Afraid Microsoft's anti-spyware will muck up your hard drive, causing the erasure of your digital photos, music collection and work files?

Don't worry, you've got a $5 rebate coming your way in this worst-case scenario--enough to buy a McDonald's Happy Meal, with change. That is, if you read and take advantage of Microsoft's legal promise.

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta, the software giant's new downloadable tool for warding off spyware, adware and any other "potentially unwanted software," will reimburse direct damages up to $5, according to the program's end-user license agreement (EULA).

"It also applies even if Microsoft knew or should have known about the possibility of the damages," says the agreement, in all capital letters.

Most people's eyes glaze over when it comes time to read a software license agreement and simply click "yes" to authorize a new program to install. There are undoubtedly necessary tidbits of knowledge contained in the lines of legalese, such as whether your privacy will be sacrificed in the name of annoying advertising. Still, most people skip to the end.

Proving the point that EULA's are widely ignored, PC Pitstop recently inserted a "special consideration" clause in its agreement that offered money to anyone who sent an e-mail to an address contained in the license. After 3,000 downloads and four months, one person finally took advantage of the offer and received a check in the mail for $1,000, according to the company's Web site.

Microsoft's generosity falls into a slightly different category. The company offered the $5 under its limited liability clause. "You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers your direct damages up to U.S. $5." However, "you cannot recover any consequential damages, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages from Microsoft," according to the EULA.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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