If you’ve bought a computer from a major manufacturer recently, you’re familiar with this gig. You bought Windows with the machine, but you don’t get an install disk. Instead, you get a second partition on the disk from which you can re-install Windows if you need to.
The only problem is that if the hard disk fails, and that’s the most common failure at 3-5 years of ownership, you don’t get to reinstall legally.
Microsoft makes a big noise about how many people pirate their software, but from a user-centric point of view, they’re forcing people into piracy. First, they charge corporate rates for their operating systems, which makes no sense as an operating system is required to make the machine do anything. Next, they tie you into these per-machine licenses.
It’s not very productive to encourage people to think of a machine as the way they get their operating system, because next time, they might just buy a different machine. More of them are.
Instead, Microsoft should concentrate on a per-customer basis, where customer is an individual, a family or a business. Get people accounts on the Microsoft site. Buy the operating system and updates are free. Need to add a computer? $25. Need support? Contracts are $50/year.
It’s clean and easy, and it allows Microsoft to sell other products from one Amazon-like interface. It might be too straightforward for the software industry however.