Changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement as of September 30, 2023

Paragraph[German]On August 5, 2023, I received an e-mail from Microsoft informing me about changes to the service contract. It says that the service contract has been made "clearer now". If you take a look at the details, you will see that a new AI services category has been added.


The Microsoft Service Agreement is a contract between end users and Microsoft (or an affiliated company) that governs usage for home user online products and services from Microsoft. There are also the passages that allow Microsoft to close accounts for (possibly alleged) violations of the company's specifications (I had, for example, the implications within my blog post Stop: Arbitrary blocking of Microsoft Accounts). The mail (I've translated the German mail here) from Microsoft states:

You are receiving this email because of changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement that applies to Microsoft products or services you use. These changes are intended to clarify our terms so that you can stay on top of them. In addition, the terms now cover new Microsoft products, services, and features.

The Microsoft Service Agreement is a contract between you and Microsoft (or an affiliate) that explains your use for Microsoft home user online products and services.

You can find the full Microsoft Service Agreement [dated July 30, 2023] here. You can also learn more about these changes and get an overview of the key changes on our Frequently Asked Questions page. The changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement are effective September 30, 2023. We will consider your use of our products and services on or after September 30, 2023, as your acceptance of the updated terms of the Microsoft Service Agreement.

If you do not agree to the terms, you will no longer be able to use the Products and Services and should close your Microsoft account before the terms become effective. If you are a parent or other legal guardian, you are responsible for your children's or teens' use of Microsoft products and services (including purchases).

The FAQ page doesn't give too much away, except to tell you that using Microsoft products after September 30, 2023 is considered consent. If you want to know what you are agreeing to with Microsoft, you have to fight your way through the Microsoft service agreement – very, very long, and printed very small. What I think is new is the entire section on AI services, which includes the following clauses.

  • q. AI Services. "AI services" are services that are labeled or described by Microsoft as including, using, powered by, or being an Artificial Intelligence ("AI") system.
    • i. Reverse Engineering. You may not use the AI services to discover any underlying components of the models, algorithms, and systems. For example, you may not try to determine and remove the weights of models.
    • ii. Extracting Data. Unless explicitly permitted, you may not use web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction methods to extract data from the AI services.
    • iii. Limits on use of data from the AI Services. You may not use the AI services, or data from the AI services, to create, train, or improve (directly or indirectly) any other AI service.
    • iv. Use of Your Content. As part of providing the AI services, Microsoft will process and store your inputs to the service as well as output from the service, for purposes of monitoring for and preventing abusive or harmful uses or outputs of the service.
    • v. Third party claims. You are solely responsible for responding to any third-party claims regarding Your use of the AI services in compliance with applicable laws (including, but not limited to, copyright infringement or other claims relating to content output during Your use of the AI services).

You should really read Microsoft's fine print to know what you're getting into when you use their services.

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