Nick White of the Official Windows Vista Blog asked me about the mechanics of putting additional Windows Vista licenses at a lower price point. He may be playing Devil's Advocate here, but I'll bite anyways. But since I already discussed many of the mechanics, I have some things for you (and the rest of Microsoft) to think about.
So here's the big question: Would you rather have millions of copies sell for less than retail value, or have millions of copies pirated? Microsoft's solution is to sacrifice up the millions of other computers that won't get upgraded because you're worried about the edge cases that might abuse the system? Doesn't that go beyond the 80-20 rule (80% of the people won't abuse the system)? So what if a friend buys it for someone instead. You've sold another copy of Vista that you might not have before, whatever the price. Isn't your goal to get everyone off 95/98/ME/2000 and onto Vista?
Besides, you can install Office Student and Teacher on up to 3 computers... you think the only people buying that version are students? You think OfficeMax checks for valid college IDs at purchase time? You think teachers have to bring their teaching certificate into Staples to get it? (I can buy it online with a lick of proof that I'm enrolled as a student anywhere) You think college students aren't going back to their dorm and installing it on their roommate's PC too? But Office sales went UP after that edition came out... how can that be?!?!?
What about OS X's home pack that lets you install on 5 machines for $199? That strategy doesn't seem to be hurting them at all. It seems like Microsoft's the only OS with a MAJOR piracy problem. And let me tell you... iron-fisted activation schemes aren't going to fix the problem. You think WGA in Vista is ironclad? It will be hacked, it's only a matter of time. This pricing scheme for additional licenses just means it will happen sooner.
A $16 discount? On a $160 product? When I bought one copy already? Ooh, I get 10% off. Big frickin whoop.
Target gives me 10% off every week just for the "privilege" of sending me an e-mail. Who do I have to jerk off around here to get a decent discount
on another piece of paper allowing me to install this thing?
The Windows Anytime Upgrade infrastructure is already in place. Extend it to allow the purchase of additional licenses. From a programmatic standpoint, it wouldn't be that much bigger of a deal to implement. Look, you guys have some of the smartest minds on the planet working for you. It's not an unsolvable problem. But you have to TRY FIRST. Limit each CD key to 4 additional licenses. Maybe the request is tied to a Windows Live ID account, and maybe they have to all be coming from the same IP address. Maybe the license has to be encrypted on a USB key, and it only has a 24 hour activation window.
I think maybe you guys are busy chasing elusive $100 bills when there is a shitload of $20s right in front of you
. Because by your logic, Wal-Mart should have failed because too many people would go there to shop.
Look, Microsoft. I've invested the last 3 years of my life into evangelizing this "Vista" thing. I WANT to see it work. But you just made it infinitely harder for me to convince a family that they need to drop the price of a new computer down to upgrade all of their existing computers to Vista. And this is exactly what I was afraid of two months ago when I brought this up in Redmond. This was argued for the better part of an hour, and it was pretty clear that the Pricing guy we talked to wasn't interested in hearing our opinions anyways, so I'm probably talking to hear myself talk at this point.
I guess Microsoft just doesn't want a piece of that $900 Million in potentially lost revenue after all.