Open Letter to Microsoft (well, a question really)

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Dear Microsoft:

There is one aspect of Vista that I’m really curious about. How much does it cost to buy it? I see you have some fantastic renting/leasing scheme dreamed up, and you’ve released those figures while calling them straight-up prices, but clearly they are not since your EULA specifically limits the number of times we can use the software.

I know someone right now is thinking “But copyright law bla bla publishers can specify appropriate use bla bla.” Fine. I can go buy a book and read it as many times as I like. I can’t reproduce it, I can’t make copies and give them away or sell them, but I can use it in good faith in my own home (or elsewhere) as many times as I like (Although it turns out I can sell the book when I’m done with it to someone else, another aspect of ‘ownership’.)

I can buy a DVD or computer game and play it until it’s unreadable. I can even *gasp* use it on a different DVD player – say, one I have in my bedroom or my vacation home. I can take it to a friend’s house for movie night (although I can’t invite 30 of my other friends over – I understand that part. I can also sell DVDs I no longer wish to ‘own’.) In the case of games, I can reinstall it with no problem on my new machine, or I can uninstall it and give away or sell it and be done with it.

The difference here is – even though books and DVDs and games are no less protected by copyright law, end-consumers OWN those particular instances. There are really very few unreasonable limitations on their use. An argument can be made that the copy protection limits fair-use backup creation on DVDs and games (an argument I agree with) but still, ‘owners’ can view the material as often as they like.

With Vista, the EULA specifies that this is the not the case. The interviews with Microsoft employees tend to back this view up as well.

If your computer hardware changes to a significant degree, you must re-activate because Vista will un-activate itself, or refuse to seamlessly activate if you re-install on a blank drive after a significant hardware change. This means the several motherboard changes I have recently made in the interest of upgrading my personal desktop would technically invalidate a Vista license. Microsoft would be within their rights to insist that I buy a new copy of Vista, or at the very least pay for a new license (Which is essentially the same thing.)

Thankfully, I only had to deal with the irritation and humiliation of calling Microsoft’s activation hotline and begging their indulgence in activating my new re-install of XP. No, I promise I’m not a dirty-dirty software pirate. Yes I’ll answer all your questions.

So, again… how much does it cost to buy Vista rather than renting it? If I buy something, I expect to be able to use it until I’m done with it – not until it’s done with me.

References and reading material:

A sneaky change in Windows licensing terms

“With a retail version of Windows XP, there are no restrictions on the number of times you can transfer the software from one computer to another in your household or office. That’s about to change for the worse in Vista, with only one lifetime transfer allowed.”

Surprises inside Microsoft Vista’s EULA (The Register)

Peter Ramins aka InThrees @ OCForums

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Discussion
  1. I use XP Pro and like it...no matter what MS decides on as far as their rules regarding Vista I don't plan on getting it. I built a box for trying out diffrent distro's of Linux. If I don't find one that I like I will just stay with XP.
    Not if it's infected with DRM. You can only play DRM files on the device they were licensed to. If you download a DRM movie on your PC and want to watch it on your laptop you're outta luck. That's the problem with DRM, you never actually own the content, just "rent" it.

    That's what this article was trying to get across. If you buy something you should own it and be able to use it.


    Actually the limitations aren't set by the DRM software, but rather by the provider of the content. For instance, I use and actually like the MSN music store. I can copy the WMA files I get there to a cd if I so choose. I can play them on up to 5 other machines(something I was aware of and agreed to in the first place). I can burn regular old audio CD's for playback in any device that can play a CD-R as many times as I want(I probably have 50 copies of White Zombie - Dragula in my car.) Everyone is so worried about the DRM in Vista and no one bothers to actually see what it is before they start complaining about it.

    DRM only works on files that are DRM embedded. So if you have a bunch of MP3 files they will play just fine. If you have a bunch of DivX files they also will play. There is no law or part of the EULA that says YOU MUST USE ONLY DRM EMBEDDED FILES. If you don't like DRM then just don't buy DRM embedded files. Vista doesn't require you to buy them. Most of the DRM features in Vista won't even affect the average user.

    As far as owning a DRM file, well, no you don't. But if you bought the file without checking what the limits were ahead of time, I don't feel much pity for you. You say
    Not if it's infected with DRM.
    No file is infected with it. It's not a virus. It's not like it sneaks into the file you buy. You can buy the CD if you don't like the restrictions. No one is forcing you to use the web to buy music. You do have choices, feel free to exercise them.
    Accually you can move your music from place to place, you can watch a movie anywhere you want
    Not if it's infected with DRM. You can only play DRM files on the device they were licensed to. If you download a DRM movie on your PC and want to watch it on your laptop you're outta luck. That's the problem with DRM, you never actually own the content, just "rent" it.

    That's what this article was trying to get across. If you buy something you should own it and be able to use it.
    Nice they changed the install policy...now they need to work on the price.

    We may represent only 5% of sales, but we are a strong, if not the strongest, driving force in the home PC market.

    We are the people testing the newest technology. We get it first and if you cant sell it to us, good luck selling it to anyone else.

    We are the people writing the articles for the top websites and magazines. We give the reviews the other 95% read.

    We are the people the Joe Sixpacks go to first with their buying questions.

    We are the kids (young and old) showing off our systems and influencing friends.

    We are the young adults working the floors of retailers like Best Buy, Comp USA and Circuit City.

    We are the people entering the IT field as on-site and help desk technicians. We spread our influence to coworkers who DO and always WILL ask our opinion.

    We run the IT departments and we directly or indirectly decide what the company buys and uses.

    We set the fads and the trends. The poplar items sold by OEMs like HP and Dell are nothing but reproductions of items we developed or used years before.

    It is ridiculously foolish of MS to think we only represent 5% of sales (or loss of). If Vista does not meet our needs we will find/create/modify something else that does. If just a fraction of us back Linux or MacOS the others will follow. How much?

    Realistically, I don't think it too far fetched to say we directly and indirectly represent at least 50% of Windows sales. For every 1% of us that switch to another OS will lead to 10% less sales of Windows.

    And an added note...

    Yes, there was a lot of paranoia awaiting the release of XP. I remember debating it like it was yesterday. Lots of talk about the horrors or re registering, MS control and crippling of “unlicensed” media. What is the difference?

    Information on XP was pretty vague compared to Vista. There were many things that “could” be add, but nothing “official”. I actually did not worry and bought XP within its first month of release. With Vista, MS is giving a solid “Yes, we will be including all those things you don't want.”
    If you think about it, when it comes to boxed retail copys of windows, we are not a minority in sales.

    @SeasonalEclipse.. This was not a rumor, it was written in Vista's EULA :mad:
    hm.. When XP came out.. or rather before hand.. werent there rumors of all this too?.. Limited installs and this and that?.. I mean.. I do not remember.. I came into computing during the XP era.
    Since we account for less than 5% of the market, our screams of protest amount to the buzzing of mosquitos.
    Well I guess if enough mosquitoes buzz and bite, even giants like Microsoft will listen to reason.

    WTG InThrees and to the rest of the hundreds of relentless bloggers out there who caused this reversal by Microsoft :clap:

    Now I'm interested in Vista Ultimate again. Microsoft still needs to work on that price though. $400 :eek:
    Well it's good to see that Microsoft has been paying attention. By reversing this bad move they may have won me back. Maybe we aren't as small a segment as they make us out to be. Not that I think they did it because they really want to please us, rather that they were afraid of how many sixpack users would be steered away by us. I'm only one person, but I regularly build systems for at least 5 Joe sixpacks. Without this change I would have been recommending XP for quite some time yet.

    Now they just need to understand that 4 bills is still rather a hefty fee. I doubt like hell that they will lower it, but they need to understand that it will be a killer in a lot of sales to our segment as well. I guess I'll be suffering with one of the lower versions, probably home premium. With being out of work due to an injury, money is tight. I know that a lot of people in my area aren't in the best fiscal shape they have been in either.
    If/when?? they have been doing it for years. You are not allowed to transfer your music CD to another CD for listening in your car. Games arent supposed to be resold and movie producers say you can view the movie in the privacy of your home. No taking it to the bar to watch on the bigscreen (ok bad example)

    What will be sad is when they start doing this with hardware. You dont own it, your just renting it. (hmm like satelliette boxs and dvrs ???)

    EDIT: Cornbread, I dont think a boycott Vista action would do you much good, there are plenty of us that do like it and will buy it. Considering what the OS comes with, and how pretty it looks :) yes that is important to me, if I spend 400 beans on my OS I want it to look purdy. Well i have been running it off and on for 2 years now, I will run it 24/7 once a couple things happen. a) I get a webcam that works in it. b)... no thats it just A everything else works... okay my SLI system doesnt but i intend to sell that in the next coupla days.


    Accually you can move your music from place to place, you can watch a movie anywhere you want (non-public setting & you don't make money), If you are done with software (game or not) you can sell it as long as you no longer have it installed.

    The only time you are limited is when you have rented something, and what microsoft was proposing was the same as renting it.
    What I am really worried about is if/when the movie, music and game producers start doing the same. Heck, it has to be a corporate dream to legally force people to not only buy your product once, but multiple times.



    If/when?? they have been doing it for years. You are not allowed to transfer your music CD to another CD for listening in your car. Games arent supposed to be resold and movie producers say you can view the movie in the privacy of your home. No taking it to the bar to watch on the bigscreen (ok bad example)

    What will be sad is when they start doing this with hardware. You dont own it, your just renting it. (hmm like satelliette boxs and dvrs ???)

    EDIT: Cornbread, I dont think a boycott Vista action would do you much good, there are plenty of us that do like it and will buy it. Considering what the OS comes with, and how pretty it looks :) yes that is important to me, if I spend 400 beans on my OS I want it to look purdy. Well i have been running it off and on for 2 years now, I will run it 24/7 once a couple things happen. a) I get a webcam that works in it. b)... no thats it just A everything else works... okay my SLI system doesnt but i intend to sell that in the next coupla days.
    It's hilarious that Microsoft revised the EULA for Vista the very day my submission was posted. I suppose my article was relevant for all of... an hour or two, maybe, if I'm lucky.

    Regardless, it turns out that this is moot now, as the revised EULA specifically allows folks like you, and you, and me to upgrade our personal hardware as many times as we like with no fear of 'losing' our rights to the Vista license we own. (If we choose to go that route, which I still probably will not.)

    Score one for internet complaing! (All the complaining prior to nov 2.)
    We should do a Overclockers Boycott of Vista, no joke. Everyone make a commitment to stick with whatever you have Xp, 2000, Linux, etc. Sure MS will still make a ton by OEM's like Deadbot mentioned, but just maybe if we can get the word out MS will take notice.

    Boycott MS Vista, I'm in :).

    EDIT....

    Found this link posted in another forum, interesting news.

    http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6131900.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=zdnn

    I'm still not getting it though. I want to see exactly how it is handled once it is officially released, that and DRM.
    It seems it shouldn’t even be legal for them to do that. What I am really worried about is if/when the movie, music and game producers start doing the same. Heck, it has to be a corporate dream to legally force people to not only buy your product once, but multiple times.

    I have said it many times.

    1. I will no longer buy multiple copies of MS products for my multiple systems.

    2. I will not spend over $250 (one time) for a single copy.

    This means that they already lost at least 4 sales and more than likely 5. I know that means nothing to them and I am sure they will still make a fortune with Vista, but not with my help.

    I don’t care what innovations and improvements comes with Vista. I don’t care if it ends up being the greatest OS in history. I can’t spend money I don’t have and I am not a thief. I will make due with Linux and/or OSX. Id rather not, but MS obviously does not want my business.
    Link to the frontpage artical?

    Extra bills for a retail copy that you own would be nice but would be a piracy issue for MS for each one they sell, too bad really.