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What to Do if You don't Agree to Microsoft Media Player update agreement

If you are using Microsoft Windows you may get a message coming up to the effect of "a newer version of Microsoft Media Player is available. Would you like to install it?". It seems like a reasonable question, and you're probably the type of person who likes the latest modern things (see, you've got a computer, haven't you?), so it seems tempting to allow Microsoft to give you a new improved Media Player 11 or some such thing.

Incidentally, a great many people who vote for Linux also have Microsoft Windows, usually to allow legacy hardware to run. There's usually some cheap gadget whose makers haven't had the foresight to supply Linux drivers, and which the Linux people haven't got around to cracking yet, so you tend to have a computer which has both Linux and Windows.

The problem with saying "Yes" to Microsoft software installing is that you are expected to agree to a legalistic agreement, and sometimes, in the agreement, there is some clause that is against freedom or against your privacy, or for some other reason something you might not agree to.

However, by now it seems that it's too late! You have already said "Yes" to the Microsoft Media Player 11 install, and now you can't play your own movie files without clicking on "I agree".

You might think that the "I agree" option is the only thing you can do, but there is a problem. In Microsoft Media Player 11, and probably in a few other things to, the agreement allows Microsoft to take control of your computer and spy on you, and maybe even allow sinister forces such as the government to watch your every move, and if you accept, then you have agreed that's ok! It's a bit like allowing a vampire, or bailiffs, into your house. One they've been allowed in once, they're allowed in at any time.

Fortunately, a solution is at hand. (Not to vampires and bailiffs, but to Microsoft software updates). Thanks to Microsoft having the honesty to provide a solution for those who are patient enough to read it. It's called "roll back".

I know that roll back is one of the mottos of Asda Supermarket with their "Rolling Back prices", but it is also possible to go retro for a moment on software, and to undo the damage that accepting Microsoft Media Player 11 in the first place might do. The solution to the problem is as follows:

1. Click on Start

2. Select "control panel"

3. Click on "add/remove software"

4. Click on "Media Player 11" and click REMOVE

5. The system asks you if you're sure, and you say OK.

6. The computer restarts, so you'd better make sure you have saved this bookmark and anything else you are working on.

The instructions are available in the official version at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/readme.aspx#RollingbacktoapreviousversionofthePlayer

So, Well Done to Microsoft for giving us the chance to undo Media Player 11 and to go back to using the previous version (which incidentally has a bug in it which may be a security risk if you view media online). Not so well done to Microsoft for having a security patch which has a EULA agreement in which you agree to relinquish control of the privacy of your computer.

If you were selling your soul to The Devil, then just before you make the final commitment you might find The Devil politely asks you a final time if you are really sure, and you are given a last chance to decline the agreement. Such honourable chivalry, whether by The Devil or by Microsoft, or by anyone else who puts an agreement in front of you to sign, is reasonably characteristic.

You could also download VLC Media Player which you can get at www.vlc.us.com (shame about the domain). Well at least VLC Media Player is open-source, and doesn't have a dangerous agreement!

Other vaguely-relevant concepts include: personal freedom, clauses in contracts we don't agree to, belief systems, Microsoft, upgrading to Linux, fears about Palladium, and 666