As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.

Source: Bill Gates

There have been numerous articles around the net that Microsoft has killed off OGA (or in Microsoft’s words “retired”).

Microsoft “retiring” OGA should, for once, be a good news story from Redmond.

Or should it?

There is no doubt to me in the obvious surge of popularity for FOSS or even proprietary alternatives to Microsoft products.  Its been said that the two main cash-cows Microsoft has remaining (in lieu of its patent portfolio and a predicted more aggressive patent attack) are Office and Windows.  We see products like OpenOffice taking users away from that cash cow, LibreOffice, AbiWord, Google Docs are but a few that are taking a bite out of Microsoft’s cash pie.

Could the OGA retirement be an attempt to achieve that which Bill Gates envisioned those years ago, where it appears Microsoft was quite happy for people to pirate their products in order for this “addiction” to take place?  Afterall, why should the majority of users spend money on Microsoft Office, when there are free alternatives?

A possible result of OGA retiring for Microsoft in light of all this “inconvenient” competition to their cash-cow, would be to allow the distribution of moody copies of their software and get their return later.  I wonder?

Microsoft provided no further details about reasons for dropping OGA.

Source: Here.

I am sure they are not providing any further details, but looking back at other comments Bill Gates made in respect of piracy:

It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.

Source: Wikipedia

and we can now maybe see that “retiring” OGA may well be a good idea if they want to keep their Office product in the fore.  Of course competition to MS Office is not about Linux, Windows has its own native version of the competitors to its product, but it highlights to me that maybe Microsoft is now looking to piracy to save the products which people are moving away from.

Microsoft is reported to be rather non-committal in regards to the reason behind the removal of OGA with it being reported to have said:

The Office Genuine Advantage program was designed to notify many customers around the world whether their copy of Microsoft Office was genuine. The program has served its purpose and thus we have decided to retire the program

Which is rather strange since we have seen a massive increase in piracy of any digital products, we see reports of governments and anti-piracy agencies tackling BitTorrent trackers, nzb indexers to such an extent the “pirates” have fought back with a ddos campaign under the name “Operation Payback”.  In the face of all this Microsoft thinks it’s served its purpose?  Has the piracy issue suddenly gone away or more worryingly do people not even want Microsoft products for free via a pirated route? – I’ll let you decide.

Food for thought.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com / TwitterIdenti.ca

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.