Preinstalled Windows: AARGH! I can't get it off!

Aron Schatz
April 30, 2002
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If a PC shipped with Windows preinstalled, can you remove the OS and install Linux instead? Well, no, according to Microsoft. A somewhat obscure Microsoft site aimed at helping schools deal with donated computers flatly states: "It is a legal requirement that pre-installed operating systems remain with a machine for the life of the machine."

If this is intended to mean what it says, then Microsoft is effectively treating the hardware and the software as a single, integrated package that you're not allowed to break up. If the statement is applied without qualification, then you're in breach of your licence agreement (and/or some bizarre law they've sneaked past us) if you vape Windows and put something else on instead, or if (as do many major companies) you buy a bunch of PCs with one MS installed and then install another. Put this together with Microsoft's campaigns against Naked PCs,* which make it fairly tricky to buy PCs without Windows on them because they 'fuel piracy,' and we're tottering on the brink of the age of compulsory Windows.

The Register.


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