Join 3,521 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Microsoft: Upgraded Motherboard = New Windows License
February 21, 2006 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft recently made a change to the license agreement saying that a new motherboard is equal to a new computer, hence you need to purchase a new Windows license. Here is what Microsoft has to say:

“An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a “new personal computer” to which Microsoft® OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required.”

The reason Microsoft gave for this term is that “Microsoft needed to have one base component “left standing” that would still define that original PC. Since the motherboard contains the CPU and is the “heart and soul” of the PC, when the motherboard is replaced (for reasons other than defect) a new PC is essentially created.” Microsoft sent a memo to its OEM partners asking them to enforce this new policy, every time they upgrade a computer for a client.
posted by zouhair (96 comments total)

 
Kerrrching!!!
posted by Po0py at 3:30 AM on February 21, 2006


Heh.

Everytime I think about how Apple screws people it makes me want to abandon them.

Then MS pulls some stunt like this and I fall in love with my Powerbook all over again.
posted by Talez at 3:33 AM on February 21, 2006


I bought Windows before the licence change. So, it doesn't apply to me. Right?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:38 AM on February 21, 2006


They should have decided the power cord was the "base component."
posted by ParisParamus at 3:38 AM on February 21, 2006


Is there any official sources to confirm this?
posted by gi_wrighty at 3:39 AM on February 21, 2006


Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.
Fascinating.

I also recently renewed my XP license after I changed everything but the keyboard. I just had to assure the nice people at Dell (yeah, yeah, that's why I gutted the damn thing) that it was still basically the same machine as before.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:44 AM on February 21, 2006


So they've taken down the post? Or has it just never been there and we've revealed that no-one ever clicks on the links here?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:50 AM on February 21, 2006


How old is this? It was my understanding that the XP liscence was tied to the motherboard in this way ever since the OS came out.
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:52 AM on February 21, 2006


They were probably forced to do this because Bill Gates keeps giving away all that money via e-mail
posted by archaic at 3:54 AM on February 21, 2006


Talking of Apple, I recently did a piece of group coursework in Java 5. All I needed was the ability to run it on my co-worker's Mac. Apple has chosen to make Java 5 only available to people with the latest big cat, and he didn't have it, so we couldn't. His OS is only a year or two old; no-one else would force you to buy a new operating system in order to run the latest Java programs. Obnoxious.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:00 AM on February 21, 2006


ParisParamus: "They should have decided the power cord was the "base component.""

No, the electron!

Who_Am_I: "How old is this? It was my understanding that the XP liscence was tied to the motherboard in this way ever since the OS came out."

The HWID for XP's MPA was based on a number of things. Yes, this included the motherboard, but it took more than just a new motherboard to invalidate your Activation.
posted by Plutor at 4:05 AM on February 21, 2006


This document has the details.

via The Register
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:08 AM on February 21, 2006


Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.

This link seems to work for me.
posted by essexjan at 4:12 AM on February 21, 2006


Windows Desktop operating systems preinstalled on a PC cannot be transferred or reassigned to another machine. The license is always tied to the original PC on which it was installed, even if the PC is no longer in use.

Microsoft licensing information for Windows XP Professional.

So, if you buy Win XP preinstalled on a PC, that license belongs to that PC. If you buy a copy of Win XP and install it yourself, that license is transferable.

Considering the stricter licensing model that Apple uses, I'm quite sure that if/when they ever start to OEM their software, a similar model will apply.
posted by disclaimer at 4:16 AM on February 21, 2006


OOOOOh now don't you wish you didn't mistreat that geeky guy next door ? :-) Mistreat a plumber, drown in shit !
posted by elpapacito at 4:18 AM on February 21, 2006


Windows Desktop operating systems preinstalled on a PC cannot be transferred or reassigned to another machine.

"Nickelback's music approximation systems preinstalled on a CD cannot be transferred or reassigned to another media."

man, this is all beginning to sound very familiar.
posted by quonsar at 4:22 AM on February 21, 2006


Why is equating a new motherboard to a new pc that outrageous? Most of the time a new motherboard is put in to substantially upgrade the machine, in lieu of buying new (which still is cheaper many times). It is like having a new machine. Yes, if someone were to repair a system by putting in the exact same motherboard as was in before this will cause problems, but who would do that if in the process of repair you could enhance performance? Does anyone ever replace a motherboard and put in the old processor?
posted by caddis at 4:46 AM on February 21, 2006


Caddis, the problem lies in the fact that I have to buy a piece of software again if I update my hardware.

I can port over all my old software to a new PC without having to buy it all again.

I do agree that changing a motherboard is basically like having a new PC. Don't quite know why I should have to pay for a new license for my operating system.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:49 AM on February 21, 2006


because you got a cheap copy of the operating system by its being tied to a single pc.
posted by caddis at 4:53 AM on February 21, 2006


I still think the practice of tying the OS to a single PC is pretty crappy, (unlike disclaimer appears to be, I am not a Microsoft employee). Still, once you accept that model defining the PC as the motherboard does not seem that odd to me.
posted by caddis at 5:00 AM on February 21, 2006


Suddenly the King was holding his mining axe again. 'This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the ninehundred‑year‑old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y'know. Pretty good. Will you tell me this is a fake too?' He sat back again.
posted by dmd at 5:12 AM on February 21, 2006


I fail to be outraged or even interested. I thought it was common knowledge that pre-installed copies of Windows (which is what we're talking about) are only meant to be used on that machine, and as caddis said, the motherboard seems like a sensible component to define this around, especially as they allow defective ones to be replaced.
posted by cillit bang at 5:16 AM on February 21, 2006


dmd is quoting Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:16 AM on February 21, 2006


Wikinews article
posted by jeffburdges at 5:25 AM on February 21, 2006


who buys operating systems any more?
posted by chibikeandy at 5:28 AM on February 21, 2006


My problem with the whole idea of having a an OS tied down to a machine is that the shelf life of an average operating system is quite a few years. For hardware, this is not the case. My Windows 95 + 98SE upgrade discs lasted me a good 10 years. Went through quite a few systems in that time.

As for money... I'm poor so I tend to go for the OEM versions of both hardware and software. My other option being piracy which way too many of my friends do not have a problem with.

Guess this is my fault really.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:30 AM on February 21, 2006


Why is equating a new motherboard to a new pc that outrageous?

Caddis et al, it's not the question of whether it is the case, but whether it ought to be. Ultimately, this needs to be market-driven: People (by which I mean "large corporate customers") need to push MS to make them give this idea up. Probably won't happen; they'll just get to remake the rules as they see fit. As has been pointed out, Apple's situation is even de facto more constrained (since you can't really do this kind of thing on a Mac), and this is precisely what they'll want it to work if they ever again do sell their OS to run on non-Apple hardware.*

I think where these arguments get mired is usually in drawing an analogy between the OS and some piece of hardware. As I see it, the analogy that MS is using is to something much more ephemeral -- namely, to warranty: An OS is like a Warranty. It's only transferrable is it's bought separately from a specific component. (And sometimes not even then -- that would be their logical next step, doncha think?) The counter-analogy to that is that the OS is not like a warranty, it's a different kind of thing altogether.

I prefer the counter-analogy.

--
* I don't think this is all that implausible a future, btw. OS X, properly packaged and with strong channel marketing, would be a strong competitor for big Unix. But Apple doesn't have the right kind of focus to do either the manufacturing or the sales, so I could imagine them partnering with somebody who could do the big iron manufacturing and who understands the glass room channel. I honestly don't know who that would be, though, since I can't see them playing with Sun. Is SGI still in the hunt in that space?

posted by lodurr at 5:36 AM on February 21, 2006


Of course none of this affects people who (hypothetically) would have sneaked out a copy of the OS they got from their office (and which has activation turned off). How interesting.

Not that I'd condone that sort of behavior. That would be wrong. I use Linux anyway. No periodic bending over and taking it up the flashpipe from the world's richest man for me.
posted by clevershark at 5:45 AM on February 21, 2006


Why is equating a new motherboard to a new pc that outrageous?

Is changing tires or engine or some parts of a car equal to getting a new car ? NO , unless one changes all the pieces, it's still a mix of new and used pieces.

What if your car producer decided that if you buy new tires or engine then you must buy again a new car or all its pieces ? Would it make ANY sense to you , the buyer payer ?

We see that more often then not companies are trying to stop the wise tinkering users, the guys and girls that know how to change the tires or a broken lamp , the geek that assembles his own PC and that are able to add more value to the stuff they buy or to prolong its life.

You should be a stupid consumer, the adult equivalent of a kid that NEEDS to run to mom (company) and pray to obtain what he wants. Indipendence of consumer is seen as evil, corrupt and not profiteable.

Fuck that.
posted by elpapacito at 5:55 AM on February 21, 2006


Why the motherboard and not just the CPU?
posted by JJ86 at 6:03 AM on February 21, 2006


What if your car producer decided that if you buy new tires or engine then you must buy again a new car or all its pieces ? Would it make ANY sense to you , the buyer payer ?

No one's arguing that. Microsoft sells copies of Windows to OEMs at a discount over the full version on the proviso that it can only be used on that computer. If you want something transferrable, buy the full version.

(I'm not going to approach the flaws in your car analogy, because computer-car analogies universally suck)
posted by cillit bang at 6:04 AM on February 21, 2006


The joys of capitalism, regulated in favor of the robber barons.
posted by Goofyy at 6:05 AM on February 21, 2006


JJ86: CPU upgrades are more common than motherboard upgrades and are something that one would expect to be able to do without considering the result to be a "new" machine.
posted by grapefruit at 6:09 AM on February 21, 2006


who buys operating systems any more?
posted by stenseng at 6:10 AM on February 21, 2006


His OS is only a year or two old; no-one else would force you to buy a new operating system in order to run the latest Java programs. Obnoxious.

The number of users who need to run Java 5 on pre-10.4 is so small that you could probably put them all in the same room. There's no business case for Apple making it backward-compatible at this point.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:10 AM on February 21, 2006


No one should have a hard time with this, Bill G is a philanthropist after all. It's for the children!
posted by Scoo at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2006


Does this mean the crew of the ship of Theseus have to get new licenses too?
posted by hnnrs at 6:23 AM on February 21, 2006


Indipendence of consumer is seen as [...] not profiteable - elpapacito

Well yeah. Clearly it is more profitable to sell more licences, and Microsoft is in the business of making profits.
posted by raedyn at 6:24 AM on February 21, 2006


Interestingly, even before this change the OEM-XP used by Dell already had a motherboard check built in, so it would refuse to install on any other hardware.

I wonder whether this license change is in preparation of extending this "feature" to all OEM images for the next Windows version, to stop shops from selling those OEM licenses as a cheap alternative to a retail license.
posted by Cironian at 6:25 AM on February 21, 2006


cillit bang:

proviso that it can only be used on that computer

So let's see the cost of that copy of Windows isn't $100 , but it is $200 because next time I decide to change a piece I will need to buy another copy. Yet given that I can't predict exactly the replacement time of hardware, I have this liability of $100 over my head assuming that the price didn't increase. Fuuuuuck that.

This actually depreciates my hardware as it is useless without a copy of windows that could in theory become a copy for each and every component ; this depreciation reduces the value of my capital, but doesn't reduce the price of its upgrade or replacement.

So that copy of windows start costing $300 or more. Also nobody can force Microsoft to produce a "full" version.

This necessarily damages hardware industries because the cost of software would reduce the amount of money one could spend on hardware and introduce the abovesaid accelerated depreciation.

Yet I'm confident corporatre users, well aware of the reasoning I just introduced, will start looking for alternatives or attempt to reduce the dependence on Microsoft, prolonging hardware lifetime thus reducing demand for hardware. The final cost will be shifted on workers.

ALL OF THIS only because Microsoft now wants to triple charge for the same service without any technical need to ? That's pretty much robbing economy of value for no reason except pure greed.

Well yeah. Clearly it is more profitable to sell more licences, and Microsoft is in the business of making profits

Criminals are also in business of making profits, so why are their actions illegal ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:28 AM on February 21, 2006


If you change a machine from its original configuration, then you have in essence changed that machine, and you would need to upgrade the software.

Upgrading the motherboard is practically no different than upgrading the video card. Or any other arbitrary piece of the computer.

Taken to its end, this kind of reasoning could well say that adding a memory chip to your computer makes it no longer "the same machine" and you would need to buy a new copy of Windows.

*ANY* deviation from the original configuration could, following this logic, be considered a "new machine".

I understand the reasoning behind this. But honestly, it would be like worrying that someone is upgrading their hardware perpetually without upgrading their OS is like worrying that someone is going to install Windows 95 on their new dual-core machine. Drivers will always be a limiting factor, and even if someone DID do this, why would anyone care?

As long as the software is only being used on one MACHINE, of any type, then I don't see what MS has to gain by just alienating the user base with such trivialities.

Oh yeah, they don't have to worry about that. Nevermind.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:31 AM on February 21, 2006


[fixed the main link, formatting]
posted by jessamyn at 6:33 AM on February 21, 2006


I don't work for Microsoft, I just went and got the link to their licensing information from their website. I install and resell Windows a lot though, so I'm close to the subject. I was pointing out that the non-transferable license is only on preinstalled copies of Windows, not retail versions.

I can buy an OEM version of Windows (just like on my Dell) with the cute hologram and the FOR DISTRIBUTION ONLY WITH A NEW PC language on it for about $140.00 through a distributor (or as a system builder for a lot less, but you gotta have bucks to get there). The retail version of it is about $200.00. The OEM version is bound to the PC; the retail version is not.

If you buy a Dell from their website without an OS and go buy your own version of Windows, you circumvent the problem. Ergo, if you are a consistent upgrader (like me), use the retail version and avoid the licensing issue.
posted by disclaimer at 6:44 AM on February 21, 2006


Wait, wait, wait...

You can BUY Windows?!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 6:45 AM on February 21, 2006


elcapacito, I have no idea what you're raving about. Read disclaimer's post above.
posted by cillit bang at 6:47 AM on February 21, 2006


Microsoft get to do this because they're a monopoly, end of story. Whether they're a legal monopoly is open to question, but they're a monopoly. The One Great True and Free Market has allowed it to become a monopoly. Since the One Great True and Free Market is our ever wise Providence, sit down, shut up, and pay your Microsoft Tax. You want Windows, you pay what Bill says you pay.

Disclaimer: It's true that Apple have more restrictive software licensing. This is because Apple's business model is fundamentally different then Microsoft's. Microsoft extract rent, Apple sell boxes, period. By volume they're an MP3-playing-box-selling company, by profit they're a stealth-Unix-box-selling company. They'll not OEM their operating system until Microsoft lose some of their market share, because they're smart enough (at least, their shareholders hope they're smart enough) to know that in a 90-3 market, only the monopolist gets to play the OEM game.

So, though the EULAs read about the same, de facto, Apple are more relaxed about who's running OS X and how they got it because they know (a few hobbyists hacking X onto Intel shitboxen lost in the underflow aside) every machine running OS X is one they made 15%-20% on.

Microsoft have to be draconian about Windows licensing and casual piracy, on the other hand, because they know that the only market support for the prices they charge is their monopoly position and their questionably legal, captive treatment of the PC manufacturing industry.
posted by Vetinari at 6:50 AM on February 21, 2006


sorry about that disclaimer
posted by caddis at 6:54 AM on February 21, 2006


Wow, I'd be discusted, but if a company like Microsoft decide to start f***ing me over then I'll decide to take my money elsewhere. I hear Linux isn't bad and there is always the dreaded one click terror of Apple.
posted by Meccabilly at 6:54 AM on February 21, 2006


They'll not OEM their operating system until Microsoft lose some of their market share, because they're smart enough (at least, their shareholders hope they're smart enough) to know that in a 90-3 market, only the monopolist gets to play the OEM game.

I never really understood this line of thinking. The one thing that distinguishes Apple from Wintel is the OS. The equipment itself is good, but just as high quality equipment is available in Wintel if you are willing to go dollar for dollar. Since they have a superior operating system, why not challenge Microsoft's hegemony?
posted by caddis at 6:59 AM on February 21, 2006


This is why I love corporate volume-license keys; no activation necessary. Thanks to "site" licenses, I've never had to pay for XP.

I have, however, gladly paid for each version of OS X as it comes out, in some cases multiple copies.
posted by mrbill at 7:00 AM on February 21, 2006


First of all, why should you need a new license if you buy a new PC? I don't need to re-buy all my CDs if I buy a DVD player, or re-buy all my books if I buy a new reading lamp.

This just illustrates the absurdity of "licensing" copyrighted material, rather then going by copyright law.

That said, a new MoBo is a reasonable measure of a "new PC" because if there were no particular component, you could 'cycle through' all the old stuff and then build another computer out of them after a while, which is what I've done in the past whenever I've needed a new box. Any PC enthusiast is going to have enough hardware to build a PC out of spare parts at some time.

But there should be no "license" only what is and is not permissible under copyright law.

(And, by the way, I think the government should regulate software license. Come out with three or four standard variations that are fair, sensible, and everyone can understand)
posted by delmoi at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2006


I guess the moral of this is buy an independent copy, which can be transferred. Outrageous though this is, since they have 97% of the computing market by the nuts...I'm not entirely surprised. It's the golden rule after all!

Is it even possible to complain to them about things like this? I suppose the only way is by not paying for XP.
posted by 6am at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2006


Of course this only applies to those few out there who actually license the OS in the first place.
There are a million and one ways to get around such stupidity.
posted by a3matrix at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2006


This is why I love corporate volume-license keys; no activation necessary. Thanks to "site" licenses, I've never had to pay for XP.

I have, however, gladly paid for each version of OS X as it comes out, in some cases multiple copies.


Um, congratulations.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 AM on February 21, 2006


there is always the dreaded one click terror of Apple

Not any more!

Hell froze over on August 2nd, 2005 (nevermind the fact that normal multi-button USB mice have worked fine in OS X for years..)
posted by mrbill at 7:02 AM on February 21, 2006


Taken to its end, this kind of reasoning could well say that adding a memory chip to your computer makes it no longer "the same machine" and you would need to buy a new copy of Windows.

Well, they have to pick one specific component, and the motherboard makes the most sense.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on February 21, 2006


From Microsoft's perspective, this is somewhat reasonable; when does upgrading stop being an upgrade? The line is, necessarily, artificial.

This probably isn't purely about money. Lots of people take discarded computer parts, assemble new computers, and run other OSes on them. Microsoft doesn't like that, so by forcing you to pony up again, they probably figure it's more likely that you'll put Windows on the old machine too.

You could always, of course, render the old motherboard nonfunctional, and tell your OEM or Microsoft that the replacement is a repair. And if you manage to fix the broken motherboard again (amazing, those jumpers), well, you have complied with the letter of the law. Just don't install Windows on the old motherboard again without paying for it.
posted by Malor at 7:10 AM on February 21, 2006


So ... since this latest proclamation from MS is so obviously BS, what's the way to get around it, with a legal OEM copy of the OS?
posted by Blue Stone at 7:14 AM on February 21, 2006


DistroWatch.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:14 AM on February 21, 2006


Goverment regulation of software prices - creative answer to gnarly problem or worst idea ever?
posted by sfts2 at 7:20 AM on February 21, 2006


You know, I always thought M$ was pretty smart back in the day for forcing IBM to pay for MS-DOS OS for every machine they built, whether or not they used MS-DOS (they could put another OS on their machines, but obviously the cost would be raised, since they already were paying for the M$ one. IBM's lawyers back then didn't know what they were really talking about, and M$ turned into a bigger monster than IBM ever could've dreampt of.

I place my faith in the haxors, who are more outraged by this than anyone else, and finds a workaround. I'm at a point where I'll buy my OS (even though it's more of a pain in my ass than installing off a pirated copy), but the way M$ is playing this, I'm not upgrading from XP Pro anytime soon.
posted by Busithoth at 7:24 AM on February 21, 2006


My Macs are amused by this...... They accept the fact that one mac will go though several increments of OS during its life (and processors/mother boards are rarely upgraded!) , while a PC will go through several increments of motherboards during the life of its OS...

one of these ways of thinking is "bazarro world" in nature...we'll just never agree on which...

/still using an old Mac Plus and a 9 year old 20th Anniversary Mac to surf the web.... :)
posted by HuronBob at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2006


I always felt that the harddrive was the heart and soul of the computer, since you know, it includes all the things that make the computer mine.
posted by tweak at 7:29 AM on February 21, 2006


It doesnt matter, as its only the OEM edition. If you go buy a copy from Best Buy then you're OK, you can install it on a computer, rip out the motherboard and put a new one in and then you're still OK.

There is one exemption to the rule noted in the OP - if the motherboard fails you can replace it with the same or similar model if it is no longer manufacturered. You just have to talk to some MS person and explain to them your motherboard failed and you had it replaced and windows wants reactivation.
posted by SirOmega at 7:34 AM on February 21, 2006


that's exactly what I had to do a week ago... My Dell motherboard died a horrible death and I decided to rebuild a whole new system from scratch... I get it all done and I go to install XP... but my activation isn't any good anymore... I call the # it provided, I talked with a nice Indian lady and I now have a new activation code... no muss no fuss...

And my copy of XP is OEM, btw...

Just tell them your MoBo is busted, whether it actually is or not, and there shouldn't be an issue... They can't possibly verify every single re-activation request...

...or can they
posted by WhipSmart at 8:00 AM on February 21, 2006


disclaimer: If you buy a Dell from their website without an OS and go buy your own version of Windows...

Is that even an option? I've never bought a computer from Dell, but a very cursory look at the 'Customize' pages tells me it isn't.
posted by howling fantods at 8:26 AM on February 21, 2006


Yes, you can buy a "naked" Dell... but they don't make it too obvious... and it costs more. Which, until this news, was the thing about the puter industry that annoyed me the most.
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:31 AM on February 21, 2006


This is ridiculous bullshit. I ran into a problem reinstalling XP after an overvoltage condition on the mains destroyed my motherboard. Since XP recognizes the motherboard through its MAC address, and since the MAC address changed, the serial number I legitimately purchased for the computer no longer worked when I attempted to reinstall on the machine. XP popped up a dialog indicating that I should call them, and after a process of repeating some gibberish number back to the Microsoft support person, they authorized the install.

NOW, they want me to buy a NEW LICENSE if the power company fries my motherboard? Fuck them.
posted by sydnius at 8:35 AM on February 21, 2006


"If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect"
posted by cillit bang at 8:40 AM on February 21, 2006


Yet the Ms still insists I place the OEM license sticker on the outside of the case rather than inside where students wouldn't be able to scrape it off.

grapefruit writes "CPU upgrades are more common than motherboard upgrades and are something that one would expect to be able to do without considering the result to be a 'new' machine."

CPU upgrades are more common than MB upgrades but MBs fail a lot more than CPUs. I haven't had a CPU failure since the 486SX days but I probably do a couple motherboards every month.

SirOmega writes "There is one exemption to the rule noted in the OP - if the motherboard fails you can replace it with the same or similar model if it is no longer manufacturered. You just have to talk to some MS person and explain to them your motherboard failed and you had it replaced and windows wants reactivation."

This doesn't actually effect me but I wonder what happens the third or fourth time you call them up with a new motherboard? I've done as many as 5 motherboards in a single machine in one year for one client who had really bad power.
posted by Mitheral at 8:48 AM on February 21, 2006


So put the old motherboard in a new case and give it to your mom. It already is licensed for Windows, after all.

When you buy your new motherboard from New Egg be sure to have 'em include an OEM copy of Windows with it for $80 or so.
posted by kindall at 8:57 AM on February 21, 2006


So, basically, some of your really hate the idea of the OEM license (e.g. non-transferrable). Ergo, you'd rather forego the discount that the OEM version gets you, and instead have a fully transferrable license. Except that you can do this today by buying a bare PC sans OS, and yet none of you do it. Did I get that straight?

So what if you're a one of the people who never upgrades your PC - why should you have to pay the extra cost of the transferrable license? What about people who have XP Home and never care about the features in XP Pro - should they have to pay for the cost of Pro? Simply put, just because there's no incremental cost to MS to give everyone the same set of bits, doesn't mean there's not legitimate business reasons to do so. It's the same as in any business; more $$$ gives you more product and more you can do with it. The only reason people are whining so much here is that there's no incremental cost to MS to do so - except by that logic, they should just give away all copies of their software to everyone for free! Hooray Socialism!
posted by Sethamin at 9:06 AM on February 21, 2006


Well, they have to pick one specific component, and the motherboard makes the most sense.

For the last time - No, they don't.

The whole idea is fundamentally absurd - not their choice of how to implement it.
posted by odinsdream at 10:01 AM on February 21, 2006


The whole idea is fundamentally absurd - not their choice of how to implement it.

The idea of selling a non-transferrable license for less money is absurd? Why exactly? Whether you like it or not is another question, but it seems to make perfect sense.
posted by Sethamin at 10:21 AM on February 21, 2006


Does it now? What sense does it make, exactly? I really must just be missing the point - so please tell me.

I go down to the store, and I can buy a full version, or the OEM version. If I buy the OEM version, I still have to buy the hardware* (usually a harddrive or a motherboard in my experience). So, what's the big deal, I buy the hardware and the software - so whatever kind of arrangement Microsoft had with that hardware vendor is satisfied, since they both get their money. I go home and install the software on another PC. Who's bottom line is hurt, and why?

* selling OEM software without requiring the hardware purchase is a problem, I won't argue that.
posted by odinsdream at 11:14 AM on February 21, 2006


Who's -> Whose
posted by odinsdream at 11:15 AM on February 21, 2006


Microsoft sells copies of Windows to OEMs at a discount over the full version on the proviso that it can only be used on that computer. If you want something transferrable, buy the full version. posted by cillit bang


Yeah...but. I can buy a new 300 gig drive, and that qualifies me to buy an OEM OS, that I plan on installing on *that* drive.

If I install that drive, but then later figure out that the power supply I have isn't strong enough, but if I change the power supply ...well, you see the chain of events that leads to "well, I might as well just upgrade the motherboard as long as I'm in here".

Alternately, I install the OS and realize my computer doesn't have the chops to run that massive bloatware...and I have to upgrade.

Either way, the bit of hardware that was purchased to get the oem software, (hard drive), has not changed, so why should they be able to make me buy another installation of code I just bought?

My Alienware head, bless her heart, has been sitting on my desk for over 3 years. In that time, I've replaced drives, added ram, changed processors, added and removed various other cards, the poor thing has been opened more often than the red-shirted landing party guy.

She's still the same computer, in my opinion. Same cables, same case, same wire tamers, same cool blue neon glowing eyes. In my opinion, everything inside the case is just a component of the case itself. That's why they call them "components" and not "entires".

The fact that Microsoft even has this kind of power just sort of proves that IP law is just insane. Bugfuck, over the rainbow, insane.
posted by dejah420 at 11:29 AM on February 21, 2006


Back in December 2001, about a month after XP came out, I upgraded my motherboard, and re-activated over the phone. For your (possible) amusement, you can hear that phone call here.
posted by iconjack at 11:38 AM on February 21, 2006


Wow, there sure are a lot of tinfoil-hat wearing loonies on here. Why is this insane, or fucked, or whatever else you want to call it? This has absolutely zero to do with MS's monopoly power or anything of the sort (clearly there's some corollary of Godwin's law wrt MS's monopoly that needs invoking here). It has to do with licensing. You all are seriously pissed off the this sort of license-tied-to-a-piece-of-hardware can exist and be enforcable - okay, fine. But it's not MS's fault that IP law lets such a license exist. At least figure out who or what you're upset at/over before you go foaming at the mouth.
posted by Sethamin at 11:40 AM on February 21, 2006


Lighten up, Sethamin. This isn't slashdot, nor is it the ZDNet forums -- you should neither look for, nor pretend that you've found, a typical "Winblows Bad" thread here.

Your view is really very simplistic. True, almost everyone else's is, too, but your arguments have no special privilege. The bottom line is this: MS wants to do it this way because it works better for them, financially. We want them not to because it works poorly for us, financially.

The hardware analogies are IMHO (as I said up-thread) mistaken; it does not follow that MS is correct, because their metaphor is also pretty funky. They want software to be like a warranty; we want software to be like somethng you actually buy and use. They want to lease it to us; we want to buy it.

If you want to think of it in terms of IP law, the OS leasing argument is kind of mistaken -- or at least, broken. It's like leasing a book. Do you lease books? Not normally. Sure, sometimes you do, but they're pretty unusual cases (usually things like very expensive directories and the like).

Here's another way to think of it: You get to own the hardware; but the hardware is useless without the software. And you only get to lease the software.

And please, don't respond that you can just go and get a transferrable license. You know bloody well that MS would love to do the same thing there -- they've wanted to make Windows lease-ware for year, literally years -- it's been at least 10 years since I first read that they were floating the idea.

As for whether something is or is not MS's "fault": Dude, WTF? [chuckle/] MS chooses to sell OEM on these terms. That they choose it -- doesn't that kind of make it their "fault"?

There are obvious solutions to this problem, of course: Don't use Windows. Hard to do, for most people. But, of course, "hard to do" isn't the same as "monopoly" -- at least, not in the strictly literalist world. Then again, I don't persnally live in a strictly literalist world....
posted by lodurr at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2006


There are obvious solutions to this problem, of course: Don't use Windows.

There's one more obvious than that. Don't buy from Dell and other vendors who have such an arrangement.

We wanted to get some Macs in the past to install Linux on them. We couldn't get a no OS discount from Apple Canada at the time. So we didn't bother with them.

Similarly, we refuse to purchase systems from an OEM vendor that forces you to pay for Windows.
posted by juiceCake at 11:56 AM on February 21, 2006


Howling: Yes, you can buy Dell PC's without an OS, in fact you can buy them completely blank. It's the difference between buying through their "consumer" and "corporate" sales arms.
posted by disclaimer at 12:21 PM on February 21, 2006


Juice: I've never heard that Dell forced Windows on anyone, nor does Gateway. Even when purchasing through their consumer sales side, I was able to get the Dell rep to delete the OS on a machine once.

OEM pricing is primarily geared toward consumers. Most companies buy their software from Microsoft on Open License or through volume programs, so the OEM restriction simply doesn't apply in a large (more than 10 PC's, usually) corporate setting.
When you purchase Windows in open license, there is no product activation. Now that Genuine Advantage is enforced, though, the volume license key will be shown the door soon - mine no longer allows updates, for example.

Most consumer level machines are transferred in entirety to other consumers when a new machine is purchased - I get a new PC, I give the old one to my sister, etc. Hence, transferring the license isn't an issue since you're giving away the old box, and getting a new box, so a new license is appropriate.
posted by disclaimer at 12:32 PM on February 21, 2006


chinese pirates excitedly rub their hands together...
posted by aether1 at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2006


Juice: I've never heard that Dell forced Windows on anyone, nor does Gateway. Even when purchasing through their consumer sales side, I was able to get the Dell rep to delete the OS on a machine once.

That is indeed the case presently and probably for some time I hear. I haven't dealt with them directly for a couple of years but the implication in the posts above was that this wasn't the case or it was a 'hard to find' option. Looks like those statementsare hogwash.
posted by juiceCake at 12:39 PM on February 21, 2006


cillit bang : "'If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect'"

My motherboard is defective. It won't run my new Athlon 64 chip.
posted by graventy at 1:15 PM on February 21, 2006


That is indeed the case presently and probably for some time I hear. I haven't dealt with them directly for a couple of years but the implication in the posts above was that this wasn't the case or it was a 'hard to find' option. Looks like those statementsare hogwash.

Just got off the phone with a Dell corporate sales rep. He says that they do not, will not, have never shipped a machine that didn't *pay* for the license, whether you want it burned in or not.

So, sure...jump through the hoops to order your blank Dell. But you're still going to pay for the software. It's part of their agreement with MS. You'll also pay a premium for them to not install all the other spy and adware that ships from Dell. They get paid by the companies to install that crap on their boxes. If they don't install it, they're in violation of their agreement. What they'll do is install it, then fdisk your box...but you're still going to pay for everything they legally have to install because of their vendor contracts.
posted by dejah420 at 2:00 PM on February 21, 2006


Whatever then. Contradictory reports about Dell. Personally, they and Apple are on our refuse list regardless because of these hidden fees...

Thus I won't be paying for anything from either vendor.
posted by juiceCake at 2:12 PM on February 21, 2006


dejah420 writes "What they'll do is install it, then fdisk your box"

They've got to do this to test the box, only a fool would put a box together and then not burn it in before shipping it across the country.
posted by Mitheral at 2:24 PM on February 21, 2006


This makes working tech support such a giant pain in the ass when a customer buys a new motherboard and you have to explaing to them that they now have to buy a new liscence of windows.

For as much as I love XP at times, things like this make me want to drown bill gates.
posted by Hexidecimal at 3:41 PM on February 21, 2006


lodurr, your argument would be convincing were it the case that you could ONLY buy OEM versions of Windows. But that's not the case. You are, in fact, paying less for your version of Windows, in exchange for the non-transferrable license. So if you don't like it, you don't even have to boycott Windows; simply order your PC sans OS, or if that doesn't work, build your PC out of parts from NewEgg. Either way, to me it sounds like you're complaining about a restriction that you could easily and legally circumvent, which smacks to me of just plain whining.

Just to reiterate, yes, if this was the only option we had, then you would be absolutely correct that it would be very heavy handed of MS. But it's not. You can still buy a version of Windows that acts as your physical property. So what's the issue here?
posted by Sethamin at 4:02 PM on February 21, 2006


And please, don't respond that you can just go and get a transferrable license. You know bloody well that MS would love to do the same thing there -- they've wanted to make Windows lease-ware for year, literally years -- it's been at least 10 years since I first read that they were floating the idea.
lodurr, Uh, we can't respond that you can get a transferable license because Microsoft "would love to do the same thing there?" Except that they could do the same thing there & they don't so what are you getting at?
posted by Wood at 5:08 PM on February 21, 2006


Look on the bright side....This rule now means that you can buy a save 60 dollars on a copy of windows if your computer store throws in a 5 dollar used motherboard.

Any time you buy a new motherboard, you can get a new, fully licensed, OEM copy of Windows XP!!
posted by Megafly at 6:44 PM on February 21, 2006


sethamin: Just to reiterate, yes, if this was the only option we had, then you would be absolutely correct that it would be very heavy handed of MS. But it's not. You can still buy a version of Windows that acts as your physical property. So what's the issue here?

wood: Uh, we can't respond that you can get a transferable license because Microsoft "would love to do the same thing there?" Except that they could do the same thing there & they don't so what are you getting at?

What am I getting at? Hmm -- I guess I have the same question for you. What are you getting at?

Just about all the contrary wisdom in this thread seems to amount to some kind of moral defense of MS. What I'm getting at is that that's not necessary -- it just confuses the issue. We know that MS would make transferrable licenses a thing of the past if they could get away with it -- they've as much as said so, and they've wanted to do it for years. We also know that they don't do transferrable licenses on OEM versions because they make more money that way. (They really don't give a shit whether we save money, as long as they keep getting paid.)

So the issue here is really whether or not we put up with it. And the bottom line is that most of us don't have a real option, regardless of reductionist responses to the contrary. Yes, it's strictly literally possible for us all to buy transferrable licenses and naked boxes; it's not feasible for the vast majority of us. If it's not feasible, it's really not relevant to the discussion.
posted by lodurr at 8:26 AM on February 22, 2006


lodurr, what I don't understand about your point is: what's stopping MS from doing away with transferrable licenses? The market? So Microsoft's products, pricing & licensing are constrained by customers and not dictates from on high?

When you say "majority" I assume you're talking about the majority of the minority of people represented in this thread. You can't possibly be ignoring the fact that the vast majority of consumers with OEM licenses do not transfer them. So a company changes their licensing in a way that does not affect the vast majority of their customers & folks here claim they're abusing their monopoly & fucking the consumer. What bullshit.

It's also pretty rich for you to talk about "relevant to the discussion" when you brought up what Microsoft "would" but hasn't done.
posted by Wood at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2006


... what Microsoft "would" but hasn't done.

And that would be irrelevant.... how?

When you say "majority" I assume you're talking about the majority of the minority of people represented in this thread.

Why would you assume that? Please re-parse. Here, I'll help, here's the original text: "Yes, it's strictly literally possible for us all to buy transferrable licenses and naked boxes; it's not feasible for the vast majority of us." So, you see, your interpretation would be kind of odd, wouldn't it? Since many of the people in this thread clearly would regard naked box purchases as an option. So you ought to conclude that I'm talking about unsophisticated users, who don't regard getting a naked box with a transferrable-license copy of Windows as a feasible option. (That would include corporate IT customers, to help you out a little more.)

.... what I don't understand about your point is: what's stopping MS from doing away with transferrable licenses? The market? So Microsoft's products, pricing & licensing are constrained by customers and not dictates from on high?

And what I don't understand is why you think I assume MS is beyond the reach of the market. Nothing I've said implies that in any way.

But all market participants do not have equal power: I don't have the same muscle as MS, but a lot of "me" acting in consonance can make it impractical for them to do something they'd want to do. For example: If MS moved to a leasing model tomorrow, their sales would tank. OTOH, they would not be curtailed, because for practical purposes there really is no short-term alternative to buying Microsoft. (And if you want to debate that last point, I suggest you find someone else to debate it with -- someone who doesn't have to function in a real American business environment.)

In any case, I doubt you're really responding to anything I actually believe -- you're rather responding to things you think I believe. What I believe is simply this: MS does it this way because it profits them to do it this way; if their customers were well enough organized to resist this method of licensing, MS would do it differently, and they would still make lots of money doing it differently.
posted by lodurr at 10:35 AM on February 22, 2006


« Older Remains of guru's disciple identified...  |  The Immortal Game... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments