back to article Microsoft counters Windows 7 upgrade hack advice

Microsoft has wagged its finger at users to dissuade them from hacking upgrade versions of Windows 7 to get a full copy of the new operating system on their PC. Reacting to tips being served up online, Microsoft has warned that while it's technically possible to perform what's known as a "clean" install of Windows 7 on a PC, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    The crapware is what keeps me building my own machines. I'd be happy to buy a pre-made if it were clean when it arrived.

    I've had to remove a fair amount of this from friends machines over the years. Since some of the worst crapware is installed because the OEMs make a bit of money on each copy shipped, I'd even pay a bit extra at purchase time to be rid of it.

    I guess the question is: Can you buy these fabled crapware-free machines from the MS Stores?

    Oh, and when has a home user ever worried about busting the EULA on windows? You effectively have no support as a home user anyway.

  2. murphymac

    Calm Down MS

    Anyone trying to "quiet down" the dispersal of this information on behalf of MS is misdirecting their energy.

    If this is truly possible people need to know so they can do a reinstall without hassle when time is short. Anyone who would buy this upgrade is going to know it's technically feasible, the cat is out of the bag. Someone at TechNet said it wasn't appropriate to discuss. What a joke.

    a. Why hide a more convenient way to reinstall?

    b. Does MS really care about selling full versus upgrade?

    c. Does MS really care about selling boxed versions anyway?

    d. MS made a mess of this, again.

  3. Tzael

    Win XP Upgrade includes a clean install feature

    "has bogged bluntly:" - Freudian slip? :)

    Don't know why people are making such a big deal about doing a clean install of Windows from upgrade media - all you do with Windows XP Professional Upgrade Edition is boot from CD and during the installation you will be prompted for the disk for the previous operating system you are upgrading from. So you stick your Windows 2000 disk in the CD drive, then when prompted you put the Windows XP upgrade disk back in to continue the installation.

    I wouldn't really call the above a hack, it's a feature. A scenario in which someone would be breaking the law would involve downloading/burning an ISO image of the previous operating system to trick the installer into believing that they own the previous operating system. Even that's not a hack though, that's outright theft! (okay so that last comment's going to get a few wry grins from those who should know better...)

  4. C 2

    Instead ...

    [Instead, you'll get full versions of Microsoft's Windows Live software and services, programs such as Silverlight, the Zune software, and Adobe's online technologies. ®]

    So yeah, its just Microsoft's version of crapware/shovelware. So since they say it's not 'crapware' maybe it should be called turdware, like the so called 'OS' its matched with.

  5. Peter 39

    store purchases

    I wonder if the PCs purchased at the store have the same wonderful experience as the ones *in* the store??

    If not, sounds like a bait'n'switch. But Is MS legally allowed to delete the crapware?? Doesn't that violate the manufacturers' copyrights? We've seen that argument in court before, so I wonder if any volish wigs have pondered it. Might be prudent - pip pip

  6. Anonymous Coward

    And this is why Linux will win...

    I still can't believe they don't allow you to transfer a Windows licence from an old PC to a new PC.

    And a link for giggles -

  7. duncan campbell

    Bring out Yer Dead

    PC that is. And mail it to Redmond, collect.

    Since Mr. Ligman has been so kind as to clarify the hardware ownership

    question, it's about time for Micro Soft to stand up to it's Green World

    obligations and start re-processing it's spent, and clearly unrepairable,



  8. ElReg!comments!Pierre
    Thumb Up

    breaking the law?

    ¨You'll be breaking the Microsoft End User License Agreement (EULA), meaning you're potentially running a pirated copy of Windows.¨

    Well the post-purchase EULA system itself is illegal pretty much everywhere. So MS is force-feeding ¨kid-rape-suicide-bomber¨* version of its OS on 80% of the population... the remaining 20% being either ¨pirates¨ or NIX types. Looks like the only way to *not* break the law is to avoid Microsoft altogether...

    *if people who ignore ambiguous sale/licensing arrangements are ¨pirates¨, I suppose people who willingly violate explicit legal rulings on the very same matters might as well be described as kiddie fiddlers... or terrorists... or both.

    This finger is not a thumb. Well, my attorney tells me to say it is. But you know what I mean.

  9. Annihilator

    Not this again

    "Bottom line is, no, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses do not have any transfer rights and live and die on the original computer they are shipped with and installed on, period."

    Have they no idea how stupid this sounds? I've had my PC for 15 years, but upgraded everything (several times) over the years, including the case. You could argue it's a different PC, I'd argue it was only every upgraded and it's the same PC.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Breaking the law! Breaking the law!

    "Reacting to tips being served up online, Microsoft's warned while it's technically possible to perform what's known as a "clean" install of Windows 7 on a PC you'll be breaking the law."

    Er... says who? Has a Microsoft EULA ever been tested in a British court? I doubt it. You can say what you like but it doesn't make it true. From now on I declare it illegal to talk bollocks. What's that Microsoft? Been doing that for years? Off to jail for you then!

    I purchased a Windows 7 upgrade for £30, because I'm fortunate enough to have a address. I was previously running XP Pro and according to Microsooft's own documentation I had NO OPTION but to perform a clean install. Unfortunately I made the mistake of formatting the drive before booting my custom made DVD. Forunately I had an old ghost image that took about a minute to restore. As long as you boot that DVD with an activated copy of Windows present, you can custom install / format / repartition / do whatever you like - otherwise it won't accept the upgrade product key.

    While I'm at it, why is Microsoft confusing custom installing with clean installing when they effectively mean the same thing?

    It's my PC, and I bought the software. You can argue that I only purchased the licence but I'll decide what I do with it. You don't get a say in that Steve. You don't get to piss around with the rules willy nilly. In short - f*%k you!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Just another nail in the coffin...

    While I agree they have every right to protect their product, and good luck to them, just another reason to seek the alternatives ( not baiting by naming the two alternative names! ) that don't call you a criminal trying to simply use a product you have bought fairly and squarely!

    It says upgrade on the outside and you can install it clean, what's the problem? You're still running a genuine copy of the O/S aren't you?

    Oh, I get it...spondoolics! MS are worried that people will simply buy one upgrade copy, realise it won't work and then they will buy another full install copy at twice the price, thus giving MS even more sales number and more doh-ray! Got it!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    OEM licences live & die with the computer?

    So Microsoft are saying:

    "OEM Microsoft Windows licenses do not have any transfer rights and live and die on the original computer they are shipped with and installed on, period."

    They might want to take a closer look at their EULA then, and in particular the license that also ships with Dell machines, namely this line:

    "This End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single legal entity) and the manufacturer ("Manufacturer") of the computer system"

    This line means the EULA isn't an agreement between you and Microsoft, it's between you and the supplier, Dell for example.

    The EULA also says:

    "The terms of a printed, paper EULA, which may accompany the SOFTWARE, supersede the terms of any on-screen EULA."

    And Dell include a separate license with all their systems which states:

    "This agreement covers all software that is distributed with the dell product, for which there is no separate licence agreement between you and the manufacturer or owner of the software."

    So for Dell computers, Microsoft are talking nonsense. Their OEM EULA explicitly states that it's an agreement between yourself and Dell, that any paper licence supersedes it, and Dell provide just such a licence with every computer they sell.

    And when you look at the Dell licence, it has no such restriction, it just says:

    "You may use one copy of the Software on one computer at a time. If you have multiple licences for the Software, you may use as many copies at a time as you have licenses."

    I haven't checked Windows 7 yet, but Windows XP and Vista both had these terms, and every single machine we've bought from Dell since 2003 has had that licence with it.

    Microsoft may want you to buy new OEM software with every machine, but that's NOT what their licence says.

  13. Hans 1

    Infringing an EULA does not mean illegal

    Infringing an EULA does not mean illegal! Microsoft are not a legal system which can enforce the laws it wants (well, it tries indirectly ever so often by paying those who can).

    Most infringed clauses in the EULA are illegal in most countries anyway ... move along please, nothing to see here!

    You must abide to the laws in your country, not the silly gibberish you see when you (god forbid) install Windows.

    Never can get enough FUD!

    What we need is to make EULA's invalid as soon as they contain an illegal clause to force these EULA drafters to actually abide to the laws in the target country and not create "wishful thinking" clauses.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Am I reading this right?

    I suspect like a lot of Windows PC owners i do a rebuild of my laptop from time to time as a way of getting rid of alot of rubbish I haven't used in months. I am also one of those people that feels it is right to pay for the software I use so last weekend I combined these two thoughts and bought a Windows 7 family upgrade pack. I then trashed my HP laptop (which came with a Windows Vista premium license) and installed Windows 7.

    Despite the fact that I have purchase a Vista license with the laptop is the implication of this that I am breaking the law by doing a fresh install?

    I realise this is not a forum for binding legal advice but if this is the case it goes against my preference of doing a clean install of a new O/S whether it be worksation or server.


  15. Cody

    more complicated than it sounds

    "You'll be breaking the Microsoft End User License Agreement (EULA), meaning you're potentially running a pirated copy of Windows."

    Well. This is a much more complicated issue than appears, and it varies by jurisdiction. Will you be breaking the law? And if so, which?

    MS and Apple would like to argue that if you break the EULA, you also break copyright, because you only have permission to use within EULA constraints. Using means copying. Only into memory, but it is still copying.

    There are conflicting precedents in the US on this one. Vernor undermines the whole argument, and makes it legal to buy an upgrade, install it, and then sell the previous version. Vernor also makes you the owner of your bought copy in the sense of Title 17 Section 117, which gives you the right to make or authorize adaptations essential for use with a machine.

    However Blizzard has ruled that you are not the owner in the sense of Section 117, and that any violation of the EULA is therefore a copyright breach.

    None of this has any bearing on the EU situation, where the legal status of EULAs is completely unclear. In the UK they may be an unlawful attempt to modify the terms of a previously concluded transaction, a purchase. In Germany they may be unlawful as not presented and assented to at the time of purchase.

    In no jurisdiction, to my knowledge, is there any connection between EULA breach and copyright law breach. Others may know of some.

    So, its much more complicated than it looks. And in particular, breaking EULAs is in any case not doing something iilegal. Its breach of civil contract. You can be sued, but not prosecuted.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well here is an idea....

    ...make the retail version the same price as the upgrade (and by that I mean lower the price)

    At the end of the day, it's the same bit of software.

  17. Greg J Preece


    "Bottom line is, no, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses do not have any transfer rights and live and die on the original computer they are shipped with and installed on, period."

    Yeah, nice try...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy way to stop this...

    Would be to request the previous CD key as part of the install process. This would mean you could do a 'clean' install rather than the always messy upgrade process.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm tell that to your support staff in India.

    I've always used OEM versions (up till now as I bought the cheap pre-orders this time) and always shifted them around. When I've needed to call into MS to get the activation limit reset, the nice lady in India just asks me to make sure its only installed on the one PC (which it is) and away we go.

    I dont think MS really cares, after all they got your money, they just put the odd scare warning out to try to make a bit more.

  20. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    License or Purchase

    I’m intrigued with this, so if I wipe my windows HDD and then do a clean install of windoze 7 I’m breaking the terms of the licence?

    The whole issue of licensing vs. purchase seems to be getting ridiculous, usually to the consumers disadvantage. I’m fed up, that on my windoze box I have to keep a load of crap on my hard drive because I do not have an original windoze install disk. The best I can hope for is to use the recovery disk to hopefully recover my PC so I can use the piece of hardware that I purchased. On two occasions I’ve had the recovery process fail, thereby bricking my PCs, and I had to re-install windows from a different disk, resulting in 3 PCs (all belonging to my immediate family) all running the same copy of windoze, thereby breaking the MickeySoft's license agreement, whom, it would seem, don’t give a fuck about my rights as a consumer. The one time I went back to a supplier to get windoze re-installed was after a disk crash on a laptop, needless to say I ended up with a different set of “free” software installed, which as it was PC world, meant the DVD player was not installed (this was after getting the laptop back with a new HDD and being told to use my recovery disk to restore windows!!!!!)

    “Also, Microsoft's "reminded" small-and-medium-size businesses they cannot transfer licenses for Windows from old machines to new PCs.”

    So having paid for your copy of windoze, you can’t use it, it a bit like saying you’ve bought a car but if you move house you don’t have a licence to park it in the drive way of your new house.

    My server and my laptop now run Linux. Only my son’s net book and my wife’s laptop have windoze (but they both use Open Office)

    So the “So-called "signature" PCs” being showcased at MickeySoft’s store in Arizona are missing all the crapware and crippleware that usually bugger up PCs, does that mean MickeySoft have misrepresented the sale as the PC you buy will be “different”. MickeySoft misrepresenting what they sell, eh... sorry licence, never, class action lawsuit I hope

  21. NB

    so basically

    you pay through the nose for a crippled OS and then MS wonders why anyone might want to circumvent this obvious marketing monstrosity?

    Fuck that, I'll be sticking with my free, uncrippled ubuntu 9.10 thank you very much.

  22. CaptainPedantic

    tyranny of the discontinuous mind

    If you have to upgrade the PC in order for the new OS to run at a decent speed, how many bits to you have to replace before it becomes a new PC?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    What's the difference?

    Is the "upgrade" version less functional than the "full" (freshly installed) version then?

    If so, then what's the difference?

    And if not, then what difference does it make whether you upgrade or freshly install?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    two things

    1. I don't believe that the EULA is legally enforceable, for many, many reasons. Come to that, how would they know I'd broken it anyway?

    2. Er, I'm in Europe, so I received a full install version for the upgrade price anyway.

    3. I may give Ubuntu KK a go, as my Windows 7 experience is somewhat less smooth than I'd hoped for.

  25. Dom 3

    Transfer rights

    Just because there is a clause in the EULA doesn't necessarily make it so. If the EULA said that you could only use it on Tuesdays if you're wearing blue socks, would that be enforceable? No. The EULA itself acknowledges that this may be the case: "If any provision of this EULA is held to be void, invalid, unenforceable or illegal, the other provisions shall continue in full force and effect." The attempts by MS (and others) to stop people using something that they have paid for are challenged in the courts on a regular basis. The German courts in particular seem to have a track record of siding with common sense against the software makers.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they really expect people to care?

    The only reason people would commit this hack in the first place is because they don't want to install a new patch every time windows releases a more sophisticated wga test. My guess is a lot of them would be getting their student friends to buy it for them anyway.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    In many cases you're *not* infringing the EULA

    As I said above, it depends on the terms that ship with your computer. If you have bought a Dell machine any time in the last 6 years, the chances are that the Microsoft EULA doesn't even apply.

  28. c3

    Windows licenses [...] live and die on the original computer - Well, FUCK YOU, Microsoft !!!

    If my laptop is broken and the cost of repairing it is high enough that buying a shiny new one makes more sense, why should I pay you for the same crap again ?

  29. Rob Clive
    Thumb Down

    OEM Licences

    "OEM Microsoft Windows licenses do not have any transfer rights and live and die on the original computer they are shipped with and installed on, period."

    This is a EULA 'feature' which began some time after XP came out but has been sneakily backported to 95. If you have an uninstalled OEM copy of any MS OS (even that antediluvian one) you can't sell it; I know because I tried. MS killed the trade in licence keys from scrap PCs by imposing this condition. They don't even like you re-installing the OS on a machine with a valid licence sticker. All in the name of more sales.

    It would be nice if the EULA was tested in court. It might cut down all this chicanery.

    Don't even get me started on the MS $1 = £1 conversion rate!

  30. Chris 235

    How many bits?

    "If you have to upgrade the PC in order for the new OS to run at a decent speed, how many bits to you have to replace before it becomes a new PC?"

    How about swapping out everything but keeping the case and possibly power-supply?

    The off-the-shelf PC's I've seen seem to have the MS sticker on the case, not the motherboard or CPU.


  31. David Adams

    Re. Not this Again.

    "I've had my PC for 15 years, but upgraded everything (several times) over the years, including the case. You could argue it's a different PC, I'd argue it was only every upgraded and it's the same PC."

    Aha, the old "Trigger's Brush" defence eh?

  32. Scott 19
    Thumb Down


    Another brilliant software release by the people that think they deserve everything for 'nothing.'

    'Nothing' as in i have an OS that works why would i upgrade (what a laugh) to a OS that works?

  33. Valerion

    Upgraded hardware?

    If I upgrade every component of my PC, one by one, over the course of a few weeks, is it still the original machine? I don't think so.

    And now, for the second time in 2 days, I'm going to relate it to Only Fools and Horses, where Trigger receives an award for keeping the same broom for 20 years, and later states that it's the same broom, but it's had 12 new heads and 6 new handles.

  34. abigsmurf


    If you actually read the EULA, you would know that if you do not agree to the terms, you are entitled to a full refund. It is not post purchase because in any real sense, it isn't purchased until you you agree to the EULA.

    Besides which, it seems the majority of people here are missing the point of the article. MS aren't saying the hack itself is wrong, they're saying it's wrong to use it on a new PC with no OS licenced to it.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    That's interesting...

    "This End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single legal entity) and the manufacturer ("Manufacturer") of the computer system"

    The EULA also says:

    "The terms of a printed, paper EULA, which may accompany the SOFTWARE, supersede the terms of any on-screen EULA."

    So I can buy an OEM copy and install it onto a PC that I assembled.

    Assembly equals manufacture (see 'Made in the EU" stickers on almost anything)

    Therefore, if I write a paper EULA that says "Do whatever you want with the software provided", my EULA supersedes theirs and therefore anyone I provide the system to must only comply with the very difficult terms of my EULA.

    Obviously, I'll have to pay myself to purchase the system.

    Interesting. Anon, because Microsoft don't like complying with their own rules...

  36. Michael C


    The reason people need to "hack" upgrades to do a clean install is that on an OEM PC, you have NO older copy of windows to inser when booting from the upgrade media, since you got only a restore disk, not a full media (unless you explicitly requested and paid extra for it post-sale).

    Take a Dell you want to upgrade to 7, but you don;t want all the crapware and bloat you had before, since you have no medai with which to validate your upgrade copy, you either need to hack it, buy the full version, or pay dell for an authentic MS DVD of your OS.

    Microsoft's complaint is that people are hacking the upgrade to install on a NEW PC by claiming they're upgrading the copy of their OEM installed on an older PC. OEM copies are NOT transferable. In fact, even your FULL copies are only transferable a limited number of times (for the original Vista release, it was ONCE, but Microsoft later revised that I believe to 3 times. Upgrades to not increase this number either... If your copy of XP had 3 migrations, and you had it on an original machine, moved it to another later, then upgraded to vista while moving to a 3rd, you can move 1 more time to a 4th box while upgrading to 7, but that's it, no more moves (legally speaking).

    Keep in mind, "moving" to a new PC involves anytime you have replaced 3 or more core serielaized components as part of an upgrade or major repair (CPU, Moterhboard, GPU, hard disk, and network adapter, so changing a board with onboard video and NIC alone counts as a new PC unless you replaced it with the same model number board.). It does not matter if the component replacements are over an extended period either. Microsoft's technology looks for replaced components between a reboot, and you can fool this by changing parts over several days, however, the LICENS is bound not to the chassis, but to the SUM of the 5 core components, and if over time any 3 change, it is now no longer the same PC, and thus has been moved, wether or not activiation triggered.

  37. Dave Ross


    Why would anyone buy the upgrade version of Win7 when the full version costs £10 more in pretty much every high street store?

    Surely no one in their right minds would want to do anything other than a clean install of an OS anyway!

  38. N2

    I did press

    "F8 - I agree", but I was lying, & I certainly dont agree with Microsofts clumsy regulations regarding this.

  39. Chris 235

    @Michael C

    "Keep in mind, "moving" to a new PC involves anytime you have replaced 3 or more core serielaized components as part of an upgrade or major repair"

    I think (please do correct me if I'm wrong someone) one of those "components" is the volume ID of your disk. That means: if you reformat your hard drive so that the volume ID is different, you lose one of your 3 lives. The ID of the disk itself is also a "component".

    That seems unfair since the hardware doesn't change, but I guess MS are attempting to stop people from having lots of multi-boot partitions using the same license.

    Here's where I got my idea of how this part of the system works:

  40. chr0m4t1c

    @Michael C

    It's not even as nice as you make out in some cases.

    I have a machine with Vista on it that would deactivate itself *every* time a new video card driver was installed (i.e. when windows update downloaded a new version of the driver and installed it).

    As the video card installed in the machine was quite new, the driver updates were every 3-4 weeks when I first installed the machine. This was a pre-built machine from a manufacturer, not a home assembled pile of parts, BTW.

    For some reason the machine was not authorised to activate itself online, so every month or so I would have to spend 30 minutes typing the license key into the activation page three or four times, then be given a code and a telephone number that I had to call and then speak to a Microsoft representative who tell me (again) that I was not supposed to re-install the OS on another machine and I would explain to them (again) that I hadn't, I had just foolishly allowed their bloody software to update itself and they would give me a code that I entered to re-activate my machine (again).

    A couple of times through that loop and I headed off to the interwebs for an activation hack.

    What p***ed me off the most was the general tone of the MS people, the first call was quite friendly, but the subsequent ones had an almost accusing air and the general assumption that I was doing something I shouldn't.

    Now it's time for the usual round of upgrades in the house I'll be seeking to limit the number of machines running MS software even further. I'm fed up of trying to do business with companies who rip me off and then assume I will rip them off after I buy their product (yes, I'm looking at you DVD makers).

  41. Peter Mc Aulay

    Sure it's an upgrade

    I wonder if MS has ever heard of Theseus's paradox.

  42. NBCanuck

    Upgrade didn't require validation

    I purchased a new HDD to use with Win7 (upgrade pre-ordered back in June) and had removed the HDD containing Vista. Despite backing up my data I did not want to take a chance that I missed anything. Plus if aything went wrong I would be immediately back where I started.

    Now the strange part.

    I booted from the upgrade and followed the prompt for a Custom install. The complete install took about 20 minutes. I had my Vista CD handy expecting to be prompted to put it in for validation....but it never happened!! There was no other HDD connected at the time so there was no other way for it to validate that it was a legitimate upgrade. I'm happy with the way it went, and it was certainly more convenient, but it flies in the face of everything I heard.

    Note: I also skipped the prompt for the CD-key during the install. Knowing that MS limits the activations I wanted to be sure that everything was working (programs re-installed, files restored from backups, etc.) before I activated it. I have not yet received the pop-up reminder to activate windows, but it's only been 2 days. I believe with Vista you had 21 days...not sure what it is with Win7.

    Anyone else out there able to skip the CD on a clean install with the upgrade?

  43. Inachu


    If I buy a LEGAL version of windows from a major dept store and it IS

    an upgrade version then so what. its mine. I bought it then it is legal.


  44. Anonymous Coward

    Stop this nonsense forthwith

    Unlicensed != Pirated

  45. Nimrod

    Re: Stop this nonsense forthwith

    So using unlicensed software is the same as violently taking property on the high seas?

  46. kain preacher

    The guy is an Idiot

    I've done an window xp upgrade on a blank HDD, it just asked me for the 98 or w2k CD. If it's not what you want , then why include such an option ? I think his a case of an idiot at a company not knowing what he is talking about.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 05:30

    "I still can't believe they don't allow you to transfer a Windows licence from an old PC to a new PC"

    That's only OEM versions of Windows. Those that are sold at discount rates to system builders to bundle with a PC.

    Nothing wrong with it. It's a commercial product and they can charge for it how they like. Your lovely Linux makes the developers precisely £0/$0, so they have to go out and get a real job for some income.

    Surprised the Mactards aren't commenting. Oh but then every Mac install is an OEM and every Mac is sold with the OS anyway and new versions are all upgrades. There are no non-Apple System Builders (at least in Jobs' world), so the issue doesn't come up ;)

  48. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    There is a Microsoft tax but knowledgeable people know how to dodge it...

    So ... MS has state-enforced power to force you to buy their stuff over and over and over again at elevated pricing? Patrolled and enforced by the BSA vigilantes and teams of plods that have nothing better to do? All in the name of saving the loss of "billions" of children, I mean GBP?

    Well, it's good to be officially reminded that you are the object of a shakedown and protection racket.

    Even if you can't do much about it except vote with your feet.

  49. Peter Kay

    Licensing is not the same thing as validation or the technically possible

    Technically the guy is right about OEM copies, but there's an interesting loophole. Remember the definitions (see below) of oem/upgrade/full products and ponder the following scenario :

    What is interesting is the list of qualifying upgrade products. I can't immediately find this - it appears to be an earlier release of Windows. However, if OEM copies are included technically it is permissible - even under the EULA rules to :

    1) in place upgrade the OEM version to Windows 7. This destroys your OEM license forever.

    2) Congratulations - you now have a full retail version of Windows 7 on your old system.

    3) Deactivate on old system. Transfer to new system.

    The disadvantage of this is that you now have an old unlicensed and unusable system, but seeing as some people are trying to transfer OEM licenses that would be the end result anyway.

    Different versions :

    Upgrade : May require a qualifying piece of software. Once upgraded you can't use the old piece of software and the licensing terms remain the same as the full product.

    Retail (full) product : Looks like it can be transferred serially to any number of computers you wish, provided it is deactivated on each old one. Can be sold to one other person, who cannot then sell it on.

    OEM : tied to the motherboard. Can never be transferred. Should, to follow the letter of the license, be installed using the OEM preinstallation kit (yes, I know few people actually do). The fact it may ask you to reactivate if several hardware components are replaced does not modify the fact it's still tied to the motherboard. The motherboard must be replaced with an identical one if it fails, or at most one of comparable functionality - it is not a loophole to buy something new and fancy. Microsoft will need to re-enable such a new motherboard by phone, and they are known to refuse people selecting a dissimilar motherboard.

    Also, the OEM copies do not need to be sold with hardware. They can be sold to anyone and installed on anything. The *only* differences are being tied to a motherboard and having no support calls from Microsoft.

    You can argue about whether the conditions are legal or what you think is right but those are the conditions. Be pragmatic - do you want to be legal? Then buy the appropriate version. If you just want cheap software and rankle at the pricing then pirate the software - paying money for something you know may not be legit anyway is a bit bloody stupid.

    Besides, Windows 7's pricing is currently such that Home Premium is pretty reasonable especially compared to older versions. If you want it, buy it now.

  50. NBCanuck


    I just didn't put it in and clicked next. I believe there was a screen for Microsoft's EULA, which I did agree to but I have yet to enter my CD-key.

    I also either declined to check (or perhaps unchecked) the option to Activate Windows when I connected. That was one of the prompts during the install. I checked the taskbar and there was no indicator like the little yellow shield from XP/Vista telling me how many days I had left to activate my copy. At this point I assume it will hit some pre-programmed time limit and eventually prompt me.

    I know the CD-key is on the inside flap of my box and expect to have to use it, just not sure if/when it will force the issue, or if the fact that something went wrong....I will not be prompted for the info, and will have to re-install.

    The biggest question for me is:why it didn't even prompt for an old XP/Vista CD. This was not what I expected. It would be nice to go ahead and update my wife's PC also, but I want to keep the key available just in case.

  51. Justabloke 1

    Companion Of Honour

    I'm fairly sure that the "qualifying product" doesn't actually have to exist on the hard drive... I'm fairly sure that the last time I upgrade... (win98 FWIW) as long as I could show it the qualifying products installation disk the upgrafe was legal and happy.

    Is this no longer the case? I don't know cos I always rebuild my machines from scratch when upgrading the OS

  52. WinHatter

    Poor M$ buggers

    why bother, Apple with Mac OS X does not give a flying crapware so why should M$. Even if M$ were to set the retail tag price to $29 for Win 7 I would not buy it. XP is good enough for the 3 tiny apps I need to M$ run.

  53. Blain Hamon

    So wait, if MSFT are selling these...

    Does that mean you can get the kit, declare you refuse the terms of the EULA and will use your own (BSD/Linux) OS, and MSFT, by being the vendor, must offer the refund?

    Aha. And now they can't do the 'contact the vendor'/'contact the OS maker' BS. They probably will, but hrm...

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wow, I haven't seen that much FUD in ages!

    No, I'm not talking about the guy from Microsoft, I'm talking about the commentators! Jeez, OEM licenses are "tied" to the box they came with, and this is news to you people? If you didn't like that restriction, why didn't you buy a retail copy to install over the OEM copy?

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Not compatible with MY EULA....

    ... which says once I have bought something it is mine to do whatever I want with. By accepting my money you agree that this supersedes any other terms and conditions you would like to impose.


  56. jake Silver badge


    For "!=" read "not equal to".

    Mod(s): Feel free to nuke this if 500 other people have already helpfully pointed out the obvious.

  57. Rebecca Putman

    Quelle Surprise

    And Microsoft wonders why people are so frustrated with them.

    I finally moved away from Windows in 2003, and haven't looked back. Linux is Teh Awesome!

  58. James R Grinter

    Dell and EULAs...

    "This agreement covers all software that is distributed with the dell product, *for which there is no separate licence agreement* between you and the manufacturer or owner of the software."

    [my added *emphasis*.]

    I strongly suspect your Microsoft software came via Dell with a separate license agreement.

    (and, if EULAs - license agreements which define the extra terms under which you get to use their copyrighted software - are a problem then so is the GPL, no?)

  59. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    ¨If you actually read the EULA, you would know that if you do not agree to the terms, you are entitled to a full refund. It is not post purchase because in any real sense, it isn't purchased until you you agree to the EULA.¨

    Ok kid. As anyone over 12 years old would know, legally it is purchased as soon as the seller gets the money. Anything else is snake oil and/or utter stupidity. I read the EULAs, and I very much disagree with them, but in no way have they the power to redefine the law. And the law says that a sale occurs when money changes hands. MS and co managed to bribe themselves get-out solutions (the infamous ¨film yourself refusing the EULA and you might be entitled for a refund. Just send us 3 e-mails a day for 5 years, and we´ll give you 50 pounds¨ thing). But post-sale EULAs are still illegal in most civilized countries. That´s actually the only way you can realistically get a refund under the ¨Refuse the EULA" rule: They will just ignore your request until you threaten to challenge the post-sale EULA thing. Suddently they will give you your 50 bucks...

  60. JaitcH
    Black Helicopters

    EULA? If MS doesn't honour it, so why should I?

    My paper EULA says if I don't accept the terms I could return the licence and delete the software and ask my vendor - Acer - for a refund.

    Acer hasn't given me a refund so as far as I am concerned the EULA is ineffective and I am free to do whatever I want with my copies of Vista.

    Going free ... copies of Vista )I am in VietNam)

  61. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    More crapware please

    Like some of the other commentards here, I upgrade my PC's a few components at a time rather than buy complete new systems. I would love to add some crapware to my next purchase to reduce the costs. Anyone seen a distributor offering crapware as a separate component?

    I support Microsoft's right to rent out third rate software at exorbitant prices. If you do not like Microsoft's license, don't use their software and get your money back from the distributor.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    EULA licenses not enforcable

    'Eric Ligman, global partner experience leading in Microsoft Worldwide partner group has blogged bluntly: "Bottom line is, no, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses do not have any transfer rights and live and die on the original computer they are shipped with and installed on, period.'

    This has no basis in law, either in the US or Internationally ...

  63. Christopher Martin

    "Transfer rights..."

    ...are not something you can just decide take away from your customers. Unless you're an airline, I suppose.

  64. marc 9

    Full Version was cheaper than Upgrade

    The full version of Win7 Pro was 3p cheaper than the upgrade version in my local PC World :)

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