21 Mar 15 Is your copy of Windows legal?
March 20, 2015 at 6:50 PM #3305
Did it come installed on your computer? Buy it separately? Steal it? (which, by the way, according to Microsoft, includes getting it “with” an old computer)March 20, 2015 at 7:07 PM #3306
The key phrase is according to Microsoft. Just because they say something is illegal, doesn’t make it so. Here’s one example. It’s not Microsoft but you get the idea.
To answer the question, yes, I’ve paid for as many copies of Windows as I’m using.March 20, 2015 at 10:10 PM #3307
I don’t know if it’s legal, or not. Microsoft thinks it is (well it is currently activated), and the way I came to a working installation, originally, was legal. But, I can’t duplicate it now.
Here’s the path as to how I ended up with Win 7 Pro, and got into a disagreement with Microsoft on how to really have a decent installation.
I was running XP. Good, legal installation off the original installation CD.
I bought the family upgrade pack to move up to Win 7 Home (actually good for 3 computers). To do that upgrade, I had to be already running Windows — which I was. That preserved my installed programs, data files, and such, and the old Windows was moved over to a Windows.old folder.
I wanted the XP mode (misteak), so bought the upgrade to the Pro version. That gave me a new product key that I entered, and the upgrade was done like an online update. No new installation CD involved.
Everything worked, and I thought I was happy. I have 3 product keys, and two installation CDs. There came a time when I wanted to do a repair install to the Win 7. Nothing would work, the CD for Win 7 Home wouldn’t work since I was downgrading. I downloaded from Microsoft a CD image for the Win 7 Pro that I was running. Couldn’t use that either, since it is for a full install and the product key I had was for an upgrade.
I solved my problems a different way, and went on sort of happy.
Then a friend donated a SSD drive to me, that I wanted to use for the boot drive. But, Windows was already far to big to fit on it. So, I needed to go the original install path. XP first, then 7 Home, then 7 Pro. But, each of these installs leaves trash on the HD, and the 64 GB HD was too small.
Emails to Microsoft got the reply that all I had to do was call them and they could solve my problem. Turns out, their solution was to sell me (For money) a new product key to go with that Win 7 image I had downloaded. In other words, scrap the Win 7 install that I had already paid for. I declined that.
I ended up using the product key from an unused laptop here, and that went thru the activation OK.
I think, with the money I had already paid Microsoft, that I was entitled to a working installation CD and product key. Using the product key from that dead laptop may not be legal. I really don’t know!March 20, 2015 at 11:20 PM #3308
I wonder if this has anything to do with the news that Microsoft will be offering free upgrades to Windows 10, even to those with unauthorized copies of Windows 7 and 8.
I still find this funny and sort of relevant to the topic. Back when I used Windows, I was re-installing and upgrading my PC often. Activation didn’t exist back then but I’m sure it would have caused me a lot of trouble. Money and legality aside, isn’t it interesting when a bootleg copy works better and is less hassle then a legitimate one?March 21, 2015 at 12:09 AM #3309
Actually, Christian, if Microsoft says your copy of Windows is illegal, it is. They get to set the rules for the operating system they’re licensing to you. See, “licencing,” not “selling.” That’s why they get to say. You don’t own it, you only own a license to use it under certain circumstances.
March 21, 2015 at 8:09 AM #3311
- This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Nick Francesco.
As long as my copy activates, they are telling me that all is well. That is how I look at it. After all, Microsoft is the one who is keeping track of this stuff. Right ? 😉March 21, 2015 at 8:10 AM #3312
if Microsoft says your copy of Windows is illegal, it is
I’m sure you saw the UMG example where the company insisted the “owner” did not have the right to resell, and sued him. However the court disagreed. There’s been a few court cases where the company claimed the transaction was a license when it was in fact a sale. So no, Microsoft or any private entity is not and cannot be the final authority on legal matters.
What about the (unlikely) situation where you buy a computer and decide to resell it without turning it on? In this case you were never shown the license so you couldn’t possibly be bound by it (in order to be valid, you must be shown a license’s text and somehow affirm your consent to it, usually by clicking I agree.).
Even without that example, you’ve paid for the computer long before you’re presented with any license offer. That transaction is long over. It’d be like driving home in your new car, then finding a piece of paper in the glove box telling you where you’re allowed to get gas, what brand of tires you must buy, etc. That’s certainly unenforceable.
If you do click I agree, you’re probably going to be held to that. I personally don’t agree with that because it’s adding terms to a sale after it’s complete. However if you don’t click that button, then there’s no way you can be bound by those terms.March 21, 2015 at 8:48 AM #3313
Microsoft can put all sorts of terms in their EULA, but it doesn’t necessarily make those terms legally enforceable. That is for a court to decide. Let’s take the contrived example that they decide to say, any computer upon which the user installs Windows is now property of Microsoft. So one day they decide they need some more platforms for testing, so they bop on by your home to take your computer to their labs. I can’t imagine any court upholding Microsoft’s claim that because Windows is on that computer that it becomes their property, and thus they may confiscate it at will.March 21, 2015 at 9:25 AM #3314
You people have to remember that Microsoft did NOT sell you a copy of Windows. They sold you a license to use a copy of Windows, and they hold the right to revoke that license any time they choose. You’d be absolutely correct if you’d actually bought a product, but you didn’t. You bought a license. Just like you can’t sell or give away a car you’ve leased, you can’t sell or give away a copy of Windows you merely licensed.March 21, 2015 at 9:43 AM #3315
With the car lease, you’re signing the lease agreement at the same time you’re paying for it. If you don’t agree to the lease terms, they’re not going to let you drive off with the car. The store let’s you buy the software without agreeing to the license, and if you reject the license, then you reject all it’s terms, including the part that says “this software is licensed not sold”.March 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM #3319
Yes, and that’s true in Washington state. But what constitutes a sale is generally a question of state, not federal copyright law, and in recognition of this, many software companies have taken the position that they can convey the copy to the customer in an over-the-counter transaction for a one-time payment, but describe that transaction as a license; as a license, the first sale doctrine doesn’t apply, meaning copyright owners can prevent further distribution of the copy.
I don’t say I agree with this. I don’t say it’s not a stupid interpretation of the law. I’m just saying that until it’s been challenged in your state, it’s still the law.March 21, 2015 at 12:41 PM #3323
Right, it’s up to the states. Uniform Commercial Code has been adopted by all 50 states to define what constitutes a sale. There was a proposal in several states to amend UCC to carve out an exception for software sales (to make the software companies’ position you mention into law) but as far as I’m aware it wasn’t enacted.
As long as it remains an unsettled question, Microsoft and I will have to agree to disagree. I’m not about to take them to court :), but I know they’re not about to send their BSA goons to my house in search for “illegal” Windows copies.March 21, 2015 at 12:46 PM #3324
Borland used to sell their stuff cheap, or cheaper anyway, and ask people to respect it. They liked to say use it like a book, one computer at a time, so you could use software on your work computer and home computer. Just not both at the same time. I remember this particularly about Side Kick, which was a great little utility back in the Pre-Windows DOS days.March 25, 2015 at 11:57 AM #3335
Larry: I used to loan out my Borland C Compiler under that very license. As long as I took it off my computer while it was loaned out, it was legal.
Christian: Don’t get too smug. I suspect that, once Win10 is on everybody’s computer, there will be some mechanism to lock out unauthorized copies. MS has already said that, while unauthorized computers will get 10, they will never get an update.
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