Woody Leonhard discusses the new product activation features in Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, which allow Microsoft to remotely disable anyone’s computer at any time if they decide that the product activation key has been pirated. He asks what happens if your product key is stolen? You, the legitimate purchaser, could easily lose the use of your software if someone else “borrows” your activation key, which could easily happen.
Elliotte Rusty Harold suggests a cool new use of this feature: the U.S. government could lean on Microsoft to shut down all the computers in an unfriendly country, or maybe just the computers of individuals that the govenment doesn’t like. Of course that’s just paranoid and couldn’t possibly happen.