|I can't be bothered to sign onto the petition for reasons I've already made clear; though I see the arguments have been reasoned well, it's far too much of a mess- a business listens to its customers foremost, and Amiga has yet to establish any on the OS4/A1 front, for obvious reasons. Many of the signatories don't even understand the issue at hand, given the comments about iBooks and x86 ports.|
I'm a customer, but strangely, there's no incentive to satisfy *me*- I bought the PartyPack, so presuming I can be replaced by one other sale, that's +$100 for Amiga. Not a conspiracy, but if I speak my mind, someone will surely bring the refund up as a reason I shouldn't complain.
In any case, it's a shame, because the noise drowns out comments as important as Ross Heinlein's. What is the official response to that?- Must he enter a partnership with Amiga to legally support OS4, and if so, doesn't that semantically conclude that Amiga is limiting itself to its partners? :}
Again, here's what I don't understand. The rationale is to prevent piracy, yet 1. manufacturers/dealers must license OS4 for each unit sold anyway, and 2. any such token will be useless at authenticating users for upgrade purposes.
Let me elaborate.
If 1 holds true at a manufacturing level, things are paid up in full long before nearly anyone shady is involved. A shady manufacturer would certainly be able to duplicate any ROM they could obtain access to (if the ROMs are seperate physical tokens shipped by Amiga), and even if individual manufacturer keys were used, they could purchase a competing product and clone its ROM. As failure to adhere to the licensing terms is contract violation in itself, this adds no further protection (and violations are equally detectable/indetectable either way; they can be detected by OS4 revenues vs. board sales or token shipments vs. board sales). In fact, the take on this scheme seems to be that it is benevolent, allowing a manufacturer opportunity to ship 'bare' POP boards safe in the knowledge that they will not owe licensing due to incompatibility; the trouble/benefit, depending which side of the fence you're on, is that Eyetech is the only manufacturer with such an Amiga-centric business model. In the conventional market, board manufacture and system building are often handled by unrelated companies, and the builder is expected to pay licensing on systems that- surprise- are sold with licenses. If you have the monopoly power of Microsoft, you can dictate more profitable terms; if you lack that power, it's yet to be proven that the method can grow your own monopoly. Even MS was shipping DOS for half a decade before they weaseled exclusive (no dual-boot, no competing sales) contracts from OEMs, and so far as I know they never went after the boardmakers.
If 1 holds true at the system-builder/dealer level, then it is presumably possible for a shady or unapproved builder to get hold of ROMmed hardware (maybe it fell off the back of a truck...), and sell OS4 on the systems without paying the appropriate license. At best, Amiga can penalize the manufacturer for letting things Slip Into the Wrong Hands. However, as the Amithlon dispute can demonstrate (if you squint enough), the market lacks diversity to route around the loss of a supplier. There's no competition for what Amithlon provides, so if *those* (virtualized) ROMs were at the crux of the matter, Amiga had to choose to kill an entire sector of the market (transparent operation on x86) in the process. In this case, it works to their benefit, but what happens when the company in question is the manufacturer of the only Amiga laptop, AutoPC, wearable, or whatever else distinguishes hardware products? The impulse to grant hardware satrapies (whether intentional or not; see my comment on Eyetech being in the 'Yoko Ono' position- what benefits a hardware company is not what benefits a software company) reinforces this fragility.
With that out of the way, let's consider where piracy comes from. Barring organized crime, it surfaces among end-users and the occasional shady dealership (as stated above, ROMs do little directly to control the dealer, it all comes at the expense of the manufacturer, if it comes at all). Assuming a good majority of end-users continue to purchase preassembled systems, OS4 revenue is guaranteed on each sale. However, presumably there will be a point when a new OS (OS5?) is put up for sale, and this is where point 2 hits; either you have the problem of distributing new physical tokens, or distributing virtual tokens (FlashROM code) in a secure manner. This is complicated, perhaps a bit expensive, a pain for the end user, and if a USB dongle would be used, it raises the question of why the hardware manufacturer had to go through the trouble in the first place.
None of this is to say that going full POP won't be subject to all the issues that this scheme *doesn't* fully address. Making OS4 sale a requirement on all things bearing the Amiga name (especially at the approved-dealer level) takes care of many of them, irrespective of hardware approvals, and granting rights to use the Amiga name only after testing is another good idea. Requiring a disclaimer with all sales of OS4 off-the-shelf ("This software is only guaranteed when used in conjunction with approved hardware..") and with *unapproved* hardware ("This hardware has not been approved by Amiga Inc. for use with AmigaOS; all guarantees of suitability are void...") is a great idea, as is publicizing the approval campaign rather than this silly DRM stuff.
Here's an idea: The best way to win legal customers is to make legality easy and convenient. Certain popular OSes allow the option of an 'FTP install;' the user writes a single floppy image from their OS of choice, boots it, and the OS downloads itself to their system. To my knowledge, no commercial OS has tried this, but imagine- the floppy boots Linux, a cut-down Amiga kernel, or even AA/DE/Elate, scans the hardware's PnP codes, checks for a hardware approval (in the sense of the EPA's Energy Star logo program, for example, rather than this 'important chunks of OS4' business), and perhaps looks for an existing installation for upgrade discount purposes. After examining things, there's a chance for a bouncing, nervous, or deflated boing ball, depending whether the system checks out as Approved, Capable (supported chipset and devices), or Incapable (unsupported chipset, say). Then, assuming the system is approved, or the user agrees to the disclaimer on the 'nervous' screen- here's the magic- the disk establishes a SSL connection to Amiga.com, displays a menu of available products (say OS4.6 recommended, with an option for the OS5 Public Beta), asks for billing details and whether you'd like to pay $5 more for a mailed CD, and gives you a reattempt code in case the download fails*. Bam- you've got AmigaOS, even if you began as a Linux user, and it only cost you $30 because of the lower distribution costs and increased revenues from sales to other converts from outside the market. ;)
*Here's the magic- the restart code is random, combined with your billing details and run through a one-way hash. Amiga only stores the hash of your billing information, protecting your privacy, but can monitor the randomly generated restart codes for suspicious activity, with the ability to catch someone in the act if they need to reinstall every 30 minutes from 9 to 5... While a pirate could buy a copy and 'liberate' the code (as happens with commercial games), users who could afford the download (those with a hope of being a paying customer) would shell out for the ease of the process and the guarantee of an uncompromised version. Retail, in turn, could ship a $100 version with BoingBags and those full manuals we all want, and 'Lite' CD-only OEM-type packs (quite cheap to distribute, and good for being legal on second or third computers/keeping those without DSL satisfied) at the price of the download. Considering we'll get 'deflated boing' on anything without an Articia S and 686B at the moment, is there really much to fear? Indeed, if the install floppy failed to boot at all, it'd be a good indication that someone's hardware was incompatible..
A bit of a rant, to be sure, but I can't accept Heretic as a good comparison to OS4. I know this will change no minds at present (which is why I'm embarassed to have wasted my time on it), but let's see what things look like after the first 6 months of sales...