A licence to kill

Questions have arisen about the licence terms in Windows XP and a video editing package called Muvee AutoProducer that deserve a second look.

Questions have arisen about the licence terms in Windows XP and a video editing package called Muvee AutoProducer that deserve a second look.

Reader Frank Brown sent me a copy of XP's EULA (end-user licence agreement), which I discussed in a previous column (see XP bandwidth brouhaha). The agreement says, "Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting, Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop features described below, you may not use the product [XP] to permit any device to use, access, display or run other executable software residing on the workstation computer, nor may you permit any device to use, access, display or run the product or product's user interface, unless the device has a separate licence for the product."

This seems clear. Microsoft doesn't let you remotely access a Windows XP machine from, say, a Windows 2000 machine, unless you buy a separate copy of XP for the second machine (or use the named Microsoft remote-access software).

Brown uses VNC (Virtual Network Computing), a free remote-access application that isn't from Microsoft. So he's avoiding XP "until I see significant value added compared to Win 2000".

Reader Clay McCauley, however, sent me XP licence text with possibly less-restrictive wording. "For Microsoft and non-Microsoft products, you should consult the licence agreement accompanying the applicable product or contact the applicable licensor to determine whether use of NetMeeting, Remote Assistance or Remote Desktop is permitted without an additional licence."

"The difference between the two licences is simply that one [the first version] is the EULA for the version of Windows XP customers buy at retail," says Darin Linnman, a Microsoft spokesman, "and one is for the version of Windows XP that comes preinstalled on new machines." So, I guess if you're concerned about this provision, you should get XP preinstalled, not at retail.

Meanwhile, reader Gary Milliorn let me know about a licence clause in AutoProducer. It states, "By installing the software you grant Muvee Technologies the right to access, store and transmit system information concerning the hardware and software configuration of your computer."

Asked about this, Muvee CEO Pete Kellock agreed it seemed excessive. The licence now reads, "The software will transmit only the Muvee AutoProducer product key and version number, and a unique identifier of your PC hardware. Muvee Technologies warrants that this information shall be treated as confidential and shall not be used for any other purpose. Muvee Technologies further warrants that the software does not transmit or collect for transmission any other information or data whatsoever."

That's not ideal, but it's an improvement. I hope it satisfies readers who shied away at first glance.

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