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Microsoft's Generous EULA

It's ironic that the world's by far worst computer software is also the most expensive. It's even more ironic that so many people buy it. But it's close to the ultimate in irony that for most Windows users that already exorbitant price has just doubled.


Microsoft tie their Windows licences to computers. You cannot transfer a Windows licence to a new computer even if you're the only one running it and only want to upgrade your hardware. You can't even upgrade your motherboard.

'If you decide to replace the motherboard in your computer, should you have to pay Microsoft again for the OS that came with the system? In Redmond they think so, and that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. What I do find a bit surprising is that Microsoft have chosen to not inform end users - not even in the darkest depths of their Windows EULAs', writes Ed Foster at his GripeLine. 'Instead, computer manufacturers have just quietly been told that, hey, that's the way it's going to be.'

Replacing a MOBO

A reader who is a system builder under the Microsoft Partner Program recently grew concerned over what his and his customers' rights are under the Windows EULA if they want to replace a motherboard. The reader contacted Microsoft's partner group and was told that yes indeed a new motherboard requires a new licence.

Tom Moran of 'Microsoft Operations' acknowledges this is true.

'The rule is in place to protect the OEM, or in this specific case the System Builder, so that as computers are upgraded, the System Builder is not obligated (per the EULA) to support a version of Windows that may be on what is essentially a new PC.'

OEMs may upgrade or replace all hardware components on customer computers with the exception of the motherboard. Upgrading the motherboard results in what Microsoft regard as a new computer to which the software cannot be transferred.

Moran defends this policy. (Of course he does.)

'Understanding that end users over time upgrade their PCs with different components, Microsoft needed to have one base component left standing that would still define that original PC; the motherboard in essence is the heart and soul of the PC.'

Ed Foster isn't satisfied by a long shot.

'How do you suppose Microsoft's product activation, authentication, verification, and future copy protection schemes are going to be able to tell if the old motherboard was defective or not? It's certainly not copyright law, and since there's nothing in their software licence agreement about it, it's not contract law either.'

What Else?

Apple don't use product activation - Cupertino would be stormed if they even breathed a word of discussion about it. Apple third party vendors don't do anything of the sort either. Most couldn't be bothered.

Windows users who are already paying over three times what Apple OS X users pay for a pale copy of the same thing just saw their costs skyrocket again. Almost anyone upgrading to Microsoft's latest abomination will find things too slow and be forced to buy new hardware - something that wouldn't be necessary if they'd made the switch to Apple's OS X years ago.

Windows users don't like being told they're '(l)users' but what else can they be called?

They just lost another $400.

See Also
The Technological 20070515,00 — Windows Users

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