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A tiny protest makes a big noise

JonKatz posted more than 15 years ago | from the Penguin-Breakthroughs dept.

The Internet 155

Mondays Linux-organized demonstrations demanding refunds for pre-installed Windows operating systems drew a small number of people. And none of them got refunds. But the protests got enormous media coverage all over the country and has a lot of symbolism. Why? Because the marchers touched a much deeper chord than the few bucks they were seeking. The Penguin is about to become much more famous.

The pictures on TV and in the papers were on the shocking side, evoking an old, not a new culture or political ethic.

Small, chanting bands of nerdy looking people parading outside of Microsoft offices in different parts of the company were photographed on TV and in papers waving Linux Penguin banners around and demanding refunds for Microsoft's Windows OS that had been pre-installed on their computers.

There were very few demonstrators, and none were known to have gotten refunds. But there was the definite sense that something dramatic had happened, that some corner had been turned.

"It's not a lot of money," one protestor, wearing a faded Atari T-shirt and black Keds sneakers to the Manhattan demonstration told The New York Times, "it's just the idea that you're forced to buy Windows when there are better alternatives out there."

According to the Times, more than "100 self-proclaimed computer geeks" showed up at MS sales offices in several cities to make noise about their wish to reject Windows. The demos were organized by Linux advocates.

The Linux movement is definitely gaining steam and making noise. This week, Business Week wrote that Linux might turn out to be Microsoft's "Vietnam," and raised the spectre of a "guerrilla army" of OSS advocates giving the behemoth fits.

Almost the very next day, the demonstrators popped up outside of Microsoft offices in California, New York, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Japan, to ask for their money back for operating systems they don't want or need.

Whoever organized the protests understands modern journalism well. The protests were widely covered in newspapers and on TV.

Linux has grown by nearly 40 per cent a year over the past few years, and its users number more than seven million worldwide. This rapid growth has been largely ignored by media, which favors stories that burn, scream or explode.

So if you can get 100 protestors to picket some offices and yell for the TV cameras, then - miraculously -- Linux is on the way to becoming a household word.

The OSS and free software movements are among the most political technological movements in media. The collective manufacture, improvement and free distribution of information software is a radical departure from the recent sorry history of media, which has been gobbled up and homogenized by giant, soulless corporations that hate free speech and love only power, money and market share.

The Internet is becoming a battleground for what is clearly a growing political struggle between companies like Microsoft and the millions of individuals who have grown up in the freeest information culture in history.

Linux, OSS and the free software movements are quickly becoming the symbol of political opposition to the looming corporatization of the Net, under siege from some of the wealthiest companies on the planet, from Disney to Microsoft.

Monday's demonstrations were ironic in that they invoked the 60's much more than the Millenium. Chanting and placard waving are traditional symbols of old, not new, politics. But they obviously still work.

"I'm interested in the whole idea of not having any one company control the operating system market," Peter Lehrer, a 39-year-old accountant who drove into Manhattan from New Jersey to join in the demonstrations yesterday. "I just wanted to see what this was all about."

Lehrer's curiousity and enterprise are more significant than even he imagined. Essayist John Ralston Saul wrote in "The Unconscious Civilization" that the epic political battle of the 21st century will be between dehumanizing corporatization and individuals.

Finding some equilibrium in this struggle, Saul wrote, is dependent not just on criticizing, but on the individual's willingness to be a non-conformist in the public place: precisely what the Penguin stands for.

To take on the corporatization of culture, from Wal-Mart to Microsoft, the individual will need common sense, creativity, ethics, intuition, memory and reason. These can be exploited individually, says Saul. "Or they can be applied together, in some sort of equilibrium, as the filters of public action."

However tiny the demonstrations were, that's precisely what happened at a handful of Microsoft offices on Monday, exactly what Peter Lehrer was doing when he took the trouble to drive into New York City.

In our time, corporatization represents greed, exploitation, lack of knowledge and choice and loss of freedom. Movements like open source and free software signify the opposite. They are about generousity and openness. They require knowledge, offer choice, and guarantee freedom. That's why a tiny handful of demonstrators made such a big noise.


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expectations (2)

stealthbob (15597) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012960)

Now nobody really expected MS to open up there very large wallet and start handing out cash did they?

Wrong course of attack? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012961)

Am I correct in assuming that they took the wrong course of attack? Shouldn't they be targetting their PC maker, not the OS maker? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the PC maker who puts the preloaded stuff on there. Don't get me wrong though, I am happy to see PC makers starting to offer alternatives to the norm. Wish I wouldn't have pirated everything so I could get a refund for my Office too :)

I agree (1)

Evan927 (15553) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012962)

I think I should be able to get my money back. But shouldn't I be protesting in front of Compaq?? After all, they're the ones who put Windows on the machine...

cool (1)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012963)

I think these demonstrations will be remembered for a long time to come. The mass-media has traditionally ignored microsoft's unethical/illegal behavior while buying the company's spin. By bringing the microsoft tax to the surface, the protestors have forced microsoft to face the music. It's about damn time.

Not at all (1)

Fastjack (2009) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012964)

The point was to make a PR impression, not get money back. If anyone had actually expected money would they have brought signs with them? Going to Microsoft directly was clearly the only way to concentrate the effect.

Good Article! (0)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012965)

Still with the smart quotes, but social pieces like this is what Katz does best.

I always wished I were aroung for the protests of the '60s. If someone plans something in Portland or Seattle, could they please post it in advance?


whoa! (0)

drwiii (434) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012966)

Wow, a cool Katz article.. Neat. :-)

Good article.. (2)

Enry (630) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012967)

But let me take it a step further.

The press for the past few years has had plenty to write about to get everyone's attention riveted (OJ, JonBenet, Clinton, Iraq, Y2K). Now that most of those stories have lost or are losing steam, what's left? The trials and tribulations the company with the world's largest company (in capital anyway - yes, MS is worth more than GE).

The MS trial itself is not very TV newsworthy. Too many issues, too much that the talking heads can explain in 30 seconds or less. How do you fully explain that MS has lied on videotape three times and what the lies really were? They had a hard enough time explaining what the president was accused of!

How about instead you focus on a group of people demanding refunds for software they don't use? It explains the frustration that the press sees in the public when anyone talks about MS. Noone that I know of says "MS is a good company". It's always "damn MS software crashing". Protests are neat and tidy. They get explained well. Good quotes from ESR and the like that can be printed on the third page of the newspaper.

That is why the press followed this. That is why the press followed this protest and not the protest when Win98 was released.

Wrong course of attack? (1)

cswiii (11061) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012968)

The people who tried to get refunds got the runaround, anyway. M$ told them to talk to their vendor. The vendor told them to talk to M$.

while ($true) {}

No Subject Given (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012969)

said it before, and said it again . . .

we have won the war. it will be a long time (if ever) m$ rolls over and dies, but that should not be the aim.

viable, useful, choices now exist, and will continue to do so


I wouldn't go that far. . . (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012970)

Come on. Less than 100 people showed up to the Bay Area protest according to some accounts. Assuming that about the same about showed up to each MS office worldwide (a safe assumption), less than 1000 people WORLDWIDE showed up at MS officed to protest.

And not one had a cell phone to call up the OEM/vendors in front of MS reps face and dispel the MS tactic of "get the refund from the vendors".

Guarilla warfare? Get real. Even if all 1000 people got refunds of at least US$100 (a VERY generous assumption), that means MS would have given out a total of US$100,000. Gates makes more than that blinking his eyes!

My point is, don't suddenly get all snobbish and confident. Realize that there is still a LONG way to go before Linux becomes a household name in places like middle America.

In the eyes of the world, "alternative OS users" are still just the latest version of the original nerd/geek/phreaker/cracker/hacker/eye-glasses-wear ing/physically-undesirable/sunlight-avoi ding/keyboard-tapping smarty-pants know-it-all.

(no offense intended of course. =)

catch-22 (1)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012971)

That's one of the reasons for the protest. The EULA was scripted by ms and included with the pc bundle. The pc makers would not honor it. They insisted that the whole pc be returned, even though the EULA specifically states that the software product may be returned for a refund. It appears that if the EULA is enforceable to any extent, then ms will very likely be held accountable for the refunds. Can't wait to see what the various state attorneys general say about this issue.

Re:Wrong course of attack? (1)

hogwaller (421) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012972)

Shouldn't they be targetting their PC maker,
not the OS maker? Correct me if
I'm wrong, but it's the PC maker who puts the
preloaded stuff on there.

Ummm...the whole point of this is that the
manufacturers were NOT responding to refund
requests, hence the need to go to MS.

Your Favorite OS Sucks.

Wrong - News Outlets Need News and Will Make It... (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012973)

...if they have to.

No one really gave a poop about the Windows refund events. Its just that between Slapdash, Wired News, News.Com, OnTopOfIT, DaBUZZ, and all the other tech news sites, there is a high demand for news stories and very little supply.

The result - news sites will make a story about any tiny morsel they can get their hands on, on a slow day. If anything really important had happened that day, the refund day events wouldn't even have got a link.

CNN pioneered this with their obsession with all things Washington. CNBC follows by making a breaking story about a stock moving a half point...there are more outlets for media than the news they simply make news out of non-news.

Wrong course of attack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012974)

I thought this too.. but realized it's the wrong form of attack according to MS licence, but to make a public statement it's the right place.

If we'd all gone to differant distributors that day and asked for our refund, we would have been spread out and not really attacked the source of these problems.. the MS monopoly.

Not to mention the whole catch 22.. MS defers to manufacturer, manufacturer defers to MS thing.

Dorks March On Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012975)

I cringed to see the pictures of the
Refund Day protest.

Absolutely dreadful.

I feel embarrassed to be 'represented' by these losers.

Wrong course of attack? (1)

David Jensen (1987) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012976)

The traditional hardware manufacturers (Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Micron, even IBM, etc.) had shown themselves to be craven cowards who would do anything to keep Microsoft from harming them (kind of like a protection racket).

It was a media event (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012977)

The "windows refund day" event was not optimized to gain money back for unwanted copies of Windows - it was optimized to draw media attention to the problem.

1000 people each going individually to 100 PC suppliers will cause nil interest, regardless of wether they succeed in getting a refund.

20 people going to Microsoft will get rebuffed, but gain news coverage.

Well yes, but... (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012978)

That is how the EULA is worded, but the OEM is not part of the contract. It is a contract between MS and you, the Valued Customer.

Compaq didn't help draft it, didn't review it, didn't sign it, and probably hadn't seen it. They're just obliged to ship it.

Honestly, if anyone at Compaq ever saw that clause back in 1995, they probably never thought anything of it.
Return Windows? In favor of what? OS/2? Linux 1.2.13? CPM? Be serious. :-)


People always clamin a moral victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012979)

...when they lose real battles.

All over the country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012980)

"But the protests got enormous media coverage all over the country".

All over the country?

The world is bigger than the US, you know.

Freeing the Microslaves (1)

geekgrrl (18120) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012981)

Does it matter? Money isn't the's not even letting M$ know--they already know they suck. They don't care. It's the rest of the users in the world who should know they don't have to be Microslaves.

Congrats, Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012982)

When you first made your foray into installing Linux, I felt pity for you even as the mean geek in me shouted "You're out of your element, Johnny!" But while you're starting to gain credibility on that front-- sincere effort is the key-- this type of commentary is where you really shine. We need someone who can bridge the gap between geeks and proles.

Reading other accounts of the Refund Day, I couldn't help but visualize a crowd of the geek elite singing "We Shall Overcome"... Not to trivialize the civil rights movement, but the OSS movement is probably the closest thing we have today. In the long run, routing the Microsoft hegemony before it's too late is probably just as important. Do we want to live in a world where technically wrong standards are forced on us in order to bleed us of more cash?

Your final paragraph makes a very strong statement, the sort of statement you'd never be able to get away with if it weren't completely accurate.

You get it. Now help spread it.


Still Work? (2)

memoryhole (3233) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012983)

The article says that the sign waving and marching, while it identifies more with the 60's than the Millenium, still works. How exactly does it still work? It got media attention, but is that what people were after? Come on, a simple publicity stunt? I thought geeks were above that kind of thing - leave that crap to corporations. The refund was the focus, the idea of people taking Microsoft up on it's written agreements - indicating that they, as Microsoft supposedly encourages, read the entire liscensing agreement, and then disagreed. The focus should be that Microsoft won't hold up it's end of the bargain. The focus should not be to scream to the world "Look at us! Aren't we cool! We can hold signs and protest! Just like our parents did! We're original!" Come on.

So, instead of a publicity stunt - an act which says nothing good about the character of the open source community - call this an attempt at holding a major corporation to the written agreements that it has distributed so widely and held people to (for anti-piracy). If that's what it is - which it should be - then the pickets and signs and screaming at television cameras just like they did in the 60's did NOT work. What has changed? Anyone who was paying attention is either A) Microsoft and unconcerned, B) a OSS supporter and feels the same as he did before, or C) unrelated observer who now thinks Linux people are trying to make a big noise and are doing it in a rather annoying and rude and OUTDATED way. The method for getting attention these days is not to wave picket signs anymore. No one cares about demonstrations anymore, and they're a little wary of them since people started getting killed in abortion demonstrations. The way to get attention these days is stated in three words: "Class Action Lawsuit".
And that should be the next step. Hold Microsoft and the suppliers of the computers to the agreement that they distributed with the computer. THAT's the way to get respect and attention - especially from the movers and shakers with money on Wallstreet. THEN, you'd have something that would reflect well on the community. Not some few extremists shouting slogans and indignation into a camera. Please. If you can't be respectable, at least ACT like it.

Almost as bad as Win98 launch at Fry's (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012984)

Really, I would think you would have to make a conscious effort to look as crusty and dweebed out as these guys did.

M$ troll alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012985)

Far from it.

How about "someone who is just pissed off at being represented to the media by fat penguin-wielding millitant dorks"?

We've got the power! (1)

geekgrrl (18120) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012986)

Thing is, (especially as the millenium approaches, heh heh) more and more "users" (or "eyes of the world", if you prefer) are paying attention to the trends/movements/opinions of said original geeks--since now those same geeks are at the head of industries, communications, etc. Computers rule the world, and there are very few people who DON'T know it. The phrase "alternative OS" might start to take on some meaning to the microslaves...and that's what it's all about.

Penny-wise? or Penguin foolish! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012987)

It's just plain stupid that the richst man on earth, and the bigst OS company of all time, with record earnings yet again, cant, or wont give forty freaking dollars to a troop of obviouslly genius protesters. No matter how many ask for it!

To me it is PROOF that the EULA and other MS contracts are VOID. Experts agree.

They might want to switch to a Triple-your-money
back guarantee as homage to thier sins against us.

Letting each and every person who wants a refund
"click thru" to get it will be WAY WAY cheaper.

Give it up already (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012988)

Posted by stodge:

Although I agree with the cause, I dont agree with this "60s movement revisited". Give up on the "pat on the back" articles Jon. What better way to get accepted into a community than writing feel good, ego boosting articles.

expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012989)

a better analogy (sp?) would be a car radio. And IIRC, you DO get a discount/refund if you don't want the radio that comes with the car.

What Windows amounts to is a car dealer bundling a radio, telling customers that they don't get a refund, and in the process they are trying to tie the radio into the car's computer.. making it next to impossible to remove.

"Oh, sure.. this car will run without the radio, but it will chug and sputter constaintly. The radio is an essential part of the car, after all."

why the coverage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012990)

But the protests got enormous media coverage all over the country and has a lot of symbolism. Why?

Because it's hilarious, and there's nothing new to report about Zak the 80-Pound Baby.

Nerds seen outside !! (1)

joss (1346) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012991)

There was a frenzy of media activity on Monday as 100's of normally reclusive "nerds" were seen outside. These normally reticent creatures were finally drawn away from their computer screens to protest about the fact that they were forced to pay for software they don't use.

"I've received email from these creatures and I've even seen some before, but it's extremely unusual to find this many of them outside" said Ivor Clue a reporter from the Washington Post "I'm supposed to cover high tech and I've heard of Linux (some shareware thingy that runs on windows95) but nobody is interested and I don't understand it so I jumped at the opportunity to photograph them in the flesh."

The reason this story got mainstream coverage is that there is something for non-techies to see. Jon, nice job pointing out that this event received a surprising amount of coverage, but I don't think there's anything profound going on. If we want the mainstream to pay more attention to us, we should just get out more.

Misgivings (1)

astroboy (1125) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012992)

I'm sure this has been brought up before, but I do have one worry about the refund thing and basing it on the EULA. (Don't get me wrong; I way agree that paying the Microsoft Tax on machines is something that shouldn't be so hard to avoid, epecially for non-nerd types, in a competitive marketplace).

Doesn't this give legitimacy to the EULA and shrink-wrap licenses? By attempting to enforce one clause of the license, it seems that we're implicitly saying that such things are valid. The `beating them at their own game' aspect of it all is very attractive, but I don't like their game, and I'd be cautious about tacitly accepting their rules.

"Microsoft's 'Vietnam'" ??? (1)

Mojojojo (15516) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012993)

I like the "'guerrilla army' of OSS" quote and all, but please If this he's comparing the OSS movement to Vietnam, we might as well quit writing the software, because in case you need to check your history book, the US is more powerful now, over 20 years after Vietnam, despite losing. I don't think anyone wants that with Microsloth. Other than that, I liked the article...Anyone who was seeking a refund should sue for the refund, and damages for them not giving the money to them in the first place.

What the Penguin stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012994)

Finding some equilibrium in this struggle, Saul wrote, is dependent not just on criticizing, but on the individual's willingness to be a non-conformist in the public place: precisely what the Penguin stands for.

And here I thought Linux was about spending your time making your computer do work instead of spending it working on your computer. Now I'm a member of a nonconformist political movement and I didn't even know it!

C'mon, Jon. Believe it or not, I usually enjoy your articles. Really. But I'm getting sick of the whole "Linux is about freedom and social change" thing. Linux is about using the right tool for the job.

M$ troll patrol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012995)

You're under arrest for being a complete pig and contributing to the degradation of our society and humanity as a whole.

Bring on the tar and feathers.

All over the country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012996)

You mean there was coverage all over the world? Cool!

I was happy with just coverage in the country, but hey..

Where were you watching it from, anyways?

Wrong course of attack? (1)

Samurai Cat! (15315) | more than 15 years ago | (#2012997)

Seems that many of the OEMs have flat out refused to honor the EULA - saying "take it up with Microsoft." Kinda a case of "If Mommy says you can/if Daddy says you can", where neither party will take the final responsibility. Since MS is involved with EVERY situation, it makes sense to go to them. And, after all, MS *did* write the EULA in the first place, correct?

I have a feeling the end result of this will be that more OEMs *do* make arrangements to honor the EULA on their end, in a manner other than "return the whole machine".

Enough with the crack smears! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012998)

I'm not sure which I resent more, the cliche or its implication. Just because I smoke a little crack now and then, my opinion doesn't matter? Baseheads, stand up and be heard! How did we let ourselves become disenfranchised by the geek elite?

Crack-- it's the new Hitler!

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2012999)

Exactly, if you want a computer that doesn't have windows on it, build it yourself.

One PART of a right course of attack. (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013000)

If we want to fight this, we have to go after both the PC maker and the OS maker. They're shifting the responsability to each other.

Yes - Its embarrassing to watch. (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013001)

With every piece he writes, Katz snakes his way further up the collective ass of the linux-zealot community.

Wrong course of attack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013002)

You pirated everything you own and complain about a lack of choice. You are yet another example of why free software does not mean what RMS thinks it means; it means getting something for nothing.

I think the whole tone of the article that all corporations are bad and individuals are good is just plain garbage. Linux is becoming less relevant in terms of technology and more relevant in terms of politicizing eveything.

This is Wishful Thinking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013003)

Well, take this as flame-bait if you wish, but it seems to me that the MS "protest" was not really the victory people are making it out to be.


1. No one got a refund.

2. The event, though covered, does not seem to have begun any en-masse refund movement by the public. In fact, it seems to have ended the issue-- no refunds for anyone. If this had lead to an outraged class-action lawsuit, or a groundswell of other refund requests, that'd be different, but I hadn't heard anything about that. It's like it all built to Feb 15th, everyone tried to get their refund and just didn't.

3. Microsoft nuetralized and influenced much of the coverage with their "welcome linux users" signs, making the thing appear to be a Microsoft sanctioned event. (anyone else outraged by that?!-- those signs were brilliant: They marginalized the group, making them appear to be a special interest group-- geeks who use a particular "obscure" os as opposed to "the public" or someone the public can relate to. Plus, they made the event look like Microsoft approved and/or accepted it) Despite the coverage, it was really a blip on the radar screen-- Microsoft played it down, nonconfrontationally. What could have blown up in their faces didn't.

4. Did I mention that no one got a refund?

Ideas for next time:

1. Have a class-action lawsuit ready as an alternative to the refund (ie, tell MS-- if we don't get our refund, THIS will be filed) RESULT: They'll take it more seriously, the press can look at the lawsuit AND it makes for a better conflict which makes for a better story. Microsoft would have to respond in some kind of meaningful way (not blow off the whole thing and turn it into a non-event) because they'd have a real fear of people continuing to jump on board if they didn't comply. Oh yeah, and there'd be a better chance for an actual refund/victory.

2. Have dozens of copies of the EULA to distribute so the press can analyze it on their own. NOne of the coverage I read quoted the EULA or made it the focus of their coverage.

3. As someone mentioned, have a cellphone to show the press the catch-22 MS is using.

4. Lose the obiwan kenobi costume. How's the public supposed to identify with that?!

In short, I think it would have been a more successful thing had Refund Day ended with everyone getting their refunds! That was the point, right?

Anonymously yours,

Wrong course of attack? Maybe.... (1)

||Deech|| (16749) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013004)

In the EULA that is being touted so magnaminously, it states that the os should be returned to the *manufactuer* its a simple matter of the distrabution chain, if I were to sell a computer to Joe's house-o-boxen and Joe in turn, sells it to Luser-boy Smith at home, if there is a problem with the machine, Luser-boy has to take it back to Joe, I'm *not* responsable to give Joe's customer a refund. Joe bought it from me and sold it for a profit to Luser-boy. Same thing here, the OEM's bought Winbloze from M$, and in turn sold it to the customers, if the customers don't want it, its the OEM's responsablility to refund it. The OEM's are just blowing these ppl off by telling them to go to M$. Enought M$ hateing monkies decided it would be a good idea to protest and succeded in making Linux users look like a bunch of M$ hating whiners. Maybe we don't like them, but don't try to protest them on stupid stuff, beat them intellectually, its really not that tough is it?

Good article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013005)

The press for the past few years has had plenty to write about to get everyone's attention riveted (OJ, JonBenet, Clinton,
Iraq, Y2K).

Sung to the tune of "We didn't start the fire"

You obviously have no clue . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013006)

If everyone went to their computer providers, it would have been a quiet press-less deal . . . and most likely you would not get your money that way either. This way it got a lot of press and some pc manufacturers will as a marketing ploy actually refund money due to all the free press that it will now involve, even though no one ever expected money in reality. Yhe marketing edge will be the Company X decided users were right and refunded their money even though they know they themselves will not get a refund from microsoft.

Also, Compaq is a bad choice as an example, since now they will preinstall linux on their intel and alpha systems upon request...and do not charge for windoze in that case. Therefore, I say Compaq is on the right track and is definetly not to be picked upon . . . they are pro-Tux.


5 werds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013007)

Y2K = Year of the pengiun

Wrong course of attack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013008)


I think so.

Wrong course of attack? (1)

raistlinne (13725) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013009)

Based on what grounds do you say that he pirated everything that he owns? Also, your conclusion of free software meaning no-cost software is erroneous. I give out my free software at no cost. The only people who can pirate it are people who broke the GPL on it (taking pirate loosely), and I doubt that the previous poster broke the licenses on the free software that he was given.

Also, Linux is quite relevant in terms of technology and in terms of politics. It's relevant in technology because it is an attempt to create the best possible system. It is relevant politically because it isn't an attempt to dominate the world in a controlling sense. It is an attempt to dominate the world with freedom, to force choice and knowledge on people. Ortega said that the only freedom that we don't have is the freedom not to be free. Many large corporations are, almost openly, trying to make that false. corporations aren't inherently evil, but, like governments, they are not to be trusted. The government of the USA was set up on exactly that principle (that governments are not to be trusted implicitly). Doesn't it seem like time to enforce the same principle on corporations, so that they don't become our governments?

Wrong course of attack? (1)

rdsmith (11517) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013010)

Well, I agree with the statement that bashing MS for bashing sake is getting tiresome. However, what most of the respondents have forgotten to take into consideration is the reply of companies like Toshiba.

Yes, MS says we need to go through the OEM. In turn, the OEMs are saying that they have a contract with MS that forces them to preload the software on the machines, and MS refuses to work with them on the return of said software.

So, in fact, this course of attack is pretty much spot on.

It really did.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013011)

Wow refund day really did make some noise. I live in a small town (about 20,000) that many would consider "hickville USA". Anyway, the day after the march on Microsoft, my local paper actually covered the front page with the story. It was really cool.

All over the country? (1)

jazman (9111) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013012)

Americans are so US-centric it's ridiculous. It's hardly worthwhile trying to get them to take their heads out of their arses; they pop out for a second to flame you but just stick them right up again. I don't bother any more. To Americans, the world stops at their shores.

expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013013)

How many people out there know how to use MS windows unless it's preinstalled on a machine.

I will admit that getting PPP to work was a pain in the gluteous maximus... until I found this really neat script somewhere...

Here we go again (0)

SEE (7681) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013014)

Jon Katz was doing so well this time, and then he threw in a gratuitous repeat of his anti-corporation theme again. Numerous nonprofits, governments, and small buisnesses have the same flaws as Katz is attributing to large corporations -- and there are large corporations which have relatively few of the flaws.

PC maker can say, "keep or return whole system". (1)

root (1428) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013015)

The PC maker can claim that the price is for the whole system and that you can no more refund just the OS anymore than you can refund just the floppy drive or the case. The PC maker can give you the choice of keep the whole system with windows or return the whole system with windows. Since this choice complies with the EULA. The user is out of luck. It sucks but I don't see any to get a refund for just windows unless you buy it separately in the first place, in which case the anit-MS buyer would never buy to begin with.

Trolling for trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013016)

Ok, I think it's time you told your mother that you're not ready for AOL like she thought you were. There's a certain thing called intellectual respect that you'll need to learn once you get out of middle school, but why wait a few years?
I would glady be represented by anyone who is moral and intellectual enough and similar minded. Would you rather be represented by pretty, clueless faces? Oh, wait a second, that's Representative Democracy, my mistake.


expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013017)

How many people out there know how to use MS Windows unless it's preinstalled on a machine? write a better configuration utility, if you don't like the one you're using.

I will admit that getting PPP to work was a pain in the gluteous maximus... (you've just have to love Ethernet with static IPs) until I found this really neat script somewhere...

Just regard it as humor... (1)

Craig (839) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013018)

Jon's windy self-important recycled Marxism takes me back to the days when scruffy passionate students would jump nimbly atop anything higher than a dictionary and deliver harangues of deeply-felt incoherent nonsense to other scruffy passionate students (including me, back before I traded in my hair for extra waistline).

They were complete imbeciles, of course. So is Jon. But a little nostalgia every now and then is good for the soul....


expectations - and poor decisions (1)

redterror (15750) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013019)

Of course nobody REALLY wanted them to pay - but I bet they'd have spearheaded this whole situation by doing so. Another MS screw up, it seems.

Wrong course of attack? (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013020)

Exactly! Microsoft placed that stipulation in the EULA and they did not make provisions to honor that agreement. This looks like a Class Action Lawsuit to me boys and girls.

Linux Community good? pfft. (1)

defile (1059) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013021)

You know, I was waiting for this to happen.
I'm sitting there reading what I thought was an
excellent article.. and that was a clear
indication of how negative and petty the comments
following the article would be.

I have yet to see a single article posted here
get more positive comments than negative unless
it mentions so little that there is no room to
disagree. I welcome future articles and it's
becoming more evident each day that the only way
to enjoy slashdot is to completely skip the


So, copy at will? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013022)

Lets see.

1) If I buy a laptop and sell 50,000 copies of the software provided (obviously not accepting the EULA), what party will have me in court for busting said EULA faster than the ink can dry? Clue #1, it won't be laptop company.

2) Microsoft is the copyright holder. The EULA is Microsoft's permission and terms for me, the "valued customer", to make copies. If I don't agree with the EULA, copyright law renders the product 100% useless. As I recall, US. courts have this odd assumption the if "value" isn't exchanged (something for something) the exchange becomes less a contract and more a fraud.

3) Obviously, Microsoft hasn't made appropriate arrangements with the vendors to administer terms of the EULA on their behalf. It would seem to me that a clause "for refund, please contact your pet dog" would be about the same as saying "for refund, please contact a company with whom we've made no suitable arrangement."

Even worse, some of the stories suggest the vendors suffer under terms that restrict them from servicing refund requests. In that case the difference between our "pet dog" and the "PC manufacturer" becomes less distinct.

But, The manufacture knows of the EULA and of its terms and did nothing to make suitable arrangement with Microsoft. Inded, they may have entered into counter agreements. They are the ones that deny me the opportunity to know the terms of, or accept the EULA before I buy. So, can we combine 2 and 3 and call it a conspiracy to commit fraud?

What the Penguin stands for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013023)

The ability to be able to use the right tool for the right job without getting laughed at is very much a matter of social change that needs addressed. Without lots of little compliant lemmings, this entire situation wouldn't be possible. Many of us would just be running our 060 Ataris and Commodores and ignoring Unix for the most part (at least at home).

Good Article! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013024)


Those IDIOTS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013025)

They did more harm for the linux community in one day than what's been done in eight years. It looked like a 1960's hippie protest more than a peaceful request for refunds.

I wouldn't go that far. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013026)

While the Linux crowd makes like a bunch of 60's wannabe's they cry foul because corporate America doesn't take them seriously.

Go figure.

Professionals expect professionalism. Deal with it.

Thank you :) (1)

raistlinne (13725) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013027)

Just like the Guys at IBM decided not to support Linux because some people wear penguins, or the guys at Burlington Coat Factory decided not to install Linux because of the penguin wearing people?

Btw, in America, europeans are often thought of sort of like the penguin wearing Geeks because you generally don't wash as often as Americans (or at least you don't seem to as a generality). It doesn't really matter, and eventually people will realize that irrelevant details are irrelevant. The point is to win the war, not to declare victory because we've conceded into agreement. Now, it really might be better if some of the people wore suits. In the end, it doesn't really matter. It's a precedent that's been set, not exactly what the precedent was. People are very selective about what they remember of their first impressions, and PHBs (whatever that stands for) probably won't really take any notice of this event one way or the other. If there even vaguely reasonable human beings, they look at the intelligent proposals put before them with costs attached.

Do you have any idea how many people who use windows satisfy the dark-room-geek-troll image? Do you think that if a number of them got together to talk about computers, and you broadcast pictures of them, that that image would stick and people would avoid windows?

The point is that *you* wear a suit when you put together a proposal that clearly shows a _reduction_in_costs_ and an _increase_in_profits_ when you give the proposal to the PHB, not what some people on TV did. Anyone with a quarter of a brain knows that there are all types attached to everything, and you can't get a picture of its character by a very small group of people. Do you really think that Ireland is an evil place and its people are horrible because the IRA exists?

Winners like... North Vietnam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013028)

We didn't lose! It was a tie!

Why not build your own system? (1) (11860) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013029)

What surprises me is the number these users that have bought commerical systems. Is it just me, or doesn't it seem like high end users that use Linux and belive in it strongly enough to hold a demonstration would be the people most likely to have built their own computers? I mean, I know that some there are hardware geeks and software geeks, and we are all better at one than the other (heck, I'm still trying to get my system to do PPP in linux) but other than laptops, why don't more people build their own and have it be their choice from the start?

Understanding the media (1)

jimm (5532) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013030)

"Whoever organized the protests understands modern journalism well. The protests were widely covered in newspapers and on TV."

They don't necessarily understand journalism (the media); the media is coming to understand them. Some media writers visit slashdot and other Linux- and OSS-related sites.

Exactly (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013031)

Maybe you can't legally do anything to M$

You can't. MS is in no way liable or responsible for getting you your refunds. The fact that the manufacturers aren't cooperating is not MS's problem.

That's not to say that MS isn't in some way indirectly at fault for making it difficult for the manufacturers. The bad publicity is obviously not a good thing, and the media stunt probably had at least some effect in "our" favor, but really that's all it was. Nothing tangible could have come out of protesting against Microsoft here. No refunds.

Of course, I'm convinced that most people's interpretation of the EULA is flawed in the first place. I don't think the customer *should* be able to simply ask for a partial refund for their system because they don't want to use the OS that was bundled with it. But that's a subject already hammered into the ground...

This is so dead on. (1)

Sevn (12012) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013032)

It is worth the 30 or so bucks you might have to spend on the computer hardware book that you would need to build great system. Between pricewatch.coma and I put together a dual pent pro 200 system with 2 scsi 2 gigs, 96 megs of ram, a 20 inch (fixed frequency) monitor, and a ET6000 video card (special rom for the monitor) for about $1050 12 months ago. It's still a very fast system.


Microsoft and Lemons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013033)

I heard they gave out Lemonades to the
protesters. Ha! It just shows how
big of a Lemon Microsoft really is!!!!


"Linux, Be all you can be."

Why the Hell is Katz so Anti-Corporation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013034)

It seems to me that what Katz should have said in the concluding para is that it is primarily SOFTWARE corporations that represent a loss of freedom and choice and a beating down of the little guy.

There are hundreds, nay thousands of large corporations in the United States and the rest of the world that do not operate upon the same moral principles of Microsoft.

Please, Katz, try to limit your anti-corporation vehemenence. Capitalism *is* a good thing, I promise.

And last of all, please, PLEASE try not to alienate the clueful suits that ARE OUT THERE. Believe me, they are.

James Blachly

Still Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013035)

So nice to hear that you're volunteered to fund a lawsuit against Microsoft!

Oh, you were just bitching and moaning? You do realize that by your own definition this makes you no better than those demonstrators, right?

Because I cannot build my own Libretto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013036)

I wanted the features of the Toshiba Libretto, a handheld PC. There was no other machine like it available and I certainly could not build one. Unfortunately I could not convince Toshiba or any distributor to sell me one without Windows 95 included. Since Toshiba is paying for Windows 95, I am therefore paying for Windows 95 -- something which I did not need and did not want to pay for. This is called the "Microsoft Tax" because like death it seems inevitable.

"Geek Elite?" Hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013037)

Funny, I went to Windows Refund Day and I saw three CEOs of venture-capital funded firms on the protest line. Plus a couple of famous programmers.

Whether or not there is a "geek elite", I'll thank you not to insult the Refund Day participants.

Refund Day is REALLY about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013038)

...the EULA. Much as many people may dislike Microsoft's other business practices (bundling IE, holding OEMs over a barrel, etc.) the only concrete item of interest is the fact that you received a EULA with your computer which is a contract. The contract states that it is between you and your OEM. The contract places certain restrictions on you (quite a few, actually). The contract places certain restrictions on the OEM. If you have acted in good faith and upheld your part of the contract, then you have a justifiable complaint against the OEM for not holding up their end of the bargain. Possibly a lawsuit, but IANAL. Marching on Microsoft may make headlines and provide a feeling of accomplishment, but it really just clouds the real issue, which is that for whatever reason OEMs aren't following the terms of a contract which they have with you, the purchaser of their product. As Geoff Bennett explained so clearly, any OEM-Microsoft agreement has no bearing on your purchase of a product and the licensing agreement that came with it.

Why not build your own system? (1)

SoftwareJanitor (15983) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013039)

What surprises me is the number these users that have bought commerical systems. Is it just me, or doesn't it seem like high end users that use Linux and belive in it strongly enough to hold a demonstration would be the people most likely to have built their own computers?

I suspect that may have something to do with why there were only a hundred or so protesters around the U.S. People like me who either build their own machines from parts (at least partially to avoid the Microsoft tax), purchase used machines sans software or buy from a Linux specific hardware vendor are less likely to be able to or as greatly motivated to participate in events like Refund Day.

Of course the biggest reasons I wasn't there were that the nearest Microsoft office to me (the one in the Twin Cities) is a 4.5-5 hour drive, and Refund Day was held on a workday for me. If I still lived in the Bay Area and had President's day off, I probably would have turned out just for curiosities sake.

Militarily, N. Vietnam lost but Congress blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013040)

Militarily, North Vietnam was soundly defeated at every turn. But the US Congress, demonstrating the same wit and wisdom in the face of public opinion that they recently demonstrated in acquitting Clinton (i.e., none at all), threw away that victory by reneging on the agreement to supply S. Vietnam with arms as US troops withdrew.

Strategically, though, Vietnam was a win for the US in the Cold War because it suckered the Soviet Union into adventurism that broke them.

Is your time worth nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013041)

It takes time to build your own system. For some folks its worth a few extra bucks - even the Microsoft tax, to some - to pay for a preassembled and tested system.

I'd rather go to Grease Monkey than change my own oil, too, although I can do (and have done) both (change oil, build my own PC).

Sure if you want to go to jail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013042)

It says "return of the unused product(s)." If you are running Linux on the computer, the computer is pretty clearly not an unused product. The software (Windows) is the unused product. The Manufacturer is then supposed to refund you for Windows, not the computer.

And if they won't, liability would rest with the other party to the agreement, namely Microsoft.

We lost? (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013043)

What's the value of crappy unused software compared to prime-time news coverage? This is our biggest win yet.


Illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013044)

It's illegal to threaten someone with the filing
of a lawsuit, so I would hope the Windows Refund
people take your advice with a grain of salt.

Significance (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013045)

Posted by LostJonny:

While it might be more appropriate to go to the computer maker to get the refund, if that is the only thing at issue, it makes more sense to go directly to the software maker if you are trying to get publicity, especially since the target is Micro$haft. Had these protests occured at Dell or Compaq or (god forbid) Packard Hell, the press wouldn't have noticed. Because M$ is big news (courtesy of the DOJ), anything that happens at their offices is NEWS.

The next step is to protest at the offices of Dell, et al. to get them to change their policies in regard to software installation. Now that the first demonstration has been a nominal success, the press may well take notice of other protests, especially if more people can be involved.

This is just the first skirmish in what could be a protracted war.

Losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013046)

I try to avoid telling people that I actually use Linux everyday. Stupid publicity like this just makes linux users look even more like losers.

That's not the point. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013047)

Of course you can build your own system. The point was not to go spanging at Microsoft, the trip alone probably cost the protestors about as much as any windows refund.

The point of any protest is to get attention, provoke a response, and expose your "oppressors" to the world as the amoral hypocrites they really are.

I built both by systems though. No refund for me.


I agree (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013048)

No, I haven't read my copy of the EULA today, nor will I, because I do some of my work in that ghastly m$OS. Nonetheless, I do believe that if it has been accurately stated, the users are entitled to refunds. It's kind of like a car's 3-year, 30,000 mile warranty. During that period you're entitled to technical support, and replacement of faulty parts for little to no charge (I'm not sure, never been fortunate enough to have a new car). So, you go to your dealer and they contact Ford or Dodge or whoever. Ford or Dodge or whoever then contacts you (if I remember the protocol that I've seen my dad go through in the past). Well, I have a feeling that the industry here just doesn't work that way.

Well, what to do then? I imagine 40 hyenas could take down a lion, why not 100s of penguins attacking an elephant? The user went to his dealer, said "This part (m$OS) is faulty, I want to get rid of it and put in a better part (Linux, etc.)" The dealer says the contract doesn't work that way, but enough of you EULA readers say it does. There will be lawyers looking into this (they may not have contacted you yet, because they're more precise in their attacks) because there are already enough lawyers who smell blood on m$.

The arguments about ppl wanting a computer without m$ on it going out and building it themselves is totally off topic. I want a car that can go over 100 mph and get me chicks, and if I have a resource to go to, I'll buy from them. Now I want a kickin' stereo as well, maybe a new mp3 player for my car. My car's under warranty, take in the radio and return it. It's a part I don't want. Unfortunately with that analogy, there's no plastic wrapper on the radio, they're not going to take it. There is a plastic wrapper on your OS. I want a computer that will let me gib the idiots who think that this whole "point of attack" is ridiculous. And I want to gib them without them ever seeing me. Yeah, I can build my own computer, just as a mechanic builds his own car, but most mechanics just soup up their machines, and some of us just are too busy for (or too tired of) building computers, that we just want to soup the box up.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you refunders, because I believe that knowledge and freedom of thought are two things that everyone is entitled to. Just that most people don't like to exercise theirs. Props to all of y'all.

Psst... Don't look now... (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013049)

But the Microserfs are here. Can you hear them?

MS is still on trial.
They are still trying to convince the DOJ that there is no vendor lock-in, and that there is customer choice. In that regard, this protest was enormously harmful to them.

If I were MS, and a conniving bastard, I would be in here trying to convince us that the protest harmed Linux more than it helped.

These people are moles, not trolls.


Sure if you want to go to jail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013050)

IANAL, but I thought that the practice of bundling is illegal, and that the EULA is a way of getting around that, by implying that the hardware and the software are not in fact a single entity, since you could refuse the software and still keep the computer. The refund protesters are just calling the bluff.

Come on, he's right -- they *are* dorks (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013051)

Oh come on, your generalizations make me sick. Take a look at Linus, he's married. What's his claim to fame? Developing a free OS for christ's sake! He's not seeing penny one from this thing, because penny one doesn't exist (Distros don't count, because penny one goes into bundling and CD production costs). Yes, he has a job @ Transmeta. I bet a lot of these geeks who live healthy lives have jobs in the RW. I have a job in the RW, I go to school, I hack around on the box, and I have a beautiful gf (former ballet dancer, who gave me a beautiful picture of herself modeling for a professional photographer). What about my looks? I'd say that yeah, i'm a little pale (but so are most other redheads), and yeah I've got thick glasses (but I've been watching radiation for 16 years), but, if you saw me at the mall, you'd probably not notice because I'd be with my gf or group of non-geek friends and guess what I'd be behaving under standard social norms. Just because there are some people who enjoy hacking to a point of obsession doesn't mean we all do. And to those of you who do, great, you guys are the ones who come up with some of the cool little apps that I like so much. IOW, us geeks are as diverse as any other group, just happens that a lot of us (including the less presentable in your opinion) decided to have a good old fashioned protest.

expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013052)

No, windows is more like the radio. The Pc makers are the car dealers. If people wanted refunds you go to the car dealer not the person that makes the radio.

Wrong course of attack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013053)

A class action lawsuit won't work against Microsoft. It will work against the PC makers. The PC makers are the ones wrong because they have no right to tell their customers to talk to a suppling company, MS in the case about a problem. The problem is the PC makers don't know how or refuse to deal with this situation. They already bought their OEM copies. The Pc companies are repacking what they bought into a system. Their system they bought it. They agreed to the EULA and are now forcing you to agree to take it or don't buy from them.

We need a Woodstock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013054)

I appreciated the things Jon pointed out; he certainly captures the growing sense of outrage at rampant, unbridled, and ruthless capitalism and marketeering so perfectly personified by Gates and all his host of minions, droids, pitch men, and screaming harpies. We need Dylan...

On a lighter note, I've completely given up on buying a "system" from some Big Name OEM. I'm in the process of upgrading the mobo with the nice folks at J&N ( and will completely bypass the IQ... er, OS tax...

We need a Woodstock...


Still Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013055)

Come on, a simple publicity stunt?

You're absolutely right -- the goal was publicity, not actual refunds. Hopefully some of the viewers in the audience are attorneys who might organize a class action suit against Microsoft and its OEMs.

Look for the good.


Open Source and Politics (1)

RedGuard (16401) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013056)

Simultaneously but unnoticed by the 'geek elite', a large numbers of Kurds were protesting the arrest of the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. A number of Greek embassies were occupied and several protesters set themselves on fire.

I am well aware that this is covered in the mainstream media and wouldn't be appropiate for slashdot, but if protests against MS are to be lauded as the beginning of the battle against souless corporations surely this battle must begin
with the most repellant face of capital, the actions of the imperialist countries particularly in the Middle East.

Whether or not you agree with the PKK, I believe the disparity between these two protests show why OSS will not become politically significant. OSS is based on consumption (and a particularly narrow type of consumption) therefore, unlike the struggle for a Kurdish state, it takes the existing conditions for the majority of people as a given.

Who are you kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013057)

Who are you kidding? It was a sad joke. Extensive media coverage? Sure, it was mumbled about here and there.

maybe, maybe not (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2013058)

1. The EULA is between the purchaser and *Microsoft*, not the PC manufacturer. So, as a party to the agreement, Microsoft probably would be held responsible if the PC manufacturer fails to provide the specified relief.

This makes sense, but I'm reasonably sure that the manufacturer also signed an agreement with Microsoft saying they'd uphold their end of the licensing scheme. I'll concede that it's not entirely the manufacturer's fault, but they certainly are not without blame here.

In any event, the refund can only be obtained from the manufacturer. The end user purchased the system from the manufacturer, not from Microsoft. The only thing these people could have possibly accomplished by going to Microsoft was publicity and/or a prodding by Microsoft to get the manufacturer's to honor what they feel is their end of the bargain. They may have succeeded in at least one respect.

What matters is what the EULA says, and it specifically allows a refund for *the unused software*, not the entire system

I was hoping not to get drawn into this argument again. The EULA is a legal document with wording and phrasing that has specific legal interpretations. You may *think* you understand what it's saying, but you should at least admit that you might be misinterpreting it.

As I recall, the term "SOFTWARE PRODUCT" (note the caps) is defined in legal fashion inside the EULA while "product" (lower case) retains its plain-english definition. You purchased a computer system from the manufacturer. It was advertised as a Pentium/233 (whatever) with Win98. That is the "product". You can't just arbitrarily re-define "product" to mean "software product" because it fits your needs. If the EULA intended for you to be able to simply return the *OS* portion for a refund, they would have used the previously defined "SOFTWARE PRODUCT" in place of "product".

Of course, like I've said before, I'm not a lawyer either, but I have a reasonable amount of experience interpreting legal documents. Please consult a competant contract lawyer and/or a judge. Don't *assume* that just because you can read and write English that you automatically are able to understand all the details and legal implications of a software licencing agreement that teams of lawyers spent weeks if not months drafting.

I will agree that it's possible I'm wrong here, but it's also possible that you are too. Only a judge can truly decide that.

passions and publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2013059)

Linux and free-software publicity events seem to stir more than the usual quota of flame wars, not that I've been keeping close track. All I can say is that this is one of the more pluralistic communities I know of, and if you disagree with the methods or the message put forth by some, nothing stops you from having your own rally, press conference, etc. From one of the t-shirts I saw: "The linux philosophy is laugh in the face of danger. Oops, wrong one. 'Do it yourself,' that's it" -L. Torvalds. By the way, I'm John Beale, I took the photos on SVLUG's page [] about the event.
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