I have never been a fan of any system that makes life MORE difficult for people who pay for software than for those who pirate it. I also detest any company that treats all it’s clients like criminals. This is why I have issues with those music and movie studios who force DRM on people, and also with MicroSoft and their insultingly named “Genuine Advantage” program. To treat people like criminals because they were good enough to pay for your software is insulting enough. But then having the gall to call the spyware they force upon their customers to continually verify their non-criminality “Genuine Advantage” is just adding insult to injury. It was the invention of Genuine Advantage that proved to be the final straw that drove me away from Windows to Linux and then to OS X. Today, I feel I can rightfully say “I told you so”. Genuine Advantage is now BROKEN. It’s not 100% down but loads of people are having their valid Windows installs marked as pirated and cripled because of a major problem with the Genuine Advantage servers. At the moment the best estimate for a time to repair is next Tuesday! Many people who were good enough to actually pay for Microsoft’s mediocre OS are now being denied service by MicroSoft. Way to reward your loyal customers Bill!

[tags]MicroSoft, Windows, Genuine Advantage[/tags]

OK, enough gloating, time to get serious. If you run Windows you need to be very careful for the next few days until the geniuses in Redmond fix this colossal cock-up. Don’t do ANYTHING that will make your machine phone home to Redmond because it will fail and invalidate your copy of Windows! Don’t apply any updates and don’t activate any software you just bought. You are legally allowed to use Windows for 30 days between validations, you now just have to hope that you’re not getting near the end of those 30 days! If you are your copy of Windows will mark itself as an illegal copy regardless of how much of your hard earned cash you gave to MicroSoft when it tries to phone home and fails. If this should happen to you DON’T REBOOT, that will disable features in your MS Software. This is particularly important to Vista users who’s machines will be crippled by being rebooted while marked as illegal.

You can read more about this mess in this article on Ars Technica and this blog post at PC World. In the mean time, I’d love to hear from any Windows user who feels that they are getting any sort of genuine advantage because they were moral and chose to pay for their copy of Windows. Doesn’t it make you feel good to know that you are so un-trusted by MS that they are happy to totally jeopardise the functionality of the OS you were good enough to pay for!

Oh … just one more thing … and if you do get messed up by this you might want to download a live CD from Ubuntu to tide you over. And next time you buy a new computer you might want to give serious consideration to buying a Mac, Apple don’t defecate on their loyal customers from on high like this.