Microsoft's Licensing Madness

Microsoft's Licensing Madness

The controversy du jour regards a particularly abhorrent clause that Ed Bott noticed in Microsoft’s end-user license agreement for Vista. Most software EULAs are documents filled with nasty lists of things that you can’t do with the software you purchased, but the clause Microsoft snuck in unannounced is especially evil. It’s titled “Reassign to another device.”
Here’s the exact text: “The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time.” That means that if you purchase a copy of Vista at retail—be it the $200 Home Basic or the $400 Vista Ultimate package—you have the right to install that OS on one machine. When you retire that machine, you can install the OS on a second PC, but that’s it. Unlike the Windows XP EULA, which permits you to continue transferring the OS indefinitely (as long as you remove it from the previous machine), Vista’s EULA restricts each copy of the OS to two computers.

Naturally, the new policy will be enforced using Product Activation. Upgrade too much hardware, too many times and Microsoft will disable your legally purchased version of Windows Vista. Frighteningly, none of the Microsoft representatives I’ve spoken with can specify what determines the difference between a hardware upgrade and a new machine; all they’ll say is that it’s a complicated algorithm.

This makes Vista very, very unattractive for anyone who builds his or her own rigs. Vista will force people who frequently build new machines or do regular major upgrades—like you and me—to pay Microsoft a couple hundred bucks a year for the privilege of running Vista. I’ve had a few problems with the new OS, but I’m ready to drop WinXP. But it will be a cold day in hell before I pay multiple times for the same piece of software for the same PC. That’s highway robbery.

Why is Microsoft doing this? Because it can. There will be relatively few people affected by this license change, as the vast majority of Vista builds will end up in OEM machines purchased by people who don’t upgrade. Indeed, even if everyone who’s affected by this clause decides to boycott Vista, it won’t make a measureable impact on sales.

I’ve never been more conflicted about a product before. If the EULA remains as-is, I’ll be unable to recommend Vista to the Maximum PC elite. The hitch is DirectX 10, which only works with Vista. I just saw the first batch of games written for DirectX 10, and they make “next-gen” console titles look like bantha fodder. Every hardcore gamer will be forced to make a Hobson’s choice.

I've sent a letter saying the same thing to the higher-ups at Microsoft, but I don't really expect to hear anything good. I'd be really interested to hear what you guys think about this mess, so feel free to join the discussion in our forums.

This is a dark day for PC enthusiasts.

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hath80

I am voting with my dollars for Mac and Linux, and doing what I can to persuade folks to move to Mac, or migrate to Linux. With the right tool, you can easily burn mp4 to dvd and itunes to dvd.

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aaaab

On May 30, 2006, Many people like Microsoft Office.I guess, 2006, after the meeting is sharing the next Office 2007 makes life great!edition to sharing conference in 2005. Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world. I was closed - Office 2007 key is available here.Microsoft actually skipped Office 2007 download is on sale now!a year "and" issued in 2007, Office 2007 Professional bring me so much convenience.Microsoft office, Windows 7 make life wonderful!unified communications Microsoft Office 2010 is so great! customer I love Office 2010 !communication and Office 2007 makes life great! office communication server will be July 2007, Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world also announced today.

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aaaab

On May 30, 2006, Many people like Microsoft Office.I guess, 2006, after the meeting is sharing the next Office 2007 makes life great!edition to sharing conference in 2005. Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world. I was closed - Office 2007 key is available here.Microsoft actually skipped Office 2007 download is on sale now!a year "and" issued in 2007, Office 2007 Professional bring me so much convenience.Microsoft office, Windows 7 make life wonderful!unified communications Microsoft Office 2010 is so great! customer I love Office 2010 !communication and Office 2007 makes life great! office communication server will be July 2007, Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world also announced today.

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mrgmhale

In my warped way of viewing our world the consumer is getting a less valuable benefit than bargained for with Vi$ta as he/she (me included) is not clearly made aware of the limitation of the Vi$ta license. IMHO, this is a less than fair and greedy move by M$ that ought to be decried. This is a company that has moved from overtly doing things in a bullying, self-serving manner to a more aggressive position of doing sneaky things that are even more self-serving through weasel-wording and fine print in their EULAs. I guess if M$ can't earn and win the market, and their revenues, by providing excellent value they need to resort to trapping and locking in the consumers they can "persuade" (trick/force) into their OS platforms (nearly everyone buying a new PC still, but with a small sliver of movement toward alternative solutions).

I see an interesting similarity between this little Vi$ta cash dig, and the new (& improved) Windows 2003 Server Terminal Service that can be enabled quite nicely as with previous Server OS platforms from M$. But after 180 days an additional TS CAL license must be purchased for each connected TS session to allow it to continue to work. When I had turned on TS for a client's 2003 Server OS I saw nothing disclosed about that little time bomb at the time of it being enabled, nor did I see anything on the license agreement that made that additional fee clear. I think I happened to spot it in an article - and I recall the surprise of some of my associates when I brought this forth several months ago in a technical forum. This is what I refer to as, "Oh, by the way...", extortion pricing. And the TS CAL, "Oh, by the way...", gouge is precisely what pushed me away from Windows Server OS into the World Of Linux for a File Server platform wherever possible. The newly exposed Vista license gouge is what will push me even deeper into Ubuntu Desktop Linux and Mac machinery for folks that do not absolutely have to use Windows.

As an aside, I recall back when PC manufacturers were putting DOS/Windows OS on every PC lest they be sued by Micro$coff for perpetuating piracy potential of their unprotected OS platforms. Now that M$ activation and their Genuine Advantage solutions are in place, why don't the manufacturers allow consumers to acquire PCs without any OS so an End User can install their own OS (like with Servers)? Yeah, I know, that would result in a tech support nightmare for the manufacturers. Nope, we end up having M$ OS shoved down our throats whether we need/want it or not, and no effective recourse in getting our money back from M$ if we opt to not use their OS.

It is time for a consumer revolution re: OS choices, and onerous license agreements. I am voting with my dollars for Mac and Linux, and doing what I can to persuade folks to move to Mac, or migrate to Linux.

mrgmhale

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redcloud

So microsoft is now renting their software.... They really need to be boycotted.... I think the European Union has the right idea, being a tick on Microsoft's butt... Vista will also force you to reinstall the software, if you go from an ATI video card to an Nvidia card. Vista is clearly a big step in the wrong direction. We must let these guys know of our dissatisfaction with their fascist practices!!!!!!!!!!

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