As Vista, the new version of Microsoft Windows, gets closer to release date, there is more commentary about it. Michael Geist echoes some of the comments that Peter Gutmann made in his widely discussed paper (See: How Windows Vista Will Affect Government Information for more on this topic and links to Guttman’s paper.)
- Vista’s Fine Print Raises Red Flags, by Michael Geist, Toronto Star January 29, 2007. (another copy)
Here are excerpts:
In the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the “user experience” from the user.
Vista’s legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user’s knowledge.
Vista also incorporates Windows Defender, an anti-virus program that actively scans computers for “spyware, adware, and other potentially unwanted software.” The agreement does not define any of these terms, leaving it to Microsoft to determine what constitutes unwanted software.
Once operational, the agreement warns that Windows Defender will, by default, automatically remove software rated “high” or “severe,” even though that may result in other software ceasing to work or mistakenly result in the removal of software that is not unwanted.
For greater certainty, the terms and conditions remove any doubt about who is in control by providing that “this agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights.” For those users frustrated by the software’s limitations, Microsoft cautions that “you may not work around any technical limitations in the software.”
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