unfair change to contract terms ?
is this legal
Microsoft has quietly changed the terms of its TechNet subscription service by reducing the number of product keys made available for download to its users, The Register has learned. On 15 September Redmond lowered the number of product keys dished out to TechNet subscribers from 10 to a maximum of five, in Microsoft’s latest …
I am certainly going to be contacting them regarding it, I just resubscribed and this was NOT part of the agreement. I'll be cancelling my subscripton (which I've held for 4 years) if there is no reticence in this matter.
I would not have minded half as much had I been informed in advance (which would have been before I resubscribed), but I'm wondering now if it was an intentional omission. I even upgraded to Professional with media from my previous standard account at the same time... Stung twice as it were.
Yeah - it probably is legal
The bit about 'unfair change' etc only applies to consumer contracts, since we're talking about TechNet, the customer is definitely a business and probably a large one at that, no doubt somewhere in the TechNet t's & c's MSFT have left themselves the right to change on notice or on will. Ok so they clearly haven't given notice but....
first, @ Anonymous coward > my feeble understanding of most contract law is that the terms of a contract cannot be made retroactive without the advised consent of both parties. That means a click thru screen doesn't cut it. In fact, I think those click thru EULAs are under litigation in the federal courts.
I got burned by this change. I had a copy of Win7 Home Premium that I had bought & installed back in early February. It was "deauthenticated" in September & MS Technet claimed the key was invalid. I personally believe it was a bunch of hooey that a key that was valid back in March would all of a sudden be killed after 7 months because "Microsoft can't track all those keys and the police don't go after a stolen car until it's reported". Bovine excrement! Not only can the police snag a nicked auto using common software & computer programs on a drive by basis, but I can't believe the registration database is NOT connected to the authentication database somehow. I still think it was a scam by Microsoft to get more revenues to pay for Ballmer's big mouth and Gates' palace.
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I have an answer for those of you who can't get what Microsoft promised you. Find a friend with a Linux box, open a terminal and type uuidgen. Copy the result EXACTLY. Download and burn any open source software you want to a CDR, and write the UUID on it; then install as usual.
Ok, I'm not mocking *you* only pointing out the obvious difference between some really very good stuff (I'm much more partial to LaTeX than any word processor I've used) and Microsoft's offerings: the open source folks want you to use the software; Microsoft wants to be certain you've paid for theirs (preferably more than once).
I'm a user of Technet Pro and have been for a few years now. It's not for all products, some like Vista and older servers still have 10 but XP & W7 have been reduced to 5. Things like multiple activation keys havn't been affected by this.
I was also told that it was a bug in the system.
I pay good money for this service now to find that I've lost half of what I paid for . Evaluation Copies = plenty of sales for Microsoft when the client buys the full monty.
I was tempted to pay for a subscription a few years back, since it seemed good value for someone who likes to play with software.
I didn't because I feared that leasing from a company known for illegal practices might not be a good idea.
I loose track of how many FOSS and other free software I've played with since -- only having "personal use" as a stipulation on a very rare occasion.
Very glad I didn't renew then in July! Part of the attraction was being able to more or less not worry about the number of keys as I tested in VM's and on the desktops/laptops around here and similar... having to track keys and ask (call??) for more re-activations would just be really annoying.
If I had renewed, I'd have asked for a refund. Not sure it's really right to change this during peoples contracts...
Microsoft clearly need the money to pimp up their share price and pay the dividend.
Anon as I've been hit by this as well.
We probably won't be renewing our Tech Net subscription in Jan because of this underhanded balls up.
We are using less & less MS software these days anyway and it is almost cheaper to buy the few products we need outright.
About half our devs only every use Eclipse or Netbeans now whereas 3yr ago most of our stuff was .Net. No longer I'm happy to say.
Sadly, yes--read the EULA. You do not have a contract with Microsoft; you have a license. Microsoft is free to change the terms of the license at any time without prior notification or consent. Call me a freetard, but this is one of the great injustices of "intellectual property." It has given near unmitigated power to licensers to revoke rights from licensees, as is the case here. Agreements like this clearly ought to be governed by contract law, and this clearly ought to be a violation of the contract; however, Microsoft claims that you are subscribing to a "service," the terms of which Microsoft may change at will. I understand why companies do this--they care primarily and almost exclusively about their own interests and the interests of their shareholders. What I don't understand is why the legislatures and courts have bought it. The current state of IP law is a monstrous injustice.
the Free and Open Source Software is no stranger to what the world calls Intellectual Property, they also have licenses and EULA's which they chose to enforce from time to time. The difference is in the nature of those licenses and their effect on you as an end-user. Problem is that people refuse to read and understand those license contracts and prefer to switch off their brain when acquiring software. Nobody in this world is forcing you to use proprietary software or FOSS, it's the same like eating in a restaurant: if you don't like it, don't get in there. It is as simple as that. Oh, but I badly need that proprietary software, you say ? Then just pay the price (money and consequences). Microsoft has all the right to inflict all this on you because we all allowed them to do it.
(b)inappropriately excluding or limiting the legal rights of the consumer vis-à-vis the seller or supplier or another party in the event of total or partial non-performance or inadequate performance by the seller or supplier of any of the contractual obligations, including the option of offsetting a debt owed to the seller or supplier against any claim which the consumer may have against him;
c)making an agreement binding on the consumer whereas provision of services by the seller or supplier is subject to a condition whose realisation depends on his own will alone;
(d)permitting the seller or supplier to retain sums paid by the consumer where the latter decides not to conclude or perform the contract, without providing for the consumer to receive compensation of an equivalent amount from the seller or supplier where the latter is the party cancelling the contract;
(f)authorising the seller or supplier to dissolve the contract on a discretionary basis where the same facility is not granted to the consumer, or permitting the seller or supplier to retain the sums paid for services not yet supplied by him where it is the seller or supplier himself who dissolves the contract;
(j)enabling the seller or supplier to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason which is specified in the contract;
(k)enabling the seller or supplier to alter unilaterally without a valid reason any characteristics of the product or service to be provided;
(m)giving the seller or supplier the right to determine whether the goods or services supplied are in conformity with the contract, or giving him the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract;.
Surely if the product keys were part of the conditions of the Technet licence when it was purchased, changing the number of keys means changing the product. Since the sale constitutes a contract, surely anyone who has already paid can sue M$ for breach of contract?
This sounds to me like a move that was - at best - ill thought out, and at worst, disastrously brain-damaged, if not actually criminal in many legislations.
Silly, silly Microsoft. This is one that they might be likely to end up regretting...
Very few stories on El Reg directly affect me, especially ones about changes to terms of Service and so on, so i usually laugh them off. This one however pissed me off instantly and completely*.
My technet subscription expires the end of next month, i'll have to weigh very seriously whether i'm going to renew it or not.
The subscriber downloads and product keys are the only reason to subscribe to technet, without those the service is useless, less than useless. the only other useful benefit possibly is the 2 free support incidents per year. i say possibly useful because i dont actually use my support incidents, i have yet to come across a situation that i've had to call MS support, i pride myself on that, i dread the day when a situation arrives that i've exhausted all my options and resources to the point that i feel i must make that phone call, it'll probably mark the beginning of the end of my IT days./
The service offers nothing else really, yippu yippy you get 3 elearning courses per quarter, most of the ones offered are retarded, and thier nothing i cant find for free thanks to my little friends over at demonoid.
I think fair is fair, you cut my product keys in half, i'll be cutting my payment in half? that would work out fine for me, but i highly doubt they'll go for that...
*Dear Moderatrix, my derived anger is not directed at El Reg, but at the contents of the article, and at microsoft directly, so it wont be necessary to reject this comment, thank you...
How does removing half or 8/10 keys improve security exactly? Anyone? I'd be more inclined to believe they got tired of people legally buying a subscription then (grey area here) selling keys to friends and family at a vastly reduced price. Unfortunately for Microsoft they've effectively made the program useless and changing the terms with no notice will likely cost them due to contract breaches. I bet they won't be offering subscribers 50% of the money back or 80% in the other cases.
The only security improvement from this is the security of money for less than they agreed to supply.
it's not any kind of grey area; technet downloads are supposed to be used for IT staff testing deployments, not for general purpose use. and unlike the exact number of keys you get for each individual product (which is NOT specified in the contract or T's & C's), the "testing only" restriction is quite clear
I have contacted MS concierge team about this and they are telling me I can use each key up to 10 times for activating windows so I only need 2 keys to allow installs to up to 20 computers. Does allowing multiple activations for single product keys not actually increase piracy?
Technet has been a "secret" for years. All the techies getting almost zero cost on almost all of Microsoft's software packages. Face it, pay for basically one single package and get ALL of it! What's not to love. But recently, the internet's been a-buzz about this service, I'm sure sales have skyrocketed for Technet. You had to expect them to slim down the offerings so as to not sell out too much. It was just too good of a deal to last. It is really still a good deal though. One small price for everything? You have to admit it's the cheapest ticket for Microsoft goods you can get, even after the slimdown.
I wonder if the other services got affected too? MSDN? I forget the other "small business tech" service similar to TechNet, but it probably got hit too.
I can imagine that Action Pack subscribers might be next. Although, we generally receive multiple-activation keys, and not separate keys for most products.
A couple of years ago Microsoft unveiled new requirements for sales qualifications in order to renew or purchase an Action Pack subscription. I see how it is intended to help boost sales by training, and there is a plethora of sales-oriented crap in there which, quite honestly, most techs like myself not only abhor but simply do not have the time for the marketing "yay, Microsoft" aspect of it and use the MAPS to train us to support its (broken) software.
I made it clear that I would NOT participate in the sales qualifications as I was too busy to bother with them as I was selling and supporting Microsoft products on a daily basis. I barely have time to make angry phone calls about hoops through which I have to jump to sore my product.
Paris, multiple activiations... aw, yeah.
Why? Anti-piracy? Windows activation is bad enough, but this is ridiculous - we are paying professionals. We PAID for these keys. Why punish us?
My career is founded on Microsoft tech, but that doesn't mean I like it. Every day it gets a little bit harder to be a Microsoft professional.
Well my TechNet sub comes up in March, and I'll not be renewing due to this dirty deed.
PIsses me off because I did NOT abuse the system.
I was tempted to rush into the license store day 1 of my sub and click request license 10 times on every edition of every product even though I could never pilot them all just to dump to a spread sheet for retention in case.....but I didn't I only used a few licenses for things I was running in the lab / test environment, and now the terms change & we get screwed.
If the backlash causes a temporary reversal, I will have learned from my mistake and take the appropriate actions to secure all the benefits that were allegedly conferred to me upon subscription inception.
10 each is now 5 each. That's a negative exponent. Exponents seem to be used to lie about debt by governments also.. It might even mistakenly be thought of as a good thing, until you start getting big numbers.
Sure the USER with 10ea won't see the big numbers.
Microsoft is the one who see's the big numbers
Start with 100,000,000 users with 10ea, then divide by 2
Because the numbers aren't used is no excuse to cut them off.
I am writing to you with respect to my Technet subscription.
Without prior notice or indeed any kind of communication it appears that you have changed the terms of my subscription insofar as you have reduced the number of software keys I have access to from 10 to 2 for most packages. Given that I paid a substantial amount of money on the basis and understanding that I have access to 10 (not 2) this constitutes a change and a breach of contract in the UK. This unduly affects my ability to make use of the subscription that I purchased it for - software testing.
I am very unhappy with this state of affairs and respectfully request that you re-instate my subscription to the original extent for which I paid.
About time! I'm getting fed up of these morons on forums everytime there is a discussion about some new MS gizmo, "Yeah well I don't pay full price for anything, I pay 50p a year and get the entire MS back catalogue from TechNet!". Well bully for you!
Finally something to shut the smug gits up and stop them conning practically free software and giving it to their mates, while the rest of us have to pay full price for our software!
So Billy has pulled a Jobs and moved goal posts eh? Did you lot even read the agreements you were signing up to, you know the bit you skimmed over in your desperate attempt to get the free MS toys? You know the bit with all the words and the phrase buried in there somewhere that says something like, "Billy's toys so Billy gets to make the rules! MS reserves the right to bend you over and exact it's pound of flesh and you can have some token free stuff if you behave like good little fanbois and pray at the church of Bill and Ballmer."?
All the ones saying they will dump their subscriptions, phooey! Will you heck! No more than the Jobsian mob took their iPhones back then the hoo-ha about the aerial surfaced! You still see bucket loads of iPhone 4s about, despite all the hoo-ha. You will still be good little MS drones and sign up for more next year, because even if it's less, it's still better than spending full whack on the products you need or want to pay for. Where else you going to get all those fun toys for 200 sovs a year?
All full of indignant rage, but when it comes down to it, just like the Job's Zealots and the Penguinistas, we all love the products we love and will always go back to them no matter how we get treated!
Me I will stick with my trusty ZX Spectrum, as Sir Clive is now too senile to bother telling me what to do!
TechNet is license per individual and used for testing purposes, it is not a cheap way of getting product keys for thousands of pounds worth of software as many seem to see it.
Very few testing setups will require multiple fully activated copies of Office 2010, or Windows 2008 for example, since the trial periods are usually more than sufficient – the trial version of 2008 for example lasts almost a year, and is even fully functional (bar security updates) when that time expires.
Me thinks many people are pissed off as they will only be able to grab a free copy of Office 2010 Ultimate for just 5 PCs/laptops now and wont be able to give their friends a product key!
I have some level of Technet provided as part of my company’s action pack. I just checked; I could get 10 keys for everything that vomited forth keys. I took the liberty of ensuring that I requested (and recorded in an Excel file) all those keys just in case it's taking Microsoft some time to nerf Technet for everyone.
Maybe it's because I'm in Canada? Either way: I have requested every single key I can. So long as they honour the grandfathered in keys, (which the article seems to suggest they will,) then let them nerf away. Sucks for anyone who didn’t get the opportunity to click “request key” a few hundred times to get all their keys before the nerfing occurred though.
I sympathise with anyone caught by this.
Part of the agreement, if I remember correctly, is that you are only permitted to use the keys that you obtain through Technet while you maintain the subscription.
As soon as you stop paying the subscription, you need to buy new, full licences, or un-install the software. So you can expect that any keys that you used to fail the Windows Genuine Advantage test sometime in the future.
This was the main reason I never took advantage of the apparently favourable conditions offered. I did not want to tie myself into a long-term agreement with MS where they could repeatedly demand money from me at their own terms.
I would laugh you all for dancing with the devil, if it was not so tragic.
Funny how 2 people gave you thumbs up for that incorrect post.
You also are NOT required to uninstall the software after the subscription expires. The subscription is ONLY for allowing you new keys, and allowing you to download the software. In fact you even still have access to Technet after the subscription expires... you just are not allowed to make new keys, or download anything. But all your current keys are still online, available to view or download (proof that you are still allowed to use them).
I cannot point to where I picked this up from, which is why I questioned whether I remembered it correctly, but I'm sure that I did read it at one time. Possibly it was an earlier agreement, or maybe one of the other type of arrangement that Microsoft had. I accept that the posting may be partially wrong.
But the mere fact that the keys are still available does not really prove that you are still allowed to use them. Maybe someone who actually has a subscription can check their agreement, and quote or paraphrase what it says about lapsed subscriptions.
I have just read what you are allowed to do with the software you obtain through TechNet from the technet.microsoft.com website. This appears to be an interesting quote regarding the use of the software: "Access over 70+ full-version Microsoft software for evaluation purposes only".
In the License terms there is also:
"Evaluation Software. One user may install and use copies of the evaluation software listed in the COMPONENTS.TXT file, even if you obtained a server license. You may use the evaluation software only to evaluate it. You may not use it in a live operating, in a staging environment or with data that has not been sufficiently backed up."
and later in the same document:
"SCOPE OF LICENSE. The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights. Unless applicable law gives you more rights despite this limitation, you may use the software only as expressly permitted in this agreement."
I believe that these terms taken together would allow Microsoft to judge that long-term use of a particular license may not be for evaluation purposes (yes, I did read the "without any time or feature limits", but this is then qualified "for evaluation purposes only") and this would be enough to allow them to disable a license if they thought that the use was no longer for evaluation.
And the moral is - Please read the terms and conditions that you agree to, especially with Microsoft. You may not get what you think.
Legal Disclaimer: All of the quotes are taken directly from Copyrighted material contained on a Microsoft web site, and the rights remain with Microsoft in accordance with the text contained at http://www.microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/IntellectualProperty/Copyright/default.aspx
I had enough of Microsoft's bs a long time ago. As I am a consumer, not a business, I feel no remorse in using thier software free of charge. I paid for initial versions, and feel that repeatedly paying for ideas they've stolen from other operating systems is somehow disingenuous. As a result, I've decided it's best to keep thier software in trial mode, and continually rearm it. 'My digital life' forum has a great guide to this. If Microsoft knew how many people I've kept from switching to Apple's and if they were a company with any morals, they would have supported me with free copies anyway. As they are a cadre of thieving b*stards, sic semper tyrannis, I say.
Pay 300$-500$ to MS (mostly EVERY YEAR) and get 10 key of everything.. (almost).
MS cut (illegally) the number of key per product
Pissed off customers (who will not buy windows/Office at full price) cancel they subscribtion and get all MS products from "alternate" sources and microsoft don't get a cent
Microsoft loose big time
i have a question for microsoft... .how is that going to help you fight piracy?
I agree with your post. If anything, its going to increase piracy. So instead of Microsoft getting big money for their software, they will get nothing.
Microsoft is making big bucks off this also, because the money is going directly to Microsoft (no middle man), and requires no packaging etc. Not even counting the fact of people re-subscribing again the following year, with no updates to the current software.