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November 14, 2007

The fine print on Vista

I recently had a chance to skim through the Vista Enterprise software license. Microsoft is currently offering Vista as a 30-day VHD (Virtual Hard Drive; requires registration) ostensibly for IT-departments paralyzed by the potential of all mission critical software to sieze up on update. It requires Microsoft Virtual Server R2, Microsoft's (free, sorry VMWare) virtualization solution. If you are involved in potentially licensing software as a licensor or licensee, it's absolutely worth a gander. I'm sure they spent a fortune with attorneys on drafting it.

Questions and observations:

  1. How do we handle licensing Vista virtualized across multiple machines?
    • "A hardware partition or blade is considered a separate device." --
    • "You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time."
    • "You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system. If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker."
  2. What is "pooling"? Timesharing?
    • "Except as provided in the Device Connections and Other Access Technologies sections below, only one user may use the software at a time."
    • "Hardware or software you use to · pool connections, or · reduce the number of devices or users that directly access or use the software (sometimes referred to as “multiplexing” or “pooling”), does not reduce the number of licenses you need."
  3. Did I buy Vista? Nope.
    • "The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights."
    • "You may not... rent, lease or lend the software..."
    • "You may not... use the software for commercial software hosting services."
  4. Will I get support? Don't count on it.
    • "Because the software is “as is,” we may not provide support services for it."
    • "The software is licensed “as-is.” You bear the risk of using it. Microsoft gives no express warranties, guarantees or conditions."
    • "To the extent permitted under your local laws, Microsoft excludes the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement."
  5. What if something breaks, or I lose critical data? Tough luck.
    • "You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers only direct damages up to U.S. $5.00. You cannot recover any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages."
    • "It also applies even if Microsoft knew or should have known about the possibility of the damages."

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