Gates foresees ‘new pricing models’ for software sales

It's code for rental. From him.

The IEEE Computer Society has just knocked a giant hole in its street cred by fawning to a certain William H Gates, whom it describes as the person "who enabled [sic] Internet use on a mass scale through software tools that turned PCs into Internet hosts". That's an interesting leap over Mosaic and Netscape, but the IEEE caps it by repeating the old canard that the aforementioned Gates "developed the programming language Basic for the first microcomputer", in an article "by" Gates published in its Internet Computing Online. There's something more scary: it's not fully spelt out, but we're given a glimpse of how Microsoft will control software distribution - to throttle the pirates of course. This great idea of Bill's comes from his visionary discovery that products are changing from being physical to digital, so we must have been mistaken when we thought that seismic processing began to go digital in the 1960s. We can be sure that the size of Microsoft's clunky software will not diminish, because "as bandwidth continues to explode, the size of programs that it's practical to download will grow exponentially". That's interesting, because during the trial Microsoft made a point of how easy it was for Netscape to download its monster browser after Microsoft had choked off most other practical channels. Then there's this "exponentially" business - but if you think back to those 110 baud days, growth hasn't exactly been exponential over the years for most of us mere mortals: it's just got steadily faster. Gates observes that "most" software will be downloaded, and that you'll have a choice of pricing models: one-time use, renting, lifetime use, whatever. The sure and certain point is that Microsoft will be controlling the use and extracting a tax for whatever pricing model the user chooses. Of course, he's obsessively concerned about his intellectual property rights, and observes that "digital rights management is an important focus for us at Microsoft". It is going to be a great opportunity for Microsoft to lock-in more users using the excuse of protecting its property. How long before we find that it's not possible to get Microsoft software without online updates to stop autodestruction? Fortunately for Bill, as he notes in his conclusion, he won't have to handle the cash, "because dollar bills are going digital too". ® Full Gates article

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