Licensing Flack over Windows Vista Re-Installs for Enthusiasts Only

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It will have little impact on most businesses, but Microsoft is getting some begrudging credit this morning for backing away from what we have to say was a pretty strident licensing condition for consumer Windows Vista users.


In its Vista end user license agreement (EULA), Microsoft had moved to limit to one the number of times that a copy of Vista could be installed to a different system, with the obvious intention of curbing piracy -- a cause celebre for the new operating system. This move caused some howls among the hard-core user community, which actually enjoys breaking down machines and rebuilding them. (Paul Thurrott, a well-known blogger who often takes shots for being too pro-Microsoft, lucidly notes that 90 percent or so of Windows copies come pre-loaded on PCs, and in such instances this whole flack is mute, anyway.)


In a blog posting yesterday, a Vista team manager announced a change in the EULA agreement for Windows that will allow unlimited re-installs of a single copy of Vista. Of course, you can run a single licensed copy of the software only on one system at a time -- that's the way it's always been, at least for those users who pay attention to licensing agreements.


The move was greeted positively by most power users we've seen writing on the topic; the trade press seems to be eager to note that Microsoft "backed down" from its tougher licensing stance.


In his post, the Vista team manager notes that in making the change, Microsoft was responding to a group he labeled "hardware enthusiasts."