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Surprises in Microsoft Vista's EULA 385

androthi writes "Scott Granneman takes a look at some surprises in Microsoft Vista's EULA that limit what security professionals and others can do with the new operating system. You want to post benchmarking results? Well, Microsoft may now have a say in it. Vista's EULA no longer shows up on Microsoft's software licensing page, but does still exist — also take note of Windows DRM deciding what you can and can not listen to, and Defender deciding and removing what it considers spyware automatically (by default)."
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Surprises in Microsoft Vista's EULA

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  • a way around? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ryanelm ( 787453 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:39PM (#16692119) Journal
    I don't 'sign' the EULA when i use a public machine...
    • by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:52PM (#16692355) Homepage
      If we keep brainstorming great stuff like that, we will be able to do all kinds of awesome stuff, like:

      study our own computers' performance.
      tell people what we find
      share ideas on how to improve them

      Before you know it, we'l have "free speech" as I like to call it.
    • I don't sign a EULA when I use my own machine. In fact I've never signed a EULA and, fortunately, in some (many?) coutries this means it is meaningless. So until MS requires people to physically sign the document I really don't care what they put in it.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:39PM (#16692123) Journal

    To quote the Buckaroo Bonzai [] movie, Microsoft's locked in monopoly is sined, sealed and delivered. The EULA for Vista provides more evidence Microsoft is the 800 lb. guerilla that doesn't care about potential faceoffs on these issues any more. The article seems to think differently:

    If you thought that the legal troubles the company faced in the late 90s would perhaps mellow it out, you were wrong. Far from it. The draconian limitations I've discussed could only be enacted by a monopoly unafraid of alienating its users, as it feels they have no other alternative. Microsoft may yet learn, however, that there are limits to what its users will bear. To paraphrase what my fifth-grade teacher often told his rambunctious class, "Beware the wrath of a patient user base." Security pros have already given Microsoft a deserved black eye over the never-ending string of gaffes and vulnerabilities streaming out of the company. It seems now as though another black eyes and a bloody nose may be coming, along with a final wave goodbye. There comes a point at which corporate hubris causes a fall, and we may be seeing the beginning of that collapse. If so, Microsoft will have no one but itself to blame.

    I'm not sure how the article's author would see the user base reacting. Pick a different platform? How? At what expense? No, Microsoft has got this one in the bag.

    I predicted in the late 90's if Microsoft didn't have to pay real consequences for their business practices, eventually they would be rolling out OSes at any price they wanted and noone would be able to do much about it. This was at a time where hardware dramatically was decreasing in price but Windows, all flavors, continued to sustain an amazingly different cost curve. I predicted eventually:

    • Microsoft would put out an OS at around $400
    • Their OS would eventually be the largest cost of a new machine

    It looks like we're pretty close to both. I'll continue to do my development in my Linux world, but I'm guessing there will be a momentary raised eyebrow with Microsoft's Vista, Vista's EULA with it's almost amazing restrictions (especially compared with already draconian past EULAs) and then business as usual.

    • The only surprise would be if this kind of shit werent in there.
    • I really don't like the whole OEM licensing thing that MS does. IF you buy the $299 dell, then you're basically paying nothing for windows, because the parts cost that much. If MS was forced to set one price for their OS, and make everyone pay that price, then I think we'd see a lot fairer prices. It's not right that someone who buys a new computer from a specific reseller gets a free OS, while those of us who choose to build our own systems, or support smaller companies, or , heaven forbid, just install
      • by hawkbug ( 94280 )
        Well, through sites like NewEgg you can get OEM copies of windows. Granted, they are still over $100, but it beats the crap out of paying $300 retail.
        • This is my problem, because I chose to go to a small retailer to by my last computer, I had to pay $CDN 129 for my copy of windows. None of the big resellers (Dell,HP,Lenovo,etc.) offered a computer that had what I wanted, without a ton of extra stuff I didn't. So I ended up paying extra, just because MS decided it could have a better monopoly position by offering cheaper copies of windows to big resellers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by frosty_tsm ( 933163 )
        "Given away" might be a bit strong, but yes.

        I wonder which happened:
        1) OEM companies didn't like that a person could buy off-the-shelf components to make a cheaper, faster, and more reliable machine. They then asked MS to make this more expensive for the user.
        2) MS realized that most of their OS sales was to OEM companies, and that they could rip off consumers buying the OS unbundled.

        What are we paying for now that we weren't getting 10 years ago? Fancier versions of Media Player (which happen to get wors
        • What are we paying for now that we weren't getting 10 years ago?

          Spyware, DRM, an OS that requires 1GB of RAM and high-end accelerated 3D graphics, DRM, Trusted Computing, DRM, and plenty of 0-day exploits.

          So, in summary, I'd say mostly DRM.

        • by dpilot ( 134227 )
          Actually, the OEM Windows licensing situation it's WORSE than giving it away.

          There's the negotiated price, and then there's the rebate. I have no idea what either the negotiated price or rebate is, but I have heard the essence from multiple sources. The profits are so thin on building PC boxes, that you simply can't make sufficient profit if you buy Windows at the negotiated price. The profit comes when you get the rebate, and though they're technically not allowed to make the rebates "Microsoft loyalty tes
      • It's not right that someone who buys a new computer from a specific reseller gets a free OS, while those of us who choose to build our own systems, or support smaller companies, or , heaven forbid, just install a new OS in our old computer, have to pay through the nose for a product that is basically being given away to others.

        Office Max has a no-name 160 GB external USB drive on sale for $80 USD.

        The mass market OEM Windows box --- the box that ships out of Austin every two or three minutes --- is what m

    • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
      No, Captain Ron, you said there were GORillas in the jungle, not GUErillas!
    • by rsborg ( 111459 )
      800 lb. guerilla
      Wow, I'm getting images of a lardy Che Guevara eating peanut butter banana sandwiches [] :-)
    • I'm not sure how the article's author would see the user base reacting. Pick a different platform? How? At what expense? No, Microsoft has got this one in the bag.

      I know exactly how the user base will respond: They won't buy it.

      Windows XP Professional works fine for me, and as such I've bought my last Microsoft operating system. I will never buy Vista. Microsoft has completely ignored the requests of it's customer pool on this one, and has instead opted for responding with "you'll lump it and like

      • by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
        Directx10 will probably drive the most sales

        • I'm really not sure of this. The gap between console gaming and PC gaming is getting narrower, and there's really nothing but inertia stopping a console manufacturer from using a keyboard and mouse as input devices instead of a dual-analog type controller.

          Consoles have networking and multiplayer and downloadable games, which used to all be hallmarks of the PC ... they also have lower cost of ownership over time (less upgrades).

          If the console manufacturers don't make it a pain in the ass to develop games (wh
      • by Slithe ( 894946 )

        Really, the only way for Microsoft to survive the expected backlash that will be coming is to lock in exclusive software (MS Office is a gimme), and pull support for all non-Vista versions.

        They also could just wait until the OEMs offer Vista with most of their systems. Most people have only a vague idea about what an operating system is anyway. Most people, nowadays, only buy a new computer when the older one breaks down (or becomes riddled with viruses/spyware/etc.), and most new computers will come with V

    • OK, mod me off topic.

      The movie is Buckaroo Banzai, [] not "Buckaroo Bonzai."

      And the actual part of the movie that the OP is talking about (the initialization of the Oscillation Overthruster) is "Sined," "Seeled" and Delivered.

      Geez. If you're going to quote a cult movie, at least be part of the cult.

      John Bigboote? Is that you?
    • by ClamIAm ( 926466 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:13PM (#16692663)
      Yeah, tell me about it. Soon, MS's EULAs will require a paper contract, with a notary cosine. And with every little thing they get away with, they'll get more obtuse. Of course, I feel like I'm going off on a tangent, here...
    • Sometimes it's easy to predict the future...

      As you know, Linux is growing in leaps and bounds. The rate of improvement in both Fedora and Ubuntu (the only two I follow closely) is amazing. The rate of improvement is way beyond anything Microsoft has done in years... But you're still right about Windows dominating, and users forking over the $$ to help them.

      There are basically three kinds of users: business users, professional home users, and gamers. The other sub-categories, like us hackers, are tiny in
  • Oh boy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:40PM (#16692147)
    Defender automatically removing stuff without the user knowing. That's just asking for problems. How long before there's a widespread outbreak of Defender deleting perfectly legitimate software?
    • I run on all MY home PC's, and Symantec flagged that as malware years ago. I'll bet Defender flags things like Nero as malware, because they could be used for nefaroius purposes that conflict with Media Player 11.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It would seem to me that is a virus-writer's wet dream... All they need do now is trick Defender into identifying some other parts of your system as spyware... And the snake eats itself... Or some such...
    • by zxnos ( 813588 )
      only "software rated 'high' or 'severe'"... ..."it is possible that you will also remove or disable software that is not potentially unwanted software." (6. potentially unwanted software). microsoft is soft on malicious code and they get beat down for it, they try to protect the average user - and warns him/her - and they get beat down for it.

      sounds like a fair amount of 3rd party security software i have used in the past.

      what would you like them to do?

    • by s31523 ( 926314 )
      Or a virus that exploits something in Defender and then goes about deleting things near and dear to the user...
    • by cliffski ( 65094 )
      well many users are stupid, many users dont take any steps to remove malware from their machines. Many of those users end up as parts of botnets that cause spam attacks for everyone.
      Microsoft are damned if they do and damned if they dont. Making the system default to dealing harshly with malware sounds a *good* thing to me. Sure theres a chance of a false positive, but given the fact that I'm getting maybe 50 spams an hour at a minimum, anything that helps cut down on the amount of zombied machiens out ther
    • by Zone-MR ( 631588 ) *
      So virus writers can either:

        * Write a clever virus which tampers with Windows Defenders signatures and makes it remove legit files. This makes the virus code very fragile as it depends on a particular version of Defender and exploits which MS will quickly disable via Windows Update.


        * Simply make the virus delete the legit files it wants directly, and skip the middle-man.
  • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:41PM (#16692167)
    Is not to play
  • Moo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chacham ( 981 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:44PM (#16692207) Homepage Journal
    I have the best comment *ever* about this story.

    I'll post it as soon as Microsoft oks it.
  • this is awful, but i'm sure few of the people reading this will become vista users anyway.

    most of us have probably been bugging our families and friends to try ubuntu or buy a mac for the past few years. i switched to a mac this year and never looked back. there are people with MUCH higher application and compatibility requirements than myself who can switch to linux (or apple)
  • Then betchmark clasue for .net is better then it is for .net2. For .net2 it says you are not allowed to post any benchmark at all, unless you have a written accept from Microsoft.

    With .net3 you just have to give all sourcecode in your benchmark to microsoft.

    • And personally I would ignore both of those licenses as they are both illegal and would be easily defeated in court.

      And MS knows this too
  • 6. USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed device. If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker. We advise against playing or accessing content or using applications protected by other digital, information

    • A different EULA for enterprises, with a higher cost. MS has the margins to cut better deals, and will do so.
      • Well, not every large enterprises cuts deals with Microsoft. Some of these large enterprises tell Microsoft to shove it on the years they don't release products and buy from VARs
    • I can understand them not wanting you to use the DRM stuff under a VM, because then you could circumvent the DRM. However, I don't really get the bitlocker thing. Why not allow people to encrypt their files in a VM? Is there some sort of flaw or back door that they know of that they don't want people to find? There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to use bitlocker on my VM, it's my files, I should be able to know how they are being encrypted.
      • If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker.

        So what exactly is the scope of this phrase, does it include using an active directory user and limiting their rights to the file to be read only, say on a webserver? So lets say I want to put a picture up on a website and give access to just the .NET account so it can serve it up with t

    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
      This will mean that Large Enterprises who do hardware virtualization for security are deluding themselves. te.html []
    • And in a large enterprise where we use VMware to run Windows servers on our big IBM boxes, how in the world will we be able to insall Vista.

      What they're saying is that windows DRM cannot be counted on to work properly inside of a virtual machine. If that is somehow an unreasonable statement, I haven't yet figured out how.

    • "The problem is the psychology of EULA abuse: Forbid by default even while admitting (as here) when you are placing legal (non-technical accomplishing virtualization is just as easy with any version of Vista) restrictions on some users.

      If they dont like these completely superfluous restrictions, defend it by saying there arent very many of them. Fascinating, like I said. This is truly a test of what people will put up with."

      source: []
  • The more I see Microsoft do this, the more I applaud them. I hope they continue to do more and more of this stuff. I mentioned some of these things in an earlier leaked EULA to my wife and she stated that she'd rather put Linux on our computers than be micro-managed by any software company.


    Steve, Bill. You and your engineers are doing a great job. Keep it up. Is there any way you could be more restrictive and sell it as consumer choice? If so, do it.
    • I mentioned some of these things in an earlier leaked EULA to my wife and she stated that she'd rather put Linux on our computers than be micro-managed by any software company.

      Aw, C'MON, give me a break. The above quote clearly states that you have no wife or a girlfriend (at least not of any female kind).

  • by Trevahaha ( 874501 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @02:53PM (#16692373)
    There are only restrictions involved in posting benchmarks for .NET 3.0 []. And these restrictions only require that you state what version you were using and the methodology you took. It doesn't have any restrictions on "bad" results or any attempt to stop people from reporting accurate results. They wrote these restrictions to prevent people from testing .NET on a 386 and then JAVA on a 3 GHZ and saying "See JAVA is faster!" and it's similar to the restrictions for .NET 1.1 and 2.0... it's just because it's bundled with Vista that it's now included with the Vista EULA.
    • Actually, I wouldn't have been surprised if they had come out with a blanket "no benchmarking" clause (except that it's difficult to benchmark an entire O/S). That's pretty common with high-end software (databases in particular), so MS would just be applying it to something more common.

      I don't remember exactly what the restriction is, but I think that nobody can publish TPC [] (the Transaction Processing Council) benchmarks, they can only submit them to the TPC, which will then make them available. So if you
    • No, it isn't just .NET. Microsoft has such restrictions in the EULAs for other products as well, such as XML and SQL Server. See this EFF piece on problems with EULAs []. To be fair, this isn't new in VISTA - Microsoft has had these restrictions since at least 2003, and it isn't just Microsoft that does this. Other companies with similar EULAs include McAfee and VMware.

  • I've been a Microsoft slappy since I first got into computers when I was a kid back in the Windows 3.11 days and Vista will represent the first Microsoft OS that I will not ever, under any circumstances, run on any PC or laptop that I purchase or recommend to anyone else.

    I'm sure I'll have to deal with Vista at work at some point, but for me it's Mac's (with Boot Camp and Windows XP for games) on systems I buy or recommend to others from now on. Vista is a joke. All of the coolest features have long since b
  • I have legit XP-Pro for my Windows machines. I think I'll just keep that. Vista doesn't seem to offer me anything except idiotic restrictions and high costs. All the end-user features have been stripped out at this point and it's just a big DRM bomb as far as I can tell. No thanks, M$. Perhaps I'll try Linux on the desktop again, it's been working great on my servers.
  • This is Apple's one chance to release their operating system in a version that is licensed and designed for non Apple machines. Undercut the price of Vista and it's sold.
    • by no_pets ( 881013 )
      Most people aren't going to get Vista unless they get a new PC. At which point Apple really doesn't have to do anything more than it's already doing: elegant hardware, nice software and a real competitor to MS anything since most people just want web/email. Apple can already do everything else that most people need a PC for except play games. BTW I have never owned a Mac (yet!) so don't call me a fanboy.
  • Microsoft doesn't want us posting benchmarks proving that Vista is might hurt their sales.
  • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:03PM (#16692523) Homepage Journal
    After reading the Vista EULA while installing a copy at work for compatibility testing, it became very obvious to me that the only way Vista would make it onto any computer I own is if I were to install a pirated copy of Vista Ultimate with all the anti-piracy features removed. I figure that since there's no way in hell I'm going to comply with the EULA, why follow copyright law, either?
    • Actually, I think that's a pretty good point. There's a similar phenomenon that happens with overly restrictive laws. Once they become too restrictive, people stop following them. Once they stop following the overly-restrictive laws, they have less incentive to follow other laws.
  • by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:06PM (#16692563) Journal
    Where to start...
    1. The benchmark testing and posting applies to .NET Framework components. I do not see this being some great ending of benchmarking the Windows OS. Also, the link for further information does not (currently?) work. So, this could just be an issue that isn't an issue at all.
    2. This version argument is really tiring. In some ways I see their logic, in other ways I think the six version idea is stupid. Actually, there are more versions of XP then two. Technically, there are four. Windows Media Center Edition and Starter Edition. I imagine Starter Vista will be virtually unseen like XP SE. As for Win MCE, I suppose that would be Home Premium. XP Home = Vista Home, XP Pro = Vista Business. Guess this only leaves two extraneous versions...
    3. The Virtualization argument is pointless. How many home users do virtualization? How many business (which do the most virtualization) actually use XP Home licenses? I really think this is a non-issue like #1.
    4. The license transfer is more stringent version of the current license transfer. The example they give is a bit weak. At work, if you get a new workstation? I seriously think that corporate licensing will have provisions for this sort of thing. How many people buy their own work computer licenses? Unless you own your own business, not many. Most home users keep a machine for several years. If you assume a home user is on a 3-year replacement cycle (the most common business practice I have found), they will probably only need a single transfer before the new OS is out (though after this, you never know.) Also, how many new PC purchases do not come with a new license?

    I by no means am a Microsoft supporter. I have said on multiple occassions that Windows XP would be the last Windows OS I would ever use. I intend on changing my mom to Linux when XP support disappears. I do think that some of these arguments are very bogus though. There are plenty of other reasons to hate Vista, including the evil DRM, more Microsoft monopoly violations, and stupid, half-assed "security" tools.
    • If it is so rare to use Vista Home in a VM, why bother to include a specific clause about it in the EULA? Microsoft cares about it enough to pay their legal team to come up with terms to prevent it -- probably has to do with small/independent/FOSS developers who are looking to save money and don't really need all the features in the Business and Ultimate editions of Vista when they are just testing some software. You know, the kind of developers who have become a growing annoyance for Microsoft, creating
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      How many business (which do the most virtualization) actually use XP Home licenses? I really think this is a non-issue like #1.

      Oh I don't know... maybe hardware manufacturers, software makers, people that need to test their stuff and find that virtualization is actually useful??

      I'm betting you are one of those people that think having a serial port on your computer is stupid because YOU dont have a use for it. Just because you don't do something does not mean that lots of other people do.
  • Around end-user's necks.

    The DRM noose around the average user's neck is being sold like a nice, new necktie. The 32-bit version of Vista will be dropped ASAP in favor of 64-bit locked-by-microsoft-only version. This in turn kills the 32-bit processor.

    Then it is only a matter of tightening the noose.

    So what? Well, there is no market mechanism for loosening the noose. Therefore, the price of loosening the noose around your neck is made by Microsoft. (A price maker: []
  • "...You want to post benchmarking results? Well, Microsoft may now have a say in it..."

    You make it sound as if there is a blanket ban/clause against benchmarking.


    "MICROSOFT .NET BENCHMARK TESTING. The software includes one or more components of the .NET Framework 3.0 (".NET Components"). You may conduct internal benchmark testing of those components. You may disclose the results of any benchmark test of those components, provided that you comply with the conditions set forth at"

    It is clearly st

  • M$ is creating a scheme so complicated that it's impossible to be able to follow. Next step is probably to include in the EULA that no other operating system may co-exist on the same machine since it *MAY* be used to circumvent the security schemes in Windows.

    And even if I indicate that I accept the EULA, what proves that I have understood it?

    Anyway - Windows Vista cracks will appear sooner or later. There are always those who see it as a challenge.

    What Microsoft seems to forget is that all these copy

  • My favorite quote from the Vista license is in section 8:

    You may not: work around any technical limitations in the software

    I guess they are talking about things like intentional limitations such as only installing on one PC. It just cracks me up though.

  • Ok, call me paranoid, but it seems that the no DRM in a virtual machine component is trying very hard to make it so that people can't use office on a Macintosh. Sure you can pay for Windows, but you can't use office, which is really the only reason to run office on a Mac.

    I know there is a Mac version of office. But it doesn't have the VBA components that drive many corporations.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I know there is a Mac version of office. But it doesn't have the VBA components that drive many corporations.

      That's okay. All the companies still paying Office licensing fees and relying on VBA for internal apps will be crushed by the competition in a few years anyway :)

  • As someone who does a lot of PC gaming, I find myself between a rock and a hard place on Vista. I have no interest in upgrading based on the feature set other than DirectX10, and have installed Ubuntu on a second machine. I have found Linux to be more than adequate for most applications, but severely lacking as a gaming platform. Even though I have a technical background, I also don't want to spend a lot of time tweaking to get games to work on an OS. I plan on sticking with XP for gaming for as long
  • The prohibition on publishing benchmarks is not new. It has been there for virtually all database products (Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server) for a long time. I don't know if I've ever seen it for an OS, but it's not all that interesting.

  • I estimate that I'll be able to use a copy of Windows Vista and actually use the software for 2 years, before I either upgrade my machine and don't have any more installs left.

    I compare it with other stuff I buy and use daily, and break things down to a per-day cost.

    Per Day charge:

    Vista (Pro equiv, $299 2 years) : $.41 per day
    Tiger ($129, 2 years till next os upgrade) : $0.17 per day
    XP Pro (Used 1 copy since launch - 5 years paid for OEM, apro $150): $.08 per day
    Ubuntu : $0.0 per day , maybe a fracti
  • In May of this year when I predicted Vista is going the way of the set top box Matt replied:

    No rational person thinks this, but suppose anyway that that is our secret plan, and that we're going to come up with some scheme whereby apps can't run unless they're magically signed or some other scheme.

    Guess what - we already have that, in a few forms even (i.e. SAFER, SRP, etc), and the majority of people don't use it, and don't want to, and even if we did have it, there will still need to be a box that says "ru
  • Surprises in Microsoft Vista's EULA? No-one's surprised about this sort of thing any more, surely?

    The answer is simple: if you don't like it, don't install/buy/use it; and similarly, discourage others from installing/buying/using it.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )
      Finding a PC, especially a portable, without it will be not easy if you are also interested in price.
  • ...because it made me switch to Linux! Somebody ought to write a law against EULAs. Software should be purchased, not licensed.
  • The first rule of Vista is that you don't talk about Vista.

    The second rule of Vista is that you DON'T TALK ABOUT VISTA.

    Seems that they're taking the security through obscurity approach when it comes to performance reviews as well. Can't have the public actually KNOWING anything bad.. now can we.
  • FYI, according to some g=nl.e589 [] news sites, MS has now reversed their minds about the restriction about transfering licenses between PCs.
  • It seems like the author is purposefully mis-reading the terms of the EULA. Under the premise that the average user won't be able to read them correctly.

    While I agree that that is a problem(And that is, essentially, the reason why noone reads EULAs. They won't know what it actually means if they do!)... Just because my Mother would think .net might apply to the whole OS... legally it doesn't. And you can therefor benchmark the REST of the OS, just not the .net components specifically.(Though I think that
  • ...following the American government's example, among other things. Aside from Bush being fascist, Microsoft were let off the antitrust hook pretty much the moment he got into it's completely understandable that they'd be thinking that they can do what they like, at least as far as America itself is concerned.

    Just remember...the only real way they can trap people now is with games. Non-DRM mp3s are still available if you know where to look for them, and we still have Open Office. As long as B

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