Sunday, July 02, 2006

Turning the FUD tables on Microsoft, Big Time!

Wanna scare the crap out of giant, monopolistic software companies such as Microsoft? Tell your legislators that you want to see lemon laws applied to things such as Microsoft Windows and Office. If their products don't work reasonably well as advertised (in other words, taking all of Microsoft's marketing hype at face value and ignoring the carefully concealed (in fine print) disclaimers) then the companies should be held liable.

Take a look at the following excerpt from the Microsoft Windows XP EULA:

[....]

16. LIMITED WARRANTY FOR SOFTWARE ACQUIRED IN THE US AND CANADA. Microsoft warrants
that the Software will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying materials for a period of ninety (90)
days from the date of receipt.
If an implied warranty or condition is created by your state/jurisdiction and federal or state/provincial law prohibits
disclaimer of it, you also have an implied warranty or condition, BUT ONLY AS TO DEFECTS DISCOVERED
DURING THE PERIOD OF THIS LIMITED WARRANTY (NINETY DAYS). AS TO ANY DEFECTS
DISCOVERED AFTER THE NINETY DAY PERIOD, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY
KIND. Some states/jurisdictions do not allow limitations on how long an implied warranty or condition lasts, so the
above limitation may not apply to you.
Any supplements or updates to the Software, including without limitation, any (if any) service packs or hot fixes
provided to you after the expiration of the ninety day Limited Warranty period are not covered by any warranty or
condition, express, implied or statutory.

17. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. The Limited Warranty that appears above is the only express warranty
made to you and is provided in lieu of any other express warranties or similar obligations (if any) created by any
advertising, documentation, packaging, or other communications. Except for the Limited Warranty and to the
maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft and its suppliers provide the Software and support services (if
any) AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, and hereby disclaim all other warranties and conditions, whether express,
implied or statutory, including, but not limited to, any (if any) implied warranties, duties or conditions of
merchantability, of fitness for a particular purpose, of reliability or availability, of accuracy or completeness of
responses, of results, of workmanlike effort, of lack of viruses, and of lack of negligence, all with regard to the
Software, and the provision of or failure to provide support or other services, information, software, and related content
through the Software or otherwise arising out of the use of the Software. ALSO, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR
CONDITION OF TITLE, QUIET ENJOYMENT, QUIET POSSESSION, CORRESPONDENCE TO DESCRIPTION
OR NON-INFRINGEMENT WITH REGARD TO THE SOFTWARE.
[....]

Microsoft touts its buggy bloatware as being wonderful operating system software, business software, etc. Yet (despite massive advertising campaigns to the contrary in practice) it won't guarantee that its software is going to do much of anything in particular.

Wouldn't it be interesting if Microsoft was obligated to live up to its marketing blather?

When you buy or lease new a car from a major automobile manufacturer, you can reasonably expect that it will do the things that one expects a car to do and that any wacky, extremely contraintuitive disclaimers like the one in the EULA above that the manufacturers sneak in are not going to make a bit of difference if your new car just doesn't work the way we all expect cars to work, especially if it doesn't do the things it is portrayed doing in advertisements (such as start and operate, respond to the controls, not blow up burn up or release lethal quantities of toxic gases inside the passenger compartment, etc.)

What I am suggesting is that Microsoft be far more concerned that its products do what they as touted as being able to do and not have the time to waste on crap like incomprehensible EULAs and spyware such as WGA.

It would not take much to put a lot of public pressure on Microsoft to clean up its sorry act. A few million pissed off, justifiably unsatisfied, ripped off, mistreated or otherwise seriously unhappy users who are willing to take things to court, possibly with help from the hordes of greedy lawyers out there, are all that is needed to make Microsoft become more responsible and far less monopolistic in its behavior.

BTW, lest you think I welcome strict regulation of software companies or, even worse, licensing of IT professionals, I do not. I am very content to leave the government out of things, as long as companies such as Microsoft don't expect to go running to the government and have it help them stomp "the little guy" (read: you and me).

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