Can Microsoft become the good guy?...
[controversial mode on]
I've noticed an interesting trend in the magazines articles, newspapers, newsletters and e-mails I read and from the people I speak to. Not so long ago, most things I read had a decidedly anti-Microsoft slant. Issues like it's monopoly over the world's computing systems, the ropiness of Win XP SP1, the effects of MSBlaster, the RegWorm, and hardware compatibility problems made Microsoft public enemy numero uno. What's interesting is that this isn't the case anymore. There's a new bad guy on the block, and many people despise them a lot more than they ever did Microsoft.
So who's this new bad guy? The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). There's a real, visceral hatred for this group. For some, the RIAA is put in the same category as the Inland Revenue, war criminals, virus writers/hackers and child molesters.
And by some strange twist of fate Microsoft has the opportunity to be the world's good guy here. They're already turning things around with Windows XP's newfound stability and reliability (but let's face it they still have a lot of work ahead of them). One thing they can do to become the good guy number 1 is to hold them in distinct contrast to the RIAA.
How? Knock support for DRM (Digital Rights Management or "scumware") on the head. That's right. Bag it up, kick it out the door, and send it to the place where all the other anti-consumer rights ideas go.
Can you imagine what would happen if Microsoft came in on the side of the consumer in this debate? Droves of former Microsoft haters would turn on a sixpence. They'd say Microsoft really is listening to their customers. They'd say that Microsoft was doing the right thing. They'd say the world is changing for the better and Microsoft is leading the way. They'd say that Microsoft is a White Knight coming to their customer's rescue.
Can you imagine? Maybe it's a pipe dream. But, there are thousands of really good, honest, upstanding, and hard working people at Microsoft (no, honestly!). Whenever I happen to talk to a Microsoft employee at work, he or she is usually polite and thoughtful and always really wants to help, (I'm not talking about those off-shored, outsourced, helpdesk contractors), I'm talking real Microsoft employees. Compare these Microsoft folks with the cracked and whacked out people who get the attention at the front end of the music industry.
Microsoft can show everyone they're the good guy, they just need to take one bold step.
So come on Microsoft. Show us what you're made of. Dump DRM.
[controversial mode off]