View Full Version : MS operating system license question

10-25-2001, 10:32 PM

I do enjoy all of the threads about licensing and copyrights, but here is a question that I have not yet seen come up. Of course, it may be somewhere simple, but I don't know where; I haven't seen a direct answer to it on any of the EULs on the packaging I have.

I have a licensed, retail (i.e. not OEM nor upgrade) copy Win 98 on my desktop (non brand-name machine- I built it myself). I recently purchased a Dell laptop with Windows ME preloaded on it. It also came with a coupon to upgrade to Windows XP for $20.00.

Since I now own both licenses, can I swap the operating systems that is wipe both drives, install Win98 on the new laptop and put Win ME on the desktop?
Can I keep Win ME on the laptop, order the upgrade and install it over Win 98 on the desktop? Will this even work?
If it will not work for technical reasons, can I wipe both drives, install Win ME on the desktop, upgrade it to Win XP, then reinstall Win ME on the laptop? This will give me two separate machines with two separate operating systems like I currently have, but rather than retire ME, I would be retiring 98.
Is there another way that I have not thought of to legally push XP onto the desktop and keep ME on the laptop?

I am not looking to get around licensing issues per se. (IOW, I am not asking for advice on violating a copyright.) I am just curious how the various doctrines spoken of on these
boards would apply to this case.



10-25-2001, 10:48 PM
Originally posted by Rhythmdvl
Since I now own both licenses, can I swap the operating systems that is wipe both drives, install Win98 on the new laptop and put Win ME on the desktop?


Can I keep Win ME on the laptop, order the upgrade and install it over Win 98 on the desktop? Will this even work?

Yes, as long as the license is for a "Windows XP Upgrade" and not specifically for a "Windows ME to XP Upgrade" (which I do not think it is - according to my Dell coupon for an upgrade to XP.)

You're pretty much OK since you have a Win 98 license, a Win ME license, and a Win XP upgrade license... You can put these on any computers you want.

- Rob

10-25-2001, 11:04 PM
As is obligatory in such circumstances, I emphasize that I am not a lawyer (I don't even play one on TV).

The firm answer I can give is that the XP upgrade will work from Win98 (or ME or 2000). I think the use of the coupon to buy an upgrade, and just using the upgrade on your desktop is probably your best approach.

I don't know for sure about the legal issues - but I would be surprised if there is any legal restriction on how you use the upgrade license you purchase with the coupon.

Hope this helps.

10-26-2001, 12:40 AM
I can't find my (W98) EULA right now, so all this is IIRC.

If an install is OEM, the EULA ties it to the hardware. The license can only be transferred as a part of the transfer of the hardware and becomes invalid if the software is moved to other hardware.

Whatever you install the upgrade over becomes a part of, and is then covered by, the upgrade's EULA.

Also, (IIRC) some OEM installs of XP check the BIOS against their "unlock code" to make sure they are on the right machine. If your upgrade uses this strategy, you may not be able to install it elsewhere.

10-26-2001, 01:22 AM
I can understand the desire for the OEM version to check which machine it is on. But I thought that if you change your machine's components around enough, you need to get another unlock code from MS to get it to work. Wouldn't this be basically the same type of code I'd need if I put it on my desktop?

A bit more information if it will help, quoting from the upgrade certificate itself:

Upgrade to Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Terms and Conditions

As the purchaser of a qualified Dell computer with factory-installed OEM* English version of MS Windows ME, you may purchase an English version of MS Windows XP Home Edition operating system upgrade ("Upgrade"). This upgrade offer is available for qualified computers ordered from Dell.."

*Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) versions of MS Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade are functionally identical to retail versions except for variations such as packaging materials and documentation

10-26-2001, 01:39 AM
As a reseller of software:

A copy of Windows (insert operating system here) on one system at a time. You can (previously) create a back-up copy of the OS for back up reasons but no other reason.

An upgrade is the same. Meaning, if you purchase one copy of an upgrade, you can only install it on one machine.

Lets say you own three computers, two legal copies of two different operating systems and one upgrade. You can only place the two original copies on two of the machines. You can upgrade ONE of those machines to the latest OS. Your third machine is left out, legally, in left field, until you buy an OS for it.

You can switch machines around all you like provided only one copy of the OS (license) is sitting on one of the machines.

I hope that makes sense.

10-26-2001, 01:51 AM
I forgot to add:

There's a lot of legal mumbo jumbo in the EULA...but when it comes right down to it, as long as you don't install two copies of an OS on two different computers without the appropriate licensing, no one will really care. I am not a lawyer but if you took OS A off Computer A and installed it on Computer B while installing OS B on Computer A, there is not a lot of legal issues to be had.

If you took OS A and installed it on Computer A and B without having two legit copies, then the legal issues are there.

But then again I am not a lawyer.

10-26-2001, 09:20 AM
Rhythmdvl (how do you say that?) The best thing to do is read the EULA that comes with the software & see what rights it gives you.

I noticed on the box of XP i got that it says that if you open it & read the EULA or license & don't agree with it, you can return the software.