Saturday, December 10th 2011

Your Paid For Windows 8 Metro Apps: Microsoft's Handy Big Brother Kill Switch

Buy into Microsoft's new Windows 8 Metro interface and you'll be buying into considerably more than you bargained for. The Metro interface is extending the idea of walled garden technology eco systems to the very core of the Windows user experience, since it replaces the standard, versatile and open desktop we've all known and loved for over 15 years. And of course, with it comes Big Brother control over the hapless customer. Microsoft is copying the Apple model of an apps store, with their Windows Store where the store vets each application according to their strict rules, takes a massive 30% cut from developer's royalties (like Apple) and has a kill switch (this last part is much like Google and Amazon too, to be fair, which is somewhat bad when you think about it). Despite this remote ability, Microsoft hasn't wasted the opportunity of denying the customer the option of returning any software that they don't like (just like Steam). This might seem to be standard practice. However, consider the fact that software on disc offered no refunds for an opened copy as the possibility to copy the disc and product key existed. That's not the case here though, as they can simply apply their DRM to quietly take it away from you (and just how does one get around this form of DRM and keep their apps?) This information is from Microsoft's latest update to the Windows Store Terms of Use. We analyze the pertinent bits, below:

Near the top of the agreement they have this line, in bold:
Please note that this agreement allows us to remove applications from your Windows 8 Beta enabled device in certain circumstances. See the Can Microsoft remove apps or data from my device? section below for more details.
Sounds a bit worrying, doesn't it? You should be. They then go on to explain exactly how this works. They can take away your apps and/or data from you for your own "benefit" for "security" reasons (of which there's some truth) but the real kicker are those "legal reasons". Yes, so that covers just about anything and everything, doesn’t it? How about some media apps that Big Content, fronted by the likes of the despised RIAA/MPAA doesn't like, perhaps? There goes your app and your content in a flash. Also, it's quite clear that any data stored or processed by these apps is in no way secure, even if you make backups. And guess what? Microsoft have no obligation to return the data to you! Yes, seriously, they can take it away and that's the end of it. Plus, if you simply change your Windows installation in some way that they don't like, they can use this is an excuse to take it away from you too! The upshot of all this is that if you really have to buy into this, then you had better not have anything more important on your computer than something like Angry Birds, where it doesn't matter. Too much. Here's the offending part of the agreement:
Can Microsoft remove apps or data from my device? We may change or discontinue certain apps or content offered in the Windows Store at any time, for any reason. Sometimes, we do so to respond to legal or contractual requirements. In cases where your security is at risk, or where we’re required to do so for legal reasons, you may not be able to run apps or access content that you previously acquired or purchased a license for. In cases where we remove a paid app from your Windows 8 Beta device not at your direction, we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license. Some apps may also stop working if you update or change your Windows 8 Beta device, or if you attempt to use those apps on a Windows 8 Beta device with different features or processor type. You are responsible for backing up the data that you store in apps that you acquire via the Windows Store, including content you upload using those apps. If the Windows Store, an app, or any content is changed or discontinued, your data could be deleted or you may not be able to retrieve data you have stored. We have no obligation to return data to you. If sign in information or other data is stored with an expiration date, we may also delete the data as of that date.
Nice. And what about those software refunds you can't have?
What happens if I don’t want an app I already acquired? Because the Windows Store services begin immediately when you acquire an app, you do not have the right to cancel your purchase once you get the app. This means there is no withdrawal right or "cooling off" period for your use of the Windows Store, and all charges for apps are non-refundable, except as described in this section. Unless the law in your territory requires a “cooling off” period despite this agreement, you waive any right to a “cooling off” period. You may be entitled to a refund if you attempt to purchase an app from the Windows Store or make an in-app purchase processed by the Windows Store, but the app or purchased content fails to install on your device, or if you purchase an app that we later agree was erroneously described in the Windows Store product description page at the time of purchase. You must contact Microsoft customer support (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=232425) to determine if you’re eligible for a refund. If you’re eligible for, and request, a refund, we’ll credit the account associated with your payment method.
So, unless Microsoft is absolutely, totally forced to, there's no way in hell you're getting your money back. Do you still want to buy into this?

This next one's just peachy. Microsoft can just revoke your access rights if they believe that you're in breach of the agreement – but you're still required to pay all charges, naturally:
Can Microsoft change the Windows Store or my access to it? We may change the Windows Store at any time, for any reason or no reason, and we may also cancel or suspend your ability to access the Windows Store if you’re in breach of this agreement. If we cancel your Windows Store service account or your credentials, your right to use the Windows Store stops immediately, but you’re still required to pay all charges already incurred through that account.
Finally, apps bought from the Windows Store are licensed, as would be expected. However, Microsoft only allows up to five installs on different devices. Install it on a sixth device and one of the other copies gets nuked by the long arm of Microsoft. That would be really handy if one of those deleted copies was on a device that you needed to use right now, wouldn't it?
What are my rights for apps I get from the Windows Store? All apps made available through the Windows Store are licensed, not sold, to you. In most cases, that license includes the right to install and use your app on up to five Windows 8 Beta enabled devices simultaneously. If you attempt to install an app on more than five devices, it may be deactivated automatically from one of these devices, so that no more than five instances are activated at any one time.
One can't help but compare this to the Steam service, which is broadly similar, but which is considerably more user friendly, in that they don't impose a limit on the number of "devices" – let's just call it what it is, a computer – and go removing apps you've paid hard cash for, willy nilly off your computers.

This agreement is pretty one-sided and stacked against the user – that's the person who keeps Microsoft's bank balance healthy. It isn't something to attract a prospective customer to a product or service, at all and the reader is encouraged to look at the whole agreement here, to understand its full impact. Perhaps if there's enough of an outcry over this, they'll drop the worst parts of it? This is reminiscient of the Vista installation scandal that allowed reinstallation of the software a mere one time. The outcry this generated caused the company to back down quickly. Curiously, the update date is 2011-10-20, about 6 weeks ago, but news of this is only breaking now, so perhaps it's only just been published on their website?
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72 Comments on Your Paid For Windows 8 Metro Apps: Microsoft's Handy Big Brother Kill Switch

#1
kid41212003
Do they have to sell apps through MS Store?
Posted on Reply
#2
TheLaughingMan
This is not new. That DRM Kill Switch is already in Windows 7 and was in Vista as well. While scare, to this date Windows has not used the Kill Switch at all for any reason because what they consider a threat is not to your personal computer, but a threat to the US infrastructure.
Posted on Reply
#3
npp
Nothing really new here. All OS-s are moving this way, now I heard some time ago that even Ubuntu's package repository includes some payed stuff as well. Maybe the rules aren't so stringent there but anyway, I don't like the idea.

I dig the good old times of plain desktops and CD content.
Posted on Reply
#4
pantherx12
"takes a massive 30% cut from developer's royalties "

You realise this is how all shops work right?

Like literally any high street store?


Also people STILL have the option to buy their Applications via any other website or service.


Talk about blowing thing out of preportion lol
Posted on Reply
#5
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Oh boo hoo, Microsoft is starting an Apps store just like everyone else. OMG IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

Talk to me when they take away the ability to buy and install programs from disc or other sources... Then, and only then, can we make a big deal out of this.

by: pantherx12
Talk about blowing thing out of preportion lol
It is Quibit, that is kind of what he does. Especially when it comes to anything Microsoft, he really loves blowing everything they do out of proportion and putting the biggest doomsday spin he possible can on it.
Posted on Reply
#6
OneMoar
by: newtekie1
oh boo hoo, microsoft is starting an apps store just like everyone else. Omg it is the end of the world!

Talk to me when they take away the ability to buy and install programs from disc or other sources... Then, and only then, can we make a big deal out of this.



It is quibit, that is kind of what he does. Especially when it comes to anything microsoft, he really loves blowing everything they do out of proportion and putting the biggest doomsday spin he possible can on it.
f1
Posted on Reply
#7
micropage7
and windows follows apple?
apple must sue windows coz they copy apple's concept
i hope apple will sue windows
Posted on Reply
#8
pantherx12
by: newtekie1
Oh boo hoo, Microsoft is starting an Apps store just like everyone else. OMG IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

Talk to me when they take away the ability to buy and install programs from disc or other sources... Then, and only then, can we make a big deal out of this.



It is Quibit, that is kind of what he does. Especially when it comes to anything Microsoft, he really loves blowing everything they do out of proportion and putting the biggest doomsday spin he possible can on it.
I think he's legitimately concerned is all, he just has missed that the world and sales have been like this for along ole time.

by: micropage7
and windows follows apple?
apple must sue windows coz they copy apple's concept
i hope apple will sue windows
You're joking right?

Selling stuff via the web is as old as the web.

As for term app store, I think that's more microsoft trolling because Apple tried to copy protect the name.
Posted on Reply
#9
1Kurgan1
The Knife in your Back
by: newtekie1
Oh boo hoo, Microsoft is starting an Apps store just like everyone else. OMG IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

Talk to me when they take away the ability to buy and install programs from disc or other sources... Then, and only then, can we make a big deal out of this.
Until the end of the world is here we can't talk about it!!!1!

It's a discussion, calm down. The worst time to discuss problems is when the big ball is rolling (something like no installs from discs), it's best to speak up for things we want now, and the best way is with our wallets. I don't like the UI of W8, so I doubt I will be using it, and I have a feeling many others will do the same. If you like W8 UI, then I can see why you might post such an extreme response, but I just can't imagine anyone on this forum actually liking that UI, so I don't see the point in your response.

by: pantherx12
You're joking right?

Selling stuff via the web is as old as the web.

As for term app store, I think that's more microsoft trolling because Apple tried to copy protect the name.
I think he's talking about over charging developers for use of their store :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#10
Steevo
They can remove it from your windows 8 BETA. Not RTM, Retail, or otherwise.


Top reasons?

You have a app that causes unexpected issues.
Posted on Reply
#11
OneMoar
by: steevo
they can remove it from your windows 8 beta. Not rtm, retail, or otherwise.


Top reasons?

You have a app that causes unexpected issues.
this
Posted on Reply
#12
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: newtekie1
It is Quibit, that is kind of what he does. Especially when it comes to anything Microsoft, he really loves blowing everything they do out of proportion and putting the biggest doomsday spin he possible can on it.
Thanks. :rockout: An article like this really begs to be amped up. :D I can tell you that I won't be buying into this Windows Store thing, because of these issues. This is one customer who's boycotting it. :p

Couple if things though:

1 I'm not "anti-Microsoft". I'm anti any company that pulls this control freak shit. This is why I don't like Apple

2 It's spelled "qubit"! :toast:
Posted on Reply
#13
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
by: newtekie1
It is Qubit, that is kind of what he does
Kind of? This is exactly what he does to liven up the weekends. :toast:

As for Microsoft and their plans ... whatever. Doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me.
If they get too bad I'll write my own OS and call it "Doors." :D
Posted on Reply
#14
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Yay qubit news.

by: qubit

1 I'm not "anti-Microsoft". I'm anti any company that pulls this control freak shit. This is why I don't like Apple
Then go live in a cave and stop interacting with society. It's the only way to avoid it.
Posted on Reply
#15
EastCoasthandle
That all seems to only apply to the beta next year. We haven't gotten to release candidate yet.
Posted on Reply
#16
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Frick
Then go live in a cave and stop interacting with society. It's the only way to avoid it.
Hmmm, not bad... but the problem is that I could still get internet access through wireless and would therefore continue to be a troublemaker... :p
Posted on Reply
#17
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
It does seem to be specifically about the beta, EastCoast, but what are the odds they would remove that from the RC if it's already in the code?
Posted on Reply
#18
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Kreij
It does seem to be specifically about the beta, EastCoast, but what are the odds they would remove that from the RC if it's already in the code?
Yup, all they have to do is take out the word "beta" from the agreement and it applies to retail versions too. I can't see why they wouldn't leave the agreement as it is, if people accept it. It gives them unprecedented power to do what they like with their customers.
Posted on Reply
#19
EastCoasthandle
by: Kreij
It does seem to be specifically about the beta, EastCoast, but what are the odds they would remove that from the RC if it's already in the code?
Depends, if we actually need to install the App Store or not. I have to ask why are they so specific about the beta when that is a short term release? Would it have been that out of place to also add RC/RTM/retail as well?

All I can say is that we need to wait until RC/Retail is finally given then see if the AppStore is mandatory install or not and what the Eula reads. Then go from there.
Posted on Reply
#20
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
I agree with you EastCoast. We will have to wait and see for real answers on what the final release has/does.
Posted on Reply
#21
EastCoasthandle
by: Kreij
I agree with you EastCoast. We will have to wait and see for real answers on what the final release has/does.
As it stands right now (although it may not be 100% correct) how I interpret this is that what you buy from the AppStore in the Beta may not be available to you for RC/Retail. But lets see what the Eula says when it's ready for release. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#22
pantherx12
by: qubit


1 I'm not "anti-Microsoft". I'm anti any company that pulls this control freak shit. This is why I don't like Apple
But they're not doing that man, developers don't have to use their store, consumers don't have to us their store.

How is that controlling?

It's not like if you have an Iphone and HAVE to use Itunes is it?


Now if Microsoft made it so could only run applications you bought from their store run on windows then hell yeah I'd fully support a fuss being kicked up.

But they haven't and I doubt they ever will.
Posted on Reply
#23
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
@Pantherx ... it's quite possible that is what Microsoft has in mind. Win8 apps ONLY at the Windows App Store.
We just don't know yet.
Posted on Reply
#24
Drone
The sky isn't falling yet. As long as we can install third party applications.
But it's obvious Microsoft wants to be in control. For security reasons. Especially its own security.
Posted on Reply
#25
theoneandonlymrk
i see what your saying panther but i do think its the begining of their walled garden
Posted on Reply
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