I have been using Windows for quite a while. 13 years, actually, maybe more. When I bought my laptop just one year ago, it came with Windows XP. I considered Linux as an option at some point, but I urgently needed a computer to work (to found Mozilla Europe), and I knew that setting up Linux on my Centrino-based laptop would take quite some time, so I went the easy way and kept Windows XP, despite its many security weaknesses.

Then Service Pack 2 (SP2) for XP was announced, with tons of promises, a better firewall, many security patches. I have been waiting for it for many months. Then on the first of September, it became available to French users of Windows. I fired Windows Update (the only real reason to keep using IE) and chose to install SP2. I was just about to click on the I accept button of the EULA page, and I remembered these words of wisdom: never sign a contract you have not read. So I browsed through pages of legal lingo just to make sure there was no language in there that would require me to sacrifice my first son to the Redmond cult. Nothing about human sacrifice in the EULA, but something very worrying:

Microsoft and its business partners can prevent me from reading some files that are stored on my personal hard drive.

I understand that this feature (called DRM, for Digital Rights Management) has been written in order to protect me from using illegal digital content, such as pictures, music and videos. Personnally, I do not use peer-to-peer networks to download such files (but I do use BitTorrent to legally download Open Source Software, though).

  1. I find it unacceptable to prevent me from accessing files that are stored on my hard drive. (I certainly would not accept any company representative to enter my home, "just to make sure" I do not have anything illegal here);
  2. I was really upset that installing this DRM feature was about to be done silently, without letting me know, while I was about to download a major security update;
  3. The French law (I live in France) allows me to freely share private copies of music and videos to close friends and family members. Making a copy of a CD I own to give to my brother is legal here in France, and I do not accept that a company tries to limit my rights, as they are granted by the French law.

Therefore, I have decided to jump ship, and I am writing this very post in my shiny new install of Fedora Core 2, where I have installed my favorite pieces of software: Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Gaim, Liferea and a text editor. I did take me a bit of time to make my Wifi card work (thanks to Peterv for the hand), but it was worth it, as Freedom has no price.

P.S.: The idea of bundling DRM with a security update is actually not new. SlashDot mentionned this over two years ago. Now, it's just on a much wider scale, as millions of people are considering upgrading to XP SP2. As Slashdot stated then: "So if you want your machine secure, you also want microsoft to have free reign on your PC."