What MS OEM agreements really say

Quite a bit of the documentation seems to have fallen into our clutches...

MS on Trial Our recent coverage of Microsoft's new-look, flexible and liberal OEM licensing policies (sic) has prompted a helpful Redmondite to ship us some highlights from the Microsoft Windows 98 System Builder Preinstallation User's Guide. As Microsoft OEM chief Joachim Kempin has been saying all week, OEMs are perfectly free to install whatever software they like on the machines they ship - their freedom as regards how they install it, however, is another matter. Says the guide (MS in italics, our comments roman): Restrictions to Modifying the Product Do not modify in any way or delete any aspect of the Microsoft Windows 98 product software. This includes, without limitation, any features, shortcuts, icons, wizards, folders, subfolders, or programs of the Microsoft Windows 98 product software acquired through the Delivery Service Partner Program, except if and as specifically permitted in this. Anything not specifically permitted is forbidden, right? Anything that Microsoft says is part of Windows, including folders and programs (Applications are separate? Surely some mistake…) has to go onto the machine. Do not modify or add content to any directories installed by the Microsoft Windows 98 product software, except as permitted in the SB PK for preinstallation of applications by the SB. In addition to not deleting, you can't add either. You can add content, providing you keep away from the MS directories, but be careful (see below). Do not modify or append any text to the online Microsoft End User License Agreement without express ritten [sic] permission from Microsoft. We write the licence agreements round here, OK? You are allowed to replace the term "PC Manufacturer" with your company name without written permission from Microsoft. A concession! Fill your company name in and praise Bill, kid. Do not modify or obscure in any way the sequence or appearance of any screens displayed by the Microsoft Windows 98 product software as delivered by Microsoft from the time the target PC completes BIOS processing after being switched on by the end user and transfers control to the software loaded from the hard disk ("End User Boot") until the time that the "Welcome to Windows 98" program has been run and closed by the end user and the computer displays the desktop screen. This is the bit whose "relaxation" Joachim Kempin has been bashing on about. It has only been relaxed for a few major OEMs, and the rest of you out there have to make sure the install process runs precisely as MS defines, with no interruptions. Read on: Do not use any portion of Microsoft Windows 98 product software to enable any programs or other content to run or appear before End User Boot. Get out of that without moving, as the late, great, Eric Morecambe used to say. Even if you try to run software before the installed system boots for the first time, you're in breach of your licence if you try to run it on, er, the operating system. Joachim, we think maybe this one's overkill. Do not display any content, including visual displays or sound, from End User Boot up through and including the time that the preinstalled PC has displayed the Windows 98 Desktop screen. More overkill, surely, but note that this one is maybe a more specific prohibition of companies sticking their advertising in during the install process. We publish the ads round here. Do not modify, delete or obscure, in any way, the appearance of the desktop screen (including without limitation, any features, shortcuts, icons, Active Desktop items, "wizards," folders-including sub-folders-or programs of Windows 98 as delivered by Microsoft in this SB PK.). This is the bit that says you can't remove the IE icon, or indeed any other icon or embellishment MS decides is part of the "Windows Experience." But here comes a concession: You may, however, add icons or folders to the Desktop screen, provided that: Any such icons are the shape as icons included on the Desktop screen as delivered by Microsoft; Any such folders are the same size, shape, and appearance as folders included on the Desktop screen as delivered by Microsoft. You may also add Active Desktop items, including background wallpaper, Web site and channel links, to the Active Desktop provided that: Any trade names, trademarks, logos or brands displayed in connection with such components shall be limited to those under which the Customer System is marketed and distributed. You maybe nodded off during that, but wake up! First we've got (rough) parity in prominence, so if AOL demands major impact for its icons it can't have it, and then you can only add product names and brands that are specific to the PC you're selling to the Active Desktop. So doing deals with third parties and then advertising their wares is forbidden. We make the deals round here. Restrictions for Windows 98 Software Components Do not remove any standard Windows 98 component software from a preinstalled PC. Users expect a consistent behavior from all new computers, including all of the standard utilities and features. And that's an order. Do not replace, remove, or supersede any of the following: Welcome.exe (the Microsoft Welcome to Windows 98 dialog box). This application includes What's New, Online registration, Tip of the Day, and The Tour. You may add up to two buttons below these four buttons. The Welcome to Windows 98 dialog box must appear on the desktop automatically for the first user session. You can add tips to Tip of the Day, but you are not allowed to remove any existing Microsoft-provided tips. The mouse tutorial or the line that calls it in Opkinput.inf. The default Start page or Search page for Internet Explorer. Control freak stuff, largely. But note that you're specifically required to leave the IE default page set to Microsoft. This is of course important in order to ensure that your customers are thoroughly integrated into microsoft.com. Restrictions for SB-Provided Preinstalled Applications Do not configure any programs to be enabled, run, or initialized automatically-that is, without requiring a deliberate act of the end user-from an icon or folder on the Desktop screen, from the Start menu of the Desktop screen, or by any other mechanism. This includes, without limitation, any shells, screen savers, welcome scripts, wizards, or other content. That covers most of it. You can, as Joachim says, preinstall anything you like on the machine, but you can't auto-run anything. You can, if you want, place an icon on the screen (the same size as the IE one, mind) which swaps out the shell, disables IE and runs Navigator instead, but the user has to deliberately decide to press the button, then go through the aggravation. Your ability to automate such a process is limited, and your freedom to tailor the machine at the factory is next to nil. Do not populate the Startup folder, Autoexec.bat, Boot.ini, Config.sys, System.dat, System.ini, User.dat, or Win.ini files in any manner that will cause any program or content to run or load automatically upon End User Boot, except for device drivers necessary to support preinstalled or preconfigured hardware devices such as network cards, printers, and so on. More overkill. You pesky varmints will keep trying to get round our nice liberal licence agreements, won't you? But here's something else you should bear in mind: Important Do not list Microsoft or a Microsoft phone number for support information, either electronically on the preinstalled PC or in printed materials distributed with the PC, unless explicitly permitted to do so by Microsoft. You take the tech support phone calls round here, OK? ® Complete Register trial coverage

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