Koroush Ghazi of www.TweakGuides.com wrote an article (here) on Vista Licensing from the PC enthusiast's point of view. I happen to think he makes some excellent points.
Here is one quote that particularly resonates with me:
"You might say that [Microsoft's past policies] only demonstrate how generous Microsoft have been in the past, and that having picked up on the confusion, they have now simply clarified their position on transfer rights in the Vista EULA to avoid future problems. I would argue otherwise. To me and many other people this move has only served to open our eyes to just how draconian the Windows licensing arrangements are - and this is what all the fuss and bother is about."
The potential licensing issues are only one of several factors that could delay or prevent me from upgrading to Vista for years, if not forever. The other factors are the expense, the user-unfriendly Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the overbearing Anti-Piracy measures (read Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications). On these points, Koroush provides another insightful quote:
"My training as an Economist tells me that only a company with significant market share, when faced with little competition in said market, can get away with a scenario like this. The games I buy don't have all of these measures or restrictions. The third party applications I buy don't have all these measures or restrictions. Yet apparently I am forced to accept that the one key piece of software my system cannot do without comes with all these added goodies, and at a premium price to boot.
By "goodies", he means the DRM and the Anti-Piracy measures, neither of which are features desired by most PC enthusiasts.
My strategy is clear: I'm staying with XP for as long as possible while I look for alternatives to Vista (or, possibly, eventually discover that Vista isn't so bad). Linux might or might not be an alternative, but until recently I didn't have much interest in Linux. Now, thanks to Microsoft's hard work on Vista, I have renewed interest in Linux. I doubt that was part of Microsoft's strategy.
Who knows if any Linux distro can capitalize on the increase in people "window shopping" now, but the confluence of Microsoft's various decisions with Vista has once again sent many of the hard core Windows enthusiasts out to attempt to make friends with another OS.
This has happened before. I personally hope the current frustration and anger felt by PC enthusiasts over Vista results in a huge boost for Linux this time. If this happens, it's a win-win situation for me. On the one hand, that Linux popularity boost may help ease some of the minor annoyances (such as hardware compatibility) that put an obstacle between me and Linux. That would be my preferred outcome. On the other hand, it might result in more competition for Microsoft in a manner similar to Firefox vs. IE. It should be obvious to any PC user that Firefox's popularity has resulted in Microsoft putting more attention on certain IE upgrades and improvements. A more formidable threat from Linux on the desktop might change the economics cited by Koroush enough to make purchasers of Vista feel a bit more fairly treated.