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Microsoft Backs Down On Vista License Transfers

Following a firestorm of criticism, Microsoft has relaxed rules that would have limited the number of times a user could reassign his or her Windows Vista license to a new machine.

Microsoft on Thursday relaxed rules for Windows Vista that limited the number of times a user could transfer the operating system to new hardware, a response to sharp criticism from well-connected enthusiasts and system builders.

Last month, Microsoft was condemned for language in the Windows Vista license that let buyers shift the OS only one time after it had been installed on a PC. The phrasing was more specific than that used in the Windows XP license, which did not specify the number of allowed transfers.

"The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the 'licensed device,'" read the original Windows Vista license.

The new language reads: "You may uninstall the software and install it on another device for your use. You may not do so to share this license between devices."

Nick White, a program manager on the Vista team, gave Microsoft's reason for the switch on the group's blog. "It's become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts," White wrote.

"We respect the time and expense you go to in customizing, building, and rebuilding your hardware and we heard you that the previous terms were seen as an impediment to that," White added. "It's for that reason we've made this change."

Reaction from readers of the Vista blog was almost unanimously positive. "Thank you for doing the right thing," wrote a user identified as "Southpaw." Another user, "quux," added: "I was pretty sure y'all would come to your senses on this."

The revised Vista license can be downloaded as a PDF file from the Microsoft Web site.

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