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Will Vista be pirate-proof?

Lisa Napoli Oct 4, 2006

BOB MOON: Come on. Admit it. At some point, maybe you’ve installed software on your computer that you . . . borrowed. Which, in the world of technology, is a euphemism for “stolen.” Figuring out how to keep people from stealing software has been an expensive problem for the tech industry. But now Bill Gates and company may have found a way to out-clever the most clever computer pirates. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli explains:

LISA NAPOLI: The long-awaited and much-delayed new operating system from Microsoft is called Vista. And the folks at the House of Gates have announced that when it finally starts shipping later this year it’ll come with a new feature:

If you install a copy you haven’t actually paid for, after 30 days . . .

JORIS EVERS:“They’ll put you into a reduced functionality mode. That will allow you to use your browser for up to an hour. And then you’re logged out of your computer and you can’t use it anymore.”

And then, says Joris Evers of News.com, your computer’s usefulness will be limited. Evers says reaction to the very idea of this kind of kill switch isn’t sitting well with some people:

EVERS:“Some people think Microsoft is going a couple of steps too far. You know, if it’s your PC, you bought the computer and you’re running Windows on it, isn’t it a little too much if Microsoft starts locking you out of using your PC effectively?”

Perhaps not if your business is selling software.

Liz Montalbano of the IDG News Service says the vast power Microsoft wields makes it:

LIZ MONTALBANO:“The company everyone loves to hate. It’s the idea of Robin Hood. You don’t feel like you’re actually hurting someone when you steal software. There’s no victim, really, unless you look at Microsoft, and they’re hardly a victim.”

Unless you believe the statistics from the Business Software Alliance. It says over a third of all software running on the world’s PCs is stolen.

The mighty Microsoft’s been encountering a different sort of trouble this week. Two top security firms are angry that the new Vista won’t allow their virus-fighting systems to work.

In New York, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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