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Oh well, that’s one less thing I can moan about when it comes to Microsoft Vista. The Seattle giant has had a change of heart, it would seem, when it comes to licensing terms for the new Windows Operating System.

Previously, the Windows Vista retail license included the incredibly restrictive, and downright ludicrous, condition that “the first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the licensed device.”

Meaning, in effect, that if you upgraded your hardware to a certain degree, or heaven forefend wanted to change your PC more than once, then the Vista license would expire. Obviously, Microsoft cannot be making enough money from Joe Public, hence the need to screw retail customers over in this fashion. Note, I said retail customers, because the corporate licensing did not carry the same restrictions. Equally obviously, this is because Microsoft knows that Billy Business isn’t going to roll over and accept unfair licensing in the same way as the consumer, who kicks up a fuss but buys it anyway. However, for once that consumer fuss was big enough and loud enough, even before Vista has been released, to force Microsoft into a change of heart.

The new license has changed that particular section and now states that "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. Except as provided in the Storage and Network Use (Ultimate edition) sections below, you may not use the software on any other device."

Which still isn’t great, but I guess that you have to allow Microsoft some latitude in order to protect itself from pirating issues. The fact that the Software Protection Platform has been relaxed a little, making the product activation hardware tolerance levels ‘more forgiving’ than is currently the case with Windows XP, means that all but major and multiple upgrades to your hardware should not result in a requirement for going through the activation process at all. Of course, Microsoft has not indicated exactly what it regards as a major upgrade. Although you can feel pretty safe putting money on processor and mobo changes triggering activation requests, what about graphics cards and hard drives?

At least it is now being crystal clear about where it stands on re-installation as the new license states that “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." What’s more, you can also transfer the license to another user as long as you uninstall the original copy and delete all materials from that original installation.

Still, Microsoft is showing that it does, occasionally at least, not only listen but also respond to complaints from the general public. Vista Team Program Manager Nick White had the following to say on the matter in an official Microsoft Vista blog: "It's become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts. 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."

If you want to see the new Vista license for yourself, it can be downloaded as a PDF document from Microsoft

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by Dani
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It makes me feel a little better that Microsoft is at least listening to the public a little bit. The last two times I performed an upgrade I had to re-license this machine under XP, and a third time I have no idea what cause it. I must have pulled out the microphone cord one too many times or something.

I am looking forward to the release of Vista though. I think that 3D interface they are boasting is going to be cool and developing application for it will be even cooler.

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I made the mistake of installing all of my software, and then imaging my hard drive so that when things go awry, I can restore my computer to a pristine setup of everything I use freshly installed. The problem is that I sorta forgot to run all of my activation programs (Windows, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, etc) before doing the imaging, and even with the exact same hardware and simply an image rollback (even the same install) the activation doesn't go through and I have to do the whole phone thing.

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