Microsoft releases new license terms for Windows 10

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Here's what's new:

  • Activation and licensing status when upgrading from a non-genuine copy of Windows. As usual, the license agreement allows the right to install and run Windows on a single licensed device. It also requires activation, a process that is automatic on most devices from large OEMs. The new agreement adds this clause: "Updating or upgrading from non-genuine software with software from Microsoft or authorized sources does not make your original version or the updated/upgraded version genuine, and in that situation, you do not have a license to use the software."
  • Transfer rights. I heard some observers speculate that the new terms would limit Windows 10 transfer rights. Nope. The new license agreement preserves the longstanding transfer rights: OEM copies are locked to the device on which they're sold, retail copies can be transferred to a different device as long as the old copy is removed first. (The Windows 10 EULA includes a specific exception for PC buyers in Germany, who are allowed to transfer OEM software thanks to a court ruling.)
  • Downgrade rights. As with all recent Windows releases, buying a PC with a Professional version of Windows installed by the OEM includes the right to downgrade to either of the two earlier versions, in this case Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro. The new agreement specifies an end date for those downgrade rights, which are valid "only for so long as Microsoft provides support for that earlier version." Under the 10-year Microsoft support lifecycle , that means downgrade rights for Windows 7 end in January 2020, and the clock runs out on Windows 8.1 in January 2023.
  • Automatic updates. For consumers and small business, Windows 10 delivers automatic updates, with no option to selectively delay or reject individual updates. "The software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you. ... By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice." Business customers have additional management options through the Windows Update for Business program, and enterprise customers can assign mission-critical devices to the Long Term Servicing Branch, which includes only security fixes and not feature updates.
  • No Commercial Use Rights for Office products. Some Windows 10 editions will include Microsoft Office programs. As with Windows RT, those products are limited to personal and noncommercial use. Businesses need to have an Office 365 Business subscription or assign a perpetual Office license to the device.
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