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Windows XP EULA in Plain English

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Windows XP EULA in Plain English

This is the EULA for Windows XP Home Edition. EULA stands for “End-User Licensing Agreement.” Let's break that down:

  • End-User – The person who purchased and is using Windows XP Home.
  • Licensing – When someone buys Windows XP Home, they do not own anything. Instead they are licensing it from Microsoft.
  • Agreement – A legally binding contract between the person and Microsoft.

What does this document contain? Most people don't know, because it is written in legal-speak. Still, you are expected to read it and are required to agree to it before using Windows XP Home. Even if you don't read it, you are still bound by it, so it's good to know what's in there.

Let's take a look at just what rights a user of Windows XP Home has given up. In the “What it Says” column we have reprinted the text exactly as it appears in the EULA (obtained from Microsoft's website at In the “What it Means” column, we summarize what it means in plain English.

What it Says

What it Means

IMPORTANT-READ CAREFULLY: This End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and Microsoft Corporation for the Microsoft software that accompanies this EULA, which includes computer software and may include associated media, printed materials, "online" or electronic documentation, and Internet-based services ("Software"). An amendment or addendum to this EULA may accompany the software. YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS EULA BY INSTALLING, COPYING, OR OTHERWISE USING THE SOFTWARE. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE, DO NOT INSTALL, COPY, OR USE THE SOFTWARE; YOU MAY RETURN IT TO YOUR PLACE OF PURCHASE FOR A FULL REFUND, IF APPLICABLE.

This is a legal agreement, and by using Windows XP Home you are automatically bound by everything in this agreement.

1. GRANT OF LICENSE. Microsoft grants you the following rights provided that you comply with all terms and conditions of this EULA:

If you agree to this EULA, you get the following rights:

1.1 Installation and use. You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Software on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device ("Workstation Computer"). The Software may not be used by more than one processor at any one time on any single Workstation Computer.

You may install and use Windows XP Home on one computer.

1.2 Mandatory Activation. The license rights granted under this EULA are limited to the first thirty (30) days after you first install the Software unless you supply information required to activate your licensed copy in the manner described during the setup sequence of the Software. You can activate the Software through the use of the Internet or telephone; toll charges may apply. You may also need to reactivate the Software if you modify your computer hardware or alter the Software. There are technological measures in this Software that are designed to prevent unlicensed use of the Software. Microsoft will use those measures to confirm you have a legally licensed copy of the Software. If you are not using a licensed copy of the Software, you are not allowed to install the Software or future Software updates. Microsoft will not collect any personally identifiable information from your Workstation Computer during this process.

You must activate Windows XP Home either via the Internet or by telephone. You may have to reactivate Windows XP Home when you upgrade your computer hardware or software (the upgrades that would cause this are not specified).

1.3 Device Connections. You may permit a maximum of five (5) computers or other electronic devices (each a "Device") to connect to the Workstation Computer to utilize one or more of the following services of the Software: File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services, and remote access (including connection sharing and telephony services). The five connection maximum includes any indirect connections made through "multiplexing" or other software or hardware which pools or aggregates connections. This five connection maximum does not apply to any other uses of the Software.

If you share files or printers with other computers in your house, you are not allowed to share with more than 5 other computers.

1.4 Remote Assistance/NetMeeting. The Software contains Remote Assistance and NetMeeting technologies that enable the Software or applications installed on the Workstation Computer (sometimes referred to as a host device) to be accessed remotely from other Devices. When you are using Remote Assistance or NetMeeting (or other software which provides similar functionality for a similar purpose) you may share your session with other users without any limit on the number of Device connections and without acquiring additional licenses for the Software. For Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications, you should consult the license agreement accompanying the applicable software or contact the applicable licensor to determine whether use of the software with Remote Assistance or NetMeeting is permitted without an additional license. As used above, a session means the experience delivered by the Software similar to when a user is using the input, output and display peripherals attached to the Workstation Computer.

The “Remote Assistance” and “NetMeeting” applications are not bound by the above rule.

1.5 Storage/Network Use. You may also store or install a copy of the Software on a storage device, such as a network server, used only to install or run the Software on your other Workstation Computers over an internal network; however, you must acquire and dedicate an additional license for each separate Workstation Computer on or from which the Software is installed, used, accessed, displayed or run. Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting and Remote Assistance features described above, a license for the Software may not be shared or used concurrently on different Workstation Computers.

You need to buy a license for each computer you use Windows XP Home on.


More rights and restrictions:

2.1 Digital Rights Management. Content providers are using the digital rights management technology contained in this Software ("DRM") to protect the integrity of their content ( "Secure Content") so that their intellectual property, including copyright, in such content is not misappropriated. Portions of this Software and third party applications such as media players use DRM to play Secure Content ("DRM Software"). If the DRM Software's security has been compromised, owners of Secure Content ("Secure Content Owners") may request that Microsoft revoke the DRM Software's right to copy, display and/or play Secure Content. Revocation does not alter the DRM Software's ability to play unprotected content. A list of revoked DRM Software is sent to your computer whenever you download a license for Secure Content from the Internet. You therefore agree that Microsoft may, in conjunction with such license, also download revocation lists onto your computer on behalf of Secure Content Owners. Microsoft will not retrieve any personally identifiable information, or any other information, from your computer by downloading such revocation lists. Secure Content Owners may also require you to upgrade some of the DRM components in this Software ("DRM Upgrades") before accessing their content. When you attempt to play such content, Microsoft DRM Software will notify you that a DRM Upgrade is required and then ask for your consent before the DRM Upgrade is downloaded. Third party DRM Software may do the same. If you decline the upgrade, you will not be able to access content that requires the DRM Upgrade; however, you will still be able to access unprotected content and Secure Content that does not require the upgrade.

You agree that at any time, and at the request of “content providers” Microsoft may disable certain features on your computer, such as the ability to play your music or movie files.

2.2 Windows Media Format Software Development Kit ("WMFSDK"). This EULA does not grant you any rights to use the WMFSDK components contained in the Software to develop a software application that uses Windows Media technology. If you wish to use the WMFSDK to develop such an application, visit /sdk/wmsdk.asp, accept a separate license for the WMFSDK, download the appropriate WMFSDK, and install it on your system.

(This section is only applicable to software developers.)

2.3 Internet-Based Services Components. The Software contains components that enable and facilitate the use of certain Internet-based services. You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the Software and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the Software that will be automatically downloaded to your Workstation Computer.

You agree that Microsoft can automatically and without your consent put new software on your computer.

2.4 Internet Gaming/Update Features. If you choose to utilize the Internet gaming or update features within the Software, it is necessary to use certain computer system, hardware, and software information to implement the features. By using these features, you explicitly authorize Microsoft or its designated agent to access and utilize the necessary information for Internet gaming and/or updating purposes. Microsoft may use this information solely to improve our software or to provide customized services or technologies to you. Microsoft may disclose this information to others, but not in a form that personally identifies you.

Microsoft may collect information about your computer and may share it with other companies, but this may not include personal information about you.

3. RESERVATION OF RIGHTS AND OWNERSHIP. Microsoft reserves all rights not expressly granted to you in this EULA. The Software is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws and treaties. Microsoft or its suppliers own the title, copyright, and other intellectual property rights in the Software. The Software is licensed, not sold.

You have only the rights granted in this EULA. You do not have the right to do anything with Windows XP Home not covered by this EULA.

4. LIMITATIONS ON REVERSE ENGINEERING, DECOMPILATION, AND DISASSEMBLY. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.

Software developers cannot attempt to figure out how Windows XP Home works for any reason.

5. NO RENTAL/COMMERCIAL HOSTING. You may not rent, lease, lend or provide commercial hosting services with the Software.

You may not rent, lease, or lend your computer with Windows XP Home on it or otherwise make commercial use of it.

6. CONSENT TO USE OF DATA. You agree that Microsoft and its affiliates may collect and use technical information gathered as part of the product support services provided to you, if any, related to the Software. Microsoft may use this information solely to improve our products or to provide customized services or technologies to you and will not disclose this information in a form that personally identifies you.

Microsoft (and anyone else chosen by Microsoft) may collect information about your computer and may share it with other companies, but this should not include personal information about you.

7. LINKS TO THIRD PARTY SITES. You may link to third party sites through the use of the Software. The third party sites are not under the control of Microsoft, and Microsoft is not responsible for the contents of any third party sites, any links contained in third party sites, or any changes or updates to third party sites. Microsoft is not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any third party sites. Microsoft is providing these links to third party sites to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply an endorsement by Microsoft of the third party site.

Microsoft is not responsible for anyone else's websites.

8. ADDITIONAL SOFTWARE/SERVICES. This EULA applies to updates, supplements, add-on components, or Internet-based services components, of the Software that Microsoft may provide to you or make available to you after the date you obtain your initial copy of the Software, unless we provide other terms along with the update, supplement, add-on component, or Internet-based services component. Microsoft reserves the right to discontinue any Internet-based services provided to you or made available to you through the use of the Software.

These restrictions apply to all software that you get from Microsoft in the future. Future software may contain further restrictions.

Microsoft may cancel any service that they provide to you at any time and for any reason.

9. UPGRADES. To use Software identified as an upgrade, you must first be licensed for the software identified by Microsoft as eligible for the upgrade. After upgrading, you may no longer use the software that formed the basis for your upgrade eligibility.

Microsoft may check that you are a licensed user before allowing you to upgrade software. After upgrading software, you may no longer use the older version of the software.

10. NOT FOR RESALE SOFTWARE. Software identified as "Not For Resale" or "NFR," may not be sold or otherwise transferred for value, or used for any purpose other than demonstration, test or evaluation.

If your copy of Windows XP Home is marked “Not For Resale,” you may not sell it.

11. ACADEMIC EDITION SOFTWARE. To use Software identified as "Academic Edition" or "AE," you must be a "Qualified Educational User." For qualification-related questions, please contact the Microsoft Sales Information Center/One Microsoft Way/Redmond, WA 98052-6399 or the Microsoft subsidiary serving your country.

To use an Academic Edition you must meet certain criteria.

12. EXPORT RESTRICTIONS. You acknowledge that the Software is subject to U.S. export jurisdiction. You agree to comply with all applicable international and national laws that apply to the Software, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, as well as end-user, end-use, and destination restrictions issued by U.S. and other governments. For additional information see

You must comply with the regulations set by the United States Export Administration.

13. SOFTWARE TRANSFER. Internal. You may move the Software to a different Workstation Computer. After the transfer, you must completely remove the Software from the former Workstation Computer. Transfer to Third Party. The initial user of the Software may make a one-time permanent transfer of this EULA and Software to another end user, provided the initial user retains no copies of the Software. This transfer must include all of the Software (including all component parts, the media and printed materials, any upgrades, this EULA, and, if applicable, the Certificate of Authenticity). The transfer may not be an indirect transfer, such as a consignment. Prior to the transfer, the end user receiving the Software must agree to all the EULA terms.

You may install Windows XP Home on a second computer, but you must completely erase it from the original computer.

You may sell your copy of Windows XP Home. Before doing so, you are responsible for making sure the buyer agrees to all rules in this EULA.

14. TERMINATION. Without prejudice to any other rights, Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the Software and all of its component parts.

If you break any of these rules, Microsoft may instruct you to immediately remove Windows XP Home from your computer and you are legally bound to comply.

15. LIMITED WARRANTY FOR SOFTWARE ACQUIRED IN THE US AND CANADA. Microsoft warrants that the Software will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying materials for a period of ninety (90) days from the date of receipt. If an implied warranty or condition is created by your state /jurisdiction and federal or state/provincial law prohibits disclaimer of it, you also have an implied warranty or condition, BUT ONLY AS TO DEFECTS DISCOVERED DURING THE PERIOD OF THIS LIMITED WARRANTY (NINETY DAYS). AS TO ANY DEFECTS DISCOVERED AFTER THE NINETY-DAY PERIOD, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. Some states/jurisdictions do not allow limitations on how long an implied warranty or condition lasts, so the above limitation may not apply to you. Any supplements or updates to the Software, including without limitation, any (if any) service packs or hot fixes provided to you after the expiration of the ninety day Limited Warranty period are not covered by any warranty or condition, express, implied or statutory.

Microsoft assures you that Windows XP Home will work correctly for the first 90 days. They do not assure you that Windows XP Home or any “service packs” or “hot fixes” will work correctly after this time.

LIMITATION ON REMEDIES; NO CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES. Your exclusive remedy for any breach of this Limited Warranty is as set forth below. Except for any refund elected by Microsoft, YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANY DAMAGES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, if the Software does not meet Microsoft's Limited Warranty, and, to the maximum extent allowed by applicable law, even if any remedy fails of its essential purpose. The terms of Section 17 ("Exclusion of Incidental, Consequential and Certain Other Damages") are also incorporated into this Limited Warranty. Some states /jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you. This Limited Warranty gives you specific legal rights. You may have other rights which vary from state/jurisdiction to state/jurisdiction. YOUR EXCLUSIVE REMEDY. Microsoft's and its suppliers' entire liability and your exclusive remedy for any breach of this Limited Warranty or for any other breach of this EULA or for any other liability relating to the Software shall be, at Microsoft's option from time to time exercised subject to applicable law, (a) return of the amount paid (if any) for the Software, or (b) repair or replacement of the Software, that does not meet this Limited Warranty and that is returned to Microsoft with a copy of your receipt. You will receive the remedy elected by Microsoft without charge, except that you are responsible for any expenses you may incur (e.g. cost of shipping the Software to Microsoft). This Limited Warranty is void if failure of the Software has resulted from accident, abuse, misapplication, abnormal use or a virus. Any replacement Software will be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer, and Microsoft will use commercially reasonable efforts to provide your remedy within a commercially reasonable time of your compliance with Microsoft's warranty remedy procedures. Outside the United States or Canada, neither these remedies nor any product support services offered by Microsoft are available without proof of purchase from an authorized international source. To exercise your remedy, contact: Microsoft, Attn. Microsoft Sales Information Center/One Microsoft Way/Redmond, WA 98052-6399, or the Microsoft subsidiary serving your country.

Microsoft is not responsible for anything that happens to your computer, lost time, lost documents, etc. that happens as a result of using Windows XP Home.

If Windows XP Home causes damage or otherwise misbehaves, Microsoft may choose to refund the price you paid for Windows XP Home or replace Windows XP Home. In either case, you are responsible for all related charges (such as shipping).

Microsoft will never have to pay you more than the price you originally paid for Windows XP Home.

Microsoft will not be liable for any damages caused by viruses, even if those viruses are the result of security problems in Windows XP Home.

16. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. The Limited Warranty that appears above is the only express warranty made to you and is provided in lieu of any other express warranties or similar obligations (if any) created by any advertising, documentation, packaging, or other communications. Except for the Limited Warranty and to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft and its suppliers provide the Software and support services (if any) AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, and hereby disclaim all other warranties and conditions, whether express, implied or statutory, including, but not limited to, any (if any) implied warranties, duties or conditions of merchantability, of fitness for a particular purpose, of reliability or availability, of accuracy or completeness of responses, of results, of workmanlike effort, of lack of viruses, and of lack of negligence, all with regard to the Software, and the provision of or failure to provide support or other services, information, software, and related content through the Software or otherwise arising out of the use of the Software. ALSO, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF TITLE, QUIET ENJOYMENT, QUIET POSSESSION, CORRESPONDENCE TO DESCRIPTION OR NON-INFRINGEMENT WITH REGARD TO THE SOFTWARE.

The right granted to you above replace any that you may think you have because they were stated in advertising, documentation, or product packaging.

Windows XP Home is provided “AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS.” This means they make no claims as to how well Windows XP Home will work.


Microsoft is not responsible for any damages. This includes loss of profit, the release of confidential information, or the loss of your privacy.

Microsoft is further not liable for failing to use “good faith,” “reasonable care” or for negligence.

Microsoft is not liable even if they break the terms of this agreement.

18. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND REMEDIES. Notwithstanding any damages that you might incur for any reason whatsoever (including, without limitation, all damages referenced herein and all direct or general damages in contract or anything else), the entire liability of Microsoft and any of its suppliers under any provision of this EULA and your exclusive remedy hereunder (except for any remedy of repair or replacement elected by Microsoft with respect to any breach of the Limited Warranty) shall be limited to the greater of the actual damages you incur in reasonable reliance on the Software up to the amount actually paid by you for the Software or US$5.00. The foregoing limitations, exclusions and disclaimers (including Sections 15, 16 and 17) shall apply to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, even if any remedy fails its essential purpose.

If Microsoft chooses, they may pay you for any damages, but never more than the amount you paid for software (and curiously, never less than $5).

19. U.S. GOVERNMENT LICENSE RIGHTS. All Software provided to the U.S. Government pursuant to solicitations issued on or after December 1, 1995 is provided with the commercial license rights and restrictions described elsewhere herein. All Software provided to the U.S. Government pursuant to solicitations issued prior to December 1, 1995 is provided with "Restricted Rights" as provided for in FAR, 48 CFR 52.227 -14 (JUNE 1987) or DFAR, 48 CFR 252.227-7013 (OCT 1988), as applicable.

(Applies only to governments.)

20. APPLICABLE LAW. If you acquired this Software in the United States, this EULA is governed by the laws of the State of Washington. If you acquired this Software in Canada, unless expressly prohibited by local law, this EULA is governed by the laws in force in the Province of Ontario, Canada; and, in respect of any dispute which may arise hereunder, you consent to the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial courts sitting in Toronto, Ontario. If you acquired this Software in the European Union, Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland, then local law applies. If you acquired this Software in any other country, then local law may apply.

If you bring Microsoft to court, you agree to be bound by any court decision.

21. ENTIRE AGREEMENT; SEVERABILITY. This EULA (including any addendum or amendment to this EULA which is included with the Software) is the entire agreement between you and Microsoft relating to the Software and the support services (if any) and they supersede all prior or contemporaneous oral or written communications, proposals and representations with respect to the Software or any other subject matter covered by this EULA. To the extent the terms of any Microsoft policies or programs for support services conflict with the terms of this EULA, the terms of this EULA shall control. If any provision of this EULA is held to be void, invalid, unenforceable or illegal, the other provisions shall continue in full force and effect.

This EULA takes the place of all prior agreements you may have had with Microsoft.

If any part of this agreement is found to be illegal and therefor void, the rest of the agreement remains in place.

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Anony Mouse's picture

Slight quibble

This is fantastic! Very nice "translation"

I have one quibble; it is not that M$ will not use your personal information -- they collect and use *very* personal information, such as what versions of all software you use and what sites you visit and some settings, etc. -- it is that they will not at the time use information that "personally identifies" you e.g. singles you out. However, since every Internet device (wireless card, Ethernet card) has a unique MAC address which does get collected in Internet interactions, it is a simple matter to put two and two together.

The EULAs I have been having to sign for laptops over the last ten or so years are also substantially larger and even more restrictive than this. However, the version that M$ themselves post online for XP Home seems substantially to be the one here, despite the fact that it is *not* what is in versions of XP Home that are being shipped out on the actual computers.

Anony Mouse's picture


This information is dated as the EULA I have for XP is quite different. This analysis is very valuable. Has it been done since with more recent versions of the EULA for XP or Vista?