I hate DRM. This week I got a lesson in why DRM is bad.
As many of you know, last week I experienced some computer problems which lead to me subsequently not posting anything on Friday of week. On Thursday, morning when I turned on my computer I received the dreaded 3 beeps error message coming from my computer. Regardless of what I tried, the computer would not boot up and I was left with only one option. To go out and replace my computers hardware, which included my CPU, Motherboard and memory.
After work on Friday, I spent the better part of my afternoon trying again in vain to get my computer running. So, I ran out to a nearby computer store and bought a new motherboard, CPU and Memory and spent the remainder of the evening watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and removing the old motherboard and installing my new one.
As I started up my computer and managed to install all my new drivers, I noticed a new pop up in my right side tray. Due to the fact that I had replaced my motherboard, my Microsoft Vista operating system (which I had bought by the way), was telling me that my copy Vista was already in use by someone else and that I would have to buy a new product key or call Microsoft. And if I didn't resolve the problem in 3 days, my operating system was going to deactivate. This really wasn't news to me as I had heard about this on the Windows Weekly podcast on the Twit Network, but yet it was still very disappointing.
On Sunday, I decided to make the call to Microsoft, as I didn't want my computer that I had worked so hard to get running to be shut down on me, especially since I had paid for everything myself. So, I called tech support, which was probably my first mistake. I think that I should add hear that I really feel sorry for anyone that has a lot of tech support issues, Microsoft's menuing system is very, very terrible. To get to speak to a person, was a very painful process.
When I finally was able to speak to someone I was told that I need to speak to the activation department and that he couldn't help me over on tech support. The Tech support person than offered to transfer me over to the activation department, but I guess he must have made a mistake and I ended up waiting on a line to nowhere. Luckily the person I had spoken to had given me the number to the Activation department.
Now this is were it got really painful. The number I called offered me a automated voice system that wanted me to speak into the phone in order for me to navigate the menu. The only problem was that it seemed to not be perfect at recognizing what I was saying and it would cut me off when I was speaking. Its probably the worst voice recognition system I've ever dealt with. I found that I had to yell into the phone for it to recognize what I was saying, and it never offered an option for me to use dialing to select the menu options.
When I finally got to speak to a person in the Activation department. The person started to give me the wrong instructions. The person was asking me to click on Windows Activation when it was actually another option that I was supposed to click on, and thus was about to transfer me to tech support stating that I had a technical issue with my Windows and that I should speak to them. (The only Technical issue I had was Genuine Advantage.) To this I had to put my foot down, and insist on the person helping me, as I really wasn't up for playing tag with different Microsoft departments.
As I explained what was on the screen, sure enough I was able to activate my Windows, with no need of going to the Tech Support guys.
During this whole ordeal that I went through, I had this thought running through my head the entire time. If I had simply just pirated my Windows Vista (or Windows 7), I would have had no problems. So here I am a paying customer, trying to do the right thing and I feel like I'm getting punished. I didn't do anything wrong. But yet I receive a worse experience to those that have pirated the software. And sure there are issues with updating your Windows software if you pirate. But at lest I know I should be having some issues due to the fact that I never paid for the software.
So really the Pirates do come out ahead of us honest people. If Microsoft or any other company wants to place their DRM on our machines they really need to understand that its the honest people that are continuely the victums of their DRM schemes. As the bad guys know how to break the DRM, so it doesn't affect them nor does it stop them.
I do sympathize with Microsoft and others that are trying to protect their software, but I can't sympathize with companies that abuse their customers. These guys really need a wake up call. And I hope it comes soon.