Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is Software a Service or Goods and Why Does it Matter?

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Vol. 3, # 72 - May 21, 2009 - Issue # 81 
 Is Software a Service or Goods and Why Does it Matter?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is Software a Service or Goods and Why Does it Matter?
    • Follow-up: Talkin' about Win7 RC
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Microsoft to unveil a new search engine
    • Netflix is coming to Windows Media Center
    • MyPhone now available in public beta
    • Get a Glympse at where your friends and family members are
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to disable "In Private" browsing in IE 8
  5. Vista Security
    • Watch out for malware-ridden pirated copies of Windows 7
    • Win 7: More Secure than Mac
  6. Vista/Win7 Question Corner
    • Mail Client for Windows 7?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Can't connect to secured web sites in IE 8
    • You're prompted for credentials when you try to connect to a web folder using a NetBIOS name
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • New device management interface in Windows 7
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: The Most AWESOME Utility CD You will Ever Use!

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

Is Software a Service or Goods and Why Does it Matter?

Many computer users think of "software as a service" as a relatively recent concept, but in fact software vendors have considered software sales to be just that almost since the beginning. Even though you can "buy" a program on DVD (or previously, on CD or floppy disk), it has never been treated under the law like other goods that you purchase (such as a TV or a table).

If you buy a TV and you get it home and it won't power on, or if it does turn on but it doesn't work correctly (for instance, there's no sound or the picture is distorted), the manufacturer's warranty allows you to return it for repair or replacement. If you lay out your money for a piece of software and get it home and it won't install or doesn't do what you expect it to do, you might be out of luck. Some retailers will allow you to exchange it but many software return policies specify that you may only return software inunopened packages.

The reason for this is obvious: the vendor is afraid you'll open up the software, make a copy of it, then return it and have yourself a free program. Some retailers are more generous, and will replace defective programs with the same program on identical media, so long as you return it within a certain time frame. If the retailer declines to do so, do you have any recourse with the software manufacturer? Read any good EULAs (End User License Agreements) lately? Most state quite explicitly that the software is being "licensed, not sold," and that the vendor is not liable for damages for breach of warranty or breach of contract if the software doesn't work properly.

Not only do the standard agreements specify that the software vendor isn't responsible if the product doesn't work, they also say that the company isn't liable for loss or damages caused by the software, even if the software vendor "knew or should have known about the possibility of damages" (I'm quoting from the Windows Vista EULA here, but Microsoft is by no means the only software vendor with that clause in its license agreement).

Getting back to our comparison between software and real "goods," if you bring that TV home and it explodes when you plug it in and sets your house on fire, you probably stand a pretty good chance of collecting for damages in a lawsuit against the manufacturer, especially if you can prove that the same thing has happened to other purchasers of that model and it's due to a defect in the manufacturing process. If you install your new program and it crashes your computer and destroys all your data, good luck on trying to get compensated by the software vendor. Even if the product causes you hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss, the most you can expect to get back (under the terms of the license agreement) is the amount you paid for the software.

Interestingly, although there is no provision allowing you to return defective software for a refund, you might be able to get your money back by invoking the terms of the EULA - by saying you don't accept the terms of the license. At least in the case of Microsoft software, the EULA says "By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit. If you cannot obtain a refund there, contact Microsoft or the Microsoft affiliate serving your country for information about Microsoft's refund policies."

What would be the effect if software were considered to be "goods" instead of a "service?" Well, in the U.S. it would then fall under the rules of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The American Law Institute is currently responsible for updating and revising the UCC, and has been redrafting the Principles of the Law of Software Contracts to establish an implied warranty that there are no material hidden defects in the software. On the other side of the big pond, the European Union is also proposing rules that would do away with the "special treatment" of software in regard to consumer warranties.

As you might imagine, software vendors are mightily opposed to these proposed changes. And it's not just Microsoft; recently the Linux Foundation joined in the opposition to the warranty changes.

Tell us what you think. Should software fall under the same rules as consumer goods, or is it impossible, due to its very nature, to hold it to the same standards as a tangible item like a TV set? Should you be able to sue and collect damages from a software company if its product brings down your system and costs you hours of lost productivity and/or the loss of important data? Or is it unreasonable to expect a software vendor to know what other applications you might have that will interact with their software and cause problems? Should you at least be able to return a software program that doesn't work as advertised and get your money back, or would this just open the doors wide to piracy? Let us know your opinions at

Follow-up: Talkin' about Win7 RC

In last week's editorial, we revisited the subject of Vista's successor, Windows 7, now that the release candidate has been made available to the public. Many of you have already installed it, and most of the reader response so far has been positive.

Bill L. said, "I have tried the Windows 7 Beta and found it to be very stable and easy to use. I like it and have now loaded Windows 7 RC and like it. I think Microsoft has finally got it right, though XP Pro is presently what I use on my home and work computers. I think Windows 7 will be my next OS." And Ron M. wrote, "I ran the Windows 7 beta version when first available, and now am running the RC version. It is the smoothest and most user-friendly Operating System ever released by Microsoft. And best of is not a CPU hog."

Phil T. was also pleased: "It picked up all the drivers except for video and sound, which I thought was amazing. The wi-fi worked OOB so I was immediately able find my remaining drivers online right away. The only driver I couldn't get to work on it was the ATI mobility M driver, but the Windows 7 VGA driver seems to be working just fine, no worries. And the performance is just as good, if not better, than XP."

Many of you wrote with suggestions regarding my sound card problem in the 64 bit version of the RC. It seems I'm not the only one who had the problem - although some others have X-Fi cards that are working fine in the RC. One problem is that there are a number of different models: Extreme Music, Extreme Audio, Extreme Gamer, Fatal1ty, Titanium, Platinum ... and apparently different drivers are needed for different models.

And speaking of those problems, I'm not the only one who liked the beta better than the release candidate. Griffin wrote, "Interestingly enough the Beta impressed me immediately with the speed with which it installed. I installed it in a dual boot configuration with Vista. I was also impressed with the first look, feel and responsiveness of the Beta and was surprised at printer, NIC and other driver compatibility which was all good. I installed the RC last weekend and was disappointed that the install time had grown noticeably. Maybe it was due to the overwrite of the Beta version but once fully loaded I had trouble with my graphics drivers and had to download an ancient set for an older vid card. I also had to manually install NIC drivers to connect with the outside world. Neither of these were problems with the Beta."

Others are having problems of their own. Doug M. says he likes the 64 bit RC but: "Win 7 64 bit (RC) works well on most programs, not USB printers without drivers for Win 7 64 bit, not programs zoom sensitive to the mouse wheel. I have 2 ATI video adaptors and 4 monitors, the number 1 monitor frequently disconnects and a reboot is necessary to restore it."

All in all, even those who had issues with the RC seem to be happy with it overall and expect the final release to be even better. Thank you to all of you who wrote on this topic.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

We have given away far too many freedoms in order to be free. - John Le Carre (1931 - )

A society that puts equality ... ahead of freedom will end up with neither. - Milton Friedman (1912 - 2006)

The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom. - Supreme Court Justice William Orville Douglas

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


The defragmenter of choice for Microsoft MVPs and Certified Trainers. Make your PC or laptop run like new - free trial and special savings.

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Why backup when you can syncronize? Synconizations is easier and faster than backing up. Try it!

I need a program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info, personal info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Microsoft to unveil a new search engine

Windows Live Search: I've tried to love it. But I just keep coming back to Google - because it gives me what I want. But Microsoft has been working on a new search engine, code named Kumo and reportedly to be called Bing! (which in my opinion is a dumb name, but then Microsoft never has been great at the naming game. On the other hand, I thought Google was a silly name when it first came out, too). Whatever the name, it's finally set to launch soon - some say within the next couple of weeks. Will it be a Google Killer? We can only wait and see. Meanwhile, read more here:

Netflix is coming to Windows Media Center

Microsoft announced this week that they are adding Netflix as a content provider for Windows Media Center in Vista/Windows 7. This means you'll be able to stream movies from your Netflix account through the Media Center interface and also manage the physical disc queue (whereby you receive DVDs in the mail). Movie buffs will appreciate the new integration. Read about it here:

MyPhone now available in public beta

If you use a Windows Mobile phone, you'll want to check out Microsoft's new MyPhone service, which lets you back up the information on your phone to a password-protected web site so if you lose the phone, you don't lose the data, and you can restore it from anywhere in the world. You can also access your calendar and contacts on the web site, and share pictures from your phone with your friends. Find out more or try it out here:

Get a Glympse at where your friends and family members are

A startup company formed by ex-Microsoft employees has come out with a new mobile tracking device that lets you share your location with other people through the GPS function of your mobile phone (currently just T-Mobile G1 models, but the plan is to expand the service to Windows Mobile, iPhone and Blackberry).

Unfortunately, all the new applications that make use of the GPS system are coming at a time when, according to the Government Accounting Office (GOA), the whole satellite system is in danger of failing, with blackouts possible as early as next year:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to disable "In Private" browsing in IE 8

Microsoft got lots of praise from privacy advocates for including the "In Private" mode in Internet Explorer 8, which lets you surf without storing cookies, saving history or cache information or otherwise leaving tracks of what sites you've visited. This is good when using public computers - but some parents have written to say they don't want their kids to be able to so easily erase the traces of where they've been on the family computer. Well, if you're one of those, you'll be happy to know that it's pretty easy to disable "In Private" browsing. Here's how to do it in Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate or in the Windows 7 RC:
  1. Click Start and in the Search box, type gpedit.msc to open the local Group Policy management console.
  2. In the left pane, navigate to Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Internet Explorer | InPrivate
  3. In the right pane, double click the setting "Turn off InPrivate browsing"
  4. Select Enabled and click OK to prevent the use of the In Private feature.

Vista Security

Watch out for malware-ridden pirated copies of Windows 7

We wrote last week about how even though the Windows 7 RC is available to the public for free, there are still lots of pirated copies floating around the Torrent sites. It's important not to download those, as the setup file is infected with a Trojan downloader that adds the computer to a botnet and also gives the attacker control over your system, which could result in identity theft.

Win 7: More Secure than Mac

Have you bought into the cute commercials that have many consumers convinced that a Mac is and always will be more secure than a Windows PC? Rob Enderle says think again - Apple's "security through obscurity" tactic is not going to work with its latest Snow Leopard OS, and with the release of Windows 7, we're going to see Microsoft pull out ahead on the security front. Read it here:

Vista/Win7 Question Corner

Mail Client for Windows 7?

Several of you wrote, in response to last week's editorial about the Windows 7 RC, that you were disappointed that there's no built in mail program.

I would like an email client like Windows Mail in Vista. I don't like web-based email. - David A.

Because so many people use Outlook 2007 or a third party email client, Microsoft decided to cut some of the bloat and not install an email client with the operating system by default. However, you can download the Windows Live Mail email client from Microsoft's web site at no charge. It is the successor to Windows Mail in Vista, was developed by the same team and has many of the same features, and you can use it to get mail from your POP3 and IMAP email accounts, as well as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail accounts. It also adds support RSS feeds, has separate inbox folders for different POP accounts, and has better support for emailing photos. It integrates with Windows Live Calendar and Windows Live Contacts.

Get it at

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Can't connect to secured web sites in IE 8

If you aren't able to connect to or log into secured web sites with Internet Explorer 8, there are several different methods that you can use to resolve the problem, depending on the cause. For instance, you might need to enable compatibility view, or it could be that the date/time on your computer are incorrect, or you might have to re-register some of your .dll files. For a list of possible resolutions and instructions on how to carry them out, see KB article 813444 at

You're prompted for credentials when you try to connect to a web folder using a NetBIOS name

If you try to connect to a web folder using a NetBIOS name (computer name) on a Vista system, you might be prompted to provide a user name and password, even though security settings are configured for automatic logon with current user and password. To fix the problem, you need to change some settings in Internet Explorer. For instructions, see KB article 940172 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

New device management interface in Windows 7

You're probably used to the venerable Device Manager, and it's still there in Windows 7, but you also have another, more graphical interface for managing and connecting to various devices such as printers, pointing devices, monitors, keyboards, external drives, USB cameras, etc. Just click "Devices and Printers" on the Start menu to open up the new interface. Double clicking a particular device there takes you to a page where you can customize the device's settings, check its driver details and more. Newer devices made to interact with the Windows 7 Device Stage technology will display more information here. See a screenshot here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: The Most AWESOME Utility CD You will Ever Use!

Spotmau PowerSuite PROFESSIONAL 2008 is a must-have toolkit providing an essential utility suite for every PC owner. This is an everyday toolset for PC maintenance and optimization, and emergency kit for rescuing and recovering your precious data and system. With this complete package, you can solve most all of your PC problems and recover from a serious computer crash. All this power and utility offers tremendous value on one CD for an amazingly low price. Recover data from deleted, crashed, or formatted hard disks. Free live support 24/7. Answers usually within 1-2 hours. Get all the details here.

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.