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Microsoft

Read the Fine Print 637

Posted by michael
from the show-this-to-your-boss dept.
nihilist_1137 writes: "This story is about how MS changed its EULA and you just gave them control of your computer. In the section on Windows XP Professional, 'Internet-Based Services Components' paragraph says in part, 'You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the Product and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the Product that will be automatically downloaded to your Workstation Computer.'"
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Read the Fine Print

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  • by irishmikev (39393) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:08AM (#2982089)
    Doesn't this just refer to the option to have XP auto-update your pc? You can turn that option off on the desktop if you don't want it, and the first time it runs it prompts you for what it's default behavior should be.
  • XP antispy Program (Score:5, Informative)

    by linzeal (197905) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#2982109) Homepage Journal
    This program [xp-antispy.de] controls how your computer "interacts" with M$. Damn fine german engineering

    From the website
    "XP-AntiSpy is a little utility that let's you disable some built-in update and authetication 'features' in WindowsXP. For example, there's a service running in the background wich is called 'Automatic Updates'. I don't know what this service transfers from my machine to other machines on the internet, especially the MS ones. So I play it safe and disable such functions. If you like, you can even disable these function manually, by going through the System and checking or unchecking some checkboxes. This will take you approximately half an hour."

  • by Discoflamingo13 (90009) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:19AM (#2982131) Homepage Journal

    The problem isn't the "average user." The problem is the end-user who doesn't want software installed automatically, for stability/interoperability reasons. Our XP lab at school used to auto-update new patches and fixes, until most of the functionality for accessing the Linux/Solaris servers was completely shot, and several UI problems came up. Things that used to work (like the Zip drives) suddenly didn't. Just because Microsoft updated the software doesn't mean it got any better.

    The other big issue is the DRM software Microsoft, or its partners/subsidiaries, will install. Even with prompting, if you don't upgrade, then you have no access to a content provider's new media. All in all, this sounds like a giant headache for everyone that isn't Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:20AM (#2982137)
    Don't be silly. "Pro", as in "professional" means a professional business user, as opposed to a home user. If Microsoft produce a version of anything aimed at IT users, they tend to call it "Developer" or something like that.
  • by iceT (68610) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:30AM (#2982184)
    OK. YOU need to re-read that sentence from the EULA... Windows update is an ACTIVE process. You have to enable it. You have to run the update. You have to select/agree the downloads.

    This little 'phrase' is saying that they reserve the right to make those decisions FOR YOU.

    And THAT is a bad idea, if for no reason other than their track record of patch management and hidden 'features' in their patches.
  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm AT icebalm DOT com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:35AM (#2982201)
    We've been complaining on this site for months, if not years, about Microsoft's security. They have a bug? We want a patch right away. We complain about downloading patches? Microsoft makes the system able to download and install them itself. All the user has to do is set up auto-install of new updates.

    The problem is when you not only tell it you do NOT want auto-updates but also you STOP THE AUTO UPDATE SERVICE and then, when your computer becomes unbearably slow and unresponsive you check the process list and, uh, what's that, autoupd using all my CPU time?! But I told it I didn't WANT auto updates! ARGH..

    It really happens... You cannot turn off auto updates in XP.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Re:Red Hat's up2date (Score:4, Informative)

    by gimpboy (34912) <john.m.harroldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:04PM (#2982311) Homepage
    up2date and windows update

    1-> i connect to a server and get a list of stuff thats updated. then my computer makes a decision.
    the eula above

    2-> their server can connect to mine and poke around at will.

    up2date is a choice and not required by the installation. you must register your computer to use up2date. up2date is not something you explicitly agree to when you install the operating system.

    to me there is a big difference.

  • Good and Bad (Score:2, Informative)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe&jwsmythe,com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:34PM (#2982429) Homepage Journal
    Well, this could be a very good, or bad thing..

    From the good point of view, they're taking responsibility to fix things. The end user with 1 XP machine that coudn't even figure out how to spell "windowsupdate.microsoft.com" is saved from potential problems. Never more will we have to ask/tell the customer, "Go update your software."

    Now think about the admin with 400 XP servers on his network. Once a week, he doesn't have to install patches on each and every one. I've had fun before watching a team of 3 guys updating software on 150 NT4 servers. I didn't even ask what the problem was, but I know that we completely reinstalled and reconfigured 16 Linux machines (fresh OS installs, replaced some hardware, set up the sites, and had them running again) before they were anywhere close to done.

    The XP admin will love this, assuming they do implement it. The EULA is just saying right now that they have permission to do it.

    There is a downside. NT4 SP6 (not SP6a). Anyone remember that one? I believe it was the one that when you installed and rebooted on a Compaq built server, it would fail to boot. The only fix (from Microsoft) was to reinstall Windows.. How many companies use those nice expensive Compaq servers, which would be automatically killed off.

    I have a computer at my home, with an i810 chipset, and an Intel Pro10/100 NIC. Windowsupdate insists that there is an update for it. I installed it (point, click, let it run). When it came back up, no more network. The new network driver doesn't recognize my network card. But, Windows automatically identified it as the new and updated driver..

    The scenerio of the XP admin with 400 machines under his control. Now he has to go to each and every one, and try to fix the network driver. How long would you think it would take to fix 400 machines? How long if the update happened to come on Friday at 5:30pm, 30 minutes after he left for a weekend vacation.

    We have a policy at my office, no changes on Friday. Maintaince stuff is fine, but no changes that will potentially make people work over the weekend. If Microsoft is calling the shots on updates, it's on their timetable. Maybe the day they call to update my network driver is the same day that all the Admins from my office are at a conference, meeting, or something..

    We all know stuff never happens at the right time, but we don't really need an extra variable of random events.

    I'm all for the updates. Maybe if they have it the way the WindowsUpdate notification works now, it would be very good. it says "There's an update available", they click the button, and it does them.. I'll be interested to see how they implement it, if they do..

    Of course, we don't run XP for damned good reasons (We're a 90% Unix shop). NT survives for our legacy sites. I'll watch the comments fly when M$ kills off a few hundred thousand users with a flawed update. :)

  • Re:Two Perspectives (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sir Holo (531007) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:39PM (#2982436)
    Two is that people are stupid if they don't read those agreements. They are so used to clicking next that anyone who has agreed to this deserves to give thier info to M$

    OK, my ex-girlfriend is a lawyer, but I am not. She talked specifically about this sometimes. The Ex says:

    (1) One thing that is always considered in legal issues is, "What would a reasonable person do?" Well, no "reasonable person" can read every EULA they get. Therefore, it is not clear that any non-standard stuff that you "agree to" can be enforced, because it has not been tested in the courts (when we discussed this).

    (2) Contractual obligations cannot supersede the law, and you cannot sign away your rights. For example, "You agree to enslave yourself to Bill if he decides he wants that," would not be enforceable.


    Remember, this is second hand, but it seems applicable here. Perhaps a law-talkin'-guy can expound.
  • by Osty (16825) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @03:27PM (#2983093)

    On the contrary, sysadmins are advising that users disable automatic updates on XP because the tendency of the auto update facility to replace, for example, working drivers with faulty ones, as well as not providing information on which packages are being downloaded. (Read that in an article somewhere. Never used auto update myself.)

    Which is 100% completely wrong. The auto update facility of Windows XP will only download updates that are marked as "critical" (ie, they fix a major bug or security problem). As well, they are not installed by default, simply downloaded (okay, so you can configure it to install by default, but the default is to download and then ask you what to do. Read the EULA -- it says "download", not "download and install"). When a new update is downloaded, a little text bubble pops out of the systray, and you can pop up a dialog that lets you install the updates now, install them later, or forget about it. At this point, you can also get details on what updates were downloaded, or just go to the Windows Update site and have 100% total control over everything.


    I do see this as a privacy concern, because it is only with XP that windows update does not say "this is done without sending any information to microsoft." All other versions of windows use the anonymous facility, so they already have a working production update system which they've replaced with this more invasive version. -Coinciding with the EULA changes.

    Really? Because the Windows XP Windows Update page explicitly says this:

    Note Windows Update does not collect any form of personally identifiable information from your computer.

    So it's a bit different from not sending any info to Microsoft, but it still protects your privacy (well, unless you're a tin foil-wearing conspiracy nut that thinks Microsoft is out to get you).

    Whether it is an intentional attack on privacy/piracy or simply that MS decided the old mechanism wasn't efficient enough over a slow connection (or some other technical reason) is speculation.

    More likely, it's simply you (and the rest of Slashdot) jerking your knee at a benign change to a useful tools (Windows Update), integrating it into a good OS (Windows XP, believe it or not) to make the users' lives easier. Don't want it? Turn it off. Microsoft can not turn it back on remotely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2002 @05:14PM (#2983587)
    What are we talking about here? It's about a function Microsoft put in XP (that can be turned of btw) and all they do is put something in the EULA about it to cover possible legal actions.

    Yes, XP can automatically download updates and patches without asking the user first. Yes, I don't like it either, but you CAN turn it off. And the EULA doesn't actually tell you you HAVE TO let XP automatically update XP, you just give MS permission if XP is configured to do so.

    Not that I like XP or am a big MS fan or anything, but you guys are really overreacting this time.
  • by rufusdufus (450462) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @06:19PM (#2983818)
    I worked on the original Windows Update in windows 98. Before I left the project in disgust. Many people wanted to make it do automatic updates, and I adamantly opposed it, for all the obvious reasons. Cooler heads won the day. Apparently all the cooler heads went away and now only the Bozos are left.

    Automatic updates is impossible to do without destroying some percent of the the machines. Windows configurations can be very complicated, and very customized. Many many people use precise bit images of their machines to ensure reliability, repeatability, and consistency. If this automatic update thing kicks in against their will, chaos will ensue.

    The light at the end of the tunnel I can see is that this clause will not free Microsoft from responsibility of destroying data. Which will happen. Then I think they can be sued willy nilly.
  • Re:Trolls. (Score:3, Informative)

    by rabidcow (209019) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @08:48PM (#2984360) Homepage
    Uh, no.

    This is about Microsoft forcing you (so to speak) to give them permission to access your computer. Open source licenses do not force you to agree to allow the author/distributer to do anything with your computer. Open source licenses generally have no terms related to actual *use* of the software, they only apply to redistributing modifications to the source code.

    I think it pretty much all comes down to one thing: "Don't touch my stuff!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:51PM (#2984711)
    I dunno if anyone has posted this yet, just thought i would paste this off the windowsupdate site:
    Windows Update Privacy Statement Windows Update is committed to protecting your privacy. To provide you with the appropriate list of updates, Windows Update must collect a certain amount of information from your computer. This information includes: Operating-system version number Internet Explorer version number Version numbers of other software Plug and Play ID numbers of hardware devices Windows Update does not collect your name, address, e-mail address, or any other form of personally identifiable information. The information collected is used only for the period of time that you are visiting the site, and is not saved. To provide you with the best possible service, Windows Update also tracks and records whether the download and installation of specific updates succeeded or failed. Windows Update records the ID of the item that you attempted to download and install, and information about your operating system version and Internet Explorer version. The information that is stored cannot be associated with anything that is unique or personally identifiable about you or your computer.

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