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Microsoft can disable your pirated games and illegal hardware

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Microsoft can disable your pirated games and illegal hardware
Microsoft Windows 10
Updated terms let Microsoft invade your Windows 10 computer in search of counterfeit software
Vaughn Highfield
13 Aug 2015
Microsoft’s updated End User Licence Agreement terms and conditions let it disable any counterfeit software or hardware and, if you’re running a Windows 10 computer, you’ve just agreed to them.
Section 7b – or “Updates to the Services or Software, and Changes to These Terms” – of Microsoft’s Services EULA stipulates that it “may automatically check your version of the software and download software update or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorised hardware peripheral devices.”
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The list of services covered by the agreement doesn't explicitly include Windows 10. However, it does include your Microsoft account, which is an extensive part of the Windows 10 experience, as well as core features like Cortana – and that implies Redmond can disable any games you’ve pirated or devices you’ve "unlawfully" hacked. Enable Cortana (which pretty-much everyone using Windows 10 is going to do) and you're subject to the Services agreement.
While it’s incredibly clear what Microsoft means by “counterfeit games”, the wording “unauthorised hardware peripheral devices” is a little hazy. Does this mean Microsoft can now block uncertified PC or illegally-modified Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers? Furthermore, Microsoft’s agreement doesn’t state if it will also disable other counterfeit software, such as cracked versions of Office or Adobe Photoshop, or if it only cares about pirated Microsoft games.
I’ve reached out to Microsoft for a comment about these unanswered questions and will update you when more information becomes available. (UPDATE: More than five days after we initially published this story still haven't heard anything back. If anyone from Microsoft reads this, please get in touch!)
Video game piracy, or “counterfeit games” as Microsoft puts it, has been a big issue in PC gaming for a long time. Many developers have sought to circumvent it by hard-coding impossible odds into their games, which are only solved by having a purchased activation code on your computer. The same issue is also now becoming prevalent on Android and jailbroken iOS devices. However, under Microsoft’s new Services agreement, Windows 10 Mobile would be able to combat any pirated software a user loads onto their phone – potentially making it an attractive prospect for indie developers scared of having their work stolen.
Interestingly, Microsoft killed off its incredibly unpopular, DRM-heavy, Windows Live Games in Windows 10, and opted to support Steam instead. But, with these terms and conditions, Microsoft has managed to do something that's arguably worse, potentially limiting the use of software which doesn't even have DRM on it.
How far can Microsoft push this? Like Expert Reviews, we think it's unlikely that Microsoft actually intends to go after pirated games on the PC. The services agreement was clearly written originally for Xbox and Xbox Live, and when writtten was probably only intended to ever apply to them. However, because Microsoft has simply taken an existing services agreement and applied it to core Windows 10 services like Cortana means that, intentionally or accidentally, it could be applied to Windows 10. And until Microsoft clarifies things, we think this remains a 

Windows 10 can seek out pirated software



August 17th, 2015 at 3:47 pm - AuthorMatthew Wilson

Microsoft recently updated its EULA for Windows 10, noting that the operating system can seek out and potentially disable any pirated software, like games, running on your PC. The new clause in question is found under section 7b of the EULA, which says that Microsoft may check your software at any time and download updates or make configuration changes.

“We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices. You may also be required to update the software to continue using the Services”.


This means illegally acquired software, like games, could be rendered useless by Microsoft’s Windows 10 updates. It can also disable “unauthorised hardware peripheral devices”, though it isn’t clear exactly what would be considered ‘unauthorised’. At present, it isn’t immediately clear if the EULA pertains to Microsoft’s own software, which can be acquired from the Windows Store, or all software in general. However, given the amount of coverage this topic is getting we will likely see Microsoft step in to clear things up with a statement.

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