Taste of Vista, Sillyness of EULA Laws


A relative bought a new computer last week and I went around to set it up.  It was my first experience of Vista (in theory I have a copy of Vista on my home machine, but I haven’t (re)connected the hard drive since I had to remove it to install my Linux set up).   I spent most of my time setting up the hardware, rather than looking at Vista, but it seems nice enough.  I can understand why the user access controls are annoying people.  I was only on the machine for 5 minutes and was already getting annoyed at it.

Interesting from my point of view was that the machine booted straight into the desktop – no EULA was presented.  I also noticed that the 7 day anti-virus trial only had 2 days left to run.  Presumably the store had set up the machine?  The machine is a name brand (Medion, produced by Aldi).  It has an authorisation sticker on the side.  The machine comes with minimal documentation and no printed EULA.

The $64 question is – is my relative licensed to use the software?  If so, what are the licence terms?

12 Responses to “Taste of Vista, Sillyness of EULA Laws”


  1. 1 AlphaG 10 December 2008 at 2:54 pm

    If the computer has a fully licensed Microsoft OEM product there will be a sticker on the chassis (usually on the bottom) which will include the product key etc. This will provide you with what you need with regards licensing for Vista.

    The specific build provided is up to the manufacturer and how the PC left the factory. Some require you to enter the key, some use a “blue” image where no key is required. The OEM sticker is proof of ownership, assuming the OEM sticker isn’t a forgery :-(

  2. 2 brendanscott 10 December 2008 at 3:38 pm

    The OEM sticker is proof of ownership of what?
    The issue is, if someone has not seen the EULA terms how can they be taken to have agreed to them?
    If they haven’t agreed to them, are they licensed?
    If so, what are the terms of that licence?

  3. 3 G Thompson 10 December 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Maybe because they are your relative, the terms are.. well.. Relative ~s~

    Actually I suspect the “License was transferred by the sale of the unit by the vendor (Aldi) via the manufacturer (Medion in the EU) via their OEM status with Micro$oft to the customer.”

    Well that’s what MS would allude to anyway.. wonder if they have ever heard of ticket rules in contracts? ~s~ This is why preloaded OEM software can be returned (and refund asked for but normally not given) if you disagree with the EULA after you have read it post install.

    Seem to recall a person in Eastern Europe actually making MS pay him back the cost of the VISTA license upon return because he did not want windows or agree with the license (will find the story and post link to it if i can).

  4. 4 G Thompson 10 December 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Update to my post:

    The Microsoft “tax” refund I referred to was from Poland with a Lenova (really an IBM rebrand) notebook and found here:
    http://polishlinux.org/linux/how-to-get-a-refund-for-windows-in-poland/

    it also refers to a similar situation in 2006 by a UK resident with a DELL machine and found here on slashdot:
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/08/1358207&from=rss

    Also on Slashdot is Israels first ever refund of the so called “Microsoft Tax” (great name for it ~s~) which only just occurred in Dec 2008 here: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/03/1949230

    A blog post on How to get a Refund is found here: http://www.linux.com/articles/59381

    and for those wondering about Australia. Well Geoffrey Bennett did it way back in 1998 (Yep the wired.com story I remembered)
    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1999/01/17452

    Geoffrey’s Personal Triumph Page: http://www.netcraft.com.au/geoffrey/toshiba.html

    Remember, persistence pays off. Windows can be returned, You can receive cheaper computers (maybe this might work with PDA’s???) and you do not have to be stuck with a EULA that you don’t want , even if you can read it!

  5. 5 brendanscott 10 December 2008 at 7:22 pm

    @alphaG:
    Interesting in theory. The problem with the argument is that the analysis is one of contract law – there is nothing that I can do with another person to create a contract binding on a third person, not a party to our agreement.

  6. 6 AlphaG 10 December 2008 at 8:53 pm

    If you want to read the Eula it is freely available on the web, just use a search engine and look for vista eula

    http://download.microsoft.com/documents/useterms/Windows%20Vista_Ultimate_English_36d0fe99-75e4-4875-8153-889cf5105718.pdf

    The OEM sticker is proof the manufacturer has provided a legally paid for copy of the specific MS operating system as sold with a new pc

  7. 7 brendanscott 10 December 2008 at 9:24 pm

    @alphaG

    You are not getting it.
    Let’s say a third party and I agree for that third party to sell me a licence for some software that I install on a computer. I then sell the computer to you – and you have no knowledge of the agreement I have made with the third person and have not consented to it. How can you be bound by what I have agreed with the third party? and IF you can be bound, why can’t I just agree with the third party to (eg) sell your car, also without your consent.

  8. 8 AlphaG 11 December 2008 at 9:23 am

    There is no license agreement for the software between the vendor and the OEM manufacturer, but they do have a commercial contract. The usage rights of the operating system is for the user of the system. The manufacturer is not licensed to use the operating system, they are licensed to prepare an image and deploy it onto the hard drive. The method and readiness of the image is up to the manufacturer.

    Therefore you have no relationship with the vendor of the workstation, with regards to the operating system it is a direct relationship with Microsoft.

    Using you car example, when you purchased your car it came with 1 years roadside assist with the motoring organisation in your state. The relationship with the motoring organisation at the completion of the car sale is directly with you not the vehicle manufacturer or its sales organisation

  9. 9 G Thompson 11 December 2008 at 10:06 am

    On reading, and trying not to cringe, the EULA posted by alphaG. Section 16(c) forbids the transference of the license to a third party without the explicit agreement of the third party and also must include a proof of license.

    So even Micro$oft realise what you (Brendan) stated about a third party agreeing to a contract (lets assume that a EULA is actually a contract and not a license masquerading as a contract) on someone else’s behalf.

    I would be interested to know if this also falls under wonder if this comes under our Third-Line Forcing scenarios. Specifically ss 47(6) of the TPA?

    I am still wondering what happened to the basic principle that any acceptance of a contract/license must be in response to a communication of the offer. If the offer is unknown and therefore uncommunicative then no acceptance can have occurred. I wont even get into the ticket rule for unsigned documents ~argh~

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