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The iPod's fast interface--an important but
undersold feature--allows huge files to be copied in
seconds. The iPod doesn't even have to leave the user's
pocket. And although the iPod has a built-in antipiracy
mechanism that prevents music files from being copied
from one computer to another, it has no such protec-
tions for software. Ironically, Microsoft pioneered an
easy-to-use installation scheme on the Mac that makes
its Mac software relatively simple to pilfer. When
installing Office, users simply drag and drop the Office
folder to their hard drive. Everything is built in, includ-
ing a self-repair mechanism that replaces critical files in
the system folder.
By contrast, a lot of software for the Windows
platform relies on a bunch of system files that are only
loaded during an installation process. Simply copying
an application from one machine to another will not
work on Windows. "This is the first we have heard of
this form of piracy," said Erik Ryan, a Microsoft product
manager. "And while this is a possibility, people should
be reminded that this is considered theft."
Although the iPod may be ideal for a software-
stealing spree, a number of other devices on the market
could also be used by virtual shoplifters, including
any number of external hard drives, such as tiny USB
key-chain drives. However, except for those with new
USB 2 ports, most key-chain drives are a lot slower
than FireWire, requiring the virtual shoplifter to hang
around while the ill-gotten loot is transferring. Den-
nis Lloyd, publisher of iPod fan site iLounge, said he
was shocked to hear of an iPod put to such use. "It's
a shame someone has stooped this low to bring bad
press to the insanely great iPod," he said.