Vista EULA Causes Worries

Sunday, 2007-January-21 at 09:43

Mark Rasch writes in SecurityFocus that the license for Windows Vista is worrying.

The terms of Microsoft’s End User License Agreement (EULA) for its upcoming Vista operating system raises the conflict between two fundamental principles of contract law. The first, and more familiar, is that parties to a contract can generally agree to just about anything, as long as what they agree to doesn't violate the law and isn’t "unconscionable." The second principle is that the law generally disfavors the remedy of "self-help." That is to say that, if there is a violation of the terms of a contract, you usually have to go to court, prove the violation, and then you are entitled to damages or other relief.

The author of the article was formerly head of the Justice Department's computer crimes unit.  To see someone with his credentials sounding the alarm is a bit disturbing.  This is another reason, I think, to separate the purchase of the computer hardware from the purchase of the operating system and other software.  In that way, purchasers might understand that they have choices.  Now, for most people, WGA on XP wasn't a problem, and the prospect of regular activation checks (anti-theft technology) on Vista will not be fearsome either.  However, anyone whose copy of Windows had been falsely identified as stolen with XP+WGA should be very leery of buying a computer with Vista, where Microsoft will unilaterally disable some or all of the operating system if it decides it is stolen.

Anyway, I think people should read this article.  It is not insurmountable, assuming that you are not wrongly tagged as a thief, but something to think about before agreeing to the EULA.

Thanks to Groklaw for the link, as I have not had time to read as much security-related information as I used to read.

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