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What Microsoft won't tell you about Windows 7 licensing

Microsoft offers many ways to buy Windows 7. You can buy the operating system preinstalled on a new PC, upgrade an existing PC using a shrink-wrapped retail package, purchase an upgrade online, or build a PC from scratch and install Windows yourself. In each of these cases, you can also take your pick of multiple Windows editions The price you pay will vary, depending on the edition and the sales channel. There are different license agreements associated with each such combination. Those license agreements are contracts that give you specific rights and also include specific limitations.

This might sound arbitrary. Indeed, a common complaint we hear is that Microsoft should simply sell one version of its OS at one price to every customer. That ignores the reality of multiple sales channels, and the fact that some people want the option to pay a lower price if they don't plan to use some features and are willing to pay a higher price for features like BitLocker file encryption.

If you're not a lawyer, the subject of Windows licensing can be overwhelmingly confusing. The good news is that for most circumstances you are likely to encounter as a consumer or small business buyer, the licensing rules are fairly simple and controversy never arises. But for IT pros, enthusiasts, and large enterprises knowing these rules can save a lot of money and prevent legal hassles.

As we have discovered, Microsoft does not have all of this information organized in one convenient location. Much of it, in fact, is buried in long, dry license agreements and on sites that are available only to partners. I couldn't find this information in one convenient place, so I decided to do the job myself. We gathered details from many public and private sources and summarized the various types of Windows 7 license agreements available to consumers and business customers. Note that this table and the accompanying descriptions deliberately exclude a small number of license types: for example, we have omitted academic and government licenses, as well as those provided as part of MSDN and TechNet subscriptions and those included with Action Pack subscriptions for Microsoft partners. With those exceptions, we believe this list includes every license situation that the overwhelming majority of Windows customers will encounter in the real world.

The table below is your starting point. The license types listed in the columns of this table are arranged in rough order of price, from least expensive to most expensive. For a detailed discussion of each license type, see the information below, which explains some of the subtleties and exceptions to these rules. And a final, very important note: This article is not a legal advice.


|Date: 2010-02-04 visits: 25113| comments  0 Read more

Connect Two or More PCs - Anywhere, Anytime

We often find ourselves needing to connect two PCs when we're away from an office network. Sometimes we want to pass files to a friend without searching for a thumb drive. Or if we're feeling generous, perhaps we want to share an Internet connection in a hotel or airport. Such tasks would be easy if both devices were on the same network already, but in a pinch, you can create an ad hoc connection anywhere. Here are five techniques to share files or an Internet hookup. With little or no preparation, you'll be out of a jam and back to work in minutes.

Note: Ad hoc networks are a useful tool for quick file and Internet sharing, but you should watch for unscrupulous attempts to draw you into such a network unawares.


|Date: 2009-08-07 visits: 5793| comments  0 Read more

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Review

After nearly taking over the web browsing experience by leveraging its operating system monopoly, Microsoft got surprised by Firefox. The new browser ate away at the software giant's web browser market share, forcing it to go back to the drawing board and create something competitive. Does Internet Explorer 8 rise to the challenge? Keep reading to find out.



When it comes to Internet browsers, Internet Explorer has often gotten a bad rap from web surfers. It's slow and it tends to attract a lot of virus-ridden adware. That's why so many Internet lovers prefer Firefox. Not only is Firefox more efficient, but it carries an almost non-existent risk of adware exposure... at least that's been my experience!

Well, Microsoft has not been deaf to the criticism. That's why they have worked so hard on improving on the flaws that made Internet Explorer 7 and previous versions so unstable. What was the result of their efforts? The answer can be summed up in just three simple words: Internet Explorer 8.

|Date: 2009-03-23 visits: 4253| comments  0 Read more