Pssst ... wanna rent Microsoft Windows and Office? Cheap ...

Microsoft has finally made renting out copies of Windows and Office legal for businesses -- including allowing Internet cafes, airport kiosks and your friendly neighborhood Kinko's to rent the use of Microsoft products as well as the computer itself -- something most were already doing illegally.

You may know that what you are buying when you purchase a copy of Windows is the license to use the software for a particular user and computer. Sometimes that's exactly what happens, but other times it may get a little hazy with an illegal, or pirated, copy put on another machine. The computer could also be leased out, also illegally, to others.

Apparently none of this is a surprise to Microsoft, which rarely enforces its terms. So now, in order to compel businesses to comply with its new rental agreement launched this month, Microsoft is offering a 30% discount until June 30. The discounted, one-time fees range from $23 for Windows to $58 for Office Professional and are good for the life of the PC. The one-time fee would be added to the price.

Perhaps Microsoft, which must know that inter- and intra-office lending its many copies of Windows and Office is rampant, especially in a corporate environment, has found a way to be paid for circumventing its initial user agreements. Some analysts say that this new development is based on Microsoft's experience in the developing world, where piracy is widespread and the company has pilot "pay-as-you-go" software rental programs. It could also be incentive to upgrade to newer, and un-pirated, software. (Also companies had no problem copying software because they weren't allowed to lease or rent the licenses. By allowing rented licenses, it could mean more business overall for Microsoft.)

So far, however, Microsoft hasn't relented into renting out individual copies of Windows or Office to consumers -- yet. That would be a huge, and much more encompassing change.
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