back to article French court says non to pre-loaded Windows on Acer laptop

A French man has won a lawsuit against computer maker Acer over a laptop he bought that came pre-loaded with Microsoft's Windows XP and other applications he didn't want. Antoine Gutzwiller disputed the fact that he had no choice but to buy the €599 Acer notebook with the ubiquitous operating system and software products …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See also Germany 2000

    Recall the lawsuit in Germany that gave Germans the ability to get an unbundled PC from practically everyone:

    There's nothing new about these rulings, what is a pity is that it takes so long to spread throughout Europe and we have to put up with these PCs stuffed will all kinds of *** we don't want.

    I want to run Ubuntu, why should I have to pay for Vista, MS wordprocessor, all kinds of Windows antivirus crud, and a bunch of other stuff that's only going to be wiped?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World would love that

    ...You loaded an operating system on to your laptop?.... Sorry your warranty is void

  3. xjy

    Freedom of Choice on its way???

    Wouldn't it be great if this actually turns out to be the thin end of the wedge and we get to order-to-order where software is concerned. It's ridiculous that most machines are preloaded with stuff a lot of us can do without. And the biggest capitalists don't blush to force this crap on us. None of the ideological BS about freedom of choice and flexibility when it comes to this crunch. Anything you like - on our terms and selected by our criteria. You get what we want you to get. I have no trouble imagining it actually being made illegal to sell a computer without an MS operating system, but this decision and the determined resistance over many years of the best and brightest in the computer community make it less probable than it might otherwise have been. Yay!

  4. gautam

    Anyone wanna try?

    It would be perfect to test the waters, besides showing up MS in true light and their licensing models. Would open floodgates, I guess.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'No choice' - wtf = don't but it?! Hardware manufacturers should have to supply a blank device with no OS? Surely the device was clearly advertised as such.

    The french courts are clearly as mad as a bat or, as I suspect more likely, you've not explained the case for plaintiff very well.

  6. Stephane Mabille



    That's really great news, and I suspect loads of french customer will now ask their money back...

    How 311+500 (nearly)=2*599 ?? ;-)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine buying this from PCWorld...

    >> You have installed an OS on this hardware and that would ivalidate your warranty sir. Sorry, we cannot replace broken hindge....

  8. Mark Fenton

    I would love... be able to buy a machine with *just* the operating system on. No extra crap or anything...just the basic OS.

    Ok - if they want to bundle some apps - give us the CDs etc. and we'll put them on ourselves.

    And you - over there, hugging a tree with your beard - you can shut up about linux.

  9. Ash

    Common sense at last?

    Death to the Microsoft Tax!

  10. Daniel van Niekerk

    Another victory for stupidity

    I think I might just go into a car dealership and ask to buy a car without the wheels because I might want to buy different ones, screw the engine (the bundled one isn't up to my liking) and I'll take it without paint please because I don't like the standard colours. Oh I also expect Peugeot to cover it under warranty if it starts to rust early or the engine doesn't work as well as I'd hoped.

    Europe really is full of morons. Why cases like this even go to court and even worse get resolved in favour of the plaintiff I will never know.

  11. Chophshiy

    Step 2: ISP bundles

    Now, Qwexx and Comcaxx need to be taken to court for forcing M$ and McA AV/AM garbage down our throats.

    M$ = 1) Manufacture 'accidental' flaws, 2) Offer service to plug horrific holes, 3) add marginal profit therefrom to the huge stack you made cutting back-door deals with the feds and content mafia.

    McA = 1) Over-publicize your under-developed 'security' product, 2) cut deals to make sure it's on a huge number of machines, 3) add marginal profit to the huge stack you made on back-door deals with black hats, since that's the only way to keep them from hacking this pile of crap into the dust.

  12. The Cube

    I can't believe I am saying this but...

    Well done that Frenchman!

    I hope and pray that this gets the crowbar under the edge of the Micro$oft control of hardware vendors where their volume license rebates depend on the proportion of WinDOS they ship, this is why so many vendors have to charge more for a box without OS or with a free OS such as Linux, every non MS box they ship hits their rebates more than the cost of OEM Windows.

    If they think that OEMs should only pay $30 for a copy of XP / Vista then that is what it is worth, add $10 for a retail box, not $170.

    Don't get me wrong, I am no Linux fanboy, I am using WinDOS XP here connected to Windows 2003 servers, I just want to see Microsoft have to cope with competition on a slightly more level basis. Whenever the Redmond dominance has been challenged (Netscape etc) they have pulled their fingers out and improved their product to compete, that is good for everybody.

  13. Dam

    Re: Another victory for stupidity

    "Europe really is full of morons. Why cases like this even go to court and even worse get resolved in favour of the plaintiff I will never know."

    Ah, Daniel van Niekerk, who's the moron here?

    How about you STFU about things you plainly don't understand?

    Obviously you don't get the important thing here do you?

    What if I _don't_ want a PC with windows?

    What if I just want a PC, and not all the fancy crap they force down our throats?

    Care to direct me to a store where I can buy a naked PC? There's none, the MS tax is everywhere.

    Why should I have to pay the stupid MS tax in the first place?

    Just because some suckers like you are not skilled enough to install OpenSolaris, BSD or a linux flavour doesn't mean everyone should pay the MS tax.

    [Sentence removed by Reg moderator]

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common sense, really.

    Except brainfarts from Ameurrican "Concerned Representatives" about how "competition has been mortally wounded" tomorrow. When they are not out-naziing themselves about Ahmadi's latest speech, that is.

  15. Derek Hellam

    About time

    Well I for one welcome the idea of buying a computer, desktop or laptop that is blank, and if Joe Public knew he had a choice and how much he was going to pay for that choice then he just might try an alternative to MS Windows.

    and yes I know you can build your own, etc, etc

  16. Dave Cumming

    Common Sense????

    So he goes into the shop.. or online.. sees Windows Laptop with X software, pays for it, then sues??

    Common sense, the mans an idiot, as is the court.

    Pardon my stupidity but why didn't he just NOT BUY IT??? I can think of a dozen shops around here that will sell a bare bones system with nothing on it. So if thats what I wanted, I'd go buy it and have done in the past.

    Are they really saying that Acer didn't advertise that by buying the machine you were getting all this software? I doubt it. i.e. didn't it say "Windows Vista Laptop with Office, McAfee etc etc"?

    Unreal. The guy should have been charged with wasting the courts time with his stupidity.

    Someone else used a car as an example.. would this guy go and buy an Astra VXR, then sue and say actually I didn't want alloys, air con, power steering etc etc.. what I really wanted was the basic model, so its Vauxhalls fault.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Daniel van Niekerk

    Actually its more like turning up at the car dealer to buy your car and finding there is a 100+Kg thug sitting in the driving seat.

    When you ask the dealer can you have a car without a driver as you want to drive it yourself they refuse.

  18. Stuart Finlayson


    A few years ago I bought a computer from Dell that came with a free printer. Maybe I can sue them for that.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have Pirelli's because I didn't want Bridgestones

    "I think I might just go into a car dealership and ask to buy a car without the wheels because I might want to buy different ones."

    1. European court of justice has already ruled that Windows is an illegal bundle. Microsoft lost, and lost the appeal too.

    2. I ordered Pirelli's on my Ford, rather than the bridgestones it came with. Do you object to me having the choice in that? Or do you only object to people being able to refuse that Microsoft stuff?

    3. Why do you object to other people having the choice of buying an unbundled machine? Acer can simply list the cost of the software bundle and people can buy it or not, up to them. If you want to buy it, up to you. Why should I have to buy it when I want Open Office Firefox and Ubuntu?

  20. Ian Ferguson


    I wonder if in Germany you can demand a MacBook without MacOS at a discount? That would be entertaining...

  21. Steve

    re: Daniel van Niekerk

    I'm not sure where you are from, but to equate an engine in a car with software on a pc means it's presumably somewhere without either.

    The 'engine' in your PC is the CPU, the software is a consumable, would you expect to purchase a Ford and have them dictate where you can buy replacement tyres, or which petrol station chain you have to use to fill up?

  22. Mr.Clark

    The trouble with laptops...

    ... is that they quite often have quirky if not proprietary hardware in, then do the drivers themselves. Yes, looking at you, Sony.

    Thus just sticking a vanilla Linux (or even Windows) install on doesn't always enable all the features on the laptop.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Tax

    I actually cheered for a second when I started to read the article, but now I've thought about it for a few minutes I realise that all the respondents foretelling the end of the Microsoft Tax are unfortunately deluding yourselves.

    Based on what we know about M$ business tactics, the end of 'bundled' Windows WON'T mean you stop paying the M$ tax when you buy a bare machine.

    The OEM license that the vendors have with Redmond mean that they have to pay a fee for every machine they sell no matter whether it has Windows on/with it or not, if they want to sell Windows at all.

    This means that whether you order a bare machine, a machine with Vista install media or a machine with Linux install media - the machine itself will have had a Windows 'fee' added into the price.

    It is that very business tactic (the 'lock-in' OEM license) which should be tackled, then unbundling by vendors will follow soon after. THAT is why consumers have no 'real' choice.

  24. Ryan


    Surely if he didn't want MSXP then the onus is on him to check what he buys! Not go "oh i've bought the wrong thing - I'll sue the manufacturers!"

    also, from the linked ruling, there is no way the stuff was worth €311.

    MS Works costs £8 THAT'S EIGHT POUNDS for an OEM copy like Acer would have bundled - so that should have only been €12 - NOT €40!

    And in no way is a guy ghosting 20 hard drives at once then having a cup of tea in the meantime worth €49.90!

    If the guy wanted a blank laptop he should have piped up BEFORE he handed over his cash; and he shouldn't have got that hefty a discount. The appeals courts that acer will surely go to should definitely reverse the decision.

  25. kfkhotdog

    Lets think this through shall we....

    can you imagine wat would hapen if PC's came without software at all....

    I work for a PC retailer, and you would not belive the number of my customers, that complain to me or refuse to purchase a machine from me, just becasue it dosn't come with office pre installed..... most people who read theese pages are to a oint PC savey, and we know that there are choices, we can make as to what OS and what software we can have, at the same time most of us, are compitent to install theese choices, if we so desire...

    However you only have to work with PC's and the general public to know, 90% of them don't know about theese choices, and don't have a clue how to go about installing them, if you don't belive me, come and have a look at some of the mess ups sitting on my repair shelf at work...

    So we give all those customers the chance to buy a cheap machine, with no software. or even god forbid no OS and they will bite our hand of... the public likes a cheap price, you should see the crap they will buy if you lower the price.....

    However they then find they have to buy software, this will no doubt cost the twice as much as the OEM version that would have been bundled with the machine, they then screw something up, and come back to me demanding that the machine must be faulty, and I charge them another £30 to solve the problem....

    Result One fed up customer with a machine that has cost more than it should have, who purchased software, that barely does the job he wanted it for, and a PC that seems to rendomly crash, or run slowly as he did not install the sofware corectly, and didn't see the need to get any anti-virus software....

    Customer choice is good, but only to those who are capible of making those choices

    Final Thought....

    For those of you who think that this will stop MS having a monopily on the OS market, think again, some of like to use alternatives to Windows, on a machines, but at the end of the day most PC users, will carry on using it, as it is what they know, and understand, the only diferance is that if system builders, stop using OEM versions, and customers have to buy the operation system in sead, most will simply have to buy retail versions instead, putting the cost of there PC up by a couple of hundred quid, and making a mint for microsoft, I don't understand why they havent thought of it already.... LOL

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the Ford Model T:

    You can have it in any color you want, as long as its black.

    Congrats to monsieur Gutzwiller. This has been a problem from the major OEMs for far too long. One can only hope his victory will inspire folks in other countries to file the same kind of suits.

    One alternative which does spring to mind, however: Try to buy computers from local shops! Small businesses need your patronage just as much as big ones do, and being able to deal directly with the person who will be constructing your computer is much more reassuring than buying something from a big-box store. All the parts are warranted through their manufacturer anyway, so a mom-and-pop store can fix problems just as cheaply as the big boys, too. And usually with faster turn around time.

  27. Duncan

    nice move nutters!

    What a load of rubbish, it was sold as a bundle deal the laptop and the software! only in europe would this be upheld in court. this can only be applied to laptops because if it was to apply to any purchase like the car example it would be so crazy it just couldn't be done. so now the french courts need to start working through on a product by product basis.

    ok pencil with attached rubber? ... non


    bread with garlic wei


    and so on.

    common get real this might go a againt MS and some people might like it for that but lets not pretend this isn't totally loonacy

  28. Andrew Bush

    The Cube - you nailed it

    You're bang on the money there. The whole point in not bundling the OS is the imbalance between the OEM cost and retail boxed price. There should be no difference in price between these two other than the packaging/distribution.

    And 'Upgrade' OS pricing? Okay, so the OS pre-loaded PC owner has thus far only choked-up the OEM based pricing for the OS, no problem for M$ because they can just shaft the customer on the upgrade cycle. Sweet.

  29. John Stag

    Car analogy

    "I think I might just go into a car dealership and ask to buy a car without the wheels"

    It's more like buying a car without the tankful of special hundred-buck-a-gallon gas which they "bundle" by default. I only need enough gas to get to the gas station on the corner. After that I can fill it up all by myself.

    A computer without an OS is a fully functional piece of hardware. The only software I need preinstalled is the BIOS.

  30. AdrianC

    I'm not sure it's quite going to work like that...

    If the PC manufacturers can't pre-load apps from <insert umpty-seven software vendors>, then they're going to miss out on Quite A Lot Of Revenue from those vendors.

    ( for an example - $1bn over 3yrs to have the Google Toolbar preloaded on Dells)

    So if they don't get that revenue from the software, where are they going to get it from? Yup, they'll add it onto the retail price.

    Oh - and to Daniel van Niekerk - you may like to rethink that analogy... If Peugeot don't paint the car, they won't offer a paint or anti-corrosion warranty, just as Acer/Dell/Etc won't support the OS if it's not pre-installed.

    The difference being, of course, that the paint warranty might be useful in the first place...

  31. Marco

    Re: Another victory for stupidity

    Now, Mr. van Niekerk, are you willing to pay $150 more for a DVD player, because its maker bundles it with 10 specific DVDs that don't interest you? Are those titles essential to the functioning of the product?

    See, a car runs on gas, a computer on software. Without gas, the car won't move, but is still a complete product. Without software, the computer will do nothing, but, I think you have by now figured it out.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We dont want it because we are forced to pay for it.

    I would much rather havethe option to buy a PC or Laptop with no OS rather than be forced to pay for the system with an OS installed. And I am not the only one. Every day I get customers calling me asking if they can have this or that pc with a different or no OS.

    Think what it is like for a business with licenses. they are forced to pay for the preinstalled license then pay for a site license again.

    Also anything that unbundles NAV or McAV is good in my book.

    Go on that frenchman. I never thought I would say that.

  33. Ned Fowden

    foolish french

    hang on a minute EVERY single new pc & laptop i've ever bought has required me to run through the installation of windows upon first booting...........

    i can't ssay that i've ever seen a pc/laptop/palm for sale in the channel that does not state that the OS is included.

    if the stupid man didn;t want that OS he should have gone elsewhere

    law courts gone mad again.....i thought the french hated americans ?, seems they've taken the stupid lawsuit trend to heart just like the yanks

    oh well

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another victory for stupidity - but extend your argument

    You go into the dealership but they give you a car with a caravan hooked up with integrated electrics linked to the power and signalling on your car.

    You don't want the trailer but they give you no choice.

    The US may have the Sherman Act but in recent times it's been ignored, hence the EU having to look into competition law.

    Of course, you can substitute insults for debate if you want... like shooting before thinking...

  35. Jon Foster

    re: Another victory for stupidity

    Daniel wrote: "Oh I also expect Peugeot to cover it under warranty if it starts to rust early or the engine doesn't work as well as I'd hoped.!"

    Fail. Surely a manufacturers warrenty is applied to the hardware? I suspect Acer do not say "warrenty void if not running MS Windows"

    They might say "add a noisey exaust and silly spoiler at your own risk".

  36. Daniel van Niekerk

    The "me too" people

    Why is it that almost every person that's commented on this story has gone on about Microsoft and so on? Surely if the man was told that he'd get loads of rubbish when he bought the product then that's his problem?

  37. Anton Ivanov

    Re: Another victory for stupidity

    Wrong analogy.

    If we use car dealership analogies the following will be the right analogy will be buying the car:

    1.Without obscene mandatory financing at 15% APR with extra penalties if you drive it too much.

    2. Without mandatory RAC subscription at the highest rate available

    3. Without mandatory servicing package at 4 times the average market price

    4. Without mandatory Trafficmaster subscription so that BIG BROTHER can know everything you do

    5. Without mandatory ...

    That is actually the norm and frankly if I buy the car this is exactly the way I like it. Without all such bundled sh***. Cash and carry.

  38. Dave

    @Daniel van Niekerk

    You might actually manage to achieve that from a car manufacturer as a special order. You'll get charged for a customised version but unlike your average PC vendor, the car dealer would probably do his best to provide you with what you want, and would probably even offer to fit your choice of wheels before delivery.

    The car would cost more because it's a significant extra to customise from standard, whereas an OS-less machine ought to be cheaper because you're omitting a step from the process by fitting a blank disk instead of one with software pre-installed. The minimal admin charge for handling the paperwork should be negligible compared to the cost of the software.

  39. Geoff Mackenzie

    Re: victory for stupidity, tree hugging

    The OS is not part of the PC. Nor will it do any harm to the hardware if I install Ubuntu rather than Windows. Therefore this is not equivalent to buying a car without paint ... but having said that, if it was, it's a self-defeating argument anyway; if I buy a new car, I do actually get to choose the colour, wheels, and other extras, and hanging my furry dice on the rear view mirror won't void my warranty. Generally speaking quite a few modifications (e.g. custom paint job, aftermarket wing mirrors, etc.) will leave my warranty intact.

    The old situation with Windows bundled with every PC is actually more like if a manufacturer of expensive but very flaky gold paint arranged for practically every new car sold to have their crufty product smeared all over it, only for a significant minority of customers to sand it all off and put on good stuff in a colour they actually wanted.

    And as for the tree hugging comment - wouldn't you hug a tree if it had your beard? :) Seriously though linux users are not tree hugging communists like people seem to keep suggesting. I use linux for all manner of purposes because it is relatively lightweight, stable and secure, costs nothing and is a developer's dream. The way I see it reducing licensing costs, maintenance costs, hardware costs and energy costs increases my competitve advantage in any commerical endeavour the machines support. It's pure capitalism, and I have no beard, and do not generally hug trees.

  40. John Dow


    Where does it end?

    Hi Mrs Bloggs.

    What's that you say?

    You want to buy a computer to speak to your grandchildren in Australia?

    And you've never used a computer before?

    Well, here's a nice one here.

    Unfortunately, we can't give you one with an operating system on it, so you can choose between all the systems listed on this sheet.

    You don't know what an operating system is?

    Well, I don't think I should sell you a computer then, in case some jumped up obnoxious fifteen year old linux weenie accuses us of N0t b33ing teh l33t!!11!one! and takes us to court. Bye, now.

  41. b166er

    Show me

    @ Dave Cumming

    Please tell me where I can get a wide choice of completely clean retail laptops

    @ Mr Clark

    The reason for this is because Windows is the default operating system for new PC's and therefore, all the manufacturers have to do is provide drivers for Windows (in fact sometimes only drivers for that particular version of Windows (Philips!)), in doing so, netting themselves a great OEM support deal, whereby customers have to visit PC World and be insulted ;-o

    @ Ian Ferguson

    Or an iPhone without the network

    I'm not pro-linux or windows, but I am pro-choice and against the thought that companies can muscle their way to the top rather than providing good product which sells itself

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you Agree to these terms ....NO!

    When you buy a laptop, and go through the M$ install it asks if you agree to the terms and conditions. If you choose NO, then you don't get Windows.

    If you don't get windows you are entitled to a refund from the supplier for the software, as you are not using it.

    Unfortunately, no-one (no matter what M$ thinks) can read the T&C's until they get to that point in the loaded software.

    So, stupid stickers about opening the software means you agree to everything, don't count unless you CAN read everything BEFORE you open the packet.

    In the same way that you can take back a car that doesn’t run once you have opened the door (as you seem to like the Car analogies) ;-)

  43. Ally

    Good, yet bad

    As others have said, this judgment makes perfect sense to/for us. For the average consumer it could result in utter hell, though. Best case scenario is that you get to choose what OS to have put on your machine when you buy it, and have someone in-store handle it.

    As an aside, I don't know why everyone here is cheering- we've known how to reformat all along, and could quite easily take the discount manufacturers like Dell get for bundling software without dealing with the pain of actually using it. Now we're just going to have to pay more instead.

  44. Paul C. Hartley

    This is not ACER's fault

    The judgement is fair, not so far as it forced Acer to refund the user for the software that he did not want but rather it punished the company for dragging its feet in a simple consumer rights case, however this case highlights a very real problem in Europe regards the sale of both business and consumer computer equipment.

    The reason that this is fair is that in europe we have laws that promote competition so it would be fair to say that Acer should really sell a version of its laptop without an OS however the antipiracy bunch say that this promotes software piracy and is bad so the manufacturers are in a way very much compelled to supply an OS on the hardware.

    Now if you look at the PC OS market there are a dazzaling number of operating system flavours available, basically the various forms of windows from Microsoft takes a 90%+ stake and the rest is made up from a plethora of different Linux variations. To be fair, when the "no machine without an OS" policy is taken into account, what is being asked for is for manufacturers to make every model available with every possible operating system out there available to the consumer to buy which is just not feasable. If this was to happen the manufacturers would end up with an awful lot of kit that just would not get sold.

    The consumer demands that they can walk into any computer shop and hand over their cash for their shiny new computer and go home, turn it on and it works. No messing around with disks and configurations and software etc. The want turn on put name in and internet within five minutes. They also expect their new shiny computer to be cheap also.

    The AVERAGE computer user is a complete pleb when it comes to technical stuff and to be fair they have no interest in being any otherwise. What you must consider is that at leaset half the computer users out their are more of a pleb than the average one so the manufacturers make it as simple as possible.

    The average computer user also wants windows, it is compatable with their software, their games, their hardware and they know how to use it. A very small percentage of customers may want to use something like Linux instead. It is true to say that they should not have to pay for windows but then the EU should force manufacturers to supply machines without an OS and this is not going to happen until either the customer base wants it or someone gets brave and launches a legal case to force the EU to make it happen.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The cockup by the French court here is that the refund should have been the cost to Acer of the software in question, not the retail price.

    Example: You purchase, say, a camera at a sale price of, say, 50% of RRP. It proves to be faulty and you take it back. You get a refund. Is that refund the full RRP of the camera? I think not. Would you get very far attempting to sue the shop for the full RRP of the camera? Again, I think not.

    What's happened here is that some chiselling git has taken a load of heavily discounted, crap OEM software back and got the full, box-price refund. Under any other circumstances I'd call that fraud. In fact, it may still be. If at any time in the process he or his legal team mislead the court into believing that the OEM bundle was comparable to the retail version in value then I suspect he's up the creek without a paddle. It wouldn't be the first time that a successful civil claim has resulted in criminal charges against the original plaintiff. Acer should call the Gendarmerie here and make a complaint.

    Oh and it's not going to make a blind bit of difference to MS, so the rabid, drooling MS haters can stop celebrating. And it's France, so you can stop talking about European legal precedents as the EU countries still get legal independance ragardless of what the Eurocrats may be smoking this week.


  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You CANNOT buy a laptop in the US without an OS

    Just for the record, I went to Dell and tried to by a D820 without Windows, and I couldn't.

    So you say... don't buy it, go somewhere else...

    Ok, went to Sony's website, couldn't find a high end laptop without Windows.

    go somewhere else...

    Ok went to HP's online store, couldn't find a high end laptop without Windows.

    Ok went to Best Buy and Circuit City. Also didn't find a high end laptop without Windows. Went to CostCo and Sams Club. Nope, the few laptops they had came with Windows.

    So based on my rather large sample size (assuming the average consumer would only go to one store) it is IMPOSSIBLE to buy a laptop without Windows. So for all of you people saying he should've bought a different one, I bet Acer didn't offer that model without Windows. And in the US it appears to be physically impossible to by any laptop without an OS.

    I don't anderstand the buy a laptop without Windows agrument, when you clearly cannot!

  47. Daniel van Niekerk

    Before people keep on going on about this rubbish

    I build my own PC and only install what I want on the PC.

    But most people want an OS and so on. If this guy had taken Acer to court for not providing a bare product then I could understand as long as he didn't actually buy it. But he went out and bought something that he didn't want and then asked for money back for stuff he didn't want but then knowingly purchased. How is this right?

  48. Phill

    I'll sue Microsoft!

    They have an unfair monopoly. Every time I buy a packed of floppy disks they come pre-formatted with FAT. Totally unacceptable.

  49. b166er

    Er, Ned

    'i can't ssay that i've ever seen a pc/laptop/palm for sale in the channel that does not state that the OS is included.'

    'if the stupid man didn;t want that OS he should have gone elsewhere'

    If you've never seen a pc/laptop/palm that does not include the OS, where exactly should the 'stupid' man have gone?

  50. hugo tyson

    M$ licence

    I have a catch-all catch-phrase for people with complaints about choices that they make: "well don't then", This certainly applies to his complaint that he bought a laptop with Windoze on it, but he doesn't want Windoze, so he was a fool to buy that one. Fair point. To some degree.

    BUT isn't it true that the M$ licence says "if you refuse these terms then you must return the OS to your dealer for a refund" ? Chances are the lawsuit was about Acer refusing to do that - or specifically refusing to refund a realistic amount, compared with the cost of a Windows disc set off the shelf.

    IIRC that clause was the basis of the last tranche of "end the M$ tax now" activity, and it is the basis of M$s claims not to be a monopolist. In that by rejecting the licence and getting the refund, that's how you are entitled to buy a "blank" laptop to put your own software on.

    So Acer was guilty of refusing to honour the terms of the licence of an item that it sold.

  51. J

    bloody title

    "if the stupid man didn;t want that OS he should have gone elsewhere"

    How thick these comment(er)s are, by Odin... That is EXACTLY the point! There is not much where to go now, is there it? How easy is it to find a laptop without OS, in a store, *right now*? You might find some small company on line selling generic stuff (that will arrive in a bunch of days). Trust them at your own risk. And they will be selling a small selection of things anyway -- which probably means you won't find the hardware you want. Or maybe you will, lucky. And I wouldn't be building my own laptop if I were you...

    And someone mentioned that forcing the bundle is illegal, so there...

  52. Bill Fresher

    Good for him.

    Bundling windows and all the other crud is a con.

    Mr X has a laptop and wants to upgrade to Vista. He buys the OS. Soon after his laptop breaks. He wants to buy a new laptop and now has to shell out for Vista, which he doesn't want because he already owns it. Forcing people to have bundled OS is even worse than Apple not having replaceable batteries in iPods.

  53. Chad H.

    Other than the award amount, this isnt stupidity.

    This is actualy perfect sense, and the later car anologies are right, the OS is akin to the fuel, I should be able to choose any fuel my car can use without damage, so whilst obviously ethanol is out, super premium shell unleaded and el cheapo tesco fuel are ok, I shouldnt be forced to pay for the el cheapo, or shell stuff if I wanted to say use BP regular. A wintel machine can concevably run linux without damage, so its only stupidity that should force me to use another.

    What stupdity however, are those posts saying that its stupid because it will mean that all PCs will be sold blank, and confuse people of little knowledge. Well, no it doesnt, you still would concevably have the choice at purchase to buy it preconfigured with a manufactuerer supported OS, some may choose only the Doze, some may go for Doze and the Pengiun, and real enthusiast places could go Doze, pengiun, the Daemon, Darwin, etc. Or you can get it blank if you know what you're doing.

    The award is stupid though. The software should have been only a preportion of the total sales price, so only a preportion, plus costs should have been awarded.

  54. simon croft

    re: Pathetic

    Wrong John.

    Yes Mrs Bloggs, we will install all the software you need and make sure it all works properly before we send it to you. That will be an extra $50. ( cost us $30 :-)

    We will deliver it to your home , connect it up and train you how to use it for an extra $30.

    Sure, on Monday OK?

    have a Nice Day.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's next?

    Suing car manufacturers for forcing you to buy a car with a pre-installed engine? FFS...

  56. Dave Cumming

    To b166er and anyone else who can't find a "bare" computer..

    Bare PCs I could go and buy from one of a dozen shops in Edinburgh, however laptops I wasn't sure but...

    I went to Google and tried "Linux laptops"... Dell sell them.. so theres an option... then I tried "Bare laptops", found a reference to Asus so checked out their website and indeed the C90 Asus, top spec bare laptop.

    On sale in US of A....

  57. b166er

    i know, i know, spamming!

    This post is just making me laugh, i'm almost in tears

    Phill, just omit 'They have an unfair monopoly. Every time I buy a packed of' and 'they come preformatted with FAT' and you're staring to make sense. roflcopters

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Most of the disagreement here seems to be between those taking the long view, that if one can not buy a bare bones PC, then the law should be able to force retailers to change their altitude and force then to offer them as an alternative. And those taking the specific view that if you agree to buy something then you should not be able to get the deal changed afterwards. Both viewpoints have merit but clearly the courts are taking the longer view and indicating that companies are not to present a "take it or leave it, you can't get what you want elsewhere anyway" attitude. And bully for them.

    As a matter of interest, do motherboards, CPUs, memory, and hard disks all come with an MS "tax" ? Might have an alternative there in the meantime.

  59. Gleb

    @Daniel van Niekerk

    Europe is full or morons? Your analogy is idiotic, hardware can be bundled with hardware to create a product; but to exclusively bundle Windows+Apps is detrimental to the very idea of open market.

    Microsoft will claim that not preinstalling windows will only result in piracy galore, and I'm not sure if they'd be wrong, but I belive that a) We should be able to buy "empty" computers, w/o windows licenses and the attached extra cost, and b) At the very least, as someone already mentioned above, it wouldn't be that bad if they put windows XP on it, but left all that cpu hogging nick-nack out of my box please. But then again, the average joe probably does want the bundled and pre-installed operating system, and would love the little alerter apps and AVs and whathave you... So it's a mute point. Obviously this is a laptop specific problem, as enthusiasts can easily build their own desktop systems with any os flavor they like... And in my experience, you often get laptops from the IT dept who clean them (? I assume), and then put corporate apps in instead....

    In fact, I think that mots affected users have already commented this article, in a wierd twist of cosmic humor.

  60. Bounty

    uhhh I'm not uber leet or anything, but it's not hard to find laptops w/o OS. You can buy dell 1420N with linux on it. So basically if Acer wants to sell something with windows on it, they should be able to. If you want to buy something w/o windows on it you have the choice. Most people want windows, so most computers should come with it bundled. If you want open source, you're special, and you should have to do special things like type "buy laptop without operating system" or similar into a web browser.

    Want to sell more open source laptops, make them better, cheaper, faster, stronger, harder and longer? You get the point. I think it's called capitalism. I love Mandriva and Pizza, but this is a lame court decision.

  61. Rockvole

    Car Analogy

    Keeping with the car analogy - Id say its more like you buy a car from a manufacturer and it has a square petrol filler hole. So from then on you have to use specific garages to fill up at whatever prices they decide to charge.

    If the PC manufacturers were forced to offer PCs with no OS installed then they would likely have to put more effort into making sure the machines were also linux compatible which in turn would force hardware manufacturers to make sure their hardware was linux compatible - which would mean real choice at last.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not hard to avoid bloatware..

    Last Laptop I bought for home I bought an HP machine running XP Pro and deliberately avoided sony as it comes pre-filled with bloatware.

    It's really not that hard to buy a machine without the norton/mcafee bloat (and others) and just then pick and choose your apps...

    Any before I get flamed by the linux fanboys..I've installed ubuntu on about 10 machines before setting them loose on ebay - I just wanted a laptop that I knew would work and I didn't have the time fiddling to get it up and running..

  63. Bounty

    can you buy a car w/o gas in it?

    I've never purchased a car w/o gas in it. How do you get it home? I'm assuming the "open source" car wouldn't have oil either. Or for that matter spark plugs, oil filter or air filter? I mean, who wants to be forced to have Ford brake fluid.

  64. ChessGeek

    What is the cost?

    Does anyone here actually know what it does cost the manufacturer to pre-load the software on a new PC/Laptop?

    With all the kickbacks and such, what if it costs more to buy a "bare" PC? Would anyone still buy one other than to obsessively stick to principle? Perhaps that fellow in France really ought to be getting a bill from Acer, instead of a rebate, for "lost revenue".

  65. Julian Cook

    Just shows that the french are well crap

    Ok you buy a laptop bundeled with some software, and you want a refund for the full market vaule of the items bundled with the pc. well that is just nuts, if this is the case I am going to claim monies back from all the mag companies for the dvd's and other crap that comes with mags i buy

  66. Dennis Price

    Total shiite...

    ....sad to see somebody else learning the Art of American Lawsuits... bastards (lawyers - not you)

    Anyway, the CORRECT analogy between a car and a computer would be buying a vehicle without it's ECU programmed (timing advance, injector tuning, fuel/air ratio, etc) - sure it will run without it but not very far or well.

    Europe talks a lot of trash about the US, yet it's possible for the average American to start a business whereas in Europe, regulations, taxes, the fact you DO NOT want to hire somebody without supporting their family, relatives, the EU's Navy gunrowboats, Belgium, immigrants (legal and not), etc... don't even want to talk about VAT or your regular taxes.

    Europe punishes success - which is why they can't defend themselves - from anybody.

    Should sue the EU because I like my maps clean - not cluttered up with country borders, or because France comes bundled with non-english speakers - I want to supply my own language and not have to pay the French Language Tax (oh rudeness, not understanding how they are trying to screw me, getting a tutor or being forced to buy software to learn a dying langauge).


    LMFAO at the universal stupidity...


  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where can I buy a new iBook with no OS on it?

    As long as we're calling people out to line up against the wall, let's be fair and get them all.

  68. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    Not going to get into the rather blinkered slanging matches thare are going on in these comments, as amusing as some of them are...

    But to remove the bloatware:

    There's a handy application that you can remove quite a lot of the crap that comes on a system, it's called the "Decrapifier". Download it from this site:

    Norton AV and other supposed "security" products are pretty much worse than Viruses, which are usually easier to remove and cheaper as well. I'd love to see an end to the "free" Anti-Virus pre-installs that clearly neglect to state that they're time limited (often just 3 months), "accidently" don't come with any way to remove them and/or if you do remove them they don't actually bother to uninstall fully and just continue to silently bloat and crash your system. HOWEVER, it's not all bad - these nefarious manufacturers do actually provide complete removal tools... Google for "Norton Removal Tool" and you'll find the link (it changes regularly, is hard to find in the Norton site search, so it's easiest to find this way) - just click whatever "product" you've been lumbered with (or just click anything, it doesn't really matter) and you'll get to the download page. Download and run the application and it'll remove all the cretinous junk that they lumbered your system with. After a restart, look forward to a glorious 50% quicker startup time, less crashes and a few GB of recovered hard disk space! Similar tools are available for McAfee however they're much, much clunkier to use.

  69. davcefai


    Doesn't all this boil down to the ability to buy a bare machine OR one with <OS of the manufacturer's choice> installed.

    Nobody has ever floated the idea that manufacturers must install and support all OSes. However it makes perfect sense that they should offer a bare machine.

    The price of the machine is something else entirely.

    To all our US friends: In Europe we tend not to like the "all customers are potential pirates" argument that seems to be an acceptable standard in the US

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People migrating from Windows to Linux - and raising the average IQ of both camps!

    It took about 3 minutes on to find a high-spec laptop that had the option of FreeDOS rather than Windows (for a saving of $75). Shop under "Small & Medium Business" rather than "Home & Home Office".

    If Acer thought that there was a market for laptops without Windows installed, they'd sell laptops without Windows installed.

    As for the anonymous post that says "The OEM license that the vendors have with Redmond mean that they have to pay a fee for every machine they sell no matter whether it has Windows on/with it or not, if they want to sell Windows at all."

    Can you point us all at a copy of this OEM License? Or is it just another one of those "facts" that became a "fact" because it's been repeated ad nauseam, rather than because it's actually true?

  71. Marco

    Re: The "me too" people

    "Why is it that almost every person that's commented on this story has gone on about Microsoft and so on? Surely if the man was told that he'd get loads of rubbish when he bought the product then that's his problem?"

    He bought a laptop, not the software on it, still he had to pay for the latter.

    As someone else here pointed out: When you install Windows, it asks you to accept the terms and conditions, you decline and are told to bring the software back to the dealer.

    And to those saying that the clueless would have tough luck if their PC didn't come with an OS preinstalled: How about explaining to your elderly customer - that in this discussion have turned so dear to some, as they help bashing an EU decision - what the OS is and what choices are there? In the good old times this was called "customer service".

    But I'm sure you, Mr. van Niekeerk, are one of the people who found it quite right that Microsoft stifled and stifles competition by including Internet Explorer and Media Player with their OS, because they are "essential" for its functioning.

  72. Gulfie

    It's about CHOICE!

    Yes, most people won't think twice about buying a machine with an OS pre-installed. That doesn't mean we don't have the right to ask for a bare machine. Does it? Why? This is just another slant on, for example, Dell shipping machines with Linux instead of Windows.

    CHOICE is what it is all about, and giving the customer the CHOICE is always good for business. I rest my case.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    M$ Tax in full effect.

    I recently ordered a load of desktops/laptops. Half with XP, half without....

    The half WITH XP were only on the order of $20 more expensive than the ones with out.

  74. Andrew

    Is it just me imagining things,

    Or are the comments full of Microsoft fanbois? (blogwashers?)

  75. Morely Dotes

    @ kfkhotdog

    "Customer choice is good, but only to those who are capible of making those choices"

    And who gets to decide who is capable of making those choices? You? I think not. You can't even spell simple English words? Me? Most people wouldn't care for my choices. The government? Those bloody fools can't even manage to maintain a Web page free of malicious software.

    In a perfect world, one could go into a shop and choose from the bare PC/laptop, one with an OS bundled (and not *just* a Microsoft OS - there are others, you know), and one with an OS and applications bundled. And in a perfect world, Norton/Symantec would be in receivership, and their crapware would be bundled only on Sony computers, which would be priced at 10x the highest competitor's similar product to discourage the idiots who currently buy them.

    But the world's not perfect (nor is it a Pervect), and thus we should still be permitted to choose between an unbundled bare machine and a bundled one - WITHOUT PC World claiming that software somehow invalidates the hardware warranty.

    And that *should* be the law. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of supporting the French court's decision.

  76. Dennis Price


    "To all our US friends: In Europe we tend not to like the "all customers are potential pirates" argument that seems to be an acceptable standard in the US"

    Yet the acceptable standard in Europe seems to be "All Americans are stupid, fat, and lazy" or just "warmongers". Or all four.

    These fat, lazy, and stupid warmongers have saved you in the last century from speaking German, German, and Russian.

    Go figure.

    If <insert OS here> is so godlike, wouldn't it be desireable and beat <insert OS here> on it's own merits? a la iphone vs. <insert phone manufacturer here>? (lmao)

  77. Kev K

    And I thought El Reg was for tech savy people

    This has got to be one of the more amusing comments read ever, for a bunch of tech savy readers I find a lot of the comments quite laughable.

    in my not so humble opinion

    A) The french courts are looking to jump on the current Hate M$ Bandwagon & get a slice of me too.

    B) Unless you live under a rock - buying a bare bones PC or Lappy is not exactly akin to finding the holy grail - local PC store "dear person selling boxes to the public - I would like my pc to contain these items and no OS" - I can think of 3 stores in my home town (one of which I would & do actually use) and maybe 4 (off the top of my head) interweb stores I have used, all of which are happy to offer 2+ years RTB warrenty.

    C) The great unwashed public at large are (mostly) incapable of correctly configuring a new pc - so god help 'em when it comes to installing an OS Windoze or *nix - the ones that can - normally do.

    D) IF (and I cant see it anytime soon) the norm becomes selling PC's without OS's - I will be the first in line to go back into servicing the general public - with a per min 0870 support number & a team of experience @home techs - be like the late 80's/90's again when there was money to be made in selling/supporting home users.

    E) As for Apples without preinstalled OS's - christ think of the floods from all the fanboys crying "My Apple just works - when someome who's not as hip and trendy looking as me charges me a fortune per hour to install my OS"

  78. Leo Maxwell

    Surely the whole point is that "included" software is not free

    MS is primarily a marketing company, not a software company anymore.

    Personally, I think that monopolies are bad for everyone.

    A monopoly is guaranteed to abuse it's position- it can't help itself.

    A monopoly can charge what it likes- see Vista pricing.

    Most people want a PC that allows you to surf, email, message, watch DVDs, play music, write letters etc, .

    A PC with Linux can do that, so can one with Windows, or a Mac.

    The price of Windows is concealed, many people don't even realise that they have paid for it.

    The main reason that I dislike MS is because of it's history of bad practice, stifling innovation and underhanded dealing. I support Windows as a job, but that doesn't mean that I like it.

    My company uses Linux internally because it saves us time and money, in support costs as well as OS cost..

    I use Linux at home because it does everything that I want, all of the time, and I like it.

    We still use Windows, but it's share of our network is shrinking by natural wastage.

  79. Michael


    This lawsuit is just silly. Though I sympathize with those people that want a different OS, or want Windows with no other fluff added on, the fact that this wasn't thrown out of court is a disgrace. The machine was almost certainly clearly advertised/labelled as coming with Windows on it. If you don't want Windows, don't buy it.

    What's more is that unbundling the machine from the OS will actually INCREASE the overall cost to the average consumer. PC manufacturers buy their OSes in bulk at a severely discounted rate. So they take the per unit cost of the OS off their retail price of the machine, then the consumer goes and spends several times the discount to buy the OS at retail. Yes there are other options apart from Windows, but when windows is what the vast majority of people know and are comfortable with, it's silly to penalize everyone for the sake of a very small minority.

    Now alternatively, manufacturers could offer more OSes that they would preload, but then production costs increase, not to mention the second you open the linux box, you're going to have people whining about which distribution is better, and why don't they offer all seventy-billion flavors of BSD.

    The majority want windows. So give the majority windows. It's that simple, it makes good business sense, and it's flatly idiotic that you can lose a lawsuit for giving someone exactly what you told them they were buying, merely because they didn't want it all.

  80. Simon Brown

    Re: Andrew Bush

    "The whole point in not bundling the OS is the imbalance between the OEM cost and retail boxed price. There should be no difference in price between these two other than the packaging/distribution."

    You are incorrect here. The reason why the OEM version of the OS is cheaper is because when you buy the retail version the extra cost gets you a certain number of support calls with Microsoft. With the OEM version the system builder will be the one providing the support and so they add that cost on to the PC/laptop as they see fit.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (Un)Installing a new PC...

    It seems that for every new PC I set up, I spend more time uninstalling (bundled) software than installing relevant stuff... Of course it needs Windows and some other essentials - but there's normally 2 or 3 pre-installed Internet providers, various trial programs, bundled 30-day Internet Security, Google/Yahoo toolbars and search features, Loads of Icons for Games and Music services, Registration nagware and more... some of which don't have a clear removal procedure (and even no entry in Add/Remove?). How about a simple Yes/No option, instead of uninstall if not required, for all this fluff?

  82. Nev

    People trying to draw analogies between...

    a computer and a car don't seem to know much about either.


    @Dennis Price

    Hmm can't speak French? It's used a lot around the world. Personally I can't wait for Spanish to become the offical 2nd language of the USA. Still, never mind, you seem to be fluent in "Moron". I hear there are a lot of those in the world. ;-)

  83. NoCo37

    RE: Is it just me imagining things,


    I do not see where you are getting this impression. Did I miss the post that states "your lucky you get to Windows and don't have to use some other (P)OS"?

  84. yeah, right.

    Nice comments

    Just goes to prove that any ignorant nutter can type a comment in here.

    Acer broke French law by bundling something with a machine that is not *required* for the functioning of that machine. France has some of the more comprehensive consumer protection laws in the world. Brits and others would be damn lucky as consumers to be so well protected, rather than putting up with the kind of cowboy fly-by-night outfits they are so famous for.

    Bundling Microsoft with a PC is like telling me that I *have* to purchase the gold plated toilet with my car. It's not required to make the car work, but we're going to force you to buy it anyway. Car manufacturers actually tried shit like this with their radios and other items. They were soundly told off in multiple courts and forced to change their ways. Microsoft is just one more company in a long line of companies to try their luck at pushing the system. They've finally lost, and their puppet resellers like Acer are going to feel the brunt if they don't change their ways.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uninventing the wheels ...

    "I think I might just go into a car dealership and ask to buy a car without the wheels because I might want to buy different ones,"

    At least with the car, if you don't like the wheels you can SELL them.

    If the buyer of the laptop ALSO had the right to unbundle any of the unwanted bundle bits and sell them legally to anybody who would pay for them, it wouldn't be quite so unreasonable.

    But the whole problem is the way that microsoft have defrauded the public with bogus "retail" prices that are many times larger than they are charging their favourite manufacturers.

    Yes, if a manufacturer buys in bulk its expected that they should pay less than somebody who buys only a small number. But if a manufacturer is allowed to buy 100,000 copies of a program at $10 apiece, then anybody else who is prepared to pay $10 apiece for 100,000 copies should be entitled to do so -- no matter whether their intention is to bundle them with a product or to sell them on their own.

    OEM pricing has to be stamped out -- replace it by strict bulk pricing where everybody buying the same quantity must pay the same price no matter what country they're in and no matter what purpose they will use it for.

    and THAT is where the EU is falling down -- wasting time talking about freebies when it really ought to be talking about the predatory pricing of the core OEM product.

  86. BitTwister

    @Daniel van Niekerk

    > But he went out and bought something that he didn't want and then asked for money back for stuff he didn't want but then knowingly purchased. How is this right?

    It's perfectly right, although it's a crying shame someone needs to go to these lengths before being able to buy what he wants. Including an OS will suit many people - but not all, and an OS is only an integral part of a PC once it's been installed. It's not like the hardware will rot away because there's no OS pre-installed.

    You should change "But he went out and bought something that he didn't want" to "But he went out and *was forced to buy* something that he didn't want". That's the point: he didn't want Windows+crud but couldn't buy a machine without it.

    And to all the other nay-sayers: absolutely no-one is saying that henceforth, all PCs must be sold with no OS. It should be a CHOICE.

  87. Jon

    @ Daniel van Niekerk way up top...

    Do you really mean that? Are Europeans really so stoopid for not wanting to furnish someone elses pockets for something they don't want or need??

    I am a Linux user for a simple reason.. I don't need Windoze in my life.. I work with SAP and Sun servers, so using a windoze machine is not only painful, it's confusing too.. So why must I be forced to buy a laptop with an operating system that I will never use, just because Bill Gates tells me I should.. who is he anyhow?? Noone to me.

    Then there's my friend who is an MSDN subscriber, he has OS's coming out of his ears.. Why should he pay for one more??

    Well done the French!

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WHAT are you's on about

    Wise up...he didn't have to buy Acer. He didn't have to pick the model he did...try another brand! consumer laws...thats the problem these days...too many stupid laws. hold on i bought a car a year ago and i bought new 18" wheels for it...but i can sue the car dealer because as mentioned by others in these comments...i didn't want the wheels on the car but was forced to buy the new ones!

    WISE up people!! If he didn't like the Acer computer then go get another one from a different maufacture. stupid laws and idiots like this is what has the global economy in a disaster!!!

  89. Tim Roberts

    What ???

    WHAT ! quote " I think I might just go into a car dealership and ask to buy a car without the wheels because I might want to buy different ones, screw the engine (the bundled one isn't up to my liking) and I'll take it without paint please because I don't like the standard colours. Oh I also expect Peugeot to cover it under warranty if it starts to rust early or the engine doesn't work as well as I'd hoped"

    This has nothing to do with essentials such as the car and its wheels. Windows OS is NOT vital to the running of the computer. Having wheels on a car is. Many (??most) car retailers offer different wheels and tyres when you buy. I would hazard a guess that if you really wanted to, you could take your favourite mag wheels to the dealer and tell them you'll have the car if they fit the wheels (especially if you have the cash).

    Besides which, if you dont like the colour/wheels/engine/exhaust/seats don't buy the car ..... or is that a bit obvious for you. This is about being forced to buy crap softare with you computer, rather than having the choice about what is or is not installed.

    Quote "Europe really is full of morons. Why cases like this even go to court and even worse get resolved in favour of the plaintiff I will never know."

    I can only assume that you are from the US. If ever there was a F***** legal system they have it.

  90. Phil

    We would still end up paying though

    Chances are, if the big boys sold PC's without an OS or the add-on s/w, the price would remain exactly the same and they'd add on some sort of clause along the lines of

    "Special offer, get Windows Vista, Norton, Works for free"

    I remember about 12 years ago I had £1500 to spend on a PC. Phoned Simply Computers, told them what I wanted, they gave me a price for them to build it, but it would take around 2 - 4 weeks (cant remember how long they said).

    Me wanting it that day said I'd assemble it myself. I was then given a revised price of around £200 more for them not building it, as buying the individual parts didn't qualify for various discount codes.

    Ended up taking my business elsewhere. Can see a very similar thing happening with the preloaded OS and cant really see a way out of it unless all special offers and discounts are made illegal?

  91. 3x2


    Unbelievable - this place is getting like /.

    The case is not about Microsoft, Cars, Competition or the French.

    It's simple ..

    Man buys computer and instead of clicking "yes..I agree" throughout the startup said "no".

    Man is told (in the last window that pops up) "well go get your refund then".

    Man goes for his refund.

    Company fuck him around for a year because they have no policy in place for those who click "no".

    Court agrees that man was due a refund and taking the company's (year long) actions into account make it a big refund.

    The court has no intention of sitting around for the next six months being sidetracked by OEM licenses, tiered discount schemes and other Acer related shite to arrive at a value for the software in question so they use the price he

    might pay in the high street. (the most expensive high street they can find)

    To make sure Acer get the message that they had better get their customer relations shit together fast the court makes the end refund as large as they can in the circumstances.

    The worst thing that can happen to Acer (and the others) is that in future they have to specify exactly what discount a customer is entitled to if they choose not to install the bundle. My guess - zero.

    Discount zero, admin of discount zero, court dates zero. The vast majority of customers just want a working machine and will click "yes". For the tiny minority that want something else there's zero.

  92. Sean

    Thanks, France.

    Never thought I'd be saying "Thank God for the French," but there you go. I agree, why do we have to put up with having all this crap pre-loaded on our machines? An OS, fine. Anything else--screw that.

  93. John

    Who buys a PC with an OS installed?

    Ive had a few new PCs now.

    None of them came pre-installed with any OS.

    There are loads of IBM clones to be had, who needs the big manufacturers?

    Never buy pre-installed !!

  94. Ned Fowden

    Er, b166er

    "If you've never seen a pc/laptop/palm that does not include the OS, where exactly should the 'stupid' man have gone?"

    if you'd taken half a moment to read the rest of my post, you'd have some clue, instead you decide to post an inane comment that has no relevance.

    the simple fact is that, and i do hate repeating myself, the court case should have been thrown out and the man laughed at.

    unless you're building machines yourself, you will find that it is an absolute rarity to find any retailer, or distributor for that matter, selling machines without an OS.

    this kind of lawsuit makes a mockery of retail, maybe i should go to DFS and sue them because the sofa they sold me had cushions i didn't want.......jeez

  95. Ned Fowden

    one simple fact that is missed

    "Antoine Gutzwiller disputed the fact that he had no choice but to buy the €599 Acer notebook with the ubiquitous operating system and software products including Microsoft Works, PowerDVD, and Norton AV."

    the whole argument is one of choice, he could have chosen to buy it from somewhere else, he could have chosen a different model, he could have chosen a different brand, he could have chosen a different retailer.......can any of you seriously see how he was forced to buy this machine....did he have a gun to his head, were his family threatened if he did not buy it

    bumpkum, freedom of choice, he chose to buy that model, he would have been fully aware of what was bundled with it when he handed over his cash or signed the credit agreement.

  96. Paul Stimpson

    To each his own

    "Why is it that almost every person that's commented on this story has gone on about Microsoft and so on?"

    Erm... Because this is an article about the compulsory bundling of MS software on retail computers.

    "Surely if the man was told that he'd get loads of rubbish when he bought the product then that's his problem?"

    Daniel, do you really not get it or have you got into an argument and don't want to back down? Let's go back to the car analogy... Let's say Ford do a deal with a baby seat manufacturer and the deal requires Ford pay for a seat for every car they produce whether or not the customer takes the seat. Ford raise the price of all their cars by $50, include a baby seat and the brochure gets changed to read "includes a baby seat." The conditions of sale also prevent me from selling or giving the baby seat to someone who actually does want it or from using it in my other car. I do not have a baby and have no intent of having one within the time I will own this new car. Why should I be forced to give $50 (less Ford's and the retailer's cuts) to the baby seat company when I'm never going to use their product? That's the first point.

    I get my new car and unwanted baby seat. I see a sticker on the box the baby seat comes in (stuck there by the manufacturer) that includes a promise (amongst all the other instructions and warnings) that says that if I don't agree with the warnings or don't want the seat I can return it unopened to the retailer for a refund of my $50. I go back to the dealer, box in hand, and try to return it and get my money. Neither the dealer nor Ford get their share of the $50 back from the baby seat company so they do everything they can to avoid paying me. That was the second problem in this case. The terms of the deal between Ford and the baby seat company should be irrelevant to me (why should I care if they were stupid enough to sign a crappy deal?) but clearly have a huge bearing on Ford's and the dealer's behaviour after the fact. IMHO this deal that obliges vendor refunds without compensation from MS are unfair and this needs to be addressed for the good of the consumer.

    Thinking about it differently the PC retailers are actually getting ripped off here too. MS are prepared to sell HP copies of Windows for $30 (or whatever it costs) but won't sell it to the retailers for anything near that price.

    These problems could be addressed quite simply. Take the $30 off the price of the machines and sell them bare. Give the retailer nice slim packs of bootable Ghost discs with COA stickers inside. When I hand over my credit card I get asked "Would you like Windows with that, Sir?" If I say "yes" I get charged the $30 for these discs and am given them. Since they are image discs the customer doesn't need to install Windows and make any more difficult choices than they do now. They just put the first disc in and turn the machine on. It boots from the disc and splats the hard drive with the same pre-installed stuff it would have had if it had been imaged in the factory. This disc could be BIOS locked to a particular manufacturer's hardware to reduce piracy (just like the Ghost discs that came in the box with my current machine.) The manufacturer supports it, the same as they do now. No problem, you get what you want, I get what I want. The retailer could even have a second set of Windows image discs with Office preloaded and charge more for them if that's what the customer wants.

    Windows is a negative value to my business. Having it obliges me to spend further cash on antivirus subscriptions and plough man hours into supporting it to keep it working. Vista would make me prematurely replace otherwise perfectly good hardware at my cost. XP and Vista are simply not the right choices for us.

    "Any before I get flamed by the linux fanboys..I've installed ubuntu on about 10 machines before setting them loose on ebay - I just wanted a laptop that I knew would work and I didn't have the time fiddling to get it up and running.."

    You seem to have a preconception that Linux is an inferior product. Good enough for a machine you're selling but not good enough for you. These days I install Ubuntu because I want a machine that works and I don't have to wipe its ass continuously. I can't remember the last time I had to go into serious surgery on a Linux box because the OS broke and I've never had a spyware or virus infecton on one. I can install my Laptop with Kubuntu from fresh, update it and get it just how I want it in under 2 hours. To get a machine from a vanilla XP SP2 install to the same state takes me most of a day and yes, I am an experienced Windows admin too. Our experiences clearly differ.

    PCs are a tool for my business and not the reason for its existence. I want PCs to enhance its productivity and not be a drain on its resources. Put simply, I just want to get the job done. There is no reason correctly configured images can't be made of any OS for easy customer deployment.

    I do have XP on dual boot on one machine for a couple of customer applications that won't run under WINE. I use it less than once a month now. On my hardware it's slower and less productive as well as being more expensive and harder to maintain.

  97. Dam

    Bare PC vs Loaded PC

    People don't seem to get the point do they?

    Sure you can ask for a bare PC (and be told to get stuffed most of the time), but you're going to end up _paying_ more for it.

    So a Windows PC comes at $500 and an OS free one at $550 ?

    Why is that, the hardware for an OS-free PC is more expensive ?

    I think not.

    Just because it costs the manufacturer more to deliver a bare PC isn't _my_ problem, I'm paying for the hardware, not for their deals and arrangements with software suppliers.

    The hardware and software should be billed separately.

    Perhaps you guys in US don't have a choice, but in the EU laws tend to protect the customer and indicate that they should not be forced to buy bundles.

    You see a pack of 6 batteries?

    Well, if you only want to buy 2, you can.

    And not pay the price of the 6.

  98. Bill Fresher


    If we must use the car analogy my version is that it's like buying a limo and buying forced to shell out for a driver that's a drunken hooligan who won't take you where you tell him.

  99. Klaus

    @ 3X2

    I can't believe I had to scroll down so far in the comments section to actually find somebody commenting on what actually happened in this case!?!?! Good Post!

  100. Gordon


    I would never buy another Acer after the Debacle over my "Free" upgrade to Windows Vista that cost 20 quid and never arrived. I'm no great fan of Acer, but in this specific case, how can someone take a company to court for selling them something that THEY chose?

    If the PC had this crud on the user hadn't know this he might have a case for a refund. But this is insanity. If you don't like the features the PC comes with - DON'T BUY IT! Why are the manufacturers suddenly under obligation to custom-build a PC just for you with the exact software you want on it??

    That having been said. The situation where people who DON'T want Windows et al end up paying MORE for their PCs than people who DO want it is ludicrous. What is happening is that people who don't want this crud are subsidising the people who do. Sure, maybe a SMALL charge for special-building a laptop, and then lop off the cost of the Windows licence.

  101. misiu_mp

    About customers complaining about no pre-installed software.

    How about doing the fair way: when they choose the computer, ask what preinstalled software do they want - the one that cost, say 100$, one that cost 500$, but have more functionality (office) or one that have all the functionality and more and is completely free of charge.

    Now thats fair competition.

    An option of having no software shouldnt be a problem in that light.

    That would force microsoft to decrease their prices or come up with another, less aggresive OEM licence.

  102. Steve

    Thank you 3x2

    The most useful and relevant comment posted so far.

  103. andy gibson

    Acer suck

    Acer no longer ship an operating system with their machine, just a recovery partition and (if you're lucky a blank DVD to write it to).

    I've just had to configure two Acer desktops which were bloated with loads of rubbish "Acer Empowering" software, including wireless USB dongle software, drivers and utilities for devices that weren't even included with it, not to mention Norton AV and cheap cacky DVD playing and writing software (again, the machine didn't even have a DVD writer)

  104. Paul Rhodes

    @Dave Cumming

    "Someone else used a car as an example.. would this guy go and buy an Astra VXR, then sue and say actually I didn't want alloys, air con, power steering etc etc.. what I really wanted was the basic model, so its Vauxhalls fault."

    No, the difference is that if it was a car the guy could buy the basic model. He can spec an entry level car with no frills and basic cloth. The fancy alloys, Air-Con and 500W sound system would be on the options list.

    Sure you can spec a different engine (processor) but if every car dealer/manufacturer insisted on you buying a £2K integrated Sat-Nav - on a £7K car you planned to daily drive the same route 5 miles to work and back - you'd think that was a bit rich, cos you could buy one for £120 from Tescos if you wanted one.

  105. D. M

    How stupid people can be

    This is proof how stupid people can get. This case is about choice. I bet those who say "go somewhere else" or "it's like buying a car without engine" never passed their primary school exam.

    It is simple matter that we should all have a choice to exclude the piece we do not need/want. eg. Go to Dell website, try to order a desktop PC without OS, monitor, keyboard, mouse. You will find the best you can is to convince them to take out the monitor after you make a rather long phone call to their sales rep.

    I'm sure if you walk in a car dealer, you can ask to take out want you do not want, or change the part to your spec, as long as it fits to the car you are going to buy. Why we cannot do the same with computer?

  106. andy

    I know some of you may not like MS but....

    ...quote from

    "You can do your own searches on Google if you want to find people who resell Compal, Quanta, Wistron, Asus, Clevo, Mitac, FIC, AOpen, and Uniwill. Most of them will sell you a laptop without an operating system or they will install Linux on it for you"

    It's no wonder the french get a bad reputation over here in the UK.

    My own analogy:

    When I go to my local restaurant to buy a 'Happy' meal I dont sue the company for 'making' me buy the bloomin' toy.

  107. Robin Hall

    Not unknown in the UK...

    From Dell indeed :

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If they had to sell laptops that might have other OS than windows installed, it would give them some incentive to either standardise or release compatible drivers.


  109. hans-peter carpenter


    Vive la France, and I am a Brit living on the continent - obviously!

    I am just so funned to read your comments, guyz! Keep 'em coming!

    I know the Brits @Home like to get stufft, just look at the prices they are happy to pay for goods like cars or computers compared to continental Europe or US.

    One exception seems to be vaseline, due to popular demand I know you get it over there real cheap, what a relief ;-)!

    However, you must understand that some people over 'ere on the continent don't like that. We want choice!

    @Daniel van Niekerk: Comparing computers to cars, you should note that you can customize your car when you buy it, if you do not want that cd player but a cd/dvd/mp3 player you can get one - same here. And when you order Mac meal, do you want to be forced to drink coke? Because 95% of people choose coke Mac4Dumb will be selling coke with every meal, if you want another drink, you are free to buy an additional one - but you will not get a refund on the coke!


    Besides, I know windows is just as useless as the bloomin' toy, but it makes up quite a bit more on the price than that toy made In PRC by 6 year-olds ... which might cost 0.0001 pence + shipping.

    It should be pretty easy to deliver separate restore cd's with computers which install the software on the computer:

    one for windows

    one for linux

    one for FreeBSD etc - why not?

    Come on stop the bs!

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand

    How can a court order you to sell a product that you don't sell?

    Acer sells laptop's with Windows. They have actively made a decision

    not to sell laptops without an OS - why? - thats their issue.

    Now for analogies:

    Should Becker be forced to sell's GPSs without Windows CE and Nav software?

    Should Ford be forced to sells cars without ECUs? for the car fans ^^ (And yes - the motor would still run with an alternate ECU)

  111. BitTwister

    @I don't understand

    > How can a court order you to sell a product that you don't sell?

    When the product you sell unfairly and forcibly compels a purchaser to have something included with it which he doesn't want - where what's included isn't a necessary and integral part.

    Ok, some sort of OS is necessary for the Acer laptop - but it's unfair to *force* any specific OS because the cost of that OS and its installation is all factored into the purchase price. This lack of choice doesn't apply to Macs because their architecture isn't open; it's never been designed as a 'fit your own' system like the descendants of the IBM-PC open architecture commonly available today and the Mac OS is more sensibly viewed as 'integral', not pre-installed.

    > Should Becker be forced to sell's GPSs without Windows CE and Nav software?

    Of course not - but this analogy isn't relevant because the GPS unit isn't designed in the first place as a chunk of technology which won't do anything until 'an' OS is installed by someone. The GPS software is an integral part of a single-function and closed unit.

  112. shrodi

    France law

    I've read many comments, and something that didn't seem to come up is the fact that in France there is a law prohibiting "la vente liée" ("bound sale"), and that it is on the basis of this law that the lawsuit was won (if you read French, you can have more details on this story here:,39040745,39373559,00.htm). A "bound sale" is when you are forced to buy something you don't want in order to get something else you want. In this case (and it is not the first one in France: it's just the more severe to date), the judge stated that forcing people to pay for some software in order for them to get the computer they want was illegal.

    I understand the point that this guy could have bought an OS-less computer in the first place and never bother going to court, but the real legal issue here (IANAL, but studying to be one) is that, from the point of view of the France law, he has a right to buy a specific computer (say, an Acer computer, because he likes the hardware specs or the aftersale service or any reason he wants) and not be forced to pay for anything else. Many courts in France have concluded that software is not an integral part of a computer, like would be, say, wheels for a car, and is more alike to, say, DVDs versus a DVD player (a DVD player manufacturer could not force you to buy some movies in order to buy their DVD player).

    Some people want to fight for their rights, others prefer not bother, and it's one's choice.

  113. yeah, right.

    @ shrodi

    Hits the nail on the head. Well done.

  114. Viet

    on cars, computers, et al.

    First, in France, as a matter of fact, you can choose the brand of the tires your car comes with. It doesn't mean the car company has to sell the car bare, but the consummer has a right to make his choice and not be bound by third parties exclusivity deals passed in his back.

    Second, the damages for Acer were steep because they basicaly told the judge to F**k off, that the bundle was not breakable into subparts. I don't have all the details, but I think the plaintiff went with some quotations for indivual, street priced, softwares in the bundle, so the judge simply told Acer : "unboundable ? see : let me add this up", and *bang*. It's just a matter of burden of the proof. All Acer had to do was to quote OEM prices for each part of the bundle, but had they done that, they'd probably violated their exclusivity contracts and exposed the true price they are quoted for windows. One of the biggest trade secret in the industry, and something you can bet would have made microsoft retaliate.

  115. Adam

    Bound Sale?


    The problem with that law is that it is archaic and does not consider the concept of a "system". The plaintard in this case bought a SYSTEM. In this case, the system consists of hardware (laptop computer) and software (OS and bundled miscellania). If he only wanted to buy the hardware, he should have gone and bought one. A few minutes with google will bring up a great number of French computer retailers willing to sell you just the hardware. The plaintard was a cleverdick who thought he'd try this law out, and unfortunately found a judge xenophobic enough to rule in his favour.

    Betcha that if MS was a French company this wouldn't have happened. Anyone else noticed how the most protectionist country in Europe is also the first to moan about monopolies and anti-trust?

    So, the correct expression is "Bound sale", you say? I'm headed across the English channel to a Renault dealer to demand a car with no engine so I can install something other than the horrible engines they use. Car for £20K, then get a refund for double the value, so I should get an engine-free car AND £20K cash at the end of this. Excellent!

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