Microsoft's Copy Protection: Time to Mend It--Or End It

The Obliteration Option

Of course, the folks in Redmond could eliminate all of WGA's problems simply by eliminating the technology altogether. I don't expect this to happen, but it's not unthinkable. PC history holds multiple examples of software companies discontinuing the use of copy controls, from Lotus in the 1980s to Intuit after the 2003 tax season.

Every past instance of a product losing its shackles has had two things in common: There were unprotected competitors, and users told the developers behind the copy-protected ones that enough was enough. If I were Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, I'd take note of the fact that there's no such thing as Mac Genuine Advantage or Linux Genuine Advantage--and I'd listen very carefully to what customers have to say about copy protection in Windows.

Last time I checked, I wasn't Steve Ballmer, but I'm still interested in your thoughts on all this. Drop me a line at, with your take on WGA.

Picks of the Month

Vizio GV42LF high-definition LCD TV.
Vizio GV42LF high-definition LCD TV.

As I was finishing this column, the 27-inch TV I've owned for a decade died on me. I didn't mourn a bit, though--it was the excuse I needed to start shopping for a flat-screen HDTV.

I'm still looking, but my old set croaked at an opportune time: The PC World Test Center was wrapping up its examination of models for the November issue's roundup, "LCD vs. Plasma: Which HDTV Is Right for You?" Of the units we tested, I'm most intrigued by two from Vizio: the VP42 plasma and the GV42LF LCD. These sets aren't perfect, but they delivered some of the best images our jury saw, at prices much lower than those of most big-name high-def models. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Read Editor in Chief Harry McCracken's blog at

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