Microsoft’s latest version of Windows is a near-universal success. As Tech Insider’s review put it: “It is as close to a perfect PC operating system as you’ll ever get.”
It could just be the upswing after several swings and misses from Microsoft on Windows; regardless, people seem to really love Windows 10. It was surprising then to see outrage over the past weekend at the wording in a Microsoft Services end-user licence agreement (those contracts you click through as you’re installing software). Here’s the wording people are taking umbrage with:
We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorised hardware peripheral devices.
Did you catch the bit people are upset about? It’s the “playing counterfeit games” part. As Alphr, the publication which originally found the statement, put it: “Updated terms let Microsoft invade your Windows 10 computer in search of counterfeit software.”
So, uh, big deal? For the privacy-minded among us, alarms went off.
OK, piracy is bad.You know what’s worse? Invasion of user privacy.Didn’t buy Windows 10 but Msoft needs to STAY OFF people’s systems
— Dakota Corley (@RampagingNelf) August 18, 2015
And that’s a fair concern. The idea is that, if Windows 10 goes after piracy, your computer is a little less your own. More simply: If Microsoft can go into my computer and disable software, however illegal that software is, then they’re invading my privacy.
Thankfully, the situation isn’t quite so cut and dry. The agreement — which you must accept if you want to use any “Microsoft Services,” (full list here) isn’t aimed at all Windows 10 users. It’s meant for folks going online, using Microsoft’s various services. More importantly, it’s meant to protect those services.
Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online multiplayer game service, wouldn’t work so well if you could run pirated software that enabled cheats, for instance.
This agreement is aimed at preserving the use of those services, not at scanning your computer and killing any pirated software. It’s essentially the same agreement you face on an Xbox One, which is partially aimed at stemming piracy on Microsoft’s console, but more aimed at preserving the standards of Microsoft’s services for the millions of users who aren’t pirating, or trying to break Xbox Live, or whatever else.
Microsoft has yet to issue a statement regarding the kerfuffle, but representatives tell us one is on the way. We’ll update this post as we hear back from Microsoft, but in the meantime, don’t lose any sleep over it. Also, maybe don’t pirate games.
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