Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Italian Consumer Watchdog Sues Microsoft Over 'Windows Tax'

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-out-of-arrears dept.

Microsoft 313

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from El Reg: "[An] Italian consumer watchdog is suing Microsoft over the 'Windows Tax' – the near impossibility of an ordinary user getting a refund if they decide to delete Microsoft's software from a new computer or laptop. The class action case says Microsoft makes it too difficult for people who buy a computer with Microsoft software on it to remove that software and get their money back. Most users do not realise that starting the software means you have accepted the end user licence."

cancel ×

313 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Finally.... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34987942)

Its about time someone stopped MS from forcing vendors to sell Windows.

Updated TOS (5, Informative)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34987948)

I recently bought a Sony VAIO laptop. I was somewhat surprised to see that Windows 7's license agreement now says "contact the manufacturer and find out their refund policy" rather than "contact the manufacturer for a refund". Not only that, underneath it was a separate agreement from Sony which said, in a nutshell, that it was all or nothing. Looks like somebody got tired of actually having to keep their promises to us nerds.

Re:Updated TOS (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988048)

If you don't want to pay for Windows, don't buy a machine with Windows. I haven't paid for Windows in over 10 years. I buy a new machine just about every years. But not ones that come with Windows.

Why no noise about being able to buy a Mac without whatever Macs run?

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988106)

Building a desktop computer from parts makes it easy to buy something without Windows. For laptops, however, it's nearly impossible. Aside from those sold by Apple.

Sony doesn't sell operating systems.
Microsoft doesn't sell computers.
Apple sells both the machine and the operating system. It's a complete system.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988300)

Aside from those sold by Apple

How do you buy a Macbook without an operating system? Can you exclude it in the shopping cart?

Re:Updated TOS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988428)

Dunno, but you can definitely get one without windows.

Re:Updated TOS (0)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988560)

I think I read somewhere Apple actually says that for legal purposes you buy a Macbook and they offer the OS. I think it's to protect them from the inverse problem: having people complain they want to buy MacOSX without the hardware. Since it's 'a gift', they can refuse to sell it separately.
Not sure if this is true, though.

Re:Updated TOS (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988674)

having people complain they want to buy MacOSX without the hardware

...but can't you just go to Amazon or wherever and buy a shrink-wrapped version of OS X?

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988670)

Comprehension problem much?

"...buy something without Windows ... nearly impossible, aside from those sold by Apple."

Yes, Apple sells computers without Windows pre-installed. Shocking, isn't it?

Re:Updated TOS (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988122)

Right... just try buying a new laptop without Windows preinstalled... it seriously limits your choices! In fact, it's usually cheaper to buy a laptop on sale and throw away the Windows license than it is to buy one without Windows preinstalled!

Re:Updated TOS (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988180)

it's usually cheaper to buy a laptop on sale and throw away the Windows license than it is to buy one without Windows preinstalled!

So if Windows makes computers cheaper, what exactly is the Microsoft tax?

Re:Updated TOS (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988226)

It doesn't make laptops cheaper, it just makes inexpensive laptops a bit less inexpensive. The fact that buying a bare laptop is more expensive is a nasty side-effect of MS's licensing arrangements with OEMs. That, in turn, is why people are getting fed up with the Windows tax.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988302)

If they can afford to sell me the laptop for $300 AND pay Microsoft $45, it stands to reason that they could afford to sell me the laptop for $255 without Windows. It's as simple as that.

Re:Updated TOS (4, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988348)

Dont forget they earn a few dollars installing Norton, a few more for the MS Office trial version, browser toolbars and other crap-ware.

Re:Updated TOS (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988522)

True; the first thing I have to do with every new prebuilt computer is uninstall the Norton 30-day trial and install Microsoft Security Essentials. But does the bribes the company gets for preinstalling trial software really exceed the money they pay for the Windows 7 license?

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988746)

In many cases, yes.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988748)

I think it very well might be. Isn't that basically Microsoft's business model? They found a way to compete on price with free (as in beer).

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988490)

You already pay $300 for a laptop, why the hell would they lower the price when they could gain $45 more in profit?

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988600)

I don't know. Why do they sell laptops for $300 when people buy them for $500? I guess they must all be idiots or something, because there's no way in hell that lowering prices could ever make me choose to buy a laptop from them instead of a competitor or something.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988676)

Why? Competition. That's how a market system works.

Car Analogy (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988184)

Right... just try buying a new laptop without Windows preinstalled... it seriously limits your choices!

This is so, and it's unfortunate. But you know buying a Chevy seriously limits the brand of engine you can get: It's going to be a Chevy unless YOU put something else in, and you're still going to pay for the new Chevy engine unless you buy the car used.

Re:Car Analogy (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988202)

A computer is not a car. Analogy Fail.

A computer is not made by Microsoft.

Re:Car Analogy (1)

dkmeans (883158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988340)

Bad analogy - more like you can only run Chevy brand gasoline, oil & tires.

Re:Car Analogy (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988392)

Car engines are not interchangeable parts. Operating systems are. A better analogy would be that the Chevy dealer shouldn't be allowed to force you to pay $1000 for a stereo system when you know you can have an even better aftermarket system installed for $200.

Re:Car Analogy (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988414)

A new Chevy engine can be removed from you car and resold for a significant amount of money. Try reselling the Windows license that came with your computer and see what happens...

Re:Updated TOS (2)

lbates_35476 (901961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988162)

First, because IMHO there is nothing that runs better on Macintosh than OS X. If Windows were as good as OS X, there would be less of a problem with this. Secondly, the hardware and OS comes from a single company (Apple) so I believe there's more leniency with the bundle. Thirdly, there's no retail/OEM pricing available for OS X because it isn't sold as a separate product.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988254)

because IMHO there is nothing that runs better on Macintosh than OS X.,

Which is why Boot Camp does not exist.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988694)

well... it's possible considering how fast OSX runs on a commodity PC.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988706)

1- You don't get the same battery life (not even close)
2- No multi-touch on the trackpad

I know that's driver related, but still...

Re:Updated TOS (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988284)

Secondly, the hardware and OS comes from a single company (Apple) so I believe there's more leniency with the bundle.

So much "leniency" that it is impossible to buy a Macintosh without OSX.

there's no retail/OEM pricing available for OS X because it isn't sold as a separate product.

Or maybe it's not sold as a separate product because there is no retail/OEM pricing available.

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988370)

First, because IMHO there is nothing that runs better on Macintosh than OS X. If Windows were as good as OS X, there would be less of a problem with this. Secondly, the hardware and OS comes from a single company (Apple) so I believe there's more leniency with the bundle. Thirdly, there's no retail/OEM pricing available for OS X because it isn't sold as a separate product.

Leopard has a retail MSRP of $129. Snow leopard has a price of $29 for upgrade. Snow leopard retail I believe only comes in the box set which is like $179. It is sold as a separate product.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988380)

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MAC_OS_X_SNGL [apple.com] http://store.apple.com/us_smb_78313/product/MAC_OS_X_SVR [apple.com]
Yes they sel it alone (as an upgrade may be but still) Your whole point stil stand though. Their upgrade price is afordable (30$) compared to 150 (or somthing in that range) for an upgrade from M$.
PS: I hate apple !!!!

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988478)

That's upgrade pricing leopard was $129 and afaik the only way to get reatial snow leopard is purchase leopard to or get the box set which is $179

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988334)

Although most consumers wouldn't know that you can buy computers all over the net without Windows, we here at /. should. If you don't, you do now. Look at ibuypower for an example, yes they cater to the higher end but you don't have to buy an OS. Other companies do the same on lower end systems. For those consumers that don't know, I believe most of them don't care as Windows is what they know. Or they buy a Mac. I don't buy my computer related items from Best Buy, I know better. Doesn't mean that Sony can't decide that all their laptops come with Windows. Anyway, the point is that yes, there is choice. You're just not going to find it in a big retail store. If I want to sell you a widget that has "x" on it, I'm certainly free to do so. If you don't want "x" don't buy it. Everyone reading this submission knows what the deal is, you're not forced to buy anything. You can even buy laptops without an OS. Maybe not the exact one you want but if you want it bad enough you'll just recognize that it comes with a feature you don't need/want and take that into your valuation of laptop. Perhaps you don't want it after all.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988484)

If you are ordering a computer from a brand name: Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, HP, Sony, etc. it's near impossible to order one without Windows unless you happen to be a business. If you are building your own desktop from parts from a site like Newegg then you can. If you want a laptop, you are out of luck. Sure you could order parts of a laptop from Sony and then assemble it, but by the time you've ordered all the parts, you've paid more than the price of the assembled laptop.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988496)

If you don't want to pay for Windows, don't buy a machine with Windows.

Linux-preinstalled machines are still available, but there were a majority of the budget machines for a while. It was sad when people just wanted to format it and install that OS everyone else uses. They didn't even know what an OS was, but they wanted the one everyone else has.

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988052)

In some corners it's been like what you describe for quite a while. The computer and the OS are "sold as a unit" and you can return the whole thing for a refund if you want.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988064)

All or nothing.

So what do you do?

I don't know of any retailer where you can return an electronic item and say "I don't agree with the EULA" and NOT have to pay at least a 15% restocking fee - that's assuming you can return it at all. Most retailers will NOT take electronic returns (if opened) unless it's defective and then, the best you can do is get a replacement of that item.

Being a consumer of electronics sucks and the EULA is not binding because it's "all or nothing" and there isn't any recourse (you have no choice) - there's a legal term for it and I don't remember what it is - I actually had a conversation with my biz law professor over this.

Come on IAAL! Pipe in here!

Re:Updated TOS (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988190)

I believe either Staples or Office Max doesn't have 15% restocking fee. I forget which, I get them confused.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988274)

Office Depot doesn't have a restocking fee as long as you return everything originally in the box within 7 days.

Re:Updated TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988402)

So much for my brilliant legal mind.

I only got a 'B' in biz law in my MBA program.

Anyway, I'm practicing for my new job. I have to practice this line:

"Sir, would you like fires with that?"

Re:Updated TOS (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988828)

"would you like FIRES with that". That's probably the best misspell EVER.

Re:Updated TOS (0)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988252)

But it IS defective, it has windows on it. Keep exchanging until you get one without. :-)

Re:Updated TOS (2)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988086)

Yeah, it's been like that since Vista, and I also find it annoying and objectionable. I was told by a fellow student last fall that they had some success buying laptops without Windows by calling the OEM's sales line and demanding it as a condition of sale. I haven't had a chance to try this yet, and I don't know whether this works for machines in e.g. the bi-weekly specials that Dell likes to rotate, but I'm definitely going to try it on the next laptop I get, and so should any non-Windows-user who is buying direct from an OEM. The path to a company's heart is through their sales department.

Re:Updated TOS (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988246)

Shame on YOU for still buying the overpriced crap that Sony now markets... and yes, I can still remember when Sony made good equipment.

Slashdot - News from CNET, they beat us to it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34987952)

It seems that CNET is beating Slashdot to the truly geek driven stories... all Slashdot allows is a larger audience to MST3K it.

now look at the mac os tax (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34987964)

now look at the mac os tax
it has to be at the most $1500-$500 on the mac pro.

Re:now look at the mac os tax (2)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988154)

I agree with you there... I have 5 machines running OSX at the moment. TWO of them are older Apple machines runing 10.4 Tiger. The other THREE are off the shelf PCS running 10.6.6 Snow Leopard Total for 2 desktop machines and a netbook? A little over 2500 dollars.

Re:now look at the mac os tax (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988232)

Not germane.

Apple builds the computer and the OS.

Microsoft does not build computers.

Re:now look at the mac os tax (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988238)

now look at the mac os tax
it has to be at the most $1500-$500 on the mac pro.

Would you be willing to pay 400-500 dollars per copy of OS X? OS X development is subsidized by hardware purchases which is why it is so cheap compared to windows licenses. Would you be willing to put up with license keys and activation?

Most people probably would not.

New versions of OS X are cheap and have no copy protection on them. The trade off that you make for that is to only run it on macs.

Offer you can't refuse? (-1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34987972)

Anyone else find it ironic that an ITALIAN group is suing MS for charging exorbitant fees with no recourse?

Re:Offer you can't refuse? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988020)

Racist sterotype!

Re:Offer you can't refuse? (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988088)

I'm sorry this is not a racist stereotype... he didn't say Latin Mediterraneans... he said Italians. This is a nationalist stereotype. Grazie, you may continue :-)

Re:Offer you can't refuse? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988158)

Actually, it is a Sicilian stereotype... and Northern Italians have a much dimmer view of Sicilians than Americans do! Prego.

Re:Offer you can't refuse? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988338)

and Northern Italians have a much dimmer view of Sicilians than Americans do

Being half-Sicilian, I can assure you that the reverse is also true.

Just ask your average Sicilian what she thinks of the Tuscan.

don't blame Microsoft (0, Flamebait)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988022)

You can really blame China for this, not Microsoft. If you sell no-OS computers in China, they're getting an illegal copy of Windows put on them 100% guaranteed. If you sell them preloaded, you force pre-assembled computer purchases in China to have legit copies.
Furthermore, how can someone prove they removed Windows 7 from a computer they bought? I don't think Microsoft quite has a remote killswitch or re-check of the license daily on the internet or something. They can't remote disable the copy of Windows that your computer came with if you claim you removed windows and put on Linux but you're lying and it's still running windows. I'm not sure if there's a license re-check for every windows update so they might be able to remotely kill that but other than that, they can't trust random customers who claim they removed it.

Re:don't blame Microsoft (1)

MTTECHYBOY (799778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988044)

You are correct - so maybe they shouldn't pre install - just give you the option of What OS you want (If any)... ..I know - what a concept!!!

Re:don't blame Microsoft (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988120)

Furthermore, how can someone prove they removed Windows 7 from a computer they bought?

You don't activate it. When you turn on your computer for the first time it asks to activate it. It's that simple.

Re:don't blame Microsoft (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988194)

I'm not sure about 7 or Vista, but XP used to sometimes come pre-activated by the OEM.

Re:don't blame Microsoft (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988310)

Not really good enough.

MS doesn't know that you didn't activate it and never intend to, all they know is that you didn't activate it YET.

The license is still bought and paid for and can be activated any time you wish.

What is needed is an option to have it shipped with NO Os installed, or a permanent deactivation of that serial number followed by a check from Microsoft.

Most people would be very unhappy with the pittance they get back, because MS will at best give you an OEM price back not a retail price. The OEMs pay Microsoft a tiny fraction of what you pay for windows when.

Re:don't blame Microsoft (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988466)

The whole point of the consumer watchdog is that if consumers for whatever reason can't conveniently prove it and get the refund, then the bundling and any agreements between retailer and Microsoft are illegal. The fact that it's inconvenient or unprofitable for MS, or killswitches are lacking or people might cheat doesn't really matter in the eyes of the law - forcing a purchase this way is illegal in EU according to the consumer laws.

Good luck with that... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988068)

Way to go ADUC.
They might not get very far, but I will cheer them on.

Re:Good luck with that... (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988140)

Way to go ADUC.
They might not get very far, but I will cheer them on.

Well, if it walks like ADUC...

Buy Only What You Want (1, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988078)

Why buy a computer with Windows when you want a computer without Windows? I buy lots of things and throw out part of it. I don't expect a refund on the skin of an onion that gets peeled and promptly thrown away.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (5, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988132)

I don't expect a refund on the skin of an onion that gets peeled and promptly thrown away.

Yes, but the farmer doesn't pay a third party to add skins to their onions, thus increasing the cost of onion production. They may pay Monsanto, but without going too far off topic, that system's just as screwed up.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988244)

Yes, but the farmer doesn't pay a third party to add skins to their onions, thus increasing the cost of onion production.

Or does the onion skin provide secondary effects which make onion farming cheaper in the long run?

That is to say, does shipping the most widely used OS on the planet, which supports most hardware and software out of the box, reduce support costs over time? Even though Linux is free, it might cost more to support each Linux box than a Windows box. It's plausible, and would therefore make the Windows products actually cheaper. I remember seeing Dell computers preinstalled with Ubuntu were often times even more expensive than their Windows counterparts.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988374)

I remember seeing Dell computers preinstalled with Ubuntu were often times even more expensive than their Windows counterparts.

Then they didn't charge enough for Ubuntu software support. Hardware manufacturers should shut up and just support their hardware, rather than say ridiculous things like Apple's "jailbreaking your iPhone voids the hardware warranty, including the screen". I know they're scared that custom, non-sandboxed code might be able to send a "Halt and Catch Fire" type signal to the hardware that otherwise wouldn't happen, but you need a little intelligence and knowledge of your product to be able to respect your customers that are using it (in this example, to be able to differentiate between hardware failures linked to some kind of abuse and a manufacturing fault in the screen).

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0, Troll)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988166)

Yeah, but onion skins are useful. I find Windows more like the other part of the onion ... it makes me cry.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988168)

Trying to buy a computer without Windows is more likely to end up in tears than peeling an onion...

Re:Buy Only What You Want (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988178)

Not many prebuilt computers have the price, specs, and OS we want.

Some computers, like laptops, can't usually be assembled at home.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988280)

Oh no, you might have to compromise. Boo hoo.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988256)

> Why buy a computer with Windows when you want a computer without Windows?
Why buy an onion with skin when you don't want the skin?

> I don't expect a refund on the skin of an onion that gets peeled and promptly thrown away.
The onion skin doesn't cost $129.95 when purchased separately. Nor does the grocery store deliberately add the skin and pay Microsoft for the privilege.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988296)

Why buy a computer with Windows when you want a computer without Windows? I buy lots of things and throw out part of it. I don't expect a refund on the skin of an onion that gets peeled and promptly thrown away.

I am pretty sure that the skin of an onion doesn't cost 100 bucks :)

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988306)

There is no Onion Skin Growers of America who have unethically and occasionally illegally thrown their economic weight around to force normally skinless onions to have a skin at a cost to the buyer.

Re:Buy Only What You Want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988824)

If you wish to pay more for your computer by all means feel free. Knowing a few people who work for both Dell and HP says they offer discounts on computers with windows since they make money on all the other advertising crap they put on your machine. Your free 30 day and 90 day trials your extra toolbars and the like. They get paid to put these things on your machine. In most cases this not only pays over the MS licensing fee since they pay very little for bulk licenses. So this often means you would pay more for not having windows on your machine if they choose to pass that discount on to you. Which is usually the case. So by all means try to get a discount on a negative value you might find your paying more.

To be fair, not a Microsoft problem (3, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988144)

Microsoft makes deals with PC manufacturers, who then bundle Windows and sell to end customers. If you buy such a PC, and don't want Windows, you should talk to your manufacturer instead. Why is it an issue for Microsoft to deal with, or make it convenient for you to get a refund from your PC manufacturer? It just doesn't make sense.

So sue the manufacturer instead.

Re:To be fair, not a Microsoft problem (4, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988228)

The problem is Microsoft uses bully tactics and abuse their monopoly to bend the manufacturers to their will. MOST people who buy laptops want or don't mind using Windows on them, so to be competitive in the laptop market you have to have a good price on your laptop+windows bundle, and if you want a good deal on Windows, Microsoft's exclusivity agreements then stop you from offering any other alternative.

The legal challengers are trying to say that a laptop as a piece of hardware is separate enough from Windows that you shouldn't be allowed to force it on people.

OK, fine. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988342)

I'm sure it will be no problem for MS to issue checks for $10, which is probably what those OEM licenses cost the manufacturers. Oh, you wanted full retail price? Are you really that DUMB and DENSE that you thought Dell, etc, pay full retail price for each license?

Re:OK, fine. (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988486)

That's exactly what I said. But it'd be the manufacturer that issues the cheque if the license has already been sold.

The original round of people that got a refund on their Windows licenses as allowed by the EULA in the past decade got more than $10, but less than the OEM price. That's the result of the kind of exclusive deal I was talking about.

Re:To be fair, not a Microsoft problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988616)

The problem is Microsoft uses bully tactics and abuse their monopoly to bend the manufacturers to their will. MOST people who buy laptops want or don't mind using Windows on them, so to be competitive in the laptop market you have to have a good price on your laptop+windows bundle, and if you want a good deal on Windows, Microsoft's exclusivity agreements then stop you from offering any other alternative. [Citation Needed]

Re:To be fair, not a Microsoft problem (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988388)

MS freely offered to provide a refund if you choose not to agree to the terms of the EULA. They then reneg on that offer if you actually take them up on it, even if you bought the laptop with the understanding that the option existed.

They try to pass the responsibility off to a 3rd party that had no part in the EULA.

Since then, there have been cases where the OS and hardware are claimed to be offered as an all or nothing bundle, but that may not be legal everywhere and, of course, there is a question of actually getting your free refund should you not agree with the T&C you can only see by turning the laptop on.

Re:To be fair, not a Microsoft problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988424)

So does it bother you that Microsoft was found guilty of abusing their monopoly position?
Ordinary rules don't apply to Microsoft anymore and this "product tying" is already illegal in many countries as it is.

Re:To be fair, not a Microsoft problem *IS*TOO* (4, Informative)

redelm (54142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988426)

This comment would be correct except for one very inconvenient fact -- Microsoft has been adjudged a monopolist in the EU (and US but penalties were reduced).

Contrary to popular impression, monopolies are not illegal. But they are restricted by law from doing things (mostly that would preserve or extend the monopoly) that are perfectly legal for other companies.

Tying or "bundling" is one of those illegal things that monopolies must not do. Selling their product as part of another sale. Software, including should be a sales choice ("Do you want Windows with that?") and invoice line-item.

How the boxen are configured and shipped is a separate matter. It would probably not be illegal to ship a machine with MS Windows pre-installed (and even stickered) even though the OS was refused at sales time and no price was paid for it. Quiet about virus! This would not authorize use, although a gift recipient might have an innocent user defense.

Italian Law? A refund is not the same! (2)

redelm (54142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988146)

I do not know Italian law, but I would not expect an outcome similar to Anglo-American law. AFAIK, they mostly use a "code" approach to the law, the codes dating back to the Romans and being used as generally guiding principles for the judges who have more discretion than common-law courts.

The fundamental problem for MS and the bundling mfrs is that a refund is not the same as a non-sale. It might be a remedy, but the money has been paid, and the negotiating power is reversed.

If, for instance, I boot my new machine from a USB key or CDROM, I might never see any notices of refund. Such a clean boot would be a very reasonable precaution to avoid running MS software and avoid a possible allegation of "use".

Re:Italian Law? A refund is not the same! (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988820)

AFAIK, they mostly use a "code" approach to the law, the codes dating back to the Romans and being used as generally guiding principles for the judges who have more discretion than common-law courts.

IANAIL, but we definitely do not have any code dating back to the Romans. There is no continuity between the Roman Empire and the Republic of Italy, which started out as the Duchy of Savoy, then Kingdom of Sardinia, then Kingdom of Italy. We have a sort of Napoleonic code [wikipedia.org] (good thing that our expats bring back something useful sometimes), which if anything gives much less discretion than in common law.

For example, a judge cannot rule on the basis of custom, but only on written law. Sentences do not create precedence, unless they are from the highest court. Frankly I found it always odd that in common law you can use a precedent from a judge as an argument in front of another one.

This is kind of silly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988176)

I don't like companies abusing monopolies any more than the next slashdotter but this seems silly. Would you expect to remove any other peice of software or hardware from a fully built computer and return it to the store for a refund? A more reasonable approach would be to support companies selling open-centric systems by buying there computers, and going after MS in court (As has already happened) for them trying to prevent any other OS being offered on computers sold.

Are the fanboys not going to be happy until linux is mandated by law to be an option on every PC sold?

starting the software means... (2, Insightful)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988220)

...you have accepted the end user licence

Funny, I thought that is what liveCD's and OS installation software was for?

Actually, I got so $%&&%$## off a year ago when I bought my last (as in never again) Dell and I was forced to purchase a 64 bit copy of Windoze just to get the amount of memory I wanted. Even though they knew I was going to wipe whatever they put on the disk drive as soon as it arrived I still had to pay the ransom/extortion fee. I never looked back. My next machine was an HP with twice the memory and a blank disk drive. Speak with your wallet, as that is the only language they truly understand.

Re:starting the software means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988488)

My next machine was an HP with twice the memory and a blank disk drive.

My experiences with HP tell me you still got an overpriced piece of shit that is underpowered for what it's advertised as.

My wife works for HP, and we bought her a laptop using her 20% discount ... this thing is so loaded with crap and trialware it's not funny, and despite having decent RAM and a multi-core processor, it can't rip a CD without introducing all sorts of noise and crap because they apparently put in an IO bus from the 80's. And, the "make a restore disk" operation failed, and you only get one chance to do it. It's also got a screen with a resolution that someone pulled out of their backside as it doesn't correspond to any resolution I've ever seen.

Needless to say, even with her discount, we wouldn't buy another HP again. HPs hardware isn't what it used to be, and we've been really underwhelmed with it.

Re:starting the software means... (2)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988688)

Windoze

Off-topic, but why is it that the words "Windows" and "Microsoft" are still deliberately mangled when people who particularly dislike the product/company talk about them? It's 2011 already - it's not funny or cute anymore. Do these people distort the names of other companies and products they don't like? What makes Windows/Microsoft special?

The sign of a mature discussion is when you can refer to things you don't like without having to resort to childish mechanics like deliberate mangling of words. I doubt people who actually know enough soft skills resort to name calling, as they're aware it immediately turns people off their position.

Re:starting the software means... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988742)

My last 3 laptops have been high-end HP workstation models with blank disks. They are, compared to the rest, very good about giving you exactly what you want in your computer. I haven't used it or anything, but I believe there is an option to get some of the more mainstream linux distros pre-installed as well. You may have to buy through another reseller like Newegg or CDW for that.

In the context of this discussion, though, there isn't much point...since I do just fine using Windows myself.

Kind of absurd in my view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988276)

I don't understand the basis for this. If I buy a new computer and it comes with a cd-rom drive should I be allowed to take it back to the store and get my money back for the drive? What if it comes with more ram than I want or a mouse when I have one already?

What if I buy a toaster and later I decide I don't need to toast 8 slices of bread at the same time? Should Walmart have to buy back the unused heating elements?

I just don't understand the theory that would allow this to make sense. I know death to MS...etc..Now where can I buy an iphone without IOS preinstalled?

Re:Kind of absurd in my view... (4, Informative)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988504)

The theory is, Microsoft makes it very difficult for manufacturers to sell computers without Windows. In the past Microsoft has been proven in court to have been strong-arming OEMs into not selling computers with other OSs, or no OS, because for most OEMs their core business is computers with Windows pre-installed, and they don't want to lose their favourable volume discount from Microsoft.

I don't know if this still goes on now, but it is really difficult to buy an off-the-shelf PC with no OS. Arguably the situation is a bit different now than it was 10 years ago, Linux is very much on the radar as is Mac OSX. However, countries differ in their competition and consumer protection laws, and it may well be that, in Italy, it's possible that the current situation runs foul of those laws/regulations.

To answer some of the other posts here asking why no-one complains about OSX, well - maybe some people would like to buy a Mac without an OS. This isn't the point though - it's very difficult to force a company to sell a certain combination of their own products. The issue here is that the MS Windows / Generic PC combination is two different products from two different companies, and that could run foul of competiton and consumer protection rules.

Re:Kind of absurd in my view... (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988534)

I don't understand the basis for this.

In the US, it was from a court case that basically said people had the right to buy a computer without having to pay for a Microsoft OS they're never going to use.

Microsoft had argued that anybody buying it without an OS was going to pirate Windows anyway, so they should get paid.

Basically, it was found to be uncompetitive behavior and harmful to the consumer as it was nearly impossible to NOT end up paying Microsoft around $100 on every new computer sold.

I know death to MS...etc..Now where can I buy an iphone without IOS preinstalled?

Except, Microsoft doesn't sell branded PCs, and as part of the anti-trust settlement they made, they agreed to stop doing that.

You can't buy a Windows 7 phone without an OS on it either -- it's a completely specious argument in this case.

Re:Kind of absurd in my view... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988562)

If you have to click through a EULA to use the CD-ROM drive and you disagree with the terms of use for it, you should be able to send it back for a refund.

using your mouse example -- if the computer box says "Comes with mouse", but in order to use the mouse you're required to install special software and click through a EULA that says "This mouse and software cannot be transferred to any other computer or resold to another person", then you should be able to return it for a refund since you haven't really bought the mouse if you can't decide to move it to your mom's computer.

I'd be happy to pay for the Windows license if I were allowed to sell it on Ebay since I won't be using it. Just like I can sell the keyboard from my new computer if I decide not to use it.

Re:Kind of absurd in my view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988644)

"I don't understand the basis for this."

That's because you are likely a product of the Progressive-controlled & dumbed-down US "education" system. You're not alone, however. Millions of Americans are victims of the intentional and steady dumbing-down of the US population by Progressives over the last 60 to 100 years. The art of critical thinking has been systematically suppressed in the population for many decades.

To Progressives, livestock is livestock whether the livestock has four legs & gives milk, or has two legs and voting rights. As long as the cattle are easy to control, the high breeding rates endemic of poor, uneducated populations will take care of collateral losses from violence & crime, etc.

We've been needing this for a long time (1)

Duncan J Murray (1678632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988598)

Having read a lot of the bizarre analogies above ('onion skins' 'car engines') I feel that most people haven't got the point that OEM manufacturers are _not_ selling their laptops without _3rd party_ software. There is an argument that the only people who would wish to purchase such a laptop would be a minority of linux users - i.e. around 1%, and therefore it would be a logistical cost not worth bearing. I might buy this argument if manufacturers provided laptops in a one-size-fits all strategy, but given a geek, like me, can choose between 5 ranges of laptop from Lenovo, with around three options each for RAM, processor, graphics cpu, hard drive size, wireless connectivity, screen resolution and type of windows installation, then don't try and tell me that it would be difficult or costly in anyway to sell a plain unformatted hard drive without without a license. If I can decline bluetooth, why can't I decline Windows?

The only aspect of the law suit that doesn't make sense is Why Microsoft? Why not sue lenovo? Unless this guy has some evidence to show that Microsoft are using anti-competitive strategies to maintain their marketshare, I don't imagine it will be successful.

Which is a shame, and means we'll have to wait for the EU to step in.

Re:We've been needing this for a long time (2)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988768)

Unless this guy has some evidence to show that Microsoft are using anti-competitive strategies to maintain their marketshare, ...

Well it wouldn't be the first time now would it?

All OEMs in countries with consumer protection... (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988654)

Should offer a "Linux Option". and a known Linux Option. Not a "bizzare Linux no one has ever heard of that has no drivers" option, and not a "FreeDOS option". But a "Fedora Option" or a "Mandriva Option" or a "Ubuntu Option" or a "SuSE Option" - That should cover 90% of Linux users.

What if it's linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34988660)

If I buy a laptop and its a nix' OS, and have to take the time to uninstall that crap, where do I go to recoup money for that inconvenience?

Just argue for a discount... (2)

inanet (1033718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34988812)

Last time I bought a computer it was via Dell,

I rang them up and argued about the fact I didnt want windows.

they argued it was built into the price.

at the time windows home premium was around $250 odd, so I said I wanted $200 off the price, whether or not windows was installed.

it was easier for them to discount me the price of windows (and I doubt it costs them that much per computer) than it was for them to sell me a laptop without windows.

so forget about trying to get it without windows, the main thing is to not have to pay for it!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>