Different Prices for Different Users

We now have Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP Media Center Edition, four slightly different versions of the same bits, at four wildly diferent price points.


I have a computer hooked up to a projector that I watch movies and sometimes play games on.  This computer is also my web server. 


If this was a “Media Center Edition”, I wouldn't be able to use it as my web server - I'd have to buy another computer to do that.


If it's “Windows Server 2003” then I won't have supported drivers for my sound card or video card.  The mainstream players don't support Windows Server for 3D accelerated games (or at least they didn't when I checked, maybe it's different now).  And I'd have to pay a lot for Windows Server 2003.


I think when it comes to making a “one box to do everything” type of home networking convergence device, Microsoft's licensing has placed them at a disadvantage, because Microsoft can't cannibalize their other markets.  Microsoft can't sell the same OS they sell for big money to businesses as a cheap OS for home users, so they will have to cripple any sort of home networking solution they come up with so that it's unsuitable for a small business.


Crippling terminal services (remote desktop) in XP so that you can't log in to the same box twice is what killed the Smart Display technology (which I really liked).  It would make sense that if I pick up the smart display and wander the house, another user would be able to sit at the computer and use it (assuming it also had a regular monitor attached), but that would be a licensing issue.


Maybe the solution for Microsoft is to simply charge different rates for different users of the same product.  Sell a Windows Server for home users that's the same as Windows Server 2003, for $129.  Have the license agreement state that you agree not to use it in a business environment.  This is what the phone company does - if I use my phone for personal use at home, I pay less than if I run a business at home using the same phone. 


There is a whole class of power home users - pretty much anyone who works in high tech, and lots more - who are perfectly capable of running their own sophisticated home networks and if Microsoft's licensing makes it impossible to use MS products, then they'll use something else.