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The Register: Preinstalled Windows Illegal to Remove?

Apr 30, 2002, 17:30 (72 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Lettice)

[ Thanks to Wol for this link. ]

"If a PC shipped with Windows preinstalled, can you remove the OS and install Linux instead? Well, no, according to Microsoft. A somewhat obscure Microsoft site aimed at helping schools deal with donated computers flatly states: 'It is a legal requirement that pre-installed operating systems remain with a machine for the life of the machine.'

"If this is intended to mean what it says, then Microsoft is effectively treating the hardware and the software as a single, integrated package that you're not allowed to break up. If the statement is applied without qualification, then you're in breach of your licence agreement (and/or some bizarre law they've sneaked past us) if you vape Windows and put something else on instead, or if (as do many major companies) you buy a bunch of PCs with one MS installed and then install another. Put this together with Microsoft's campaigns against Naked PCs,* which make it fairly tricky to buy PCs without Windows on them because they 'fuel piracy,' and we're tottering on the brink of the age of compulsory Windows.

"But ease up on the paranoia - this is a picture of the world as Microsoft would like it to be, rather than the one that exists now (we hope). Microsoft has certainly had some considerable success in convincing schools that it is a legal requirement, to the extent that some of them simply parrot the Microsoft web site (here, for example, is Puyallup School District's take), but it doesn't seem obvious that it's even a Microsoft licensing requirement, far less a legal one..."

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