pushing prerelease software down the pipeline

Wow, do the folks at Microsoft have some balls. My Windows XP desktop box alerted me about a high-priority system update today, an update which turned out to be a new version of the Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool. I’ve been asked to install updates to the tool a few times in the past, but this was the first time I’ve also been asked to read and consent to an end-user license agreement. I guess I was teased by the novelty of a license for Microsoft’s anti-piracy tool, so I read a little bit of it, and noticed that it prominently proclaims to be is pre-release software. What the f*@%?

It turns out I’m not the first person to notice this — over at InfoWorld, Ed Foster picked it up and turned it into a Gripe Line post last week, and found a lot of other problems with the license as well, including a ban on users uninstalling the software, and a clear statement saying that Microsoft will not provide any support for the software. Looking at the Microsoft Knowledge Base article about the update, there’s no mention of it being pre-release software, and the Windows Update installer never notifies users (in a way other than buried in a EULA) that this is an optional installation of less-than-adequately tested software for which users will receive no support and no uninstallation capabilities in the case of problems. I find this all — the pushing of pre-release software out as a high-priority Windows Update, and the inclusion of terms in that software which make it hard to stomach — pretty odd and incredibly sleazy.