Microsoft Piracy Check: No More PC Phone Home

Privacy activists, journalists and even regular folk were upset to learn that Windows Genuine Advantage was set up so your PC would contact Microsoft each and every day -- just to say, "Hi." Microsoft claimed this was essential to keeping the program working, and that no personal info was being sent (I'm not sure if Bill Gates has time to read your e-mail, anyway).

Last week, buried in the sixth paragraph of an otherwise obscure press release entitled "Windows Genuine Advantage Bolsters Frontline in Anti-Piracy Fight," Microsoft disclosed that the anti-piracy checker will no longer phone home every day -- but it does promise to write!

Meanwhile Microsoft is aggressively promoting research to help protect personal privacy.

Maybe these teams should start working together.

Office 2007 in 2007?
It looked like Microsoft, with Office 2007, might actually ship something in a timely manner. Unlike Vista, which has more issues than Mariah Carey, Office 2007 seemed stable, complete and more or less good to go -- but not good enough for Redmond. Citing performance problems, Microsoft is pushing back the shipment to late this year or sometime next.

It may be that no news is bad news. With everyone harping on the Office delay, who has time to think about OpenOffice or the good ol' Corel suite?

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Does Ballmer Matter?
Business 2.0 -- a magazine that rode the heights of the Internet wave, crashed when the bubble burst and was brought back to life when Time bought it -- has a smug little feature story where it decided which tech titans don't matter anymore. On the list is Linus Torvalds (I guess Linux is somehow now irrelevant?) and Steve Ballmer. I'm not sure what board meetings Business 2.0 reporters sat in to reach this conclusion, but it's a cheap, easy and unfair potshot.

Sure, Microsoft would be just fine without Ballmer, as it will be without Mr. Gates. But Steve knows his company perhaps better than anyone and clearly played a part in re-architecting the top technical team. Microsoft's business is undergoing a radical transformation, and to assume that you somehow know that Ballmer has no role is a mite arrogant.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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