No More Windows CD-ROMs

That all important Windows CD-ROM? Well, Microsoft says you don't deserve one.

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April 2000 - Windows needs to be reloaded fairly often, and when it comes time to reload it, having your Windows CD-ROM is essential. Now, you won't have one. PC makers with a Windows contract are now forbidden to provide their customers with a Windows CD-ROM. PC makers have two options:
  1. Option-1: Provide a "Recovery Disk" that will restore Windows to it's original condition and can be used only with that exact model, in the factory configuration.
  2. Option-2: Install Windows on a "maintenance partition" on the hard disk from which Windows can be restored on the working partition.

This policy is aready in effect. One maker relayed customer complaints back to Microsoft and was told, "They aren't going to like it, but that's the way it's going to be".

  • Option 1: If you misplace your CD, you cannot simply use one from another computer, it won't work.
  • Option 1: Companies have a nightmare situation trying to maintain a library of CDs, each identified to a particular computer. Techs can no longer simply carry around one CD.
  • Option 1: If Windows needs to be reinstalled, you may only be able to return your computer to its factory condition, losing all your configurations and software (depends on how the OEM did the recovery process).
  • Option 1 & 2: You cannot change or upgrade your computer.
  • Option 2: If your hard disk dies, or a virus hits the partition table, you cannot legally reinstall Windows without buying a new retail Windows package for $179 (or you can buy the new hard disk from a small builder who can bundle in OEM Windows for $98).

This policy affects all computer manufacturers who have a Windows contract. It covers Windows 98, Windows Me (yet to be released) and Windows 2000 Workstation. Windows 2000 Advanced Server still comes with a CD-ROM.

Small builders (like Automation Access) who do not have an OEM contract will still be able to deliver a Windows CD-ROM, but we pay more than twice as much for Windows as the big guys.

The reason given for the policy is to "reduce piracy". Funny thing about "anti-piracy" measures: they never hurt the pirates, only legitimate users, but this isn't really an anti-piracy move at all. With this policy, in fact, many legitimate users will feel forced to pirate Windows.

The real reason for this move is to prevent users from trying Linux or BeOS, because they can't reinstall Windows (a computer manufacturer says a Microsoft rep actually admitted this to him).

Automation Access recommends: move to Linux or OS/2 if you can. If you can't, buy your PCs from a small builder who can supply the CD-ROM (for now). Otherwise, bend over for Bill.

More details in Ed Foster's InfoWorld column.

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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