What an interesting week it has been. Since my original An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused post, I have received many comments, pieces of feedback, and quite a unique perspective on many things. I wanted to wait a week and consolidate much of the feedback into one post, so here it is. And just so there is no confusion (as there appeared to be last time), no, this is not a rant, tirade, etc. It is a collection of statements of fact broken into specific topics based on what I heard back and saw.
Loopholes and revenue
Several people made comments or statements that my post was based on the fact that I was somehow upset that a “loophole” existed or that using this would mean less revenue to Microsoft. Clearly these people do not know what I do here and have not attended my seminars or followed my Blog in the past. Part of what I do is teach people how to spend LESS on Microsoft software and quite often, I am the one pointing out the loopholes and savings opportunities. For instance:
The difference between the loopholes and practices I point out and the ones the authors of the online articles I called out in my Blog post is that the ones I mention provide you will full licenses to legally run the software, unlike the ones they call out. Following their advice to purchase an upgrade license without having a qualifying full license first and installing it is advising you to install and run software you are not licensed to run and potentially opening your company up to fines of up to $150,000 per incident (Not from Microsoft, so don’t go down that path. Look at the next paragraph for the details).
“It’s not illegal to do this!”
I found it interesting that several people responded to my post with statements like, “just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not legal!” or “It may not be ethical to do this but it clearly is not illegal.” I’m not sure where you are getting your facts at; however, to be perfectly clear, installing commercial software (whether it is Microsoft software or not) without a license to do so is illegal in addition to being unethical. Since owning a full license is a requirement of using an upgrade license, if you don’t have a full license first, then installing software with just an upgrade license means you are installing software without a license to do so (again, whether it is Microsoft software or any other commercial software from another company). This is illegal (and unethical).
If you haven’t checked out organizations such as the BSA, you might want to: http://www.bsa.org. These are organizations that exist to enforce legal software usage. You will notice if you look at their site, software licensing is not just a Microsoft thing, it is a commercial software industry thing and they have fined many companies for using unlicensed software from many other manufacturers, not just Microsoft. Those fines can be up to $150,000 per incident and they offer rewards of up to $1,000,000 to people who turn in companies running software illegally. Again, following the advice of the authors I called out in my original post and believing those statements that violating the licensing terms is legal will make you one of those companies running unlicensed software. This has nothing to do with how much revenue Microsoft makes from your purchase, this is about potentially exposing your company to huge fines and legal action. Don’t put yourself in this situation.
“It’s because of your prices!”
Here are some other statements I saw a few times and I find very enlightening on people’s perception. Comments such as, “You've priced the product in such a fashion that they do not see the 'value' in paying the higher price,” or, “These users are exploiting a flaw in the upgrade model so they can purchase a genuine copy of Vista at a more reasonable price.” Whether you agree with the pricing of Vista or not, how does installing software without a license to do so change the fact you don’t own a license to run the software?
Or, there were even comments like these, “I'll do whatever I can to screw M$,” or “With the amount of money Microsoft has, why should I pay your prices for Vista?” or "I've never paid for an OS and I'm not about to start now!" So, how does the size of our company in any way change what is legal or not when purchasing our products? Does this mean if we were smaller it would then be wrong to run our software without a license but because we are not small that it is ok? Several people even commented how they bought new PCs and then were planning to use the upgrade “loophole” (again, still not a license to run the software without a full license first) to get Vista for less. Here’s my question to you… Why bother? If you’re buying a new PC, buy your Windows license through OEM (license designed for Windows purchase on new PC) with your machine and save money. In addition, you’ll actually have a license to run the software.
Sensationalism and perception
I’m sure you saw the headlines and posts, “Eric Ligman tore into users,” or “Microsoft Exec Lashes Out At Users,” etc. What’s really interesting is that in my post itself, I stated that the target of my comments are those writing the articles who are giving customers misleading advice and trying to convince them that using the upgrade license by itself provides a license to use the software just because it physically installs. Why? Because as listed above, what they are telling you to do will end with you running software you are not licensed to run and potentially open you up to potential fines and legal action because it is illegal to run software you are not licensed to run. Yet, people went out and posted that I was posting against customers, tearing into users, etc. Again, sensational headlines and statements draw the readers. In all actuality, I had already stated in my post that this was not the case; however, many people commenting on my Blog that came from those articles sent in comments about why would I attack customers, users, etc.? I didn’t. I posted about those writing the articles telling you to do these things and trying to convince you it is ok to do so, when it is not. (I'll be sure to call this out much better in the future to lessen the misunderstandings)
The grass is green, so I won’t eat rice!
So what does the color of the grass have to do with eating rice or not? I’m not sure, but that’s how I felt with several of the other comments I received as well. Such as people telling me that it is because there are multiple versions of Vista (Home, Business, Ultimate, etc.), that people are using this “loophole.” Whether we have one version of Vista or fifty versions, how does it change the difference between an Upgrade license and a Full license? Or someone actually commented about how I underlined words in my Blog for emphasis. And that has what to do with the topic at hand? (By the way, yes I am fully aware of how hyperlinks work since I was writing HTML over 15 years ago and no, underlining does not always mean it has to be a hyperlink). They did make for very interesting reading though.
Can you feel the love?
This was a very nice touch I thought. One of the publications even had a post entitled, “Hug Eric Ligman Day!” While I don’t think we really need to go that far, I appreciate the sentiment.
So to sum it up, my post was in no way targeted at customers or users. It was intended for those trying to advise customers and users that what they are advising people to do provides them with a license to run the software legally. As a customer or user yourselves, it doesn’t bother you that someone is trying to tell you to do something that could potentially open your company up to huge fines for installing software you are not licensed to run? It should. Regardless of what they say or write about me, the company, the product, etc., it doesn’t change the fact that an upgrade license without a full license first is not a license to run the product. This has nothing to do with Microsoft revenue, or my role, or my opinion, or anything else. It is the simple premise on how commercial software is licensed (you need a license to install and use the software) and I thought I would call this out for you, since those other articles did not and actually advised to the contrary. You may not agree with how commercial software is licensed, and that is entirely your right. It still does not change the way it works.
So please use any and all of the legal loopholes that I have advised on over the years (some are included above), use all of the incentives and promotions available, take advantage of getting more for less, get credit for past purchases, talk to a Small Business Specialist or a Large Account Reseller to help with purchasing advice, etc. to get the best price available on your software. Just do it legally to protect your business.
Thank you for all of the comments and thoughts you have provided so far and please keep them coming if you have more. It is always great to hear from the readers.
Thank you and have a wonderful day,
Eric Ligman Microsoft US Senior Manager Small Business Community Engagement This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights
I have long thought and advocated that Microsoft should produce a much more user readable and hopefuly understandable (set of)license(s). I don't understand why a EULA for example could not start with a simple list, you can do these things: 1, 2, 3. You cannot do these things: 1, 2, 3. And then have the legalese that only a contracts lawyer can understand. Installation of an upgrade should not trigger a new license. Yes customers and writers get licensing wrong, but Microsoft does little to make issues such as upgrade, transferability, and even returns of software if you don't like the terms, totally indecipherable.
@ Mike - Thanks for the comments. Out of curiosity, have you looked at the EULA (End User License Agreement) recently? I ask because several of these items are specifically spelled out in plain English. For instance, for upgrades (the topic at hand) it says:
UPGRADES. To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is
eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement
for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the
software you upgraded from.
As you can see, it is pretty clear that "you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade" to use the upgrade.
As for the other items, the EULA now starts with what your rights are, in plain english. For instance, from the Windows Vista Business EULA under Installation and Use Rights, it says:
Licensed Device. You may install one copy of the software on the licensed device.
You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time.
Again, pretty straight forward. You will also find a "transfers" section in the EULA that says if you have transfer rights or not.
Yes, we did update them awhile back to be clearer and easier to read. Hope that helps.
PingBack from http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2008/04/11/8380757.aspx
I think your two blog posts on licensing made some good points and no matter what people think of Vista talking bad about it or the people that designed should have been saved for a different blog! You clarified something that was being told to customers and it needed to be said so that those people were not putting themselves or their companies at risk of fines.
I think we all should know what an upgrade is and if we don't then we don't have a lot of common sense. It's not exactly rocket science but I liked your diagrams for those people that are confused.
I will say that the experiences that I have had with Vista were negative and therefore I have not upgraded yet. It doesn't make me hate Microsoft it just makes me use XP a little longer which is fine by me. I unlike others don’t see the need to run to Linux; believe it or not you can be a geek without using Linux! The Mac OS intrigues me but there is no way at this point in my life that I am going to spend over $2,000 if not $3,000 on a Mac Book Pro and the cheaper models do not have the power I need.
Vista is expensive to the consumer especially in today’s economy. I think one flavor of Vista would be enough but obviously the engineers or marketing execs at Microsoft had a good reason for producing so many versions. Most of them are pretty intelligent.
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Microsoft do a lot of good things with the money we have spent on Microsoft products over the years…
Oh and I sure wish I could blog at work as you do Eric, but I have a feeling I would get fired!
I personally think what was really taking place in the previous blogs endless comment rants, was little more than many peoples general frustration with Vista. Your blog post merely served as a rallying point.
I've worked in IT journalism for many years, been a computer hobbyist for many many more, and spent my early career working in the retail sector, so I can understand and relate to the dynamic taking place in a unique way perhaps.
Some publications did publish the "loophole" as a way to workaround a silly installation snag due to the lack of CD checks. This was not wrong. Some went further and implied this was an easy way to get around licensing restrictions. This was wrong, clearly.
The impetus in any financial transaction is for the end user (or organization) to accept whatever terms are expressed or implied in the transaction. This is called basic awareness and taking responsibility.
When you do not like those terms, you can exercise your liberty and choose to go elsewhere for your product. This is how commerce works. People however rarely approach anything rationally.
Microsoft clearly has stumbled horrendously with the "value proposition" in regards to Vista, which is why we're all here discussing this. And it is true that Vista is clearly a stepping stone to fundamental changes in the OS's architecture, ala Windows Millenium. It's suffering from a similar popularity dearth as ME Edition, but in very different times. Times where people have fundamentally different expectations.
The big difference? Today the software and OS markets are more mature and competitive than ever, and there are now viable alternatives to Windows. But, merely because those alternatives exist, does in no way make what is not legal to do, legal or ethical.
The solutions are simple. For those that don't like their Vista experience, revert to XP. Consider Suse, or Xandros, or Ubuntu, or Red Hat, as viable alternatives. If you feel you were cheated and want a refund for Vista? Complain. Loudly. As much as it takes for you to receive what you feel is your due. The grocery store analogy used in the previous comment thread is an excellent one. Even if traditional retail customer satisfaction mentality does not pervade the software industry, it's way past time that it should. And it's way past time for many of us to stop whining at Microsoft, and either deal with Vista (because it's really a decent OS, especially under the hood, and especially in the multicore era), or take your business elsewhere. Because you do not like an outcome, does not justify doing whatever you wish because your angry or disappointed.
Want to violate licensing restrictions? Crack Genuine Advantage? Go right ahead. There are some who feel both are legitimately stupid restrictions that punish the wrong end of the equation, and they may be right. That still doesn't make it legal. These are two different concepts. Do as you see fit, but do so with your eyes open to the risks you are tacitly accepting.
Believe me, alternative OS's are a legitimate threat for the corporate environment. From a tweakers and tinkerer's viewpoint however, these alternatives still have a long way to go to approach the maturity of Windows.
Much of this is about emotions, and this is where the core of the problem lies. People expected far more from Microsoft. People expected Vista's whiz bang feature set to not be neutered before RTM. People are genuinely upset about this to varying degrees. But this is not a license to do whatever you like, merely a valid reason to grow some courage and jump ship instead of just threaten to in order to get your way. Market forces are what foment change in commerce. Instead of throwing tantrums, jump to an alternative OS. You will find distributions like Ubuntu to be excellent if your an IT manager managing tons of end users who use basic applications. Just understand that from a personal power user workstation standpoint, Linux has a long long way to go, to match the flexibility and maturity of Vista.
Take the plunge, and you will either be happier or appreciate Microsoft more.
Eric, your update really goes to show you are not hearing your customers.
The "loophole" if we are to call it that is a saviour to those of us who DO HAVE a valid product to upgrade from (I have three perfectly LEGAL and VALID copies of XP Professional).
Lets face it for years (nearly a decade) it is well know that to get the best results when upgrading Windows, you have to eradicate the junk first. Most of us understand that to mean wiping the hard drive and starting again.
What has occurred is that you have badly let down your customers who wish to perform the upgrade on a reformatted hard drive. Its that simple.
The articles I have read about the "loophole" have presented it just as that - a solution for what is a valid customer issue. I have not read a single one that condones piracy, they are trying to help YOUR customers get out of a situation that YOU created.
It really is that simple.
@ Leslie - Actually, you and I are in full agreement that if you own a previous Windows full license (you mentioned you own Windows XP Pro licenses), then it is perfectly legal to use the Windows Vista Upgrade to install clean on your PC vs. doing an in-place upgrade. That is never a point I have denied and have even stated that is one reason we have this ability built in. On the upgrades, we fully recommend a full install vs. an in-place upgrade when upgrading from several previous versions of Windows. If my comments led you to believe I was saying anything different, my apologies, since we're actually saying the same thing about it being completely legal to install full if you own the previous version when buying the Vista Upgrade.