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A Bit of Backpedaling and an Apology from Microsoft

In a very long-winded post, Microsoft's Eric Ligman (he of the "you are probably a pirate" post) does some furious backpedalling from his previous position on doing clean installs with Windows 7 Upgrade media. That is, where he previously came off very strong about how people doing this could be pirates ("technically possible" does not always mean legal), he's apparently woken up to the fact that many of Microsoft's customers agree with me. ("technically possible" does not always mean illegal. In fact, in this case, it almost always means legal.) The issue here isn't just semantic. This is very much about how Microsoft communicates with his customers, and while Ligman tries to make the case that Microsoft cares very much about it's customers, this little episode is telling them otherwise. Sorry, Eric. There's a lot of ill will for you to get over now.

Anyway. To the relevant portions of his latest post.

"Conspiracy-theorism" (yes, I know theorism is not in the dictionary) is very present.

i.e. it's your fault, those Microsoft customers who misunderstood his first post, which was in fact innocent and not an attempt to scare anyone.

There appears to be a lot of reading through "pre-determined conclusion" lenses

Sorry, you're 0 for 2. I read through "customer" lenses. I look at what Microsoft did, and what you wrote, and, in this case, deemed it to be anti-customer, because Microsoft is punishing the many (almost 1 billion legit Windows users who qualify for Windows 7 Upgrade pricing) for the sins of the few (actual software pirates). This is, of course, the primary complaint about all anti-piracy controls, when you think about it.


Where in there did I state that the solutions proposed by either of these gentlemen cannot be used, are illegal to use, and/or should not be used? I flat out stated that if you own the right licenses, you can do the clean install, without calling out any procedure that can/cannot be used. Where did I state that either of them is not trying to help customers in their posted solutions?

If only you had said it like that. If only you had said, hey, in most cases, this is perfectly legal, but I would like to remind a tiny minority of our customers that the Upgrade versions of Windows 7--which we as a company pre-sold to you at bargain pricing without any warnings whatsoever--might not actually work and/or possibly (but not usually) violate our licensing rules, you know maybe you'd have a point. But you didn't. You said, "technically possible" does not always mean legal. That's a very strong statement, and you keep repeating it in this new post. It's a warning. It has intent.

Welcome to my life, Eric. I do this all the time. I can commiserate. Really, I can. But when you screw up--and you did--I've found it's best to just apologize. Sure, explain why you did what you did, but just leave it with the apology.

Also, I don't appreciate the way he mischaracterizes what I wrote by only referencing a quickie, heat-of-the-moment, throw-away blog post and not the full-fledged Upgrade with Clean Media article(s) I've written, where I've always clearly stated the rules. I don't like that. The losing side of an argument always takes things out of context. And changes the subject. (Witness the lengthy exploration of the word "hack".)

But he does apologize. Eventually.

It's too bad I never heard from him directly, as the volume of my email suggests others have figured out how to do so pretty easily. And it's too bad that I and others had to wade through a bunch of self-serving text to get to this apology I'd never have known about if a friend hadn't forwarded the link. But this isn't about me. The real shame here is that Microsoft is still not effectively communicating how this process works, explaining why it sometimes doesn't work, or apologizing to the many, many people it fooled into buying Upgrade versions with very special pricing--especially XP users--expecting it just to work. Based on my email, it's not working for a great many people. And that's why I do what I do, to help people. Not to help people pirate. Just to help people.

Again, I sort of assumed this was obvious.

Apology accepted. I'm sure you're a good guy and this was all well-intentioned.

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