April 9, 2004

What is the "computer" in a Microsoft EULA?

Today on /. there was an item about Microsoft permitting the reinstallation of some of Microsoft's so-called "operating systems" on donated computers.

Now, personally I'd suggest that Linux or Bsd or some other system be loaded onto such machines, but that's not the subject of this note.

Rather, I kinda wonder about what happens to someone who has purchased a Microsoft license and then, after a few years, buys a replacement machine and junks the original machine.

It seems that Microsoft's license requires that the user tender another pound of flesh to Microsoft for a new license.

But I wonder - what exactly is the definition of "computer" ? Could one, for example, rip the CPU out of the old machine and duct tape it to the motherboard of the new one? Would that preserve the identity of the old machine.

Sure that sounds like an artificial and conjured argument. But it is it really any more artificial or conjured than the assertion that something that comes in a box and looks and smells for all the world like a normal thing that I "buy" is not a "good" (as in "goods and services") at all but is actually a "license" that substantially changes my ability to use this thing in the future.

Posted by karl at April 9, 2004 4:02 PM