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Windows 10 can’t hunt down and disable all counterfeit games

David Ludlow
18 Aug 2015
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Update to the Services EULA specifically talks about Xbox Live and Microsoft games

You may well have seen a story doing the rounds stating that a new Microsoft licence agreement means that Windows 10 can search for and disable counterfeit games and prevent unauthorised hardware and software from working. As terrifying as this sounds, the simple fact is that this information hasn't been interpreted correctly.

The information comes from section 7b of the Microsoft Services Agreement, published on June 4 2015, which states: “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.”

The original article on Alphr pointed out that the agreement applies to services that are bundled in Windows 10 and that it could, therefore, mean that Microsoft could disable your games and hardware. Alphr also contacted Microsoft for a full clarification, although it has not heard anything back. Since the original article, many sites have upped the ante, stating that it now means that Windows 10 could scan your entire hard disk, disabling any pirated games or hardware that Microsoft doesn’t like.

All licence agreements are open to a degree of interpretation, but reading the new agreement shows that Microsoft doesn't have this all-reaching power. The confusion comes from the fact that the Microsoft has simply merged together the terms and conditions for all of its services, which used to have their own agreements, such as the Xbox Live Terms of Use and Skype Terms of Use.

The full list of services covered makes no mention of Windows 10 at all and the section about games and peripherals is most likely to be related to  ‘Xbox and Windows Games published by Microsoft’ and ‘Xbox Live’. In other words, Microsoft can stop you accessing Xbox Live (and other Microsoft services) and disable pirated games that appear on the Xbox or that it publishes on Windows. That’s any version of Windows, by the way, not just the new OS.

This is something that Microsoft has been able to do for years. Besides, there’s absolutely no way that Microsoft would try and roll out a giant anti-piracy system for all software and all games, as it would have a nightmare trying to organise and do this, and it would definitely result in false positives and legitimate software being blocked. A full and robust look at what the new agreement means can be found on Reddit.

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