Bill Howard has an excellent article in the April 26th, 2005 issue of PC Magazine. The title of the article is “Software and the Multi-PC Home”. I looked hard for a link to the article but couldn’t find one. You’ll have to pick up a copy off of the newsstand. I’ll post the link once it’s on their site.
The gist of the article is that the cost of PCs continue to fall, approaching $500 for a desktop machine. At this price, many people now have a PC for each person in the family, plus their dog. (I made up the dog part.)
The problem arises in a Windows world where you pay per seat to secure that PC. Antivirus utility, spyware protection, pop-up blocker, and surf-patrol for the kiddles. Once a year, every year, per computer, and at an estimated $70, this really adds up quick.
Sure people will use one version of a piece of software on multiple computers but other than being illegal and unethical; the activations schemes are catching onto this and will start preventing the download of the updates. The updates are where the value of the software originates.
FOSS (Free Open Source Software) can really help in this arena. Of course a more secure operating system would help the situation. Windows almost demands that you run as an administrator for the machine. This is a fundamental flaw that they won’t be able to avoid addressing forever. This will be a huge culture shock for Grandma to have to enter a password when installing software, although it shouldn’t be.
It’s a dangerous computer world out there.