Interesting article in today's Desktop Pipeline newsletter entitled "Microsoft Knows Where You Live . . . Or Soon Will" which I have quoted below.
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Here is the article:Editor's Note: Microsoft Knows Where You Live . . . Or Soon Will
This week was almost All-Microsoft-All-The-Time as the Redmond software giant made so much news it was hard to keep up. The company announced its earnings forecast for the next year and took lots of lumps from analysts because it expected lower earnings. The reason, it seems, is that Gates & Co. are building a war chest of a couple of billion dollars to go after Google. (See this morning's New York Times story.)
But what does that have to do with the other Microsoft news of the week, that the company is casting a wider net for pirated Windows and even gearing up to go after pirated copies of Office? Actually plenty, I think. I would cite one more story from last week: "Microsoft Nearly Finished With Windows Live ID Deployment."
When Microsoft announced it had gotten religion about Web service and started rebranding everything "Live" last year I was skeptical. I'm not anymore. Microsoft is going full tilt at becoming an advertising-driven company. And the first step is to make sure it owns its customers.
For years Microsoft has had a . . . difficult . . . relationship with its customers. I'm not talking about all the Microsoft customers who hate the company. I'm talking about Microsoft's very early realization that software buyers need a lot of support -- a LOT of support -- and if you provided as much support as they wanted you'd never make a dime on them.
So it just didn't do support. You bought a PC with Windows on it and whose customer were you? Not Microsoft's. Microsoft didn't want to hear from you. If you had trouble with your OS you had to call the PC maker.
As long as business was good Microsoft didn't care too much if some copies of Windows and Office weren't official and registered. Piracy was less costly than customer service.
But (a) business isn't so good anymore, and (b) the business model is changing. (It's not the first time, either -- remember when Microsoft discovered desperate PC owners would actually pay for tech support? Suddenly there were phone numbers you could call.) It's the business model change that's the biggest driver of the anti-piracy campaigns, I think. If Microsoft is going to be an advertising company, it's going to need to know a lot more about its customers -- like who they are and where they live and how much money they make and what they like to do on weekends. If Windows Live ID actually does manage to get single-sign-on right for Microsoft (something the Passport program apparently never quite did) and does get tied to Microsoft's registration databases, pretty soon only the IRS and your mother will know more about you than Microsoft. And I'm not really sure about your mother.
Editor, Desktop Pipelinewww.DesktopPipeline.com