Can I loan my Windows XP install disk to friends?
This may be a really stupid question, but I have a family friend who recently bought a 6yr old Compaq computer running Windows98. Her father is currently updating it to be windows2000 but once she found out I still had my windows xp restore/install discs she asked if I could update her to windows xp. I just want to know though - is this legal? Or will I be chased down by guys in black jackets and charged? (lol worse case scenario). I just want to know if it's okay sharing the discs with a friend or not?
Well, this isn't a bad question, per se, but I think you already know the answer, somehow. The answer is that Windows XP and just about every other non-open source operating system, is licensed for you to install on a single computer only.
Even Apple has this restriction and theoretically if you want to upgrade both your desktop and laptop from, say, Panther to Tiger, you'd need to buy two copies of the OS.
Realistically, though, I know of few people who follow the letter of the law with operating systems. If someone has both a laptop and a desktop PC, for example, they'll almost always use the same OS install disk to upgrade them both to a new version of Windows.
For Windows XP Pro, for example, you really need to order additional licenses from Microsoft directly. Theoretically, the additional licenses are at a discount, but there are lots of hoops you have to jump through before you can ascertain the exact price. Want a full version of Windows XP Pro? That'll set you back about $300, just for one computer.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this Microsoft Licensing Comparison Guide to get a sense of one area where Microsoft makes a lot of money...
As I said, Apple has exactly the same approach too, just to be completely fair. That's why they sell the single user version for $129 and the "family pack" for $199. On the other hand, the family pack lets you install the OS on up to five different computers, so that's not too bad a deal, at approximately $40 per system.
All of this complexity is one big reason that open source Linux is so appealing to corporate types: buy one CDROM set and you are allowed to install it on as many computer as you'd like, without any legal complications.
I hope that clears things up!
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