Microsoft EULA asks for root rights – again

PC, heal thyself

An addition to Microsoft's End User Licensing Agreement has alarmed Register readers.

Windows XP Service Pack 1 and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 contain a new condition which asks you to allow Windows to go and install future updates.

"You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the OS Product and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the OS Product that will be automatically downloaded to your computer," is the new bit you'll be interested in.

Consent-based push, then. And pretty similar to what you already get in Windows Update, for sure. But what's it doing in the installation sequence?

"I don't agree to let Microsoft 'automatically' (for which, read 'at Microsoft's discretion, and without my knowledge or consent'), install 'updates or fixes' (for which, read 'digital rights management facilties') so I hit 'I don't agree' and cancelled out," writes Joel Hanes from Santa Clara, CA.

We think that the word "may" absolves Microsoft of the consent argument, but this isn't exactly clear.

And as he points out, this could be back door for future DRM technologies. Such a clause was smuggled into a security patch in June.

On the other hand, users already consent to similar conditions whenever they use the Windows Update facility - and few complain.

The change needn't apply to corporate users. Microsoft recently introduced Software Update Services, which allows managed upgrades across the Intranet to users with Active Directory. (So you don't have thousands of desktops hitting Microsoft servers at once).

We've asked Microsoft if this was a legal or a technical decision, and what was behind the decision to make installation of the service packs conditional on this clause. We await their reply.

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