posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Aug 2012 21:57 UTC
IconWith Windows 8 right around the corner, the usual game of reading the end-user license agreements and spotting the different versions is in full swing. Usually, this is a game of ridicule as Microsoft comes up with ever more convoluted version schemes and EULA terms. This time around, though, the company seems to be taking steps to make things easier, as Ed Bott reports.

Windows 7 could be acquired in four different ways, each with their own license. If you had a previous version of Windows, you could buy an upgrade. If you needed a new computer, you could buy one and get Windows 7 pre-installed. For OEMs and system builders, there was the OEM version, and, of course, you could always buy a full retail copy.

If you built your own computer - something many OSNews readers do, I'm assuming - you technically had to buy the full retail version of Windows. Of course, you didn't actually do so; virtually every online retailer also offered the OEM version to regular consumers, even though this technically wasn't allowed. These were much cheaper than the retail versions.

Microsoft has now decided to address this issue. The four consumer-facing license types - upgrade, pre-installed, system builder, full retail - will be consolidated into three, by combining the system builder and full retail licenses into one license: the Personal Use License for System Builder, which finally officially and legally brings OEM licenses to individual consumers. It can also be used for virtual machines.

On top of all this, Microsoft has also simplified the licenses themselves. They're now all divided into two parts; the first part is a human readable version of the license in QA-format, and the second part is the full-on legalese version. This should definitely make it easier to understand EULAs, which might not be relevant for simple home use, but for someone like me, who runs his own one-man business, I suddenly have to start paying attention to this stuff.

The other important part, pricing, is still a bit murky, but is getting clearer as more information trickles out. We know there's going to be a $40 upgrade offer for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 users, which is the version most of us will be buying (one for my ZenBook, please). The full boxed version of Windows 8 Pro will have promotional pricing of $70 (which will jump to $200 once the offer runs out late January). How much the Personal Use version will cost, we don't yet know (I'll be buying one, though).

Why am I buying one? Well, because, despite the issues Metro has on non-touch devices, I believe it has potential. I'm very curious to see what happens when smart developers get their hands on this and work within Metro's constraints to make beautiful applications. Despite the obvious limitations of iOS and Android (which has less limitations, but still), developers have been able to make very useful and impressive applications.

Let's see what the future has in store for Windows 8 and Metro. I'm curious, because Microsoft's future depends on it.

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