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Oh, but it does...

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 1, 2010 3:36 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
In reply to: "Mere aggregation" is there for a reason. by sfeam
Parent article: The kernel and the C library as a single project

I may be misremembering, but the article you link to reinforces my recollection that BeOS ran up against the bulk licensing agreements between Microsoft and OEMs, which forbade to sell dual-boot machines.

Yup.

However unfortunate that may have been, it doesn't directly bear on the question of bundling linux software on distribution media.

How come? Microsoft's Windows license given for OEMs made it illegal to distribute totally unrelated piece of code on the same medium unless it was licensed in some quite specific way - the same as with Linux kernel and linux programs. In case of Windows license only allows programs written for Windows but not separate OSes, in case of Linux license allows not only Linux programs but also any "mere aggregation" software. If Microsoft's license can stop BeOS inclusion then Linux license can stop any other software inclusion.

You can only redistribute proprietary programs (and FOSS programs with GPL-incompatible licenses) with Linux because GPL gave you explicit permission. Copyright alone does not give you such rights.


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Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 1, 2010 4:22 UTC (Wed) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841) [Link]

Microsoft's Windows license given for OEMs made it illegal to distribute totally unrelated piece of code on the same medium unless it was licensed in some quite specific way

That's not what it says in the article you linked to. As I understand it, the OEM's were allowed to ship BeOS in addition to Windows (or at any rate they thought they were and continued to do so). But in order to get the bulk pricing on Windows they could not enable dual boot - they instead resorted to offering instructions on how to switch your disk to booting BeOS (only) rather than Windows (only). So from that description, the limitation was not "the copyright or license forbids joint distribution"; it was "we will charge you more if you do so". And even so it wasn't a direct restriction on distribution, only on the machine configuration. So again, I really don't think the BeOS story is a close enough parallel to be relevant.

Anyhow, back to your earlier diagnosis that if some clib equivalent were distributed with the kernel there would no longer be a dividing line across which the license terms did not apply. That makes no sense to me. The line would be drawn at the API between clib and user programs. Not much difference to what we have now.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 1, 2010 11:54 UTC (Wed) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

And Microsoft's position here even makes sense, even if it was in practice anti-competitive and therefore perhaps unacceptable.

Microsoft believes (correctly) that most of its users don't understand much about computers. If you ask them "Which OS are you booting?" the _better_ answers will be something like "Microsoft" or "Office" and most people will just stare uncomprehending.

OEMs have consistently choked systems with shovelware because doing so is profitable and the margins in the PC world are beyond razor thin. So Microsoft's OEM license includes limits on shovelware, one of them ensured that when you buy a Windows PC, it boots Windows.

Because the alternative is it boots "AdBrowse - the great new way to earn valuable prizes while using the Internet" for which the OEM was paid $$$. And only a tiny fraction of users know to hold down Shift F8, pick "Windows" from the menu and boot the actual OS instead. Everybody else just complains that now "the Microsoft" makes them watch adverts, just as they queued up to complain that "the Facebook" had changed when they typed "facebook login" into a browser and got some blog page not facebook.com

More recently we've seen what happens when Microsoft's OEM negotiators let the OEMs bully them - that's what led to the Vista debacle. Every top-selling PC in Vista's opening season was unsuitable to run Vista, but OEMs didn't want these PCs gathering dust as "XP only" so they moaned until Microsoft authorised Vista badges of some kind for these machines.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 2, 2010 0:57 UTC (Thu) by cmccabe (guest, #60281) [Link]

> And Microsoft's position here even makes sense, even if it was in practice
> anti-competitive and therefore perhaps unacceptable.

OEMs continue to choke systems with shovelware. Microsoft doesn't give a hoot as long as they get their cut. In fact, Microsoft has made the situation considerably worse by refusing to give out Windows install discs along with new computers. It used to be that you could at least re-install a clean version of Windows to get rid of the adware and spyware. Now, all they give you is essentially a restore-from-ISO tool that has all the crap on it.

The restriction on dual-boot computers was never about helping users; it was always about killing the competition. Enforcing trademark law would have been enough to ensure that users didn't blame Windows for Linux's (or BeOS's) failings.

> More recently we've seen what happens when Microsoft's OEM negotiators let
> the OEMs bully them - that's what led to the Vista debacle

Bad project management led to the Vista debacle. If your new operating system can't run on the newest hardware that's coming off the production lines, maybe you ought to delay shipping it until it can.

Don't get me wrong-- there's a lot of things that Microsoft has done well (Xbox comes to mind). But Vista wasn't one of them.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 2, 2010 1:51 UTC (Thu) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

The restore situation I can explain (the quality of the restore though, you should blame on your OEM).

Despite everybody's best efforts, none of today's PC operating systems actually work properly on a brand new PC. In say, Fedora this can be painfully obvious as your brand new HP laptop runs X with VESA graphics or refuses to acknowledge the existence of its built-in touchpad. Sure there'll be an update that fixes it, but that's later, and you've got the new laptop now.

In Windows this is hidden by pre-installing the necessary patches, new drivers, utilities etc. at the factory.

But if the user re-installs from a "clean" OS DVD they don't get any of that, and then end up with the experience familiar to bleeding edge Linux people. They will, of course, report this as a fault, which will cost someone a bunch of support money. Hence, there is no way to install a clean OS, because they know it won't work properly anyway.

You mention trademark law as a solution to the dual boot problem. This is charmingly naive - to sophisticates like us it's obvious if you're running OS/2 or Mac OS X, but to the average user it's all a muddle. My sister continues to be caught out by the need to buy different software for her "new computer" (a MacBook). Trademarks don't help because they're not aware of the trademarks, it's just more technical mumbo-jumbo.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 2, 2010 3:42 UTC (Thu) by cmccabe (guest, #60281) [Link]

> Despite everybody's best efforts, none of today's PC operating systems
> actually work properly on a brand new PC. In say, Fedora this can be
> painfully obvious as your brand new HP laptop runs X with VESA graphics or
> refuses to acknowledge the existence of its built-in touchpad. Sure
> there'll be an update that fixes it, but that's later, and you've got the
> new laptop now.

It's fine to offer a restore CD with the driver pre-loaded. However, Microsoft should also offer the ability to download a clean version of Windows from its website, if you input the correct product key.

Microsoft has spent a lot of effort tying product keys to specific configurations and models of computer. They created Windows Genuine Advantage and barred pirated copies of the OS from downloading most updates. Offering a copy of the original Windows CD would really not be challenging for them.

> You mention trademark law as a solution to the dual boot problem. This is
> charmingly naive - to sophisticates like us it's obvious if you're running
> OS/2 or Mac OS X, but to the average user it's all a muddle. My sister
> continues to be caught out by the need to buy different software for her
> "new computer" (a MacBook). Trademarks don't help because they're not
> aware of the trademarks, it's just more technical mumbo-jumbo.

It's not "charmingly naive" to believe that users know the difference between a can that says "Coke" and one that says "Pepsi". It's also not naive to believe that users can't tell the difference between a big Apple logo plastered on the startup screen, and on the desktop afterwards, and the same situation with a Windows logo.

Frankly, I find your comments to be elitist. Just because a person is not a computer professional, doesn't make him stupid. There is a difference between being stupid and choosing not to invest time and energy in something.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 2, 2010 12:08 UTC (Thu) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

“It's not "charmingly naive" to believe that users know the difference between a can that says "Coke" and one that says "Pepsi".”

And if that was the comparison we were actually discussing it might be relevant.

“There is a difference between being stupid and choosing not to invest time and energy in something.”

Indeed, and a great many computer users (which means many millions of Microsoft customers) choose not to invest time and energy into understanding how a computer works. Microsoft has no problem with this, but it does mean they need to ensure that when those users buy a "PC with Windows" they don't get "a PC that could run Windows, but right now it's booted into BeOS". Because Microsoft (not Be Inc, not the guy on Slashdot promoting BeOS) ends up with a lot of the support costs if that happens.

If it's "elitist" to believe that some people don't care about computers then I guess I'm an "elitist" by your definition, but I caution you that this is an unusual definition which is likely to cause you problems.

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 19, 2010 11:37 UTC (Sun) by Jan_Zerebecki (guest, #70319) [Link]

AFAIK Microsoft does not offer free support with normal OEM versions, I would guess they make money with all their support offers, that need work per support incident, i.e. not including things like Documentation. (I just looked it up that a support Question for Microsoft Windows 7 Professional N costs 72€.)

Oh, but it does...

Posted Dec 19, 2010 16:22 UTC (Sun) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

Absolutely right. There are a large number of people in violation of the OEM licensing terms. Read the FAQ for yourself: Some highlights:
Q. My customer wants to purchase a "naked" PC from me and acquire the Windows license through a Volume Licensing agreement. Is this OK? A. No. Full Windows licenses are not available through any Microsoft Volume Licensing program, including academic volume licenses. The customer must first acquire a Windows operating system license via OEM software included with a new PC from an OEM or system builder, or via the retail channel.
Q. Can my customers transfer or sell their OEM software licenses? A. After an OEM software license has been installed on a PC, the license may not be installed on or transferred to another PC. However, the entire PC may be transferred to another end user along with the software license rights. When transferring the PC to the new end user, the software media, manuals (if applicable), and Certificate of Authenticity label must be included. It is also advisable to include the original purchase invoice or receipt. The original end user cannot keep any copies of the software.
Q. Can two or more users access and fully utilize OEM Windows operating systems concurrently on the same machine? A. No. The End User Software License Terms do not permit two or more users to concurrently use the full feature sets of Windows operating systems. However, the Windows End User Software License Terms do allow for a limited number of computers or other electronic devices to connect to the computer upon which the software is installed to utilize one or more of the following services: File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services, and telephony services. The End User Software License Terms also permit limited concurrent use in connection with the Remote Assistance and NetMeeting technologies. Please refer to the applicable End User Software License Terms for detailed information regarding such limited concurrent uses.
Q. How does a company qualify to become a direct Microsoft OEM? It seems that the larger companies currently have an unfair advantage compared with smaller OEMs. A. Direct OEM licensees do receive a discount compared to buying through the System Builder channel, but that discount is based on the licensee’s commitment to receive ongoing bulk shipments versus purchasing at will. Other elements of the direct licensing agreement require significant initial investment from the OEM. Furthermore, legal and technical requirements are placed on direct OEMs to protect Microsoft intellectual property, and these requirements can add other costs to the production of a PC. The primary difference between the two programs cannot be gauged merely by looking at prices and software licenses. Each program is designed to meet the specific needs of the partner.
Q. Can a PC with an OEM Windows operating system have its motherboard upgraded and keep the same license? What if it was replaced because it was defective? A. Generally, an end user can upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on a computer—except the motherboard—and still retain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created. Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred to the new computer, and the license of new operating system software is required. If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do not need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC as long as the replacement motherboard is the same make/model or the same manufacturer's replacement/equivalent, as defined by the manufacturer's warranty. The reason for this licensing rule primarily relates to the End User Software License Terms and the support of the software covered by that End User Software License Terms. The End User Software License Terms is a set of usage rights granted to the end user by the PC manufacturer and relates only to rights for that software as installed on that particular PC. The system builder is required to support the software on the original PC. Understanding that end users, over time, upgrade their PCs with different components, Microsoft needed to have one base component "left standing" that would still define the original PC. Since the motherboard contains the CPU and is the "heart and soul" of the PC, when the motherboard is replaced (for reasons other than defect) a new PC is essentially created. The original system builder did not manufacture this new PC, and therefore cannot be expected to support it.
Q. Can I create my own recovery disks and sell these with the computer systems that I build? I have heard that direct OEMs can do this, so why can't I? A. No. System builders may not offer a recovery solution with removable media (e.g., a recovery CD) because it is prohibited by the terms of the Microsoft OEM System Builder License. A full version of the Windows operating system is provided on a hologram CD in the Microsoft System Builder pack for each end user, and the CD must be transferred to the end user at the time of distribution. The hologram CD acts as the recovery media. However, system builders can offer a hard disk recovery solution in addition to, but not as a replacement for, the hologram CD. Third-party software companies can also help system builders do this. Learn more about the legal, licensing, and technical requirements for this type of hard disk-based recovery solution. System builders are bound by the Microsoft OEM System Builder License, affixed to the side of the System Builder packs, which is different than the direct agreements utilized by direct OEMs. The licensing terms for system builders and large OEMs are different because they are designed to address the specific needs of each community. The right to create recovery media is limited to the OEMs with direct agreements; however, these OEMs are also bound by other contractual obligations. The OEM System Builder License is designed to make it easy for system builders to acquire and distribute genuine Microsoft software, and accordingly, its terms are different.
Q. Can I provide a computer system to my customer without an operating system (also referred to as a "naked PC")? A. Yes. There is nothing illegal about selling a computer system without an operating system. However, getting the operating system preinstalled is your customer's most cost-effective way to acquire a genuine Windows operating system license. A customer who subsequently wants to install a Microsoft Windows desktop operating system on that naked PC will need to acquire it through the retail (full packaged product) channel which is a more costly option. Full Windows operating systems are not available through any Microsoft Volume Licensing program, and an OEM operating system license cannot be transferred from an "old" PC to a new one.
Q. What are the different ways in which Microsoft OEM System Builder Windows desktop operating system licenses can be distributed? A. The current OEM System Builder License allows system builders to distribute Windows desktop operating system licenses in the following ways: 1. Preinstalled on a new PC. 2. Unopened OEM System Builder packs (1-, 3-, or 30-packs) can be distributed to other system builders by themselves. Note that they must remain unopened so the receiving system builder can accept and be bound by the break-the-seal license agreement that is affixed to the pack.
Additional information "For hobbyists":
OEM System Builder Software[...]Must be preinstalled on a PC and sold to another unrelated party.
(commonly misunderstood part bolded and partially italicized by me)
OEM System Builder Software[...]System builder that preinstalled the software must provide support for the software.
Q. I would like to build PCs for my company and use OEM System Builder software for the operating system. Can I do this? A. OEM System Builder software must be preinstalled and then resold to another party. If you are using the PC within your organization, this "resale" requirement will not be met. In addition, as a system builder preinstalling OEM System Builder software onto new PCs, this requires that you grant the end user license terms to the third party acquiring the PCs from you. If you are distributing the PCs within your organization, you can’t grant the end user license terms to yourself.
Volume licensing FAQ is also highly recommended: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/resources/faq.mspx


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