Upgraded motherboard = new computer, says Microsoft

By | March 5, 2006

Tech blogs are fizzing with rage at the fine print in Microsoft’s new Windows licensing policy. The software behemoth recently made a change to its license agreement saying that a new motherboard is equal to a new computer, hence a new Windows OEM license must be purchased if a motherboard is changed or upgraded.

Here is what Microsoft has to say:
β€œAn upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a ‘new personal computer’ to which Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required.”

According to Microsoft’s logic, since the motherboard contains the CPU and is the “heart and soul” of the PC, when the motherboard is replaced (for reasons other than defect), a new PC is essentially created and an OEM copy of Windows cannot be used. Other license types do not face such restrictions. The company has sent a memo to its OEM partners asking them to enforce this new policy every time they upgrade a computer for a client.

Responses so far have been predictably less than complimentary toward Microsoft.

“They are trully [sic] evil,” fumes one.

But this is not the first time Microsoft has resorted to controversial schemes to protect its intellectual property (some would argue it’s just the monopolistic situation that Microsoft is trying to protect). Product activation, which was introduced a couple of years back, is another.

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