! DOJ can’t touch us!
Third party software vendors, complicit in the PUMp; happily compile with the new API’s. They know that older versions of the software won’t install on newer OS’s. This generates new sales for everybody in the extraction PUMp and the governments won’t be the wiser.
M$ 2008: XP must GO now!
Damn, we gave corporations the MLOP. We said they can downgrade their OEM OS to the version of the OS to match their corporate standard. They are STILL using XP!
We create a new license that limits a… downgrade right, that’s it a downgrade right! To two versions.
They will have to upgrade now! We need to sell more, not MLOP but Volume Licenses with this new restriction.
By the way we will remove the terminal server use right, limiting it only to Server 2000. Although we granted TS use rights on any server to early adaptors, we will make it seem like that right was granted only to S2K. Hell lets get out from under this cloud and call TS RDP! Legal tells us we won’t have to worry about any confusion between TS and RDP because they are different products!
In fact, Legal shall now be an integral part of the development cycle. We probably spend more on Legal than we do in development . This isn’t for purposes of product liability; that was clearly stated from the first license; but rather from anti-trust legislation.
M$ 2013 :XP must die, It must die now!
They still wont go! All we are left with is fear, uncertainty and doubt. We will kill security upgrades. We will foster stories of doom. This is our last chance to rid ourselves the profit menace XP.
How much of the core of the OS changed from NT? I suspect it is not the complete rewrite as we are led to believe.
As a monopoly and an essential utility, we as society have a right to limit the extractive predilections of M$. We regulate the phones and the power and the gas and to some extent cable. I don’t begrudge them the right to make a living; but, I take umbrage when they can dictate that I cannot use something I have purchased.
I purchased a MLOP which gave me perpetual use rights to XP along with some OEM version of the OS. It is disingenuous to sell me a perpetual use right when I cannot use it because MS has artificially terminated distribution of a perquisite. Failure to provide a platform from which I can use my “perpetual use” right has artificially terminated those rights without compensation.
We are at the point where M$ profits come at society’s expense. Changing an OS is disruptive to everyone. Changing entire software ecosystems as is required is disruptive in the extreme.
There is nothing architecturally that prevents M$ from building and selling a:
new network stack with actual security
new firewall that actually works like ipfilters
new browser with actual security (Google Chrome works)
As an IT manager it would be far less disruptive to implement these changes within the existing ecosystem; rather than deploying an entirely new ecosystem.
All of the upgrades and their associated costs are unnecessary and are an impediment to our economy. I have yet to find a worker whose productivity has increased due to the implementation of window 8; quite the opposite I suspect.
Many of the new “features” of M$ OSes seem to be structured around reduced licensing flexibility and planned obsolescence. I don’t remember a PDF writer, ( which Google provides in its browser); bare metal backup; reasonable editor, notepad++; etc.
Don’t get me started with the whole M$ LDAP-excuse me, Active Directory domain controller forced upgrades to support new OSes.
Microsoft should also be heavily regulated, but not within the confines of traditional regulatory structures, as these are not suited to software.
I think all code that Microsoft monopoly produces should be held in trust by either or both the DOJ or EU. In the event that Microsoft obsoletes a piece of software, that code shall pass in to the public domain.