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Thank God for Ed Bott. Seriously.

You know, I've spent more time in this blog than I'm comfortable recently blasting so-called tech journalists who invent the news. But there's one guy out there who is consistently well-researched, and today he goes after pseudo-journalism in his own way. So it's nice to both allow someone else to take the reigns for a moment while being able to point to him as an example of someone who's doing it right. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Ed Bott:

Software licensing is often hard to understand. But that’s no excuse for so-called Windows experts to deliberately publish sensational stories that turn the facts upside-down.

I’m talking about the fuss that Scott Dunn and Brian Livingston kicked up in yesterday’s version of the Windows Secrets newsletter, in which Dunn breathlessly proclaimed the existence of an “upgrade hack” in Windows Vista that “allows end users to purchase the ‘upgrade edition’ and install it on any PC — with no need to purchase the more expensive ‘full edition.’”

I wrote about this way back in February 2007, when the same sources issued the same breathless reports. Nothing has changed since then. If you qualify for an upgrade license, this technique allows you to do a clean install, legally. If you don’t qualify for an upgrade license, then doing a clean install with this technique is technically possible but violates the terms of the license agreement. That distinction seems to be lost on the folks who are dredging up this old story.

Look, you can argue that Microsoft’s prices are inconsistent and illogical, but that has nothing to do with the issue at hand here. An upgrade license is intended to replace a previous license, period. Advising readers to violate the terms of a license agreement is pure sensationalism, and it’s wrong.

This needed to be written, and you should check out the whole post, especially if you're confused about what you can and cannot do, according to the Windows license.

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