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July 31, 2015

Free Windows 10

Long time no blog... but this new Windows 10 deserves a post.

Like many people, I got the notification that I could upgrade to Windows 10 FREE (for a limited time). Well, even though I signed up for it - I'm not going to just plop it on my main laptop. So I'm going to put it on one of my little mini laptops and see what it's like first.

Is anyone else surprised that Microsoft is giving away W10 for free? So I did a little search on it. Seems that the story is that Microsoft is doing this so that it can boost sales in other areas. Great. Let's all run out and buy a Hololens so we can live in a virtual world. I'm not believing it. Perhaps they need a large install base to keep their footing in the corporate space. Who knows? But for one year we all have the opportunity to upgrade our most current systems to W10 for free.

At this time (at the start of the rollout) expect it to take a while to kick in. My Windows7 mini took hours from the time I clicked to reserve and the time it was confirmed. In order to do this, I had to give Microsoft my email address. Then it took a few more hours for the upgrade installer to download. To be fair, this is new (released on 29 July), so I'm sure the servers are swamped. Depending on when you upgrade, it may take much less time.

So now I'm looking at the End User License Agreement... Who reads those? I do. Here are the pertinent items that I found while reading it:

1) You agree and consent "to the transmission of certain information during activation and during your use of the software as per the privacy statement described in Section 3."
Okay, so I can understand them wanting to verify that you are upgrading a valid copy of Windows... but during the entire use of the software? I guess it depends on what certain information that they are gathering. But it does give me pause. I will dive into this more fully before putting it on my main system.

2) If you don't like the software and you want to "return" it... "might require you to return the software with the entire device on which the software is installed for a refund or credit, if any." What? If I don't want Win 10 anymore, I might have to send them my laptop to "return" it? Are you kidding me?

3) The agreement "also applies to Windows apps developed by Microsoft that provide functionality such as contacts, music, photos and news that are included with and area part of Windows." (See #2 above...)

4) There are some strange remote access restrictions. "No more than once every 90 days, you may designate a single user who physically uses the licensed device as the licensed user. The licensed user may access the licensed device from another device using remote access technologies." Okay...so this sounds strange. I'm not sure what they're getting at here, but it looks like it relates to remote access - which most home users are not going to use. However, it can look like it is talking about user accounts - which wouldn't make sense. But then again, with the home user in mind - most just boot up under one account and everyone uses it.

5) "During activation (or reactivation that may be triggered by changes to your device's components), the software may determine that the installed instance of the software is counterfeit, improperly licensed or includes unauthorized changes. If activation fails the software will attempt to repair itself by replacing any tampered Microsoft software with genuine Microsoft software." Isn't this what malware does?

6) Updates - the EULA makes you agree to update your... no you agree to let Microsoft update your system when they want. "By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice."

7) And if you want to downgrade (go back to what you had before the W10 upgrade), it's basically on you to obtain that earlier version of software to use. "Neither the manufacturer or installer, nor Microsoft, is obligated to supply earlier versions to you. You must obtain the earlier version separately, for which you may be charged a fee."

8) Long section about disputes and legal proceedings. Note that you agree that you can't be a part of a class action lawsuit against Microsoft...

9) "The software will turn on malware protection if other protection is not installed or has expired. To do so, other antimalware software will be disabled or may have to be removed." Really? Again, doesn't malware itself do this?

10) "You may not use such versions of the software for commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities." Do people know this? How does this impact BYOD? What if you're writing a book? Or using your laptop to create a report for a customer? Do non-profits know they need to buy the business version of the software rather than use their home desktops/laptops?

Granted - this is a licensing agreement (and is legal-ese by its very nature). But it looks more and more like you don't own the device you buy. Well, you own the hardware that you bought, but you're "licensing" the software.

From my experience with Microsoft, they have been reasonably fair. I've been able to get activation keys fixed - granted, they were replacing valid copies of Windows that needed to be reinstalled (which is the whole point). And I think that perhaps the auto-updates and malware removal stuff may be a reaction to consumer demand. Users are notorious for not installing updates and then wondering why their computer is so slow. Or go to "popular" or "free whatever" sites and getting malware (without buying or maintaining any kind of antivirus). So that may be reactionary on Microsoft's part.

Once I set up so that I can capture packets, I'm going to click the agreement and upgrade. Then I'm going to compare the "before upgrade" packet capture to the "during upgrade" and "after upgrade" captures. This might get interesting...

Posted by BlueWolf on July 31, 2015 04:54 PM