by Ken Mingis

The Takeaway: The devil in the details of the Windows 10 license

Jul 17, 2015
Small and Medium BusinessWindows

The end-user license agreement for Windows 10, not surprisingly, includes changes that spell out everything from how automatic updates are handled to what happens to pirated copies when a user tries to upgrade.

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Just like the changes coming to Windows 10, the license agreement for Microsoft’s new OS includes new clauses that spell out everything from how automatic updates are handled to the bundling of Office apps and what happens to pirated copies when a user tries to upgrade.

Details about the likely final version of the Windows 10 end-user licensing agreement (EULA) began to emerge Thursday and were first reported on by Ed Bott of ZDNet.

The EULA included with Windows 10 build 10240 appears during the OS setup, or can accessed later by clicking “Settings” in the Start menu, selecting “System” and then choosing the “About” option. 

Although there are no major surprises — the information in the EULA has already been disclosed by Microsoft — there are changes from previous EULAs to match the changes Microsoft has in store for Windows 10. Among those changes:

  • Windows users will no longer be able to pick and choose which individual updates they want to install. It’s all or nothing, and if users opt out of accepting updates, Microsoft will eventually stop sending security updates all together. The EULA is explicit: “You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorized sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates. By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.”
  • Companies running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise do have update options, however, if they manage updates with the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) or a third-party patch management product. And those running Windows 10 Enterprise can adopt the “Long-term Servicing Branch” (LTSB) for Windows 10 for more flexibility.
  • The use rights for Office apps that come pre-installed on new devices are detailed. “To the extent included with Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are licensed for your personal, non-commercial use, unless you have commercial use rights under a separate agreement.” the EULA says. That “separate agreement” is a euphemism for an active business-grade Office 365 subscription.
  • Windows pirates are out of luck. The EULA makes it clear that those running “non-genuine” versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 don’t qualify for the one-year free upgrade deal Microsoft is offering: “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.”

Other sections of the EULA explain whether the OS can be moved to another device or downgraded so the user can install an older version of Windows on a new device that came with Windows 10. Those sections haven’t changed: Users can only downgrade from Windows 10 Pro — and then only to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro.

With reports by Gregg Keizer at Computerworld.