Microsoft and Digital Rights Management

Billy flexes his muscle

Let's face it: Bill Gates owns you and the tech industry.

The PC market essentially breathes the air that Microsoft administers through a giant respirator called "Windows". Even the niche market for Mac users is being exposed; Microsoft's famous operating system can now be found on Macintosh computers, a feat that was once considered as possible as ordering a Big Mac from Burger King. Over the years, nerdy, young Bill has become nerdy, middle-aged Bill, and within that time Microsoft tightened its grip on the competition's windpipe. In the past, the one way to avoid contributing to Gates' billions was to pirate Windows software, a misdemeanor that became a global trend.

Advertiser Links for Microsoft and Digital Rights Management
PlayForSure is Microsoft’s DRM badge of approval.

Thus, no one would be surprised by the measures Microsoft has taken in recent years to root out the growing number of pirates. In many companies, system administrators openly dealt pirated operating systems to employees. Think file-sharing was a relaxed crime? Hocking pirated versions of Windows has become an act that wouldn't make a nun blink, not even for a second.

WGA

That might all change in the next few years, as Microsoft undertakes drastic measures to bring everyone under its ideal Digital Rights Management umbrella. First, there's the Windows Genuine Advantage, or WGA. For those who have dealt with WGA first hand, it is anything but an advantage. Although it won't pester you with deals on Viagra, WGA is being compared to many spyware programs. It's Microsoft's way of ensuring that everyone is playing safe, and by that we mean running legitimate software. For now, WGA has been simply sneaking onto the registries of unsuspecting users through "critical updates," but in the future it could potentially shut down the computers of those who possess "unofficial" copies of Windows. Tough love, to be sure.

As for the music industry, Microsoft has its own strategy there. This is called "PlayForSure", which is a type certification application for music files. Those that are labeled with the PlayForSure logo will play on any media player. Those that aren't labeled…well, you get the point. It's an unclear system that has seemingly confused as many users as it has directed, and so there's a definite need for the clarification we'll provide in this guide.

Oh, thank heavens for us!