More details on restrictions

We wished to keep our "Restrictions" page short, so we moved many of the license restrictions out here. Here is the fine print inside the Microsoft licenses.

  • It is unclear who can use, receive or buy your software.

    The license is particularly unclear as to who may or may not use your version of Windows or Office. Several sentences in the Microsoft Office license suggest it would be illegal to let your neighbour type a letter with your version of Word on your computer.

    It is however clear in the Microsoft Windows license that you may only give or sell your copy of Windows software to anyone if you are the first buyer. This means, that if you buy it from the user who initially purchased it from Microsoft, then you are not able to sell or give the software away to yet another user, even if you do not use it anymore, even if you buy the latest software version with your new computer.

  • You may not lease, lend or provide commercial hosting services with the software

    You cannot let professional users use your software, whether they pay for the service or not, and whether you use a "Professional" license or not.

  • The upgrade is only valid for the first license you use it on

    If that original license expires (for example because the computer it came on stops working), so does the upgrade. If you purchase an upgrade, you are not allowed to use the original software version anymore.

  • Educational versions are crippled

    If Microsoft accepts to define you as a student or an academic, you are allowed to buy an academic license, and install the software on three computers. But it is illegal to use it for any commercial purpose "or in any way related to the operation of any business enterprise or revenue-generating activities".

  • The components of the software may not be separated

    It is illegal to buy Microsoft Office, then install only Word on one computer, and only Excel on another. The Office suite is one single product.

  • Private information is collected

    The licence explicitly states that "Microsoft and its affiliates" collect technical information gathered on your computer by the software. They "may use this information solely to improve products or to provide customized services or technologies".

    In order to activate most Microsoft products, as part of the license agreement, your computer connects to the Microsoft servers and sends "technical" information. It can "solely" be used for pretty much anything.

Read more

The GPL

The GNU General Public License, under which GNU/Linux and a vast amount of free software are published.

Comparing the GPL to the Microsoft WinXP License (pdf)

A thorough and clear comparison of the GPL and the Microsoft EULA license that governs the use of most Windows XP versions.

The Right to Read

A short story by Richard Stallman that describes what influence restrictive licenses could have on our lives.