Microsoft’s updated service agreement comes with a warning that pirated Xbox and Windows games can be disabled by the system.
“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,” the agreement reads. This version of the terms of service is in effect as of August 1.
Microsoft’s services, as covered by this agreement, include first-party Xbox and Windows games and Xbox Live. They also include applications like Microsoft Office, Skype, and OneNote. Basically, anything that could be linked up to your Microsoft account.
In other words, users’ Steam games should be fine, and any third-party software won’t be affected. Microsoft added, “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.”
Microsoft is generally pretty good about ongoing support for old versions. Support for Windows XP just ended in 2014, although XP launched in 2001. Windows 10, the latest version of the OS, is a free upgrade. This indicates that Microsoft is trying to consolidate users on the new OS, so that it can leave its past…well, in the past.
Part of this means tearing down the walls between Windows 10 and Xbox One. That’s why the new terms of service looks the way it does: It’s meant to apply to a huge swathe of Microsoft services, bundling them all under the same ToS. However, it should be noted that this agreement applies not just to Windows 10, but to all versions of the Windows OS where one of the relevant services is in use.
The most confounding part of the ToS update is the mention of “unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.” Tech site Alphr surmises that this could cover illegally modified controllers, but Microsoft has yet to clarify.
It seems likely that this agreement won’t end up affecting most people. More notable is the fact that certain digital rights management (DRM) tools may prevent older games from working on Windows 10.
According to Rock Paper Shotgun, CD-ROM games that use SafeDisc or “certain versions of Securom DRM” will not work with Windows 10 because of safety concerns. This info comes from a Gamescom statement from Microsoft’s Boris Schneider-Johne. (Although it’s in German, a translation of the relevant information can be found at RPS here.) DRM has a history of causing problems in games—remember the “always online” debacle that marred SimCity’s launch in 2013?
Desperately enacted DRM can cause huge security problems, so it makes sense that Microsoft would outright prevent these older DRM from functioning in Windows 10. It’s a shame because it means that a lot of old games won’t be playable without some of the piracy that Microsoft is trying to prevent.