18 October 2006

Once a monopoly....

There is a big brouhaha going on around the blogosphere about Microsoft's new EULA (license agreement) for Windows Vista. The basic issue is that a user license (not an OEM license which is even more highly restricted) will no longer allow you to transfer the license as you see fit. You will have just one opportunity to move the license to another machine after de-activating it on the original machine it is installed on. Thereafter you have to buy another.

Credit to Paul Thurrott (who originally said it wasn't a big deal) for giving space to Koroush Ghazi who has written an excellent rebuttal of why the new EULA is actually very unreasonable and will hurt the very people that are some of Microsoft's biggest customers (and fans).

Ars Technica has posted an article on the subject too with it's usual impartiality, though I think it's being a little trusting when assuming that just because Microsoft didn't enforce some of the restrictions with XP, that it won't enforce some of them with Vista. As usual, the comments to the Ars story give a good idea about what the majority think. When the comments are 90% plus against something, perhaps it's time to take notice!

My impression is that it will hurt a lot of enthusiasts who build their own machines, as well as those who use one or more Windows environments in a virtual setup. That will include some Mac users too who wish to use either BootCamp or solutions such as Parallels to run one or more Windows environments.

Could they have done it differently? Well, yes, of course they could. It seems to me a much fairer choice would be to allow people to deauthorise a computer and then re-authorise another as many times as you wanted (within reason). That's the way the iTunes Store works.

For someone to pay good money for a software license and have it limited to only running on the next 2 computers they own (and reduce that to just one if you have a catastrophic hardware failure) seems like the Microsoft of old - taking its customers for granted. I know of no other software company that would impose such a limit on retail software. Shame on you Microsoft.

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