back to article Italians threaten suit over Windows pre-install

An Italian consumer rights group plans to slap Microsoft with a class-action lawsuit this week seeking compensation on behalf of people forced to buy Windows pre-installed on new computers. The ADUC, which specializes in public interests related to TV, internet, and telephone, said it would file the lawsuit at a court in …


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  1. Kevin 6


    Wouldn't they have to sue the companies selling the computers with windows pre-installed and not Microsoft? Last I checked Microsoft doesn't make any PC's period and the companies that sell the PC's install the OS. But when would facts ever get in the way of a guilty verdict in Italian court.

    If I was in charge of MS I'd strip out the Italian language and make it illegal to sell there to be an ass.

    1. Marcelo Rodrigues

      They have good cause to sue Microsoft

      Last time I checked, Microsoft would not allow an OEM (that's right: would not ALLOW) to sell a computer without OS. They say this is to block piracy.

      That's why DELL sells computers (or, at least, used to sell) with Dr. DOS. They don't sell a computer without an OS - if they did, Microsoft would up the Windows price to a point they would be out of business.

      No, i'm not making it up. Look the famous anti truste case. One of the points was just it: Microsoft forcing OEMs to sell computers with an OS.

      At given point it would even charge one Windows license for each machine sold - even with Linux installed.

      So, I say: good news. It's high time the consumer should have the chance to buy a machine without OS.

    2. stizzleswick

      The manufacturers...

      ...are rarely to blame. Microsoft, back in the early 1990s, famously managed to browbeat many of them into a contract allowing them to sell Windows pre-installed rather "cheaply" per copy... only the contract states that they have to pay Microsoft per sold example, whether Windows is installed on the machine sold or not. Only few companies have since managed to untangle themselves form these terms (Dell, Lenovo). A similar lawsuit by an individual in France, btw, has been successful; Microsoft had to refund the person the full cost of an XP license after the user had refused to agree to the EULA upon first use of the computer.

    3. Roger Greenwood
      Thumb Up

      the problem is . . .

      MS force the sellers to bundle an OS, but it is currently also in the sellers interest anyway. Unbundling would mean transparency, honesty and flexibility for users, which MS certainly don't want.

      Good luck to the lawyers, because they will be the winners here.

    4. Daniel Garcia 2


      you are a troll and i request my 5 pounds.

    5. Greg J Preece

      Well, yes, but...

      ...go ahead and try machines with Windows as an option, rather than the default. See if MS will sell you any licences.

    6. Richard Drinkwater

      It is possible in the UK

      I know here in the UK it is possible to get a refund for a Windows licence from a PC manufacturer. I purchased a laptop and phoned up the manufacturer saying I didn't agree to the EULA. After they went off to find out what to do, they said I was able to get a refund on the Windows licence. The downside was to get the £30-something refund, I would have to send off the laptop and have them remove it for £40-something.

    7. /dev/me

      Oh no not that discussion again

      The OEM-EULA clearly states that if you do not accept the license, you are entitled to a refund.

      Do this, as I have done. In a store, point to a laptop and say you want it sans OS. They'll say it's impossible to buy it without an OS. Yet, the OEM-EULA clearly states that you are entitled to a refund if you do not accept the terms*). The salesperson will then point to the manufacturer.

      Contact the manufacturer about their OS refund policy. I've done this with most manufacturers once when I was in a bad mood ;-) Most manufacturers have no such policy. They point their finger straight to Redmond. Some however do have such policy, Acer comes to mind, but they ask money to remove the OS, you have to deliver the machine to the workshop and pick it up again too.

      Which, technically, is all not necessary as you can overwrite the OS if you don't accept the EULA. Remember, you do not pay for the bits that are together knows as Windows. You pay for a license to use the software.

      So the point is not that they should offer PC's and laptops without an OS, which would require separate manufacturing and distribution channels, but just a clear method of refusing the EULA and get your refund. And as it's Redmonds software, and Redmonds licenses and Redmonds policies, the right company to take to court is Microsoft.

      What's more, by buying the laptop (money exchanging hands and all that) you implicitly agree with the terms of the purchase. But after powering the laptop on for the first time, you are greeted with the OEM-EULA, and the question of whether you accept the Windows license terms or not ((Note it defaults to 'no')). This means you have the option to refuse the license, after the purchase of the machine. And, are per terms entitled to a refund.


      *) Musing a little further on this. A popular adage of many people is 'I believe it when I see it'.

      Why then, can people not understand the 'refund section' in the OEM-EULA? They don't believe it even though they can see it. Is there not a student of Psychology that can research this fallacy?

  2. J.Wild
    Big Brother

    At last!

    Why don't our government do the same?

    Because they only want to control us, not be our servants

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Oh great

    Another group wanting to hit the limelight for bringing MS to court over their inability to see that mass consumerism needs a product that works off the shelf, and like every microwave, tv and dvd player that these people will buy, they expect a PC to work the same way. What MS should do is turn around and say "right, every Italian purchaser of a PC must install the OS, all the drivers, all the gunk the manufacturer provides and every service, system and process they need to make the hardware work, plus update all the drivers from the boxed stuff to the latest build", and fuck the lot of them.

    Fine for linux users, who recently surpassed 1% of installed users (ref :, not fine for the 98.x% of the rest of people.

    Their own website claims "hundreds of reports of users the impossibility of obtaining this refund", perhaps they need to sort out their consumer rights issues rather than raising a self advertising campaign doomed to fail, and cost the consumer a fortune.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Microsoft chose this

      There is nothing to prevent Microsoft distributing a free version of broken Windows that people can pay Microsoft to upgrade over the internet. This does not require lengthy downloads - downloading a small activation key would do the job. Some retailers charge a fee to remove pre-installed crapware to make a new PC usable, so to a large extent, Windows users would not notice the difference.


      Berkeleylug reported stats from NetApplications’ This is a popular source for small numbers of Linux users. It measures the OS reported by web browsers. Many Linux users set this to Windows because some web sites refuse to talk to other browser settings. The figures you get from page hits depend on the content. A Debian technical support site will show far more Linux users than a site the requires silverlight. NetApplications have been accused of selecting sites that favour their sponsors.


      I did a quick hunt for the number of unique IP addresses updating a Linux client distributions, and filled in the missing numbers for unknown distributions by scaling the page hits figures on distrowatch. The result is about 5% of IP addresses are used to update Linux clients. (Multiple clients hidden behind NAT out weigh multiple reports of a single client with a dynamic IP address).


      Try including super computers, server farms, satnavs and routers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      shut up, coward

      why do u insist on talking crap whereever you post? i only have 4-letter words for you. i think u should change your name to anonymous brainless coward

      1. John Dougald McCallum

        AC @ 10:03 6th

        This would make sense if you showed your ID as it is STFU.Oh and learn to spell you is not spelled U

    3. Steve in Hungary

      PC Use

      Hmmm. Do you know, when I were a lad I had to take TWO driving tests. I had to take one before I were allowed on t' road on a motorbike without 'L' plates, and bugger me if I didn't have to go through the whole bloody stitherum again before they would let me do t' same in a car.

      Now, considering as 'ow 99.9% of botnet computers are belongin to feckin clueless Micro$oft Windose users, dosna tha all reckon that it might be time for ALL PC users to pass some sort of test BEFORE they are allowed on the Internet??

      Tha' knows!

      Mine's the one wi t' pit pony tied to it, tha' knows

    4. lee7

      All the AC's are out supporting MS today

      How many PCs are there around? Lots - I have quite a few myself. I'm too damn lazy to fight for my refunds, so instead I feel no qualms whatsoever if I feel the need to copy some MS crap software because some dipstick has sent me something in a proprietary format.

      1% of a lot of machines is a lot of money in windows licenses.

  4. NightFox
    Thumb Down

    Why Stop at the OS?

    ...and then sue because they're forced to accept the installed graphics card, and then the memory manufacturer, and forced to have a DVD drive, and forced to have a certain model of motherboard.

    If people want options, they should build their own or have a custom PC built for them. Buy off the shelf and you're limited to what's on offer - it's not as if there's no alternative.

    1. wiedzmin


      Why stop there! Sue Asus for making motherboards that only accept single type of RAM and make them include slots for all available memory types to date... How dare they limit our choices!

      P.S. I'd pay to see a mobo with DIMM, MicroDIMM, SODIMM, RAMBUS, SD, DDR, DDR2, DDR3 slots, 4 of each :D

    2. MacroRodent
      Thumb Down

      Choice exists in desktops, not laptops

      >"If people want options, they should build their own or have a custom PC built for them. Buy off the shelf and you're limited to what's on offer - it's not as if there's no alternative."

      A valid point for desktop PC:s (I have always done so for the machines I buy, the latest is based on an Asus barebone), but not laptops, where it is impossible, not just hard, to buy a good laptop (not netbook) without paying the Windows tax.

      1. Stratman


        " it is impossible, not just hard, to buy a good laptop (not netbook) without paying the Windows tax."

        Not so. The laptop on which I'm typing this was purchased from PC Specialist, who offer bespoke machines without an OS. I happened to choose Win7 as a cost option, but I did have the choice.

  5. Colin Wilson

    Shame it'll never happen...

    If a user already owned a legit copy of an M$ OS and was simply replacing / breaking the old machine for spares, they should be allowed to use the "old" OS for free irrespective of OEM bundling - so should therefore get a refund of the cost of the unwanted "new" one.

  6. Sean Bailey
    Thumb Down

    non consentual?

    I would have thought that unless people are buying pc's totally blind without knowing anything about the system they consented to windows being on it when they decided to purchase it?

  7. Peter Rasmussen

    Will top-tier PC producers pull out of Italy?

    Or does this mean that after a hopefully successful suit, I will be able to buy any PC sold in Italy without the usually pre-installed Windows OS?

    That would be nice, as naked PCs or those pre-installed with something else aren't usually really interesting. Sorry not counting Macs in here.

    1. Bill Neal

      Tiers are for...

      If you actually shop online for a computer based on hardware (such as amd) you'll find plenty of high-end boxes can be shipped simply with ms-dos or other options which allow you to install anything you want. At least in the US. I'm not sure about Europe, but there must be other options.

    2. Andy ORourke

      Maybe you should count Mac's?

      OK, look, we get it (almost) everyone on here hates Microsoft (even though without them most people on here wouldnt have jobs supporting the Lusers) but as has already been stated, Microsoft have NEVER sold a PC with Windows pre-installed have they?

      Many, many computer manufacturers have sold PC's with windows pre-installed, some have given refunds if people have applied for them, some havent but that isn't Microsoft's fault is it? (unless you are in full tinfoil hat mode)

      As for the mac, I dont think you would have ANY chance of buying a Mac and asking for a refund of the cost of the OS (OK, Apple arent a convicted monopoly etc, etc)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It does pose the question

      Why are they not trying to sue Apple for only giving the option of OS X?

  8. ScottK

    Read the specification

    Presumably, before they bought the PCs in question, the people behind this suit must have read the specification of what they were buying. In this specification would have been listed the operating system installed on there. They then chose to buy the PC anyway. What next? Sue NVidia for "forcing" their video chipsets on them?

    There are PCs out there with no OS or a different OS installed they could have bought instead.

    1. MattCasters

      Not in Europe

      Dell, Lenovo, Asus etc might have a small Linux offering in the US, but not in Europe.

      In Europe, all you can do at best is build yourself or have a local store build it for you.

      These "white" boxes are your only option.

      That option doesn't exist at all for laptops. Even in the netbook range, there are hardly any Linux versions to be found.

      The fact is that true competition like the competition taking place among the CPU, Video and RAM producers can not even take since Microsoft is forcing vendors to ship with Windows.

      There are plenty of choices among vendors with respect to any hardware aspect. With the operating system, your have no choice but to pick Microsoft.

      What you are left with is a clear case of a monopoly and I say it's about time someone tried to do something about it. It hurts competition and it's bad for Linux and Windows users alike. I mean €199,99 for a Windows 7 Home Premium license? Give me a break! That would never fly if there was any real competition going on.

      1. Paul 4


        "Dell, Lenovo, Asus etc might have a small Linux offering in the US, but not in Europe."

        Yes they do. Dell and Asus do at least, Lenovo might, but im not 100% sure.

        1. MattCasters

          Not even Dell UK

          I actually tried the link you provided and couldn't find any Linux computers.

          The link "Shop for Ubuntu laptops" shows Microsoft operating systems ONLY!!

          Perhaps there are indeed Linux systems on Dell UK, but it almost seems like Dell is ashamed of Linux or something.

          It's not really relevant since the topic was a lawsuit in Italy, but I think it's a clear sign of a Microsoft monopoly.

          Besides, it's not like the UK is representative for the situation in the "real" Europe. These crazy islanders don't even use the Euro to pay for things! Go figure!

      2. Al Jones


        "Microsoft is forcing vendors to ship with Windows."

        Customers are "forcing" vendors to ship with Windows. The reason that you can't buy Linux based netbooks any more is because customers wouldn't buy enough of them to make it worthwhile making them.

  9. Ryan 7
    Jobs Horns

    Even IF every pre-built box was available without Windows...

    they wouldn't sell more than a few anyway!

    It's Apple that are anti-competitive, with their iPod/iTunes lock-in, and their restriction on being able to run OS X on anything other than their hardware. Start with them!

    Also, "Microsoft was not immediately available to comment on the threatened class-action lawsuit." - would they really say anything but "We can't comment on an ongoing case" anyway?

  10. h 6


    "non-consensual installation of Windows"

    What, even among consenting adults?

  11. Anonymous Coward


    That is all. I have an MSDN subscription and I am sick of paying twice.

  12. da_fish27

    Go go go!!

    the title says it all.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @AC : 6th January 2010 01:34 GMT

    The number of linux users is of absolutely no importance, as you fail to see.

    Their point is that they are forced to buy windows, or more precisely, keep it. A company shouldn't be able to do this. Even if there was 1 linux user. By the way, for all those claiming that they could have known Windows is preinstalled : of course they knew, however, if you deny the EULA when you install, Microsoft HAS TO give you a refund.

    Therefore, anyone can safely assume that they will be able to get the money back later.

    Here is some more info :

  14. wiedzmin


    Microsoft doesn't force manufacturers to install Windows, hence Ubuntu Dell laptops... Now try to buy a Macbook without OS X... If anybody should be sued over such ridiculous claims, it should be Apple.

    1. MattCasters

      Not in Italy

      You can't buy that Ubuntu Dell laptop in Italy nor in most parts of Europe (UK might be an exception).

  15. raving angry loony

    pre-built without Microsoft?

    Kevin6 and others: I wonder if it's more a case of Microsoft refusing to refund the cost of MS O/S when the people refuse the license? Given the "standard" of reporting that could be the case here.

    The hardware should not be tied to the operating system, just as the operating system shouldn't be tied to the browser. But Microsoft seems to have a hard time determining that their continuing actions are illegal under the laws of many countries, since they've found it so profitable in the past.

    Good for these guys though. I hope they win, and force a change in the "if you want a pre-built system you have to get it with Microsoft" attitude.

  16. alien anthropologist

    Missing the point (fricken completely)...

    Microsoft awards and penalises manufacturers for bundling/not bundling their o/s on that manufacturer PC platforms. Intel has also been doing it for many years (to such a good effect that AMD could not even give away free CPUs to manufacturers for use).

    The real question (from a consumer perspective) is whether or not you can buy that exact same PC model without Windows for cheaper (less the cost of the o/s). In most cases, that is no. As the cost of the o/s is factored into the so-called manufacturing cost of the PC. So yeah - they could give it to you without Windows (format drives and do not provide Windows installation media and license). But it will still cost you the exact same price, with or without Windows.

    And this is a definite case of being forced to buy Windows. You pay for it irrespective. Kind of like tax. That goes to Microsoft.

    So a FAIL to the asses that want to compare this to being forced to use specific h/w too. Please extract head from anus.

  17. Shane Sturrock

    The problem isn't MS exactly

    Although the first time you boot the computer it brings up a license agreement (at least the last time I started a new PC it did) and if you click 'No' it says you should claim the cost of the license back from the manufacturer, but few are ever successful. Whether this is because the likes of Dell just don't want to support non-Windows machines (try getting support for a PC with Linux installed, I've had to put Windows back just to get them to accept a broken keyboard) or they don't want to reveal what the license actually costs them (very little indeed compared with the retail cost of Windows) I can't say. It may well be to do with the contracts with MS since that wouldn't be the first time.

    It should be easier to buy a PC without Windows pre-installed but MS has been pushing the idea that so called 'Naked PCs' are just going to have pirated copies of Windows installed totally ignoring the Linux angle. At the end of the day I gave up buying PCs and putting Linux on and went with Apple where I don't feel the need to wipe the OS to get something more powerful as I do every time I use a Windows box.

  18. Lars Silver badge

    The famous Microsoft tax

    Should go as far as I am concerned. I should be possible to bye a PC in such a way that Windows is not included or deleted when you bye it and the difference in price is the price of Windows.

    This is, however, something Microsoft has been able to stop the OEMs from doing.

  19. DAN*tastik

    Refund is for those who didn't accept the EULA

    I escaped from that country 7 years ago, but still read news from the local online papers...

    The refund would only apply to those who don't want Windows, it's not a generic free for all.

    Those of you who claim that it's possible to buy PCs without O.S. down there could try and finding some maybe? Apart from the super cheapo ones on ebay.

    Not that it's easy to find them in the UK either anyway.

    A solution could be giving people a trial version of Windows, same as with the antivirus or what have you, which expires after say 30 days if not purchased

    1. /dev/me

      Oh it's possible

      I've found several bare bones laptop makers offering a choice of OS's as option, and high end business laptops often can be bought without OS as most businesses will have volume licensing deals and their IT department install complete images anyway.

      So, we're talking high-end section, not the electronics store around the corner. And certainly not el cheapo systems bought during the holiday seasons sale.

  20. Dazed and Confused

    Choice ? What choice

    Well the last time I went to a computer store there was only a choice between mega buck Apples and PeeCees with Windows pre-installed.

    Why is Windows pre-installed and nothing else, well because MS make it nearly impossible to manufacture a PC without the manufacturer pay the M$tax. When HP first sold some Linux workstations they were not allowed by their contract with MS to have an option to buy a model XYZ workstation with Windows or without Windows.

    By forcing ALL manufactures to pre-install Windows they have created a near monopoly position.

    If customers could go to the shop and see the same PC with two options next to each other where one had Windows pre-installed and the other had some flavour of free OS plus Open Office and that second machine was the price of the first minus the cost of a Windows license then there MIGHT (not the same as will be) be a market for PCs without Windows. At the moment this does not happen so there is NO choice.

    PS making end users install Windows and all the drivers and services might force MS to make it a viable prospect. As it stands they would have less chance than if their car arrived in kit form.

  21. Iggle Piggle

    I'm taking Tesco to court

    for perpetually insisting on their milk cartons containing milk. I have a perfectly good cow of my own and I wish to install er fill the carton from my own cow. Yes I know I could always go to another shop and buy another container but I'm bloody minded and tend to throw a tantrum when I don't get my own way.

    1. Peter Stocker

      digital analogy

      If it were the case that producers of milk were forcing Tesco to fill all their containers with milk, up to the point that if you wanted to buy a bottle in which to transport your orange juice you had no option but to buy one full of milk, pour it down the drain (or apply for a milk refund) and then fill it with your beverage of choice, and you suggested suing the milk producers rather than Tesco, then your analogy would be valid.

      1. Iggle Piggle

        you ar right

        My wrath should be at the milk producers/packagers not the supermarket. The complete lack of available empty milk cartons is entirely their fault.

        But yes that was actually my point, if you had to buy a full carton of milk to be able to fill it with your own sourced milk, or other liquid of choice, then you would probably have to be mad to shop in that fashion.

        But nobody is forcing you to go and buy an HP machine (for example) and the lack of such a machine without Windows would perhaps be reason enough not to buy one. I actually agree that it is a little bonkers that every single PC manufacturer has agreed to the Micr$oft restriction that it must be Windows on all the machines or nothing. Perhaps it would be nice if they all got together and said "Enough is enough" but apparently there are just not enough non Windows fans to make that worth doing.

        But let's suppose that this gets to court and they win. Are we really saying that shops should be forced to provide a specific product. That is to say that if I wish to sell a computer with Windows then I will be forced to sell the same computer without. Most retailers have absolutely nothing to do with the installation of Windows on the machines they sell. They just buy a box from a supplier and the customer opens the box and completes the installation. So the box with the machine and Windows is the product. Even if there were a huge demand for empty cartons should we be using the law to force Tesco to sell them?

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Iggle Piggle

          "The complete lack of available empty milk cartons is entirely their fault."

          The analogy doesn't work.

          First of all, you CAN purchase empty milk cartons. You can also get them pre-printed to suit yourself, and you can fill them with damn near anything. I sell my fresh, un-pasturized grape juice to tourists in them during crush, the winery's name, logo & WWW site prominent.

          You can also buy them filled with damn near anything. Off the top of my head, I've seen all kinds of juice, crackers (Goldfish[tm] and oyster), marbles, those little clear lumps of colo(u)red glass that some (strange) people seem to think are decorative when piled in clear glass jars, all kinds of salty snacks, and etc. in common or garden, clay-coated cardboard, "milk" cartons ...

          On top of that, the actual milk in milk cartons comes from many different dairies, and is sold under many different lables ... as anybody who has actually purchased a carton of milk would know.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Who's this?

      It's Iggle Piggle! What's that, Iggle Piggle? You want to have fun with analogies today? Iggle Piggle is like a car with no brakes: blue.

      1. Iggle Piggle

        I also have a red rag

        to hold up to the bull :-)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bold idea, possibly wrong target

    Most people acknowledge MS have a cosy and difficult to break arrangement with kit suppliers to pre bundle their OS when they supply kit. This has become a benefit to most consumers because of the marketing power exercised by MS at the cost of technical innovation and diversity in some respects. What exists is the MSOS Tax. Maybe making this more obvious and identifying the true costs to 'Joe/Jane Average' consumers is what the suit is all about.

    For the technically competent (Most El Regreaders) loading an alternative OS is a (relatively) easy task. Indeed, loading an OS such as Ubuntu onto a bare machine and getting it up running and working nicely is readily achievable by most users.However, most users will be familiar with the MS 'look and feel' which may not be the same as a competitive OS. Thus, it rarely happens. Users are made to feel there are few overwhelming benefits when set against the moderate cash refund - if you can get it.

    If the law suit is about leveling a playing field then there may be merit but I doubt success.

    If it is about advertising the lawyers presence and capability to use the new law then 'Goal achieved'!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    This smacks of consumer mupperty

    It's not hard to find a supplier of PCs with no operating system on it. The people that care enough to not want windows will be quite capable of finding one.

    As much as the next man, I'm not happy that 95%of PCs sold come with windows only but that's the way the market flows. It's the manufacturers who are to blame and the manufactures will claim lack of demand from the consumer as their reasons. Oh, and the benefits of becoming a Microsoft preferred distributor of course.

    Don't want it? Then don't buy it, no one forces you.

    1. MattCasters

      No offering = No market = No Demand

      How can there be any demand if there is never a meaningful offering that appears?

      How can there be any meaningful offering when Microsoft is blocking all attempts with monopolistic behavior?

    2. lee7

      As much as the next man - AC

      AC: "Don't want it - don't buy it".

      So tell me how I buy a Sony vaio with no os? Or a PAckard bell, or an Acer? (the laptops I own). I don't use windows - why should I pay for it?

  24. John Bailey
    Gates Horns

    Ahh The smell of astroturf

    Funny how the whines of outrage seem to appear every time stories like this come up. Wonder why...

    Simple solution.. Sell all bare drive computers. And for those who get too upset by the thought of people buying a computer without Windows, how about the people who buy computers without Blu Ray players, printers, scanners etc..

    Stores and OEMs can provide a service to install it, or local tech places can charge a reasonable sum to install it. And you end up not only paying for, but getting an actual disk with the full OS. And the OEM can cut support costs right down.

    It isn't just an advantage for us Linux users, but think of all the Windows users out there who could install the OS version they choose, and all the updated hardware drivers, no crapplets.. What could be better. And it isn't as if installing Windows 7 is a mensa level task.

    1. Fred Mbogo
      Thumb Up

      @John Bailey

      Your idea, sir, intrigues me and I offer my wholehearted support to whatever plans you have to implement it.

      After working for several years for a major PC manufacturer, I've faced the horrors of supporting Windows beyond what's officially covered by the warranty (the installation of the OS).

      In the interests of "customer experience", we were thrown to the wolves supporting everything and anything. Our customer experience didn't improve because us techies weren't given the training on every little bit of junk that the suctomers installed on the system.

      I found myself fighting Creative, Mcafee, Norton and yes, Microsoft. All of them because their retarded activation schemes do not work properly with OEM licenses which their idiotic customer service agents thought it was our fault. That we were supposed to suck on the cost of a new license (because we can't pull out product keys out of our arse) and give it away to the customer.

    2. lee7

      John Bailey

      What a good idea! The EU has the power to do this.

      I may have to write to my MEP.

  25. Eric Van Haesendonck
    Thumb Up

    This is actually justified

    I actually think this is justified. I have no problem with Windows being pre-installed for people who actually want to purchase it. What I have a problem with is people going to high street shops to purchase a computer to install another operating system being told: Sorry, we only sell laptops with Windows pre-installed. if you want to purchase any computer you HAVE TO purchase Windows. This is actually a forced sale: you can't buy a PC without purchasing the OS. The comparison with graphic cards don't hold, because it is very easy to purchase a laptop without dedicated graphics for example. You usually have a decent choice of ram and HDD sizes as well as a choice in processor brand and speed. The only thing you actually have to buy is Windows. The "assemble yourself or have it custom made" argument does not hold water either: shops that assembled computers on demand have almost all closed (so you have to purchase a branded computer pre-installed with Windows), and this was never a solution for laptops.

    I think that the current situation of PC being available only with Windows benefits Microsoft (more Windows copies sold) and the big OEMs (easier support etc...) but at the disadvantage of the consumers (no choice in operating systems).

    1. Iggle Piggle

      That's just not true.

      OK my comment about Tesco and the milk cartons was light hearted and not quite an accurate analogy. However to say that you cannot go to the high street and get a machine without Windows is just false (unless of course your high street is very very small). I know that it is possible to go to an iApple iStore and i bet you won't find a machine with Windows installed. I personally bought a laptop from a little shop slightly off the high street with Linux installed. If I browse the Internet my choices are even greater.

      The reason why computers come with the OS installed is that the vast majority of consumers want it that way. Why should Tesco be forced to empty a few cartons out because of some fringe group and why should high street stores stock empty machines for the occasional Linux fan? Nobody is forcing me to buy milk from Tesco and nobody is forcing you to buy your computer at PC-World.

      1. MattCasters


        Remember, the suit's in Italy, not in the US nor in the UK.

        If I compare to the situation of here in Belgium/Brussels, I indeed do NOT have any meaningful Linux choice as far as laptops and desktops are concerned.

        Not from Dell, Lenovo, HP, Asus. Not at MediaMarket, not at any of the hardware chains, not in any of the multi-media stores.

        If I want to get a professionally supported machine with Linux on it, my only choice is to buy a main brand machine and pay the Microsoft tax.

        The fact that you can buy an Apple is something that is very nice, but doesn't do away with the fact that Microsoft has indeed a monopoly. It doesn't matter whether or not it's 100%, 95% of 90% it's still a monopoly.

        Mmm, now that you mention it, perhaps it should be illegal to couple sales of OSX with apple hardware too :-)

        I'll drink to that.

      2. Marcelo Rodrigues

        Not quite the point, is it?

        Say I got a Dell with Vista. Then I bought one W7 copy, since Vista is useless. Well, I can't buy the OEM W7, since I'm not building this machine - wich means my W7 copy CAN (could) be installed on my next hardware.

        Very well. Now my hardware is obsolete, and I want something new. I go to Dell, and... buy ANOTHER copy of Windows? WTF?

        I understand the argument of low sales to not hav a Linux line. But what is the argument to sell a machine WITHOUT OS whatsoever?

        That's it. A blank machine. I don't get tech support for the OS I install - just to the hardware.

        Well, aunt Microsoft can't have it, can? That's the idea behind the whole thing...

      3. Angry clown

        Here's something easy for your brain

        Stores do not have to stock empty machines. They can stock only Windows pre-installed PCs and once I'm in the store, I say NO to EULA, Windows is automatically wiped clean and I happily go to the cash register for reimbursement. Now, how hard is that ?

    2. Steve in Hungary

      OS Purchase?

      Since when? You only license it! Especially with M$! Like most other software you never OWN it!

  26. Outcast
    Thumb Up


    I feel that stores should be forced to sell computers os free.

    In the box could be 3 discs with images of various os's. 1 of them could be a trial version of Windows.

    Argue amongst yourselves which distro's should be chosen.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Most of these people who look at the cost of OEM windows as a Microsoft Tax base what they think the cost is on its retail value. When you buy in the quantities that the likes of Dell do, it only costs a few dollars. When a refund is issued most of these consumers get a bit pissed as they are expecting a lot more.

    As others have pointed out, if you don't like the pre built, pre bundled offerings, spec your own and have it shipped without an OS. Plenty of manufacturers offer this option. Dell, Acer, Asus, Sony, Toshiba do not have a monopoly on PC construction so pick another vendor even if that is Joe Bloggs little computer shop on the corner and the advantage of that is you don't then get tied into buying the manufacturer spares, just check how much Dell will charge you for a replacement motherboard and their cases are designed so you can't use a generic one. If you are capable of installing an OS, surely you should be capable of reading the specs and seeing it comes with Windows - if you don't like it don't buy it. Exactly the same argument as Apple and OSX

    1. Graham Murray

      Refund retail price.

      The refund should be the retail price of Windows not the (smaller) amount that the OEM paid for it. The OEM and retailer will both have added their markup to the price of the PC - both hardware and software.

    2. lee7

      Another AC for MS

      And calling people numpties when (s)he clearly has the IQ of a mental midget.

      The force of your argument is that a PC is a microsoft machine. An apple is made by apple only - they choose the OS. A PC can be made by virtually anyone - why should MS be the only OS installed?

      You have annoyed me, you completely stupid person.

      The troll because you can't seriously be that stupid can you?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow wow wow, let's play fair

    However you look at it, it's the manufacturers that made these deals with Microsoft, and it is the manufacturers/suppliers who are not giving the option of a system without an operating system or with a choice of operating system. And these are the only people who have a contract with the customer. If anyone owes a refund it is them, but I'm pretty sure they would have advertised it came with Windows when offering the sale. You probably get a load of other commercial software like WinDVD and Nero that you will have paid for in the cost of the machine and aren't entitled to a refund for.

    Name any other consumer electrical device which doesn't come with some firmware or operating system or a predefined way of working. I don't think I've ever heard of a brand name PC that comes with no operating system, which includes netbooks that come with Linux. Hell this was happening way before Microsoft, what about BBC Micros, Spectrums, Ataris. A quick check on Sun's website and their workstations come pre-installed with Solaris, and they only validate a handful of other operating systems.

    The simple fact is Old Bill got in their first and made these deals, and fair play to the man. I bet Apple would have a field day if some shop offered to sell you a Mac with a different operating system installed. I bet the shop wouldn't be selling Apple products for too long after that.

    These companies are buying an operating system for their products like any smart phone manufacturer does (or building their own, or getting one free). I have a custom firmware on my PSP, my DSLR and my phone, but I don't feel entitled to a refund on the software for those devices. The customers aren't even buying anything from Microsoft, unlike with Mac's, and no-one is saying people should be allowed money back if you don't want Mac OS, so why is it that Microsoft owe anyone money.

    Yes Microsoft were found guilty of anti competitive behaviour, but the EU hasn't turned around and said they can't have these deals with manufacturers to sell Windows pre-installed. I'm all for consumer rights, but this is just a frivolous attack on Microsoft. If this is a valid claim then every consumer electronics manufacturer/supplier must be required to offer their products with the option of a blank format. Apple are allowed to chose who sell their products, how they sell them and for how much. In fact as I understand it they even define how you're allowed to use them (i.e. not for business purposes). There can't be a rule for one and another for everyone else, and why should such a law only apply to PC's and laptops. How many devices run Windows CE in the background and how many are beginning to have Android. Let's be fair to all parties.

  29. John I'm only dancing

    @ Flocke Kroes

    "There is nothing to prevent Microsoft distributing a free version of broken Windows that people can pay Microsoft to upgrade over the internet".

    I thought they did most of that when it is loaded on OEM machines....the only difference is people don't pay MS to upgrade.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refund on the EULA

    I would assume any difficulties in getting a refund from a manufacturer would stem from the sales contract that would exist between you.

    If you buy a Dell PC (say) and then ask for a refund because you no longer want the OS (I say "no longer" because if the PC is specified as to come with Windows then presumably that is what you agreed to purchase and so can be assumed to have "wanted") I would assume they are quite within their rights to refuse.

    To use the hardware analogy if you buy a PC as specified and immediately decide that you want a bigger graphics card (one not offered by the seller) then good luck to you in getting the money back.

    The only difference with MS and Windows (and I agree it is a *big* fuck off difference) is that MS is a convicted monopolist with historically proven sharp business practices. That aside Dell, HP, Lenovo or whatever selling hardware only with Windows installed is no different from Apple only selling OSX with their hardware, or Ford only putting Bridgestone tyres on their cars or millions of other examples.

  31. Stratman

    Go Italy!

    While you're in lawyer-enriching mode, why stop at M$. Why not sue Ferrari for supplying their cars with their pre-installed software. I have no doubt at all these M$ bashers would willingly buy a Ferrari, or any other Italian car for that matter, without any software and happily source and install their own.

  32. Peter Simpson 1
    Jobs Horns


    While I have no problem with PCs having Windows pre-installed, as most customers will prefer this, I must take issue with Microsoft's practice of forcing PC vendors to sell PCs *only* with Windows pre-loaded.

    The requirement to make available PCs without a pre-installed OS doesn't put an unreasonable burden on anyone. The only effect of this requirement is to prevent Microsoft from making money every time a PC is sold. It doesn't unreasonably inconvenience the vendor or the customer, as the install of a Windows image on a bare PC takes only a few minutes.

    How can anyone see giving the consumer a choice as being a bad thing?

    //disclaimer: My recycled PCs all run Linux, after I remove the Windows install.

    1. Steve in Hungary

      Windose Install

      "as the install of a Windows image on a bare PC takes only a few minutes."

      Last time I did it, it took bloody hours, including having to go on the Internet (via another operating system) to find device drivers that bloody Windose couldn't find on a fresh install.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Its is very annoying

    That i am essentially forced to buy a PC (unless i DIY). With laptops, its even more insidious.

    Whilst i and others accept the fact that joe numpty doesnt know what linux, beOS, and others are, there is a significant majority of us whom already have install disks, or dont want windows full stop (im not a MS hater, i use windows on all my pc's except the PS3).

    Also, whats with the EULA that states if you dont agree to the terms, return the unused OS back to your supplier for a refund??

    Refund??? Vista Ult of the shelf, 315 quid ish is some places last time i looked. Effin laptops dont cost that!!!!!So whats the OEM value of vista Ult, say 60 quid, so the OEM buy it cheap, sell it pre installed at a profit and then refund me almost nothing should i decide to exercise my rights and NOT accept the EULA.

    Good on the ITs' i say. Hope it sets a precident

  34. Anonymous Coward

    This is just like a Little Britain sketch

    Lou: Well Andy, it's time to buy a new computer

    Andy: Want that one

    Lou: But Andy, that one comes with Windows and you don't like Windows

    Andy: Yeah I know

    Lou: You said Microsoft are only interested in profit, not the consumers and a good example of the evils of the capitalist system

    Andy: Yeah I know

    Lou: So why don't we look at what other options are available? Find one without Windows

    Andy: Want that one

    Lou: Are you sure?

    Andy: Yeah, want that one

    Lou: OK We''ll take it

    (gets home)

    Andy: Don't want Windows, I want my money back

  35. mhenriday

    Here in Sweden, computer users

    who are not unusually computer savvy have no effective choice of operating system - in the event they haven't heard of Mac - none of the major electronic outlets selling computers to the general public ever mention that there are, in fact, alternatives to Windows OS. Smaller shops devoted to a more technically literate clientèle where one can purchase computers without an OS or have one installed according to one's needs do indeed exist, but generally speaking, users in this country are faced with a monopoly and are forced to pay the inevitable monopoly tax that accompanies one. It was heartening to see the European Commission take on Microsoft over the issue of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows OS, but it must be admitted that by the time the agreement with Microsoft forcing the company to make users aware that a choice of browser was indeed possible was reached, Firefox had already broken open the bundle. I'd very much like to see the European Commission require purveyors of computers in Europe to inform customers that a plethora of operating systems exist and to offer to install the one chosen by the purchaser from a list of, say, five or six alternatives at a price equal for all. Doing so would constitute a necessary strengthening of the consumers' position vis-à-vis software manufacturers, OEMs, and retailers....


  36. Steve in Hungary

    M$ Pcs

    Ha! You know you could always go to Austria (Graz is the place I know) and find PCs for sale with ONLY Linux Ubuntu offered. For a little more money you could have a dual boot Linux/Windose machine!

  37. John H Woods Silver badge

    Vanilla Windows...

    ... would be nice. But any cheap machine with a Win preinstall normally has all kinds of crapware on it. I object to that stuff even more. It is easy to wipe windows and do a clean Linux install. It is much harder to fix a factory-bought Windows installation so it has no vendor-crap in it.

  38. bob3


    It seems that some comments show some naivety, apparently thinking that "free market" works in the PC market as it does everywhere, not knowing, that MS forces (some say threaten) manufacturers and/or retailers to sell no other PCs except with an MS OS preinstalled - and of course pays them quite well for that little involuntary favour. Give me another example where this soft corruption exists.

    It's not the question whether or not one likes or doesn't like a certain OS, neither how much market share it has. Worse even, if it is high. Imagine being a small innovative player in any other market being thwarted by the big legacy manufacturer.

    It's the question of allowing some competition at all (without too much distortion by a single actor), only then giving sellers and buyers some choice, fostering innovation and reasonable pricing.

  39. Piloti
    Gates Horns

    I seem to recall.....

    ..... some chap buying a machine from PCWorld or some such place and declining the 'licence' option and getting a refund.

    Is this still not a current state of affairs ?


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