Microsoft has created the Windows Insider Program to provide enthusiasts and enterprises with early builds of Windows 10 for feedback. To join this program, all you have to do is sign up at insider.windows.com and be at least 18 years of age.
Why would Microsoft require users to be 18 to be in the Insider Program? In most countries across the world, the age of 18 is consider the age of maturity. This is specific legal terminology for growing to adult age. At adult age, the law behaves normally, and generally people 18 and up are under the full authority of the law.
To sign up for the Windows Insider Program, you must consent to an End User License Agreement or EULA. These agreements are common when installing software, signing up for email accounts, etc. Basically these agreements usually state who owns the rights to the software or service and how data will be handled. In the case of Windows 10, users can download, install and use the software, but this doesn’t mean they own the rights to it.
If a participant of the Windows Insider Program begins selling copies of Windows 10 for profit, this would violate the EULA and Microsoft could go after the offender. Before Microsoft goes after someone they need to make sure the law applies to them, this is where being 18 or older is important. Adults have more direct legal responsibility for their actions, and Microsoft wants to make sure they are giving their software to legal adults.
In addition to license ownership, EULAs usually mention data. With Windows 10, Microsoft is looking to gain lots of data on how users utilize the product. To protect themselves, they don’t want to be collecting data on minors. There is a lot of tricky legislation regarding how the data of minors is handled. Microsoft doesn’t want to run the risk of collecting data which could be considered illegal.
Essentially, Microsoft is navigating a tricky legal situation where they are giving away customizable software for free. They need to make sure they are covered legally before releasing the software to the public. Microsoft needs to be prepared for potential financial losses due to piracy and copying as well as legal complications due to sensitive data of minors.
So if you are under the age of 18 and wondering why Microsoft won’t let you be a part of the program, you now know why.