Q:When is Microsoft just like your wife? A:When they nag you into doing something you don’t want to do.

Did all my female readers just unsubscribe? Come back; I didn’t mean it. That was just the easiest and most-universally understood way I could think of to make my point: Everything has become about influence, and the way you exert it.

Last month, a case in which a Midwestern woman had been accused of a crime that caused a teenager to commit suicide was thrown out of court. Read from the link, and then come back; there’s so much information in that one piece that you’ll want the background.

So now here’s the question: When does intent BECOME intent, and when should the answer to that question matter?

Think about how you feel every time you install a piece of software and are subjected to a license agreement too long to read and too complicated to understand that you have to agree to before you are allowed to install the software. There’s no way to make an informed decision, and you’re being asked to do so under the duress of needing to install the software. Not cool.

Now here’s a court trying to decide on LEGAL grounds (the only grounds they have) whether a woman met the definition of harassment by relating her actions against a little girl to those she took when signing up for a service on the Internet. The two don’t intersect in most people’s mind, and I’d bet money she couldn’t have made an informed decision about the subject even if she had meant to.

So I’ll jump: software companies are bullying you (cyber-bullying you) when they make you agree to those licenses. Maybe you should take them to court on criminal charges. You’d have just as good a chance of beating them as the government had of beating this woman.

Tread carefully . . . or shoot like a loose cannon. Either way, it’s all about business change management.

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