The ongoing difficulties with interpreting the Visual FoxPro EULA have brought forth clearly the problems with End User Licensing Agreements and the rights of consumers.
Last week, as part of installing a new cable modem, the technician needed to install software on my machine to activate the modem (I ensured he did remove it afterwards). As part of the install, a great big page of 4 point legalese popped up, to which he just clicked “Agree” and continued. Now, who is obligated to that license? Not me. I never touched the machine. Not him, the license was probably addressed to the owner of the box. However, I am probably liable for it, and I’ve got a lot less money to hire lawyers to debate it than the cable company does.
In the two most recent versions of Visual FoxPro, a number of the rules have changed, and I am sure most VFP developers are not aware of the rule changes:
- An upgrade now (in VFP8) requires that you uninstall the previous version of the software, nonsense to developer who need to support their customers. Link here, here and here.
- VFP8 (and 7 as well, I believe) can only be distributed using their MSM files and the Microsoft Installer technology. This is a limit by license, and not a technological hurdle. Many developers install their applications by dragging and dropping a few DLLs and registering a few of them. This, and technology that competes with the Microsoft Installer technology, appears to be improper.
- Microsoft runtime DLLs must run “in conjunction:” with the Microsoft Windows platform. I’m not sure what that means. On top of? On a machine with the OS installed (dual boot?)? Whil Hentzen’s taken the point postion on this question (as I blogged here and is waiting on an answer…
- On the flip side, it looks like the IDE can be installed on non-Microsoft Windows platforms, a loophole I expect to be closed soon. Running VFP on Wine is here , here and here.
- Finally, the ultimate question: is any of this enforceable? Can Microsoft tie their applications to their platform? Are EULAs and click-through licenses legal?
This is not what I get paid by my clients to figure out, although perhaps it must be, for the duration. I suppose clients need to be just as careful to follow the terms of OSI licenses as well.