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Amazon UK Refunds Windows License Fee, With Little Hassle

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the obey-lord-good-idea dept.

Windows 194

christian.einfeldt writes "Alan Lord, a FOSS computer consultant based in the UK, has announced that Amazon UK honored his request for a refund of the Microsoft license fee portion of the cost of a new Asus netbook PC that came with Microsoft Windows XP. Lord details the steps that he took to obtain a refund of 40.00 GBP for the cost of the EULA, complete with links to click to request a refund. Lord's refund comes 10 years after the initial flurry of activity surrounding EULA discounts, started by a blog post by Australian computer consultant Geoffrey Bennett which appeared on Slashdot on 18 January 1999. That Slashdot story led to mainstream press coverage, such as stories in CNN, the New York Times Online, and the San Francisco Chronicle, to name just a few. The issue quieted down for a few years, but has started to gain some momentum again in recent years, with judges in France, Italy, and Israel awarding refunds. But if Lord's experience is any indication, getting a refund through Amazon might be as easy as filling out a few forms, at least in the UK, without any need to go to court."

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194 comments

A black man as president? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799079)

When pigs fly!

Wait, swine flu!

Too bad this doesn't change anything (1, Insightful)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800561)

Microsoft doesn't lose any money by doing this. Whoever sold you the computer just eats the loss because it's better to keep customers happy and avoid bad press. They already paid for the license, and you could probably get away with using the OEM license key anyway. Granted, if enough people did this, somebody might take notice, but of the millions of PCs sold per year, the number of people who request refunds probably number in the hundreds, if that. I would argue that purchasing a computer with Linux pre-installed has a more significant (albeit still quite small) effect.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799123)

First XD

US? (3, Interesting)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799161)

So this should work in the US, too? I'm looking to buy a new laptop sooner or later, but I sure as hell won't be using Windows. A refund would be prettty awesome.

Re:US? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799221)

why don't you buy a non-windows one and stop making a spectacle of yourself? i think ms should tell people like you to shove it.

Re:US? (4, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799293)

The best trolling has a kernel of truth.

But the point is that we shouldn't be forced to choose hardware based on what OS we want, or pay $40 more than we needed to.

Re:US? (0)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799769)

If you don't like the manufacturers' policies, buy from someone else.

Re:US? (5, Insightful)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799925)

Who? If I want the exact hardware I see for my new netbook, but cannot buy it anywhere without the OS as part of the price, am I not completely limited in my choices? Should any hardware manufacturer be able to tell me explicitly what software I must buy with my hard earned money? Should I not be able to say "Don't want it..." and get a reduced price, even if the reduction is only $40? Shouldn't I have the choice to say "whatever you paid to have that software installed, I don't want it, so don't pay to install it, and pass me the price difference" ?

Re:US? (1, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799991)

Yes, the hardware manufacturers should be able to choose what they do and don't sell. They should not be arms of the state.

Re:US? (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800215)

The problem is that Microsoft is a monopoly. If you had the selection of cars that you did in computers, the only way you could get a sedan would be to get it from Ford. Would you think it is a "free market" if Ford forced all the people who wanted sedans to pay for a GPS system as well as a spoiler? Hey, you can go elsewhere and get a bicycle or whatever. You're not "forced" to buy a sedan...

Re:US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800683)

How the hell does this have anything to do with "the state"? Do you (self proclaimed) "libertarians" want to blame everything on government? MS is a monopoly, and has (illegally, immorally, and counter free market principles) leveraged its monopoly to ensure that purchasing hardware without Windows is difficult or impossible.

Actually, now that I think about it, parent is actually probably just a really good troll. My apologies.

How about Apple? (2, Insightful)

Christophotron (812632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800545)

I wonder if anyone has ever tried this with Apple.. Wipe out OSX and request a refund for it because you plan to use Linux.. I bet it would be even more difficult than getting a Windows refund.

Re:How about Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800637)

The difference is that almost no computers come with OS/X. I'm not putting down Apple hardware (it's actually ok) but if you pick the best hardware for any job, it probably doesn't have OS/X on it, and it probably does have Windows on it. So Windows is the big problem for now, until someone else gets more marketshare or Apple starts making some really kick ass (as opposed to merely good) computers.

Re:US? (3, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800013)

If you don't like the manufacturers' policies, buy from someone else.

And while we're at it, we'll be sure to change our cable/DSL providers because we don't agree with their policies.

If I may, I'd suggest you stop to consider the effects of monopoly power (both on the macro and micro level), and then examine how politics (both social and governmental) factor into the equation.

Complex problems can sometimes have simple solutions, but this isn't one of them.

Re:US? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800339)

Sounds good in theory. The fact is, Microsoft had OEM's locked down for years, and SOP isn't going to change until someone stirs the policy makers up.

If I want a Peterbilt with no engine in it, Peterbilt will build it and sell it to me. If I want a laptop with no OS in it, just how many reputable companies are willing to sell it to me? Why should I be forced to deal with a company that no one in my county has ever HEARD OF, to get what I want?

OEM's and resellers need to get with the program. There are more and more people wanting choices in their purchases, and if it takes a few court cases for people to get what they want, then so be it. None of us ever saw or voted on a referendum to pay a Microsoft tax.

Re:US? (1)

IIH (33751) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800397)

If you don't like the manufacturers' policies, buy from someone else.

The policies are fine, the problem is that it is the _manufacturers_ are not sticking to it. The Eula for XP clearly states that it's refundable, so unless the manufacturers are able to change the licensing on a MS product, what they are (and must) be selling is the hardware with a refundable copy of XP installed.

Re:US? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800623)

True. But the grandparent (GigsVT) sounded to me like his problem wasn't in not being able to get a refund (which is a policy implementation problem), but in not being able to buy a machine without Windows in the first place (which is a policy existence problem). :)

Re:US? (1, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799779)

But the point is that we shouldn't be forced to choose hardware based on what OS we want

So if I want to build a PC and sell it with Windows on it, you are saying that *I* should be forced to sell it to you without Windows, instead?

Sorry, I don't get the entire gripe in most of the comments here. So what if an OEM is selling it with Windows? If you want to find an OEM that sells setups with Linux or OpenSolaris or whatever, what's the problem? I don't think there's a hardware restriction that requires you to buy Windows if you buy this or that hardware. It's the person putting together the hardware that is "forcing" you to buy Windows, isn't it?

Example: I can buy all the hardware I want at Fry's or NewEgg or wherever and not have to buy or use or pay for Windows at all.

Yeah, maybe you can't go to Dell or Amazon or something and buy a pre-fab computer with any hardware you want with any OS you want. But so what.. isn't that an OEM choice? Maybe I'm missing something, here. I just don't see what's stopping Entrepreneur OEM Rig Setter-Upper from buying hardware, putting it together, slapping Ubuntu on it, and selling it. Maybe that's just not profitable enough to sustain?

Re:US? (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799963)

I just don't see what's stopping Entrepreneur OEM Rig Setter-Upper from buying hardware, putting it together, slapping Ubuntu on it, and selling it. Maybe that's just not profitable enough to sustain?

You mean like System76 [system76.com]?

Re:US? (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799969)

If the feds were doing their job originally this argument would be moot.

They chose not to so now we all get to live with the fallout and Microsoft
gets to benefit from it's prior bad behavior with no real consequences.

Although this is ultimately a hardware vendor problem. They continue to sell
a product that has a built in consumer return clause. This issue would become
entirely moot if hardware vendors just honored their legal responsibilities in
good faith.

The "let the monopolist do whatever they want" approach cuts both ways.

Re:US? (2, Informative)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799993)

simple point: laptops. When the exact specs only exist on two manufacturer's machines, for example, and both only offer it with Windows installed, and jack the price $40 because of it, where is my choice? I can't just order the parts and build it.

Re:US? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800195)

Appreciate the sig... :)

You *can* build a laptop. There are "barebone" laptop kits. They're ugly. hehe.

You're right, you don't have a whole lot of choice. But hey, try building exact-spec-Apple-laptop and not be forced to buy Mac OS with it. And if you want to run Windows on it, you have to buy Windows separately (I suppose) too!

Is it really that much different? Computer ... builders can do whatever they want with what OS they install on the hardware they assemble. You're right, we the consumer may not have a choice. But that is still, IMO, the computer assembler's problem, not the OS company's problem. Except in the case of Apple, heh.

Re:US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800281)

simple point: laptops.

Your simple point missed the point.

The point was that it's the RETAILERS who decide they want to sell Windows machines. Particularly since machines without OS's don't work. So, you pretty much have to pick one. The market place doesn't want Linux enough (as much as I like it and as much as it has improved) to justify Amazon selling, say, Ubuntu laptops (Dell does).

They didn't "Jack the Price 40GBP". They sold you OS, pre-installed. Not accepting the EULA and asking for a refund is basically buying a group of products but returning only the "unopened" part. In this case, it's Windows.

The real problem comes from the "Microsoft Tax" where companies like Dell sell the same laptop at the same price with Windows or with Linux, even though Linux is "free" and still make you jump through hoops to get the refund, even if you didn't buy Windows. That's "jacking the price". Buying something with Windows and then returning that part for a refund isn't. It's just not customer friendly. But there's not enough customers who care to warrant a change.

Re:US? (3, Informative)

Fross (83754) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799997)

The problem is, historically at least, Microsoft strong-arms the OEMs into ONLY supplying machines with Windows - if they refuse, MS refuse to provide them with a license. Yes, anticompetitive and probably illegal, but that's the way it was for a long time.

OEMs won't upset 95% of their business to appease the other 5%, and most of the people who want Windows want it preinstalled, so the OEM needs the license to do so. OEMs who offer non-Windows installs are much the minority right now, but at least it's a foot in the door.

Re:US? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800251)

OEMs won't upset 95% of their business to appease the other 5%, and most of the people who want Windows want it preinstalled, so the OEM needs the license to do so. OEMs who offer non-Windows installs are much the minority right now, but at least it's a foot in the door.

Precisely, it's the 95% that OEM's are concerned about. Which makes perfect business sense to me.

Yes, non-Windows setups are getting more popular, slowly (not counting Apple, which IMO is just as bad... well, IMO is worse). And that's totally fine. If it starts getting more profitable for an OEM to offer non-Windows setups, that's great.

But I have no expectation that an OEM will go out of its way to provide 5% (I think that's sorta on the generous side) of its consumers with more options while confusing at least part of it's 95% consumer base. That is, until Linux becomes actually consumer-friendly enough. Which it's starting to, and I think the rise in preassembled non-Windows setups is more correlated to Linux becoming more mature, not Windows dying.

And if Windows 7 actually is as good as the hype (again, IMO, it looks pretty good to me.. using RC), Linux devs have their work cut out for them to make it consumer friendly enough that people WANT to use it. "It's $40 cheaper" isn't enough of a pull for most people to switch, I don't think... considering the fact that more are willing to pay much more to use OSX when they get fed up enough with Windows.

Re:US? (4, Interesting)

Fross (83754) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800569)

The issue is the OEMs being strongarmed into forcing it into builds whether people want it or not. Imagine whenever you bought a car, from any manufacturer, you got beaded seat covers in them. And you hate beaded seat covers. And you still had to pay for them, even if you threw them away immediately. You tried to get them to sell you the car without beaded seat covers to save $40, and they refused, because if they didn't, the beaded seat cover manufacturers would stop licensing them to sell them, then they couldn't sell cars to the other people who DID want beaded seat covers.

Sounds a bit ridiculous that way, huh? Despite the fact 95% of people dislike beaded seat covers I'm sure :)

Re:US? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800691)

How are they being strongarmed? Dell offers Linux laptops and desktops nowadays, and I'm not interested enough to research the exact terms of their OEM licensing license (hehe) from Microsoft.

Re:US? (1)

Christophotron (812632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800679)

So if I want to build a PC and sell it with Windows on it, you are saying that *I* should be forced to sell it to you without Windows, instead?

No, but maybe you should be required to offer it with no operating system at all (at least the ones that allow customization of the computers). I can understand if you are selling pre-boxed PCs at a store, they cannot be customized prior to sale. But if they let you add an extra stick of RAM or a different video card or a bigger hard drive (Dell, HP, etc), then they can just as easily put a blank, brand new hard drive in it. Is that really so difficult? I think most decent and reputable system builders will do this for you, anyway (PowerNotebooks.com comes to mind..). It's the big-name OEMs that collude with Microsoft and force you to buy Windows when they could just as easily not sell you Windows by not imaging the hard drive with Windows prior to installing it. Most people who use Linux would prefer this option, anyway, because the first thing they do will be to install their distro of choice.

Re:US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799615)

Arent the non-windows ones, ie Linux, usually more expensive?

Re:US? (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799223)

The thing is, I imagine the license fee is quite variable. I've heard 40$ us, 80$ us, and other numbers, not to mention based on the version of windows that happens to be included (you'd not expect the same for ultimate vs home edition).

Anyone else care to correct me or provide more info (I'm sure people are more familiar with this than I am)

variable (3, Informative)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799501)

From what I've read, the range of refunds given has been variable if not arbitrary. This thread on the ubuntu forums [ubuntuforums.org] is an interesting place to start reading about some differenct experiences people have had.

I was also interested to learn recently that it is possible to buy machines with no OS from some vendors. The college I work for has this ability through our Dell rep. This post [ubuntuforums.org] in the above-mentioned thread is particularly interesting, as it claims that anybody can request and receive a new computer without an OS from several vendors.

Re:variable (3, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799609)

Really? I remember arguing with dell for close to an hour a few years ago that I didn't want an OS. I told them I wanted a blank hard drive. They told me they couldn't do it. I asked to speak to a manager, and they affirmed the lower person's statement. Maybe this has changed since?

Re:variable (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799805)

Dell's much more likely to do that for a business like a college that buys many machines than for any individual customer.

Re:variable (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800077)

Dell's much more likely to do that for a business like a college that buys many machines than for any individual customer.

That would be my assumption. Nevertheless, somebody has claimed otherwise on the ubuntu forums, and regardless of whether that claim is true, it has inspired me to ask next time I go shopping.

Re:variable (1, Informative)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800205)

Shipping a machine without any sort of OS makes it difficult to test it beforehand. Ask about Ubuntu or FreeDOS (both are free, and you might even want Ubuntu).

Re:US? (2, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799613)

UK£40 is about 46euro or US$66. Maybe that's the rate for XP these days.
In Finland, the rebate for Vista Home Premium seems to be about 100euro, which is UK£86-ish or US$140-ish at current rates. That was the in-store price reduction I got for each of the two PCs I bought this year (in January and June from different local small system builders).

Re:US? (-1, Troll)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799249)

You will have to be more specific. By "US" do you mean United States? And then is this the United States of America? Africa? Acronym? What of donuts? WHAT!

More specific how? (3, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799353)

US means United States according to the ISO 3166-1 International standard for 2-letter country code abbreviations. Is there some other standard I don't know about? These same codes that are used to define the TLDs of every country that has one... Why am I feeding the trolls?

Re:US? (-1, Offtopic)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799323)

Here's another interesting question: Since Amazon, in a draconian way, deletes your 1984 from your kindle; now that you know the terms of service, can you get a refund for the whole gadget?

Re:US? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799767)

A refund would be prettty awesome.

It would have to be to compensate for the grief of using Windows. ;-)

I do hope that one of those "few links" offers a "Comments" field, preferrably one that isn't limited to 128 characters, though I suppose something like "Hey Microsoft! I want my life back. And no, you can't have any more of my money!" would fit and provide the requisite emotional reward.

Re:US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800299)

I bought this laptop [dell.com] and Dell wouldn't give me such a refund.

Obvious (5, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799305)

To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software. I can't understand why this hasn't been done by either the EU or USA.

Software and hardware are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows in hardware from a number of vendors, and you can install a number of operating systems on a PC.

So you would buy a computer and you would get two receipts, one for the machine and another one for the OS. The OS can even be preinstalled on the machine and you would only get an activation key with your receipt. If you don't want the operating system, you just buy the hardware and don't pay for the activation key.

What really makes me mad is that the only reason this is not considered by the authorities is because Linux is not commercial, so they are not losing money from Microsoft's monopoly abuse. Only companies matter to government. The fact that the public would benefit from an operating system market where Linux would be allowed to compete on equals grounds is not relevant to the government because there is no single company making money from Linux.

Re:Obvious (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799371)

Red... hat?

Re:Obvious (4, Informative)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799423)

Now where do you get that from? There are vendors that sell boxed and/or subscription based Linux distributions (most known are Red Hat and Novel (SuSE), but there are others too).

And there is a lot more money in support, money that actually is helpful for the local economy.

Also there are other commercial operating systems that are sold (e.g. QNX).

They just don't have the power and ruthlessness of OEM bribery and monopoly like Microsoft, but they are there.

Re:Obvious (1)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799579)

where can I find them in Best Buy?

They are there, in a veeery abstract sense, that they exist and profit from linux. Not that they will actually change John Doe's behavior, whereas paying more for the OS just might.

Re:Obvious (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799795)

They exist in the enterprise market. Servers. I think the biggest reason is still that linux is not a good experience for a normal person. You can also get netbooks off the shelf with linux installed, with custom UIs. If you want to play any media on it that isn't opensource, it's not as simple as just trying to play the video and automatically finding the codec.

Re:Obvious (4, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800015)

> If you want to play any media on it that isn't opensource, it's not as simple as just trying to play the video and automatically finding the codec.

This is simpler under Linux than it is Windows, and far simpler than MacOS.

Ubuntu has staked the heart of this particular bit of FUD.

Re:Obvious (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800317)

Yeah, it's a simple dialog box saying something like "Would you like to install restricted codecs to play this video?"

Compare this to Windows, where you have to download a codec pack (or, make a mess of your computer by installing 10 different codecs independently). Windows users also haven't quite come to a consensus on the best codec pack (I use CCCP), which means that there's a chance of incompatibility between two machines. This has made it so that even though most people use WMP, MPC, or Zoom Player, that most people have VLC installed as well just in case they come across something that other players don't handle well.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799483)

Plus, of course, you have paid the Government the 17.5% VAT on the installed software.
I wonder if I can claim that back too.

And if not, why not?

Re:Obvious (1)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799655)

I agree with the spirit of your post. I wonder what would happen if we did this though...

Software and blank CD media are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows on blank CD media from a number of vendors, and you can use a number of blank CD media on a PC.

So you would buy blank CD media and you would get two receipts, one for the blank CD media and another one for the OS. ...snip... If you don't want the operating system, you just buy the CD media and don't pay for the activation key.

Re:Obvious (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799679)

Because Microsoft does not manufacture any computers. That HP you just bought that came pre-loaded with Vista, well the manufacturer is HP not Microsfot. Same for that shiny new Eee system you just bought except it's made by Asus and not HP or Microsoft so how do we split the Microsoft hardware division out and force em to sell without an OS installed?

Re:Obvious (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799707)

To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software. I can't understand why this hasn't been done by either the EU or USA.

Microsoft does not bundle hardware and software. OEMs do it. Arguing against OEM pricing is foolish given that it is SOP in every industry from car parts to parts cars.

Software and hardware are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows in hardware from a number of vendors, and you can install a number of operating systems on a PC.

Yes, that is true, and an argument against your position IMO.

So you would buy a computer and you would get two receipts, one for the machine and another one for the OS. The OS can even be preinstalled on the machine and you would only get an activation key with your receipt. If you don't want the operating system, you just buy the hardware and don't pay for the activation key.

There are vendors who will sell you a computer with no OS and vendors who will sell you an OS with no computer. No remedy is required because the market has spoken: most people want to buy OS and PC together.

What really makes me mad is that the only reason this is not considered by the authorities is because Linux is not commercial, so they are not losing money from Microsoft's monopoly abuse.

No, the only reason it is not considered by the authorities is that it is ridiculous.

Re:Obvious (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799873)

Oh, so you mean you can buy a new computer and have no clue if it will be fully supported by your OS of choice? So that now, in addition to setup, my mom has to install the OS, no recovery, oh and more expensive because software bundles can't be done anymore.

Its not done because for the majority of users its not a problem.

Re:Obvious (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800029)

The fact that the public would benefit from an operating system market where Linux would be allowed to compete on equals grounds is not relevant to the government because there is no single company making money from Linux.

Do Red Hat, Canonical, Mandriva, IBM, and Hewlett Packard ring a bell? All of those commercial companies make money from selling Linux, along with a host of other companies I haven't listed.

And at least up until now, Microsoft doesn't bundle Windows with hardware. The OEM's do, under economic death sentence from Microsoft (though to be fair, the dumb-ass OEM's helped dig their own holes). The DoJ handed Microsoft its abusive monopoly license back when it allowed Microsoft to pay OEM's for refusing to put anything but Windows on PC's after Microsoft anti-trust victory (despite losing all the battles, Microsoft won the war during the DoJ's conviction reward phase).

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800201)

To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software. I can't understand why this hasn't been done by either the EU or USA.

Software and hardware are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows in hardware from a number of vendors, and you can install a number of operating systems on a PC.

Because installing an operating system on a computer is a service, which the OEM, rather than a distributer, provides. It's something many people don't consider themselves qualified to do--most of the people, in fact. John the desk jockey and Sally the English major may whimsically decide they want OS A on hardware B. Would you want to be a support tech at Amazon if they decided to offer those kinds of deals? Pouring through every driver site they can find to figure out how to get the computer in halfway working order before they ship it to someone who doesn't know how to do it themselves?

So instead, the OEM who actually designed the darn thing and has (usually) the drivers does it. They deal ONLY with hardware they built, and they have a library of everything they need. And if they only want to support Windows... well, that's literally their business. If you want to start an OEM who sets up that sort of thing for whomever, I'm sure you'll have business, though how much is a question you, like the existing OEMs, will have to face.

Not that I think the previous worst case scenario wouldn't be nice if the industry was actually built to support it, but it's not, and it probably won't be in the foreseeable future.

not all good news... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799365)

The guy has to put up with Linux instead of the real operating system that came with his netbook.

Why bother? (0, Troll)

massysett (910130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799391)

What point is it that people hope to make when they do things like this? If you want to support preloaded Linux, why not buy preloaded Linux?

http://www.zareason.com/shop/home.php [zareason.com]

If you want to get a PC with no OS at all, why not buy a used machine on eBay that has no OS? There are typically dozens listed. I built my own desktop. No OS. You can even buy a new PC with only a barebones OS:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dell_n_Series [wikipedia.org]

And the headline says something about a "Microsoft Tax." How ridiculous. Governments levy taxes. Software and hardware vendors that you do not like do not levy taxes, no matter how much you do not like the product. If you do not want Microsoft products, do not buy them.

Re:Why bother? (1)

grocer (718489) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799489)

At one point, Dell offered FreeDOS as their Opensource option and an associated credit over windows on quite a few of their machines...making it relatively easy to buy an "empty" box with warranty and support, if that was your bag...now I think they've switch to Ubuntu...but still, the point is support vendors who don't offer windows and more vendors won't offer windows (and don't bitch about not getting all of the Microsoft surcharge back, they still have to test their hardware and perhaps write drivers).

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799503)

Maybe someone would like to buy a specific device without being bound to a license brought in by a separate party.

To you, that may be an unreasonable demand.

Is it your call?

Re:Why bother? (2, Interesting)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799591)

There was a time when Microsoft got paid irrespective of what OS was loaded on the PC. Have a look for "per CPU licensing" on Google. Since the only way to avoid paying Microsoft was not to buy a PC at all that's quite a lot like the road fund licence or television licence in the UK which are both considered to be taxes even though they are not compulsory unless you have a car or a device capable of receiving television signals (I would have just said television but this place is where pedants go to die :P). I doubt that they are allowed to get away with that nowadays but the term Microsoft tax is still a valid albeit historical term.

still not a tax (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799893)

The per-CPU licensing was for those manufacturers that made such an agreement with MS. You could always buy from a mom-and-pop shop and not pay the price or, better yet, build the computer yourself.

Taxes are theft by the government. The old MS license is just a vendor losing my business.

Re:Why bother? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799619)

You're right it's not a tax, because the MS fee is voluntary whereas taxes are not, however the MS fee is still hard to avoid. You mentioned the Dell N-series, but that series still forces you to pay for a Windows license fee, even though there's no Windows on the machine (i.e. an N-series PC is the same price as a Vista machine).

What I can't figure out is why amazon gave a refund to a guy who has Windows installed on his Net PC. That sounds kinda shady. I could quite easily buy a netbook, CLAIM I'm not using Windows, get my refund, and then continue using Windows. I have no objections about stealing from the soulless entity called "megacorporation". (1) That's no more harmful than stealing a rock from the ocean since corporations are not human beings, and (2) it steals from taxpayers all the time; a little reverse-theft merely restores the wealth to the poor who labored to earn it in the first place & to whom it rightfully belongs.

But I don't understand why amazon.uk would so easily agree to give a refund - it seems this makes them open to all kinds of liars. "No I don't use Windows. No sir. Not me. No way."

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799625)

Oh, you found a link for preloaded linux, and even another one for barebones OS!!!!!!!

That's why. Because people want to buy ANY machine, not some "special-needs" preconfigured POS. I'd buy a vaio FW any minute, if it came with something Debian-based. But it doesn't. Or can you find that missing link?

Re:Why bother? (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799725)

What point is it that people hope to make when they do things like this? If you want to support preloaded Linux, why not buy preloaded Linux?

The point is that the new computers that are available with Linux or no OS preloaded are a very tiny fraction indeed of the variety of new computers available with Windows. If I want, for example, a Dell Mini 10 with the new low-power US15W/GMA500 chipset, [dell.com] I am forced to buy with it a license for Windows xp. If you know how to buy this particular model new with Linux or no OS preloaded, please do post back with directions.

If you want to get a PC with no OS at all, why not buy a used machine on eBay that has no OS?

That's just silly. A used machine is not new, has no warranty, and is older and therefore less relevant. Plus, the used machine, if it was bought new with Windows, will be priced accordingly. The Windows license is the one part of that used machine that doesn't wear and tear. If I didn't want to buy Windows on new hardware, why would I want to pay for it on old hardware?

I built my own desktop. No OS.

Cool. I'm still looking for that mini 10/US15W. Can you build that new without Windows?

something about a "Microsoft Tax."

It's a metaphor for a non-optional fee that gives me nothing of value in return. That's not a troll statement--Windows may have value to some, but it has no value to me.

Re:Why bother? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799849)

I am forced to buy with it a license for Windows xp. If you know how to buy this particular model new with Linux or no OS preloaded, please do post back with directions.

Maybe because the 1% that would buy it with Linux isn't a big enough minority for Dell to care about? I'd yell at Dell, not Microsoft.

It's a metaphor for a non-optional fee that gives me nothing of value in return

Then that tax is put on by Dell, not Microsoft.

I just don't get it. If you are dead set on certain hardware provided by Dell, why is it Microsoft's fault for them not providing it with Linux pre-installed (or nothing pre-installed)? It's Dell's fault. Unless Microsoft is forcing them to only use Windows.

Interestingly, Windows on netbooks is increasing, not decreasing, [computerworld.com] Which seems to support Dell's decision that offering both configurations (I have no clue how much overhead that entails) may not be profitable enough... or may result in an increase of customer issues who see the cheaper option and get, having no clue with Linux is or something like that.

Don't get me wrong. If I bought a netbook it'd have Linux on it. I couldn't find the MSI Wind linux editions either, which was frustrating. But that's MSI's fault, not MS.

Re:Why bother? (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800041)

Maybe because the 1% that would buy it with Linux isn't a big enough minority for Dell to care about? I'd yell at Dell, not Microsoft.

Exactly. And this thread is about Amazon refunding that license fee, not MS. Demanding that refund is about putting pressure back on the vendor to support options other than Windows. If the market really didn't want alternatives then we wouldn't be reading stories like this.

Personally I don't care who has to pony up, I just don't like being forced to pay. Whether MS is putting unfair pressure on vendors to sell their products exclusively, as has been alleged, becomes less relevant when the consumer revolts. I have never purchased a Windows license. I don't use it at home, and I don't forsee a day when I will.

Sooner or later I will have to buy a laptop, and if I will most assuredly not be paying for Windows with it. Better if I don't have to go through the ridiculous refund process, but I will if necessary.

Re:Why bother? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800333)

I have never purchased a Windows license. I don't use it at home, and I don't forsee a day when I will.

Cool. You and the other 5% :) I have no problem whatsoever with it. I personally have used DOS, Windows, and Linux as primary OS's, and currently use Win 7 RC/Ubuntu 9.04 at home for normal activities.

Yelling at Amazon ... or Amazon associates or whatever they are called... seems like the way to go. And supporting other OEMs that will build or build-to-order and put whatever OS on that you want is another option - one I considered, actually.

IMO, the consumer base that primarily looks for pre-installed pre-everything are not going to be the ones actively looking for Linux.. and if presented with a list of ~50 distros to install (or whatever, I've seen some pretty big lists, especially when they allow different versions of different distros, etc), they're going to be pretty confused....

So until the consumer base that wants Linux rises, the supply is only going to meet the demand... not change the demand all that much...

Re:Why bother? (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800529)

IMO, the consumer base that primarily looks for pre-installed pre-everything are not going to be the ones actively looking for Linux.

If I'm anything like the typical Linux user, then the typical Linux user probably couldn't care less about what's preinstalled, as long as he isn't forced to pay for it. I'm almost as likely to wipe an Ubuntu preinstall as I am Windows, FreeDOS, or whatever else, but at least they shouldn't ask me to pay for the privilege.

Re:Why bother? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800667)

True. I should rephrase... "not going to be the ones actively looking for assembled hardware to self-install the OS on." :)

Re:Why bother? (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800643)

I got rid of windows at home nearly ten years ago, so I understand not wanting windows...

However, if you want a Dodge Viper without any seats and a built-in coffee maker, you are going to have to purchase a Dodge Viper, remove the seats and install a coffee maker. They dont sell them in that configuration.
While it is frustrating to purchase extra 'features' that you dont want, its the only option you have aside from not buying it at all.

Re:Why bother? (2, Informative)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799785)

If you do not want Microsoft products, do not buy them.

You don't have a choice, a us consent decree [usdoj.gov] states that microsoft can not.

  • (B) Microsoft shall not enter into any License Agreement that by its terms prohibits or restricts the OEM's licensing, sale or distribution of any non-Microsoft Operating System Software product.
  • (C) Microsoft shall not enter into any Per Processor License.

Microsoft gets paid, even if you don't you use their operating system, due to the per processor licensing scheme.
To gauge the Governments effectiveness (above rulings were in 1994) read [usdoj.gov] this FINDINGS OF FACT (1998) which

the Court finds the following facts to have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence

to save you the read not much has changed.

Re:Why bother? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800089)

> If you want to get a PC with no OS at all, why not buy a used machine on eBay that has no OS?

I dunno. Perhaps because you don't want some machine that someone else has already abused?

XP refund? What are you doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799533)

Ever since XP has been discontinued by Microsoft, the value of XP licenses has gone up quite a bit.

Resell it on ebay!

(yes, I know it's probably an EULA violation)

this FP form GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799545)

NIGGER ASSOCIATION don't feel that hot on the heels of And shouting that his clash with that should be over a quality teeth into when something that you that *BSD 0wned.

Can you buy a Windows CD and get refund of EULA? (1)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799573)

I'm pretty curious and this idea just popped into my head. I'm sure the answer is easy, so I'll ask.

What's the difference between buying a computer and getting a refund for the cost of the Windows EULA (since apparently you're actually receiving the operating system data, yet agree not to "use" it) and buying a Windows XP CD and attempting to get a refund for the cost of the EULA if you just want the data, but agree not to "use" it. Say you want it for a coaster, art project, or other use.

Does that logic not follow?

Re:Can you buy a Windows CD and get refund of EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799729)

The difference is you CHOSE to buy the Windows CD/DVD. It is compulsory with the purchase of a PC and from what I've read quite a bitch to get a refund....

Re:Can you buy a Windows CD and get refund of EULA (1)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800283)

Yes, of course I chose to buy the Windows CD. That doesn't make it any different than choosing to buy a computer.
I chose to buy the Windows CD because I wanted it for use as a nerdy coaster. I am not interested in the data/software/EULA contained within. Same as if I bought a computer, and am forced to pay for an OS I'm not interested in (so I'm allowed a refund).
Why can't I get a refund for the OS I'm forced to buy with the compact disc I wanted to buy?
Seems like the same thing to me.

Re:Can you buy a Windows CD and get refund of EULA (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800565)

Does that logic not follow?

You are required to transfer all copies of a copyrighted work when you transfer ownership, so no, it does not. This is a question which actually could be answered by reading copyright law, although it might take you some time. (It's also common knowledge among people who actually care about such things.)

next step (0, Troll)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799623)

I wonder if I can buy a Mac from Amazon and get a refund for OS X because I wanted to run Windows on it.

Re:next step (2, Informative)

corychristison (951993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799801)

I wonder if I can buy a Mac from Amazon and get a refund for OS X because I wanted to run Windows on it.

From what I've read/heard, you are paying for the hardware and the hardware only. As Apple is a "hardware company." OS X is a freebie according to this logic many Slashdot users like to profess.

Re:next step (1)

jdkramar (803337) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799971)

I wonder if I can buy a Mac from Amazon and get a refund for OS X because I wanted to run Windows on it.

From what I've read/heard, you are paying for the hardware and the hardware only. As Apple is a "hardware company." OS X is a freebie according to this logic many Slashdot users like to profess.

Besides, Apple's standpoint is that you need to use Bootcamp (and therefore OS X) to run Windows on a Mac.

Re:next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800341)

Nope. Apple has not been convicted in court of abusing a monopoly position.

Re:next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28800373)

You can't and no judge would help you. Apple is selling complete systems (that is hardware + OS) which they manufactre themselves, just like IBM is selling AS/400 aka. iSeries aka System i.

Re:next step (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800627)

Why is the GP modded Troll? if you can get refunds of Windows from Dell et al, it stands to reason you'd be able to get a refund of OSX from Apple as well.

Hell, if I had money to spare (on both computer and lawyer) I'd test it out myself.

Worked for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28799885)

I bought an XPS m1330 from Dell in June 2008. On opening the box, I read the Vista EULA and decided to try to get a refund from Dell.

First off, Dell seemed pretty confused and multiple times suggested I just return the computer and finally transferred me to returns or customer retention.

I explained that I did not want Windows and that the EULA said I could contact the manufacturer for a refund, and that I wanted to return Windows only. After putting me on hold to 'look into this' he came back and explained that they couldn't find that part of the EULA, nor was there an internal policy in place, but, he could give me a $75 customer satisfaction or compensation credit, no strings attached.

$75 dollars were credited to my card the next day, and I still have a spare key for Vista, if I even install it.

Consumer choice (0, Troll)

kervin (64171) | more than 4 years ago | (#28799977)

So he chose to buy a computer with Windows pre-installed even if there are dozens of places that will happily sell one with another operating system, and then demands a refund.

Oh, and Microsoft is being unreasonable.

Interesting logic....

The holy license refund of Amazon? (3, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800023)

And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy License, then shalt thou count to 40 GBP, no more, no less. 40.00 GBP shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be 40. 50 shalt thou not count, neither count thou 30, excepting that thou then proceedest on to 40. 60 is right out. Once the 40.00 GBP, being the 40th number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy License of Windows towards thy Amazon, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

Wasn't a judge in Israel (2, Informative)

Sun (104778) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800049)

The case in Israel was an out of court settlement. It never got to a judge. It was unique in that the plaintiff refused to settle unless it was also made public, but still, no judge.

Shachar

Can we do the same with mac os x? and new apple sy (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800071)

Can we do the same with mac os x? and new apple systems? Even if it just to get the real price of mac os x out of them. Will psysar try this in there court case?

Chat with Newegg Customer Support (3, Interesting)

Polarism (736984) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800211)

Copy Print Exit 4:58:39 PM CustomerChristian Initial Question/Comment: Rebates 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Jeremy has joined this session! 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Connected with Jeremy 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Hello my name is Jeremy. How may I help you today? 4:59:20 PM CustomerChristian Hi there, I was reading an article about how amazon refunded the microsoft OS price for a netbook that was purchased. http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2009/07/21/getting-your-microsoft-tax-refunded-1010-for-amazon-uk/ [theopensourcerer.com] 4:59:35 PM CustomerChristian I was wondering whether Newegg would do that on a laptop I ordered, because I don't accept the EULA. 5:00:34 PM AgentJeremy We do not offer this return. 5:01:02 PM CustomerChristian Didn't think so. :) Perhaps one day when EULA's are challenged in court we can get this fixed. Until then, viva la microsoft tax eh? ;) 5:01:49 PM AgentJeremy Do you have any other questions, or is there anything else I can assist you with today? 5:01:53 PM CustomerChristian Nope, thanks. Send Session ID: 658231 Question40 Pick one of the following options: OK Cancel Timeout40 Do you wish to continue this chat session? Continue Session End Session

Vista Ultimate licence refunded by Lenovo (1)

toesterdahl (1409235) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800213)

I use solely Ubuntu for private computing since early 2005. As I bought a new laptop, accidentally an Lenovo it was sort of irritating not to be able to get it with my favorite operating system. Before opening the package I checked around on the internet for references to what to do with the Windows Vista Ultimate licence. It was clear to me that the EULA terms were inacceptable to me so according to the licence terms I needed to wipe the hard disk without ever booting into Vista. I called up the free Lenovo support and asked what to do. They asked to come back, half an hour later a support manager called and told me that I was going to be sent a form to be signed guaranteeing that I reformatted the hard drive wiping out the boot partition as well as the recovery partition. I also needed to hand in the Windows licence stickers and my bank account number to receive the equivalent of $40. By handing in the form I also accepted that I was not going to get any support on the computer any more and there was no way I could get a recovery CD. On my part I accept that computer makers does not have to sell non-windows hardware. I also equally much think they should give users the choice of buying hardware without the software. I am glad that Lenovo is giving us this option. TorbjÃrn Ã-sterdahl, Zürich. http://www.ultra-marine.org/ [ultra-marine.org]
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