Why Hardware needs to be free...
Believe it or not but the great highness Mr. Gates will be giving away free hardware in 5 years...
But is this a act of nobleness or simple lockin?
No it is neither, let me first tell you that IANAL but one does not need to be a lawyer to see this juridical trick coming from far.
This is about DRM and ownership, people at Microsoft are a lot but not fools when it comes to law and litigation.
They know that they can never hold up in court that a person that bought a computer can be forced into not being allowed what to do with his/her own property.
This is the very reason why hardware needs to be "free (of cost)" (read owned by Microsoft and packaged with the software lease).
Then they are fully allowed to keep anybody off their platform as they wish.
This can even meen that people are at risk of jail when doing anything outside the thin bordered terms of usage.
Personally I think this is the largest risk that Mr. Gates is taking in his whole carreer.
The closest model of this is the cellphone/GSM market, after a few very good years you see things are consolidating in that market.
They catched a lot of people by giving away GSM devices for free with a subscription to their services.
People care less about being able to make pics with your cellphone than marketeers first thought.
You see people easily change carrier and care less about some company, look at Nokia...
Also G3 stuff is not at all coming off ground in Europe where some players in that market payed prices way above their company value, yes these bandwidth prices where monstrous.
The bottom line is that joe sixpack runs away from Microsoft as fast as they bought Microsoft stuff in the first place.
Especially when fedup with promisses never held.
My DRM predictions for 2004 and beyond...
You may or more appropriate you have no idea that behind your back the large corperations together with our governments are sneaky putting devices in our equipment that will police what you are allowed to see or not. After repeatedly payments of course. This little scheme of theirs will backfire in a magnitude that is not healthy for most of us on this planet. Nobody will get out of this as a winner though many greedy parties will try and trample all our human rights in the process, this is already happening the moment i am writing this.
This process is called "Digital Ristriction Management", it's all about the "R" in "DRM" namely that what the lobbygroups of the future content deliverers call rights and we the consumers and artists call restriction, Never be fooled by the "R" and vote with your wallet.
So here are a few predictions, i am sure you aint going to like them but this will all happen for real so better be prepared and at least take time to adapt and/or take counter measures.
DRM protected Virusses for both the MS and Cellphone/GSM environment that are not solvable because of rights problems, I am afraid that in ten years from now the network will still be housing virusses written next year and this will only worsen. People will actually die because of medical equipment that will fail in the middle of the treatment because of DRM related bugs that will shut equipment without any reason or are invaded by virusses due to monocultured DRM solutions. Some companies and more later will go bankrupt because their inability to have their books audit by external accountants because of lockout of their own systems due to DRM bugs. Big time criminals wont be stopped but will use DRM to keep law enforcement and governments out of places where they don't belong. Important routers and switches will be hyjacked and whole parts of the internet made into rogue networks. Big telco's will be extorted and some will loose their whole network including their heighspeed backbones because of lockout out of their own equipment. There will come 1000's of propriarity DRM protocols used by hackers and a larger and larger network of general public, mainly because even as we speak all our governments aren't able to enfore their by lobby/single interests groups endorsed laws (hence the flee into DRM). Yes some individual people will become victim of our governments crampy enforcement russian style, but as a whole they will get trampled over by the extremely fast oil spot. I think DRM will turn out to be the worst enemy of our governments and corporations and it will be used against them as much as they will use it against us. I guess hunting season is opened where the prey are we but also is our government and corperations and the double barrel gun is called DRM. Happy Hunting(tm) I guess... I will duck if you don't mind...
Of course some synicism in the above story is obvious, but on a serious note I want to warn large corporations and governments that at some point the exclusion is mutual and will be deadly for them as much as it is for us "normal" people. Digital Restriction Management is enforcing law without any accountability for the enforcer and don't look strange if I happen to be your enforcer instead of the other way around, stranger things happen in life.
Some better news too, mainly to show that REAL security does not have to cost money and certainly does not need obscurity (DRM). Probably you heard of the term "Knoppix" around you, Knoppix is what you call a Life Linux Distribution. At this moment the number of projects that follow Knoppix are hard to count as they are popping up like mushrooms in the fall. The MAIN MAIN MAIN feature is safety, not one virus, trojan or other nasty is able to infect the OS and programs sitting on the CD as they are read only, so the threat is reduced to data infection so narrowing things a lot security wise. I predict that MS will loose a lot of customers to Life CD vendors as the CD and a memory stick/floppy disk are enough to fire such a OS up, no installing failiours and we all know how many you get of them when choosing MS to solve your IT problems.
The second feature is ease of use as there is no installing involved. The fun part and main efford is to make as many as posible computer environments including differences of hardware setup and options like video and audio. You can virtually insert that cd in anyone's computer and use it as your own with your own trusted desktop with your own trusted apps.
Things are only be secure if they can withstand public scrunity and review, obscurity is a fools game.