The big enterprise software licensing news last week came from the sensational story It’s official: upgrade hack included in Vista SP1 by Scott Dunn. It’s hard to say if this is truly responsible journalism or now, but the story definitely has legs. Granted…software licensing is complex and can be difficult to interpret based on the ever-changing rules, but that’s no reason why these “Microsoft Windows experts” should purposely write a story that’s not quite accurate.
Dunn claims that there is a loophole in Windows Vista that “allows end users to purchase the upgrade edition and install it on any PC – with no need to purchase the more expensive full edition.” What was even more shocking was the amount of pick-up the story received from credible news sources including Computerworld’s Psst! Wanna save $110 on Windows Vista SP1?.
Technical loopholes happen, but in the case of Microsoft licensing loophole, it is a clear violation of software licensing. The initial legal language “contract” that users click to accept clearly states that upgrades require a fully licensed version of Windows in order to be eligible for an upgrade license. Enterprise software companies are getting smarter about piracy and with the amount of audits of Oracle licensing, Microsoft software compliance and many others, people and companies who engage in circumventing the system with this loophole do so that their own risk.