So Microsoft is known for three things: destroying Netscape; adding so many options to Word that typing “I see a cat” requires the patience of a Shaolin monk with an engineering degree from MIT; and Terms of Service that read like the Nuremberg trial court proceedings.
In fact, Microsoft’s notoriously grotesque and convoluted Service Agreement is now used in place of waterboarding at Guantanamo and some of the best daycare centers in Silicon Valley: EXCEPT AS WARRANTED IN THE LICENSE AGREEMENT, MICROSOFT CORPORATION HEREBY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS WITH REGARD TO THE SOFTWARE, INCLUDING ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, WHETHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT—You want some more? Hah? You want some more? When I say finish your soy milk decaf latte, you’re gonna finish it, right?
But that has all changed. MS has “modified” its agreement “to make it easier to read and understand.”
I don’t understand.
Isn’t the point of these exercises in prolixity to confound you so you give up after 30 seconds and hit “I Agree” without realizing that you have just given a multinational corporation with the No. 3 market cap rating in the world access to your medical records?
I guess this is all part of Micro’s Brave New Touchscreen World, which is intended to make everything you do no more complicated than speed dialing 911 on a date with your boss.
We @ Strange Herring have spared no expense in mental capital to scour these new terms of service so you won’t have to. Here is what we found:
1.4. Can Microsoft change these terms after I have accepted them? Yes. From time to time, Microsoft may change or amend these terms. If we do, we will notify you, either through the user interface, in an email notification, or through other reasonable means. Your use of the services after the date the change becomes effective will be your consent to the changed terms. If you do not agree to the changes, you must stop using the services and cancel any paid services by following the instructions in section 9.10. Otherwise, the new terms will apply to you.
OK. Basically, their toys, their rules.
1.5. What types of changes can I expect to the services? Exploding software. Remote body cavity searches. The Kaleidoscopic Wheel of Pain may fail to spin, even though you still do not have access to your program. Spine-tingling screams of terror from what seem like dead relatives emitted from your PC speakers. Noxious gases spewing from CDs upon insertion into disc tray. OEM Serial Numbers that fail to work unless provided 250 times flawlessly and consecutively. Key Codes that read, brand, and record your fingerprints forever.
OK, still, pretty basic stuff.
2.2. What if I can’t access my Microsoft account? If you’ve forgotten your password or otherwise can’t access your Microsoft account, you can purchase a new PC via our Microsoft Favored Vendor Service. Or you can sit there like an idiot and try “Password 1234—no, 12345” for the rest of your life.
Been there, done that.
3.3. What does Microsoft do with my content? When you upload your content to the services, you agree that it may be used, modified, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed, and displayed to the extent necessary to create robot avatars with your very likeness and identifying markers better to engage in the following activities: human trafficking, the decimation of civilian populations in Southeast Asia and parts of the Middle East; random, meaningless “hook-ups” on college campuses.
Blah blah blah.
3.5. What type of content isn’t permitted? Content that violates this agreement, which includes the Microsoft Anti-Spam Policy and the Microsoft Code of Conduct, or your local law isn’t permitted on the services. For example, advocating for religious freedom, a real two-party system, or the building of a purple shed or oversize bird feeder within 10 feet of your property line.
4.1. What happens if I don’t abide by these terms? If you violate this agreement, we may take action against you including (without limitation) removing your content from the services, suspending your access to the services, asking you to refrain from certain activities (including but not limited to the selling of human organs, threatening the lives of school board members, committing suicide live online), canceling your services, and/or referring such activity to appropriate authorities, including but not limited to Homeland Security, Interpol, your mother, the pope, “Jason” from our Mumbai Call Center, Inspector “21.”
I hate Jason from the Mumbai Call Center. Yes, I rebooted. Yes, I tried turning it on and off. Yes, I reinstalled the software. Would I be calling you at 3am EST if I hadn’t thought of these things, “Jason”?
5.1. Does Microsoft collect my personal information? Your privacy is important to us. Which is why we have decided to take complete control of it, because you obviously can’t be trusted with it. In fact, we accumulate as much identifying information as we can and hold it securely in a drawer in Redmond, Washington, which only the cleaning staff has the key to.
Better than Google, that’s for sure.
8.3. Bing. If you have location enabled on your device when you use m.bing.com, you consent to Microsoftcollecting and using your location information in accordance with the Microsoft Online Privacy Statement (available in Ugaritic, Old Gaelic, and Dog Language). We use your location information to provide and improve search and mapping results so we can reach you faster in the event we want to break into your home or car and take your stuff.
I knew I should have paid attention during Ugaritic class … damn …
9.6. Cooling off period. You agree that we may begin to provide services immediately, even before you request them or are aware they are even available. You won’t be entitled to a cancellation or “cooling off” period. These services will be automatically renewed forever unless you notify Microsoft in person on Wednesdays, at 2:15 pm, with a notarized statement of intent, to be examined in an international court by a panel of holographic judges who will render a determination within one generation of the original notification.
11. MICROSOFT, AND OUR AFFILIATES, RESELLERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND VENDORS, MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, GUARANTEES OR CONDITIONS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT USE OF THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR OWN RISK AND THAT WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES ON AN “AS IS” BASIS “WITH ALL FAULTS” AND “AS AVAILABLE.” WE DON’T CARE IF OUR SERVICES NEVER WORK AND WERE NEVER INTENDED TO WORK.
Same ole same ole …
12. Limitation of liability. If Microsoft breaches this agreement, you agree that your exclusive remedy is to ignore it and go about your business as if nothing has happened.
Time is money, after all.
13.4. Middle East or Africa. If you live in (or, if you are a business, you are headquartered in) the Middle East or Africa, you are contracting with Microsoft Luxembourg S.à.r.l., 20 Rue Eugene Ruppert, Immeuble Laccolith, 1st Floor, L-2543 Luxembourg, and the laws of Luxembourg govern the interpretation of this agreement and apply to claims for breach of it, regardless of conflict of laws principles.
Wait a minute, wait a minute—Luxembourg? Are you effing kidding me? LUXEMBOURG? That’s it. I am DONE with Microsoft. There are limits, sir. Limits.