Microsoft's Windows 8 will come with a completely revised and easier to understand end-user licence agreement (EULA,) but not all the changes are to the benefit of the consumer.
End-user licence agreements, also known as 'that thing you click 'Agree' on without reading,' are one of the biggest banes of modern computing. Often hidden until software has already been purchased, EULAs are made up of frequently dozens - if not hundreds - of pages of densely-packed legalese which seek to indemnify the software's creator against any and all claims while simultaneously robbing the user of legitimate rights including the right to re-sell the product or make back-up copies.
Microsoft's move to change this scenario, in which the user blindly clicks on the 'Agree' button and prays to whatever deity he or she holds dear that it wasn't a mistake and they haven't just signed away their first-born, has been rightly applauded. An analysis of the changes from ZDNet
show that Microsoft has ditched the difficult-to-understand lawyerspeak for plain English in an effort to ensure its users understand the restrictions being placed upon them.
However, these restrictions - while being significantly easier to understand - are also more onerous than in previous releases of the operating system. Chief among the 'rights' no cast aside is the ability to install a copy of Windows without entering a licence key. With Windows 7 and prior releases, the licence key entry portion of the installation process could be skipped. Should the user choose to do so, the operating system would work as normal for 30 days, after which the entry of a licence key and activation with Microsoft's digital rights management (DRM) servers would be required.
For many, it was a handy way to try the features of a new Windows version out without spending any money, or check legacy software for compatibility. The 30-day grace period, however, is no more: installations of Windows 8 now require the licence key to be inserted at install, or the system will go no further.
The requirement for a key will affect the Retail, System Builder and Upgrade editions of Windows 8, while the pre-installed original equipment manufacturer (OEM) releases will reach the customer pre-activated as has been usual in the past.