The new Microsoft Vista operating system will disable your computer if it decides you are running a pirated copy of the new system.
The world's largest software maker said Wednesday that people running a version of Windows Vista that it believes is pirated will initially be denied access to some of the most anticipated Vista features. That includes Windows Aero, an improved graphics technology.
If a legitimate copy is not bought within 30 days, the system will curtail functionality much further by restricting users to just the Web browser for an hour at a time, said Thomas Lindeman, Microsoft senior product manager.
Under that scenario, a person could use the browser to surf the Web, access documents on the hard drive or log onto Web-based e-mail. But the user would not be able to directly open documents from the computer desktop or run other programs such as Outlook e-mail software, Lindeman said.
Microsoft said it won't stop a computer running pirated Vista software from working completely, and it will continue to deliver critical security updates.
The company also said it has added more sophisticated technology for monitoring whether a system is pirated. For example, the system will be able to perform some piracy checks internally, without contacting Microsoft, Lindeman said.
Microsoft also is adding ways to more closely monitor for piracy among big corporate users, who tend to buy licenses in bulk.
Microsoft plans to take similar tough measures with the forthcoming version of its Windows server software, dubbed "Longhorn," and to incorporate it into other products down the road.
Which is one reason I'm looking into this right now. (That and the enormous expense of Microsoft software). I have an older computer kicking about that I can experiment with to see if I like Linux-based systems.
UPDATE: Already having had one comment that misunderstood me, all of my Microsoft software is legal. Period. But I take a bit of umbrage at a software company that thinks it has a right to do anything to my computer without my permission. I have absolutely no plans to upgrade to Vista – probably ever.