Microsoft has finally seen sense and decided to stop Windows Genuine Advantage in Vista from killing-off people's machines.

For our Mac readers unused to Vista, let us describe Windows Genuine Advantage: this spiteful, hateful, customer-unfriendly part of Vista pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with Microsoft. When installing Vista it would check your system, send all your private information to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Microsoft would then periodically check your computer and if Redmond didn’t like what it saw, it started to disable functions on your computer and eventually stopped it from working full stop.

Seriously. You couldn’t make this up.

This didn’t affect most Mac people, although it seriously hampered you if you used Boot Camp or Parallels, because install it more than once and it’d stop working; buy a new Mac and it’d stop working; change too much kit in your Mac Pro and it’d stop working.

I know we don’t, as a rule, like to run Vista. But seriously, Microsoft could at least have made the damn thing work for those who do.

Anyway, kudos finally goes out to Microsoft. It’s realised that remotely disconnecting customers from their computers wasn’t a smart move, and following endless complaints it’s going to stop switching off Vista features and remotely ‘killing’ computers.

And this should serve as a warning to other companies that have remote activation. Adobe Creative Suite 3 - for example - recently stopped working because of the licensing system. It categorically refused to start until I re-entered the serial number. No big problem, I have the box in the office. But imagine if I was in San Francisco covering the Macworld Show, or off at an event writing up a feature.

I imagined how upset I’d be after paying good money to have a program refuse to work if my job was depending on it; all because of some stupid anti-piracy measure that, by all-accounts, has done little to stop CS3 being spread all over BitTorrent. I imagined that under those circumstances I'd be taking the program back to the shop and screaming for a refund.

Programs that intentionally hobble themselves are ridiculous. And I think it’s no coincidence that none of them are made by Apple.