The EULA you click may not be the one in effect

Woody leonhard By Woody Leonhard

When you accept Microsoft’s end-user license agreement as part of Windows’ installation, that click is considered by many people to be as enforceable as a wet-ink signature — at least in the U.S.

But I’ve found that the terms in the EULA you agree to during an installation may vary from the license that’s posted at Microsoft’s Web site.

In my Dec. 3 Top Story, I tore into the entire Windows 7 licensing debacle. In particular, the Win7 EULA makes certain kinds of Win7 upgrades a violation — even when you follow the instructions in Microsoft’s own installation programs.

Adding to the confusion are conflicting legal decisions about whether “click wrap” licenses constitute fair, legally binding agreements.

E-SIGN, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000 (as shown in a PDF from the U.S. Government Printing Office), makes clear that clicking Accept is as binding as a signature. But in some cases the terms of the license may change — and your obligations remain open to debate.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2010-02-04:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.