Microsoft Relaxes Vista License Terms

Responding to a wave of criticism following news that the licensing terms in Windows Vista allowed the operating system to be moved to another computer only once, Microsoft has changed its position and relaxed the restriction for retail copies of Vista.

Previously, Microsoft had allowed its operating systems to be installed as many times as the customer liked, as long as it was uninstalled from the previous computer. However, with the arrival of Windows Vista, that was to change.

Microsoft attempted to brush off the negative response by saying it was simply updating its licensing terms in Vista to be more clear, noting that Windows XP had the same restriction. But a number of industry pundits and bloggers poked holes in that claim, noting that Microsoft's own documentation said nothing of the sort.

Now, Microsoft is removing the one-computer transfer limit altogether from its retail licensing terms. The company did not specify whether OEM licenses, which come with new computers already running Windows Vista, will also be changed.

"You may uninstall the software and install it on another device for your use. You may not do so to share this license between devices," the license now reads. "The software may include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You may use only one version at one time."

"Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however, it’s become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts," explained Vista product manager Nick White.

"We respect the time and expense you go to in customizing, building and rebuilding your hardware and we heard you that the previous terms were seen as an impediment to that -- it’s for that reason we’ve made this change," White added. "I hope that this change provides the flexibility you need, and gives you more reason to be excited about the upcoming retail release of our new operating system."

Microsoft is not changing its other licensing restrictions, however, including a clause that states Vista Home Basic and Premium cannot be used as a "guest" operating system in VMware or Virtual PC. Users will need to purchase Vista Business or Ultimate Edition to gain this ability.

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