CyberTech Rambler

August 14, 2006

Does software License needs to be so complex?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:10 pm

Say you wanna start up a cybercafe. You buy the computers. As users demand Windows and Office, you ensure that the computers comes with Genuine Windows, guaranteed by the manufacturers. With this, you are not a pirate, are you?

Yes. You are still a pirate, at least in Malaysia. According to this article at The Star,

“users who buy Microsoft software are granted the right to use the software exclusively – and these rights do not extend to third-parties:

And you guess it, your patron IS a third party.

To stay legit, you need Microsoft Software Rental Agreement ON TOP OF the license that comes when you purchase Office and Windows. Good News is, at present, you need not pay extra. However, the amount of paperwork suggests that they might consider a fee later.

To be fair, Microsoft is not the only one with complex licensing agreement. In some areas, they outperform others in terms of generousity.

Per User License, Per Processor License, Per Seat License, Student License, Site Liecense, Academic License etc, etc and etc is doing people’s head in. As if it is not enough, go and have a look at Matlab‘s pricing: For academia, buying Five licenses can be cheaper than 3 licenses by GBP1 if you can agree to centrally manage the license.

To make things worst, University purchasing has their own Terms and Conditions, suppliers has their own terms and conditions and both insists on their own terms. We see wars where suppliers has a customly made stamps that effectively fudge the issue by saying they will only honour the part of the University Conditions that are compatible with theirs. Do they ALL have one thing in common? Yes. They all try to impose something on another party without negotiating with them first!

Why do we need licenses more akin to service contract, rather than goods? Service contracts such as cleaning contract involves a lot of human interaction and there is no one size fit all. Office size vary and the work you want your cleaners to do differs. Software, especially the shrink-wrap variety, are NOT services. Mine looks exactly like yours. Softwares are not human intensive: Manning a Technical Help Desk is no much different from a customer service desk for hardware products.

All these software licensing restrictions are unnecessary and starting to resemble scams.

Imagine office chair manufacturers start charging different price based on who is allowed to sit on the chair…Oh No, I better not plant ideas into their minds now.

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