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by Mike Zazaian November 3, 2006 - 1:09pm, No Comments

Microsoft Removes Vista License Stranglehold

Just weeks after announcing that Windows Vista licenses could only be transferred only once, Microsoft has seen the light and lightened up the policy.

As announced on the Windows Vista Team Blog, Microsoft has changed the license agreement for all versions of Vista to facilitate unlimited transfers between computers.

You may install one copy of the software on the licensed device. You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time. Except as provided in the Storage and Network Use (Ultimate edition) sections below, you may not use the software on any other device.

Wording in the license basically suggests that users can transfer Vista to as many machines as they’d like, as long as it’s not installed on two machines with the same license at the same time. The new license is substantially more workable than the original draft of the license agreement, which stipulated that only one transfer of Vista was allowed before a given license becomes invalid.

The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time, reads the original agreement. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the ‘licensed device.’ The restrictive nature of the original agreement stirred up controversy amongst prospective Vista users, who felt that the license prohibited normal uses of the operating system. Users would be forced to buy a new copy of Vista if they needed to re-install the OS multiple times.

And while this may not have an enormous impact on day-to-day Vista users, it would have disallowed normal operation for groups such as PC testers and enthusiasts. Members of these communities transfer operating systems not only several times over the course of a computer, but sometimes several times per day depending on what kind of testing is being done. The original license agreement would have forced these users to buy several copies of Vista, or perhaps abandon the operating system altogether. Microsoft maintains, however, the original intent behind the restrictive agreement was to combat piracy, not force users to repeatedly buy copies of Vista. Said Nick White, a Vista team member:

Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however, it’s become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts.

It’s a good thing that Microsoft caught this change before they began shipping copies of Vista to manufacturers on November 30th. While their anti-piracy aims are clear, the original license agreement could have completely devalued Vista for some, making for all kinds of PR nightmares over the life of the OS. Even if they had wanted to change this issue later in the Vista lifecycle it would have been almost impossible after having sent millions of copies to PC manufacturers around the world.

Via the Windows Vista Team Blog
Check out the new Vista license agreement.