| By Woody Leonhard |
Microsoft’s words and actions sometimes directly contradict each other; in several places, the Windows 7 license agreement prohibits actions that the setup software then allows or even automates.
All Microsoft end-user license agreements suffer from defects, but with Win7, the conflicts, contradictions, and confusion have reached new heights — or depths.
Agreeing to licensing terms you’ll never see
In my Dec. 3, 2009, Top Story, I take apart the Windows 7 end-user license agreement and show the enormous gulf between the language in the EULA and the ways people use Windows 7 every day — ways that Microsoft itself demonstrates, supports, and seemingly condones.
My Feb. 4 Top Story examined the differences between the EULAs you click to accept and the ones Microsoft posts on its site.
Let’s be clear: In all of this, I’m not talking about theft. If you use Windows, you should pay for it. But how can you be breaking a licensing agreement by installing Windows in a way that Microsoft itself documents — and in some cases even encourages?
I have no intention of ever becoming an attorney and no delusions of lawyerliness, but parts of the Windows EULAs seem absolutely unenforceable. For example, every Windows EULA I’ve ever seen has a standard disclaimer at the beginning, stating a variation of the following:
- “Printed-paper license terms, which may come with the software, may replace or modify any on-screen license terms.”