Windows 8 license

I’ve had a chance to inspect the new, radically revised Microsoft license terms in advance of their October release. Earlier this week, I noted the two big surprises: All of the agreements are written in plain language that’s surprisingly easy to understand, and Windows 8 will, for the first time ever, include a new Personal Use License that explicitly permits retail customers to install and run OEM System Builder software. The overpriced full package products will not exist for Windows 8.

The new language in these agreements really is simpler than in previous editions. But there are still areas where confusion can arise. To forestall that confusion, I decided to put together a more comprehensive look at the new license agreements.

I have spent two full days going through these documents line by line, comparing them to each other and to the corresponding Windows 7 versions. I’ve also been listening to your questions, several of which are incorporated here.

If you are interested in details of how to transfer a Windows 8 license between PCs, see page 2 of this post. Page 2 also contains details about the rules for installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine and about downgrade rights.

This post is based on the contents of three new documents with the following headings:

  • MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT (aka Personal Use License for System Builder, referred to in this post as “PUL”)
  • MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT RETAIL UPGRADE (“Upgrade”)
  • MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT WITH COMPUTER MANUFACTURER OR SOFTWARE INSTALLER (“OEM”)

I looked at Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro versions of each license agreement.

Two additional documents are related, but not included in this analysis. I have not yet determined whether there are changes to the terms that System Builders must follow when assembling a PC for resale. Nor have I been able to examine final versions of the product use rights that apply to Volume License editions of Windows 8.

The information in this post covers the vast majority of circumstances that consumers and small businesses will encounter when buying and deploying Windows 8.

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