Initial Feedback On Microsoft I-Café Program

Upon receipt of an email with a link to Microsoft I-Café Program last Thursday, January 28, 2010 and without much ado, I immediately started a topic on the subject in a thread at ULOP.net to get the reactions of the forumers (mostly i-café owners) in the site. I also made a blog post about the program in order to disseminate the information and help get the comments of i-café owners on a program initiated and aimed at reducing software piracy in the industry. The response at ULOP forum was more than the usual  in numbers on an important topic that, on the surface, offers the lowest prices ever for a Windows operating system and an MS Office productivity suite. Instead of immediately hearing voices of approval which we would normally expect in an extra-ordinary promo like the Microsoft I-Café Program, what we got are queries requesting clarifications on some issues not clearly covered by the 100-item Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the program’s website. The queries and my personal opinion on them are what I have on this article.

Based on the replies and comments posted at the referred ULOP thread, the following are how the forumers understood the Microsoft I-Café Program:

  1. Only i-cafés with genuine Windows XP Pro installed in their PCs are qualified to join the program. Having genuine Windows XP Home which was allowed by Microsoft to be legally used in i-cafés by virtue of the RRAs that they issued in the past does not qualify an i-café owner to be in the program. Although this issue still have to be clarified with Microsoft, I say that it would be a great disservice to those who have genuine XP Home in their PCs if they would not be allowed to just buy Rental Rights Licenses (RRL) and continue operating their shops legally. The disservice will be if they would be forced to buy Windows 7 before they could go on and avail of the RRL.
  2. The i-cafés using pirated Windows operating systems are not qualified to join the program but should they wish to legalize their use of the Microsoft products, they need to get in touch with MS Licensing Manager first. I wish Microsoft covered this scenario clearly by including them in FAQs. After all, they took the pain of preparing 100 questions and answers and 2 or 3 more questions would not have added much work to them.
  3. There were other philosophical questions like how will Microsoft treat i-cafés current running on Linux but would like to convert to Windows and join the program. Would they be considered by Microsoft as like genuine Windows users (Linux is free and legal to use in i-cafés) or would they be bunched with users of pirated Windows.

Until Microsoft enlightens us on the above queries, these and more would be the inciting comments that we will get to read in the forums and hear in conversations among i-cafe owners regarding the Microsoft I-Cafe Program in the days to come. Until the promo period ends in May 26 of this year, we could just guess what Microsoft would do next in their efforts to reduce software piracy in the country.

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