Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A word on licensing...

Recently, I purchased a Microsoft Windows XP Professional Additional License Pack from some guy on eBay. Many things are sold on eBay, including lots of software. Thinking to myself, "hey this is a good price, and I already own installation media," I bought the pack. Now, using a perfectly good Windows XP Professional OEM installation media that I received with an OEM license I attempted to install Windows XP Pro on a second box. Instead of the two products playing nicely together I was informed that I had an invalid license key.

Here's something odd, there is no difference whatsoever between a full version of Windows XP Pro and a full version of Windows XP Pro OEM. There are no features missing or edited. The only difference is the EULA. One would think that it would be easy to attach a license key to a EULA and be done with it. But no, it seems that Microsoft needed to slightly modify the installation routine for each type of exactly the same Windows XP Pro such that only an OEM CD will work with an OEM key. This goes for volume licenses as well.

Would it not have been less expensive for Microsoft to just stamp out 1 version of the software and have the user agree to a different EULA depending on the license key they typed in? So now I'm stuck. I have a Windows XP Pro CD and a Windows XP Pro license, but I am unable to use them.

So I called Microsoft. I asked them, what are my options? Instead of saying, here's where you can buy a media-only edition to compliment your license, they told me that the guy who sold me the license was a...PIRATE! It turns out that not just anyone can sell an additional license. Their representative told me it was clearly stated "all over" their web site that one MUST purchase an additional license via Microsoft directly. I have yet to see this "clearly" marked anywhere. Please, someone, find out where it says this and contact me.

My attempt at going legit with my Windows has been a disaster. I'm now looking at finding a good deal on a FULL RETAIL BOX of Windows XP Pro. In the end I get screwed because Microsoft can't just have a simple licensing structure and implementation.

I've heard that Windows Vista will be one media fits all versions... but I wonder if one media will now fit all licenses. Wouldn't that be nice?

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