Have you ever watched one of those sci-fi or war films where there's an alien/enemy take-over of the ship/base and the captain heroically manages to get to the box on the wall, open the cover and hit the big red switch which blows the whole thing to kingdom come just in the nick of time? (Bond, anyone?) Have you had the same thought as me? That building that sort of capability in to your infrastructure is just an invitation for some system defect to accidentally blow the whole place sky high accidentally?
Well, it really happened - just down the road from us in Portsmouth there was huge disruption recently as second world war bombs were removed from a naval base. The benefits of having planted the bombs in the first place were undoubtedly huge in the minds of the military men who planted them, but the unexpected side effects were very disruptive.
This was brought to mind reading MJF's piece on the kill-switch in the new MS Office product, and then Tim's reaction to how it might be subverted. I'm sure it makes sense in someone's mind somewhere, but this customer-hating paranoia at Microsoft is eventually going to really hurt someone (unless, of course, their software never has bugs).
What with the "Windows Genuine Adware" stuff waiting to turn off your system at the slightest whim, the question of why anyone would knowingly install software that includes an intentional self-destruct like this is high in my mind - especially as viable alternatives become more and more common, as this BBC story almost gets round to saying explicitly. ZDNet newbie Larry Dignan may be able to stay neutral-voiced, but I just have to shout that it's a calculated abuse of a dominant market position.
Putting a "kill switch" that can be locally and remotely triggered depends on the fact that Software Never Has Bugs. Yeah, right.