Microsoft has updated the Windows 10 End User Agreement, and inserted an interesting clause that allows it to disable pirated software detected on the system. This doesn’t cover everything, but instead refers to unauthorised first party software.
Section 7b of the End User Agreement specifies that “sometimes you’ll need software updates to keep using the Services. We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices. You may also be required to update the software to continue using the Services. Such updates are subject to these Terms unless other terms accompany the updates, in which case, those other terms apply. Microsoft isn’t obligated to make any updates available and we don’t guarantee that we will support the version of the system for which you licensed the software.”
The key phrase in that wall of text happens to be “ including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.” Windows 10 has been facing some criticism over its practice of collecting user data, this only raises more concerns about Microsoft’s practices with its latest operating system.
Microsoft’s agreement on pirated games only extends to first party products; for instance, a pirated version of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition or Minecraft. What is more interesting is the addition of “unauthorised hardware peripheral devices” to that clause. Nobody is quite certain about what it means, although it could mean that Microsoft has the ability to perhaps prevent people from using knockoff Xbox controllers.
This looks like a different approach to DRM for Microsoft games; one that exists on the OS level. It doesn’t appear all that intrusive, but not everyone is going to be happy with the idea of a company scanning their hard drives for pirated software.