Readers are vocal about EULA wording changes

Stephanie small By Stephanie Small

Microsoft’s Web site often bears end-user license agreements (EULAs) that differ from the ones displayed to users during software installation, as described in a Feb. 4 top story by WS senior editor Woody Leonhard.

Whatever your feelings about EULAs in general, the idea that a EULA might change after that fact sparked a lively discussion among members of the Windows Secrets Lounge.

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Art Johnson notes in a Lounge post how he uses a utility to quickly review EULAs for unusual provisions before he clicks the Accept button:
  • “For several years, I have been using the tool called EULAlyzer, which is free for personal or educational use.

    It is an easy job to analyze any EULA quickly and flag any text of interest, as well as to save that EULA within the app.

    For WinXP Pro, EULAlyzer included fourteen paragraphs flagged to read, and it said:

    Details: The license agreement above has a high calculated Interest ID. It’s extremely long, and there were many detected ‘interesting’ words and phrases.

    On addition, you can submit online any EULA:

    Built by our users, for our users. The EULA Research Center is built by the kind submissions from users like you. Submissions are used to enhance and improve EULAlyzer’s detection of potentially ‘interesting’ words and phrases, to better the experience for all of our users.

    I never accept or agree to any EULA without first doing a ‘drag & drop’ of EULAlyzer’s plus [+] icon over it to capture it for analysis.”

EULAlyzer Personal is available for free as a download from the EULA Research Center site.

Bruce Waldie has a long memory of the way EULAs used to be, which often seems to be the way they’re still done, as he describes in his own post:
  • “Microsoft has not changed its licensing tactics in years. I am still in possession of an envelope of 3.5″ diskettes for Windows 286. It clearly states ‘you must accept the terms of the license agreement inside before opening this envelope.’ I am not Superman, so it was a little hard to do.”
To comment on any of our columns, all Windows Secrets readers can get a free membership in the Lounge using our registration page.

If you’re already a member, or you’d just like to see the latest comments, visit Woody’s thread in the WS Lounge.

Readers Art and Bruce will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for submitting comments we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

The Known Issues column brings you readers’ comments on our recent articles. Stephanie Small is research director of
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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2010-02-11: