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11:39 AM
David  DeJean
David DeJean

What Do You Need Most To Run Vista? Microsoft's Permission

For years the joke has been, "It's Bill Gates' world, we just live in it." Microsoft has published the End User Licensing Agreement for Windows Vista, and it's not a joke anymore. It's just how things are going to be. Get over it.

For years the joke has been, "It's Bill Gates' world, we just live in it." Microsoft has published the End User Licensing Agreement for Windows Vista, and it's not a joke anymore. It's just how things are going to be. Get over it.Microsoft posted the Vista EULA last Thursday, and it became immediately obvious that running Vista is going to be vastly more complicated than previous versions of Windows, not just from a technical viewpoint, but from a legal one--so complicated, in fact, that almost a week later Microsoft is still trying to explain what it meant by some of the terms in the agreement.

You can download the Vista EULA as a PDF file from here, using a multi-dropdown dialog box that's almost as impenetrable as the license itself. Despite the fact that there are four versions of Vista and four separate EULAs, there appear to be only two versions of the EULA--one to cover Vista Business, and one to cover Vista Home, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Ultimate. Maybe.

Today's installment of the ongoing soap opera, "As The EULA Turns," has to do with running Vista in a virtual machine--an increasingly popular idea, but not, apparently, with Microsoft.

Early news stories ran into some confusion over whether you could install multiple licensed copies of Vista (as opposed to multiple instances of a single licensed copy) in separate virtual machines on a single PC. The answer today from Microsoft was an unequivocal yes and no.

That is, you cannot run Vista Home or Vista Home Premium in a virtual machine, no matter whether it's an instance or a separate copy, or autographed by Bill Gates himself. But you can run Vista Business and Vista Ultimate in a virtual machine. Because they're more expensive. But I could be wrong. (About them being virtually permitted. Not about them being more expensive.)

This comes on top of earlier announcements about something called the Software Protection Platform, which says--let me see if I've got this straight--I can run Vista if I validate my copy as soon as I install it, except that I have to verify it whenever Microsoft wants to check up later. I can run it on any PC I want to, as long as it's the one I installed it on, except that I can move it to another PC later if I completely delete it from the first PC and I can't ever move it again. And if I work for a corporate IT department, I have to go through this for every copy of Vista I install, individually. One at a time. Forever. (Or maybe it will only seem like forever.)

The EULA also includes a lot of language about whether you or Windows Media Digital Rights Management gets to decide what music you can listen to, and whether you or Windows Defender gets to decide what's spyware and delete it. One of the most interesting sections says, "8. SCOPE OF LICENSE. The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the software."

Yeah, I think I understand that part.

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