Responding to the myriad complaints over ambiguities and outright uncool (that's a technical term!!) licensing terms, Microsoft has revised the Windows Vista retail license to remove some of the most major causes of complaint. A Microsoft spokesperson told that the changes do indeed come in response to concerns from the PC enthusiast community. "We heard that users wanted more flexibility, and this change should give hardware enthusiasts in particular more latitude to upgrade their PCs or reassign their license to a new PC, while still making clear our intentions to protect our software from piracy," the spokesperson said.
A previous version of the Windows Vista retail license restricted the number of times you may transfer Vista from one device to another. The license read: "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.'"
The new license has removed this language relating to device transfers, and now reads: "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."
Furthermore, Microsoft has clarified the licenses with regards to re-installation. "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," the license reads.
Additionally, Microsoft clarified transfer rights to other users. You can transfer your license of Windows Vista to another user provided that you uninstall the original copy and do not keep any of the materials from the original installation.
Microsoft's Nick White also said that the move came after PC enthusiasts complained about the limitation. "Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however, it’s become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts," he wrote on the Windows Vista blog. "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."
Additionally, earlier this week Microsoft told that the Software Protection Platform that monitors Windows Vista installations for license compliance is more forgiving than previous attempts. A Microsoft spokesperson told that "the hardware tolerance of product activation for Windows Vista has been improved and is more flexible than that for Windows XP," indicating that re-activations caused by minor changes to a PC should be less common. "We believe these improvements will better accommodate the needs of our PC enthusiast customers," the spokesperson said.
OEM licenses still different
It bears repeating, however, the the OEM license that comes with Vista is indeed similar to the Windows XP OEM license in that it forbids any kind of transfer. As we have previously reported, users have nevertheless had success transferring those copies of Windows, but they are technically stepping outside of the bounds of the EULA when doing so.