I am a software pirate

well.....that is what Windows Vista has told me twice, since I installed it earlier this year.

The first time I was told my activation key was not valid about 4 months after I installed and originally validated it. I had to ring up Microsoft, and read them 25 random characters that Vista spewed out. I then had to write down 25 characters that my Indian tech support friend repeated to me. Surprisingly, this was not fast, and resulted in a fair bit of downtime.

Today was much worse - I was booted into a non-functioning and completely locked down Windows environment. No start menu, no keyboard shortcuts, just an error message spewing forth some cryptic comments that would send mere mortals to the hills. Fortunately I clicked the hyperlink, which opened windows help, which then opened Firefox. I went to the MS site to try and validate my software as genuine. No luck, in IE or FF.

I ring MS tech support, spend ages explaining my problem, and then being told I will be charged to get it fixed. Once again, I am a MS customer who got locked out of my machine for doing nothing - and then I'm told it'll cost me money to fix?! Nice....

I argued, and they relented, but still, I mainly fixed the problem myself - after rebooting my computer twice Windows let me through, and then I could go prove my genuine-ness by going to a MS site and downloading an ActiveX script for my unused Internet Explorer.

What leaves me scratching my head is - what would a customer do in my situation that didn't argue - would Microsoft genuinely charge their customer to fix a problem the customer had no part in creating?

I'm so close to moving to Linux. I have used it in the past for a year to 18 months at a time, and being treated like a criminal by Microsoft not once but twice has me seriously unimpressed. What's stopping me? I'm too busy right now to transition over - but watch this space - when I get downtime I seriously plan to make my second partition my primary partition.

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