Microsoft’s Windows Vista will limit reinstall to one time and one time only

“I’ve seen several sites point to Microsoft’s new Software License Terms page, which contains PDF versions of the license agreements for many Microsoft products,” Ed Bott writes for ZDNet.

Bott writes, “But I have yet to see anyone point out one significant change in retail licensing terms. Think you can transfer that retail license to any machine you want? Think again. In Section 2, ‘Installation and Use Rights,’ the text reads:”

Before you use the software under a license, you must assign that license to one device (physical hardware system). That device is the “licensed device.”

Bott writes, “Sections 15 and 16, ‘Reassign to Another Device,’ and ‘Transfer to a Third Party,’ are new. You can go read the exact terms for yourself. The short version is that you may ‘reassign the license to another device one time‘ or ‘make a one time transfer of the software, and this agreement, directly to a third party.’ [emphasis added]”

Bott writes, “That limitation on retail licenses is a remarkable change. Previously, a retail license could be removed from one computer and reinstalled on another with no limits. Now, you get to reinstall one time and one time only.”

“With a retail version of Windows XP, there are no restrictions on the number of times you can transfer the software from one computer to another in your household or office. That’s about to change for the worse in Vista, with only one lifetime transfer allowed. It makes the outrageous price difference between retail and OEM copies even more difficult to justify,” Bott writes. “Presumably, the new two-machine limit will be enforced by Windows Product Activation. I wonder why this change didn’t make it into a press release?”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tom M.” for the heads up.]

Related MacDailyNews article:
CNET: Microsoft’s Windows Vista still not ready for prime time – October 12, 2006
Thurrott: ‘You don’t need Windows Vista’ – October 11, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista spyware may prompt users to upgrade to Apple Mac – October 09, 2006
Windows Vista gaming will be 10-15 percent slower than XP – October 09, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s new activation scheme will give users another reason not to upgrade to Vista – October 05, 2006
IT Managers: Do you need Windows Vista or should you ‘Get a Mac?” – September 11, 2006
Infoworld: Microsoft’s WIndows Vista not so revolutionary after all – September 11, 2006
Pirillo: Windows Vista RC1 disappointing, schizophrenic, disordered, inconsistent, and sad – September 07, 2006
Key Microsoft exec exits as clock ticks down on oft-delayed, much pared-down Windows Vista release – September 06, 2006
$399 for Windows Vista Ultimate?! (Hint: Get a Mac) – August 29, 2006
Development approaches of Mac OS X Leopard vs. Windows Vista yield very different results – August 15, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new Mac OS X Leopard sets new bar, leaves Microsoft’s Vista in the dust – August 08, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 2006
Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006


  1. Almost nobody runs desktop versions of Windows on a retail license anyway, so this won’t change things much. People who get Windows with their computers have always been bound by this restriction, except that it’s zero times instead of one.

    Usually the only Windows bought retail is upgrade versions, and although these upgrades have been portable in the past, usually when people buy a new computer it’s got the new version on it anyway and they no longer need the upgrade license.

  2. The Title of the article is misleading.
    It’s not necessarily “reinstalls” that are limited but transferring installations to other machines.

    Windows crashes and needs reinstallation on the same machine so often that it would be silly to limit that function.
    Unless we wanted to make more money…


  3. That probably means that they do not pln to upgrade significantly Vista in another five years and that therefore they do not want their customers to go through multiple upgrade cycles without paying th Microsoft tax.

    I love this They are really doing everything they can to piss their customers. Meanwhile almost everyone loves Apple. The planets are aligning for a major Microsoft eclipse.

  4. I think this is just Microsoft (again) targeting the homebrew crowd. If I build a new machine at home, I’m going to install all my software from my old machine, or just transfer the hard drive. In either case, the motherboard will most likely be new, and I’ll be in violation of my license, and Microsoft will lock down my machine.

    Since I’m a Mac user, this scenario is more likely at some time in the future: I buy a Mac Pro, and install Boot Camp and, say, Vista to play Spore or something. Parallells gets better and better, so I delete my Boot Camp partition and reinstall in a virtual Machine. Apple releases a bigger and better Mac Pro, and I get that one too. Boom! I’m in violation of my license even if I delete my Virtual Machine.

    In both of these scenarios, the hypothetical me is at least trying to abide lawfully to the license. Microsoft is just making it harder.

  5. Does any one knows why Toast, iMovie, iDVD can not import a movie and burn it into a DVD format? (not a data file, but a Video DVD that can be played in regular DVD home system). I have tried several times and I also renstall the all OS, uodated all the software. But the software still closing after a few minutes of encoding. Any ideas?

  6. I wonder how it handles a reinstall on the same PC?
    New game/application/spyware hoses registry. Need to wipe an d start over.

    Anyone know?

    I’ve read that it locks itself to the motherboard. If you change your motherboard, I believe Vista will think it’s a new machine, and you’ll have to reactivate.

    There’s a previous MDN article about it. Something like “major hardware changes” will cause Vista to have to reactivate or else lock up your machine.

  7. This is merely meant to combat piracy, so all you DRM proponents that feel that DRM is an inevitable part of life in the digital world should be used to this, and possibly in favor of methods like this.

  8. “Does any one knows why Toast, iMovie, iDVD can not import a movie and burn it into a DVD format? (not a data file, but a Video DVD that can be played in regular DVD home system). I have tried several times and I also renstall the all OS, uodated all the software. But the software still closing after a few minutes of encoding. Any ideas?”

    Viktor – what format is it in? That’s likely your problem importing and encoding.

    If you’re trying to import a commercial DVD, good luck. It has copyright protection. Best bet is to download Handbrake to rip it first.

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