This is how it starts. Office Depot has decided that it will only carry computer products that carry Microsoft’s approval (via a “Designed for Windows XP” logo), starting in May. This means Microsoft is deciding what Office Depot will sell. Microsoft is already working hard to create the appearance of “flexibility” in their new home computing line while actually restricting behavior and reducing functionality to comply with new “digital rights management” schemes.
We’ve seen inklings of this in the past; for example, recent versions of Windows Media Player stored digital music files in a proprietary, restricted format rather than MP3 by default, resulting in some rather surprised users. Without any exception I’m aware of, DRM schemes completely obliterate any fair use opportunities; they instead place all control with the content producers, and none at the consumer level.
Be careful what you buy, kids. Remember, there are plenty of other options that interoperate fine with existing Wintel networks and applications, with more coming soon. Microsoft is expensive and restrictive, but it’s not your only choice.