The problem when you appoint yourself chief of police over software theft is that people will hold you much more accountable for the mistakes you make. That’s what Microsoft has discovered after a server problem with its Windows Genuine Advantage service caused some innocent users to be targeted as pirates. If the criticism is bad now, it’s only going to get worse.
Microsoft is already held up as an example (though often a poor one) for the rest of the industry. It has access to the best technology, the best talent. It should have over-performing systems. This kind of error should not be able to happen, and if it did, there should be enough redundancy built in that no one would ever know about it.
In the long-term, of course, this is a relatively isolated incident, and it’s not going to spell the end of WGA. Customers don’t have a choice about that, any more than they do software audits. But at least most software audits won’t come after you on a Saturday. In August.
In other piracy news, check out Mari-Len’s story today about a new way to scan for pirated software. The Microsoft-funded counterpart to the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST), the Business Software Alliance, refused to comment on it.