Monday, September 13, 2010

Did Microsoft just show Google a thing or two?

Microsoft found out that the Russian government is using the excuse of investigating software piracy to seize computers from advocacy groups and opposition newspapers. They quickly issued a change to their software licensing to protect those groups. As the New York Times states it:
The company essentially prohibited its Russian division from taking part in piracy cases against government opponents and declared that it would thwart any attempt by the authorities, in this country and elsewhere, to use such inquiries to exert political pressure.
That is a very bold, decisive move. It's not the sort of move one would necessarily associate with Microsoft, who has been quite loyal to profits as a general rule, but one I welcome. I suppose, in my jaded, calloused way, that it could have been a calculated move to take advantage of Google's bad press over bowing to political pressure, but such moves don't usually happen that quickly. Somebody high up in Microsoft had the guts to assess the situations and say "No, we won't allow this".

Good for them.

Though I can't help but wonder what Russia will do in response. This is the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel: Megacorp vs. megapower. And like a Tom Clancy novel, I suspect much of the maneuvering will be out of public sight.

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