North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

Above the Law?

with 2 comments

This should be an interesting read for anyone getting pumped about the upcoming release of Windows Vista. Mark Rasch writes at Security Focus:

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 terms of the Vista EULA, like the current EULA related to the “Windows Genuine Advantage,” allows Microsoft to unilaterally decide that you have breached the terms of the agreement, and they can essentially disable the software, and possibly deny you access to critical files on your computer without benefit of proof, hearing, testimony or judicial intervention. In fact, if Microsoft is wrong, and your software is, in fact, properly licensed, you probably will be forced to buy a license to another copy of the operating system from Microsoft just to be able to get access to your files, and then you can sue Microsoft for the original license fee. Even then, you won’t be able to get any damages from Microsoft, and may not even be able to get the cost of the first license back.

I don’t plan on buying another Windows machine. Linux is probably over the head of the average user, so until Google releases an OS, I think the Mac is the best choice for home use – provided that home surfs, e-mails, and uses digital media. Gamers – Windows owns you, but you can run it native on an Intel Mac and thereby keep your files away from the MS EULA. As far as business goes, there are good reasons why are large company might not want to lock themselves into one supplier for both hardware and software. I don’t think those reasons would sway me, but they might sway some. Getting away from driver hell and software and hardware vendors ping ponging you has to be worth something.

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Written by Curt

November 22, 2006 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Law, Tech

2 Responses

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  1. That’s why I’m a Linux Geek™ The only reason I have Microsoft is for a couple specialized programs for gizmos I own, purchasing of music (nobody has integrated DRM into Ogg Vobis) and games. We call the one Windows machine in our house a “Wintendo” 🙂


    November 23, 2006 at 10:10 am

  2. Someday I will need a Linux geek like yourself to hold my hand as I attemtp to convert an older PC to a Linux machine. Trouble then is, where would I keep it? I think the Macs running Windows are a space saver. Still, I’ve always wanted to muck about with the penguin.


    November 23, 2006 at 5:12 pm

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