In this answer, the Microsoft Windows license agreement is describe as having a sort of use-wrap method of action, where using Microsoft Windows creates an agreement between you and Microsoft because Microsoft has said so in the Windows license.

Is this genuinely a term of the license, in that its legal effect is limited to cases where whatever "use" one might make of Microsoft Windows would require a license? Would it no longer have any legal effect after the applicable version of Microsoft Windows passes into the public domain?

Or does this mechanism form a contract independently of whether the user purchases, requires, or even actually has a license to use the software for a particular purpose? More like the terms of service on a web site, where browsing the site having notice of the terms creates a contract without relying on copyright law?

  • You should copy the relevant facts from the linked answer; questions and answers do sometimes get deleted, and if you want a good answer you should make all materials available. (I say this because there seems to be dispute below about the details of the situation.)
    – Stuart F
    Apr 8 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


Once it passes into the public domain, the licence is irrelevant

Of course, for Windows 95 that’s 2091 so it will remain relevant for some time.

  • You may have missed the details of the linked answer. It points out a provision: by using this software it may update and send telemetry to Microsoft and you grant permission to do so. That's not related to copyright. Once the copyright expires, you could remove such code, but the permission to send data still is relevant. Further, Microsoft may still have trademark rights in components of the OS, which does not expire: see Red Hat Enterprise Linux (PNAELV) and CentOS for those issues.
    – user71659
    Dec 9, 2023 at 4:21
  • 1
    @user71659 the question body asks if it will have any effect once the software enters the public domain. This answers that.
    – Dale M
    Dec 9, 2023 at 8:58
  • And you made the mistake thinking that the only relevant rights are copyrights. They aren't. There's patent rights (in the case of recent software released to the public domain), trademarks (the case of CentOS), privacy laws, remote services, and likely others like export control licensing. If the EULA touches upon these, then it's still relevant.
    – user71659
    Dec 9, 2023 at 21:25
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    @user71659 no, I didn’t. Copyright is the only applicable doctrine for software licenses.
    – Dale M
    Dec 10, 2023 at 10:25
  • That's completely wrong. Look at GPLv3 section 11. That's a patent license.
    – user71659
    Dec 10, 2023 at 20:45

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