back to article Dell bars Win 7 refunds from Linux lovers

Dell has told a Linux-loving Reg reader that he can't receive a refund on the copy of Windows 7 that shipped with his new Dell netbook because it was bundled with the machine for "free". In October, another Reg reader succeeded in gaining a $115 (£70.34) refund from the computer maker after he rejected the licence for …


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  1. Dan Harris

    Surely Dell miss the point

    If I buy the system from Dell with the OS pre-installed, and then when reading the Licence Agreement decide that I do not want be bound by the terms and reject the license agreement I am not rejecting the entire machine. Therefore you return the license to the retailer for a refund, not the whole machine.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Same story with Acer

      I recently tried to get a refund from Acer who very obligingly offered me one. The catch? They wanted to charge more than the value of the refund for the "repair" in their "service centre".

      The whole point of the license having the opt out clause is to make it possible to avoid being bound by agreements that weren't part of the original terms of sale and thus not fall foul things like "unfair contracts". (I bought the laptop through Amazon, so the sale contract came from them with no mention OEM license terms on any pre-installed software). Amazon fob you off to the manufacture and they have done a pretty cynical job of making it hard to get a refund or win court proceedings.

      Having to pay to avoid some frankly quite unpalatable license terms that weren't part of my original purchase is nothing short of vexatious. On the bright side they did call removing windows a repair...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the oldest trick in the book

    "No, you can't have a refund, you didn't pay any money in the first place"

    .. "the money is right here"

    "la la la la we're not listening"

  3. The Original Ash

    I wonder

    If I buy a system, take the license from it, and return it, can I keep the Windows 7 license?


    I guess it's not free, then.

    1. nigel 15

      being ginger is a choice.

      you obviously don't know any Gings, or at least if you do then you don't know them very well. if you get close to one then they will tell you they can change at will.

      the point i am making was that this was entirely predictable. the dude bought a computer that came with windows. this was entirely predictable. plently of people sell computers without windows. he should have bought one of them. part of me suspects that he was rather hoping this would happen so he could become the Torvalds poster boy for 15 minutes.

      it's not like his human rights have been violated.

      1. James Melody


        Nuff said

    2. nigel 15

      that is not the definition of free.

      it's not un common to bundle something for 'free' but if you take the principal item back you don't get to keep the freebie.

      if i'm wrong then i think i have worked out a BOGOF scam.

  4. paulf

    Thanks Dell

    Yet another reason not to buy any stuff from you ever again!

  5. Guus Leeuw
    Paris Hilton

    Title Dell Title

    When you buy a Dell off the website, the website states add/substract 0.00 GBP. So it comes at no additional cost (as the cost is included in the price of laptop). I think the Dell person is freely interchanging "for free" and "at no additional cost". Surely, Dell is paying Microsoft for the license, so at least Dell should be fair enough to refund the customer.

    Possibly a good route into this mess is to go and Microsoft to refund, as the retailer doesn't want to refund. That'll make Microsoft's mistake (possible wrong wording in the EULA) go away, or it will get Dell sorted.

    Paris because she would love to get sorted...

    1. Mark Eaton-Park
      Thumb Down

      @Guus Leeue No actually your are wrong

      The Dell site does show #0.00 if you have the item however it does this once you cnahe and item too. This is in indicate the relative prices of the other items within that context hence if you were to revert to a lesser component you would have to click a -ve price. The -ve price cannot be purchase separately I am afraid

  6. A B 3

    Not good enough

    Computing is no longer the sole domain of the technically competent (aka geek), but surely we're not forgotten.

    Let's see... old computer broken/too old.

    Buy new computer and transfer operating system over.

    Anyway, I'm fed up with them cosying up to Microsoft, just take your business elsewhere.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Dell a rip off anyway

    Look at the M11x. $799, or if in Europe €800.

    $799 does not nearly equal €800. When asked they the price difference I was given a rubbish answer of "parts and shipping". Parts and shipping equals a near 50% increase in price? I think not.

    And unfortunately you quite often cannot order a machine without an OS on it from Dell.

    1. Alex Walsh

      $799 doesn't equal EUR800

      But its by no means a 50% mark up either. Even ignoring whether there's sale tax included in the e

      European price and not the Yank one, its still only a 37% mark up.

      Looking at the site, the M11x is EUR660 without VAT and shipping, so you're comparing the wrong price anyway.

      Problem solved

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only 660?

        Strange, every time I go to I get a price of 800 Euro.....

  8. Raumkraut
    Thumb Down

    There must be a law against this?

    So Dell are (re)selling products whose licenses they are not abiding by?

    Either Dell need to start selling a version of Windows with a different EULA ("do not use the software. Instead, return it [ALONG WITH ANY HARDWARE IT WAS INSTALLED ON] to the retailer for a refund or credit."), or they need to start living up to their side of the agreements they make with customers.

    1. Mark Eaton-Park
      Thumb Down


      If they include the hardware in the eula as you suggest then what is to stop you returning the item just before the warranty runs out stating that you won't agree to MS eula

    2. frymaster

      ...and the wording on the EULA is most definately NOT a mistake

      MS know EXACTLY what they can and can't get away with in terms of OS bundling. If the terms aren't any stronger then you can be assured it's because legally they can't be.

  9. nematoad
    Thumb Down

    Good for the lawyers, eh?

    I just wonder if the people in this case (Dell) who make these kind of decisions are like Darl McBride (ex SCO CEO) in that they have brothers who are lawyers.

    If Mr Drake decides to pursue this case, and I hope he does, then really the only people who will gain are lawyers. IANAL but on the face of it it would seem that there may be grounds for arguing that Dell's terms and conditions are unreasonable in as much as seems that they are tying the sale of the computer to the sale of the operating system, and if I recall correctly that has been deemed to be unlawful.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      A request for you and other like you. If you' type 'IANAL but' then stop there and cancel your post. By your own admission your comments are most likely just a waste of time. Conversely, if you can say, "I am a lawyer and" (and be telling the truth,) then feel free to chip in.

      1. Chris Hance

        Does not compute

        "Lawyer" "telling the truth"?


  10. Anonymous Coward

    Simple... they ship the pc without the software? If yes and it is the same price, it is "free".

    If yes and it is cheaper, it is not free (but then why would you buy it in the 1st place)

    If they don't ship it without software, then they can claim it is part of the system and I side with them.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      yes but

      do any of the other components of the system come with a EULA that explicitly states that you can return that component and receive a refund? If no, then Dell is in the wrong.

      1. Alex 0.1

        Missed point.

        You and people quoting the EULA are utterly missing the point.

        Yes, the eula says you can refuse it and return it for a refund, and you can. The bit you seem unable to understand though is that the refund you're entitled to is the amount you paid for the software and as the software is provided free with the hardware, that amount is zero.

        It may suck for you if you didnt understand that before buying the machine from Dell, but hey, thats what dell's terms of sale are for and is why the operating system is clearly labelled within their configurators as costing £0.00.

        1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

          Then perhaps

          the better idea for Dell is to petition MS to change their EULA so that the "refund" is no longer mentioned. If there's no mention of a refund, there can be no confusion on whether or not you are entitled to one.

        2. GreenOgre

          Who missed the point?

          Dell do NOT ship the OS for free. They do NOT label it zero cost on their configurator. The configurator shows that the cost is INCLUDED in the total price and there is no ADDITIONAL charge on top of the exorbitant bottom line shown. It also prohibits you from REMOVING this item.

          For goodness sake, go learn SOMETHING about marketing before you buy anything costing more than a stick of chewing gum. (Would you like to buy some nice swampland in Florida?)

          1. Mister Cheese


            Does it come with a free Alligator?

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge

      The opposite must also be true

      If they ship the software without the hardware and don't charge for it, then it's really free

  11. Reallydo Wannaknow
    Linux sells a netbook with Linux

    Here's the link:

    Mind, for about 6-8 months they were not selling any Linux computers ... but evidently you *can* now get a netbook with Ubuntu on it ...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Major difference - he tried in the UK

    Refund? In the UK? Give me a break. Bwahahaha...

    The difference between the two cases is that the first one was in the USA, the second in the UK.

    Sometimes, I think that the USA probably got it right with the class action statutes. We need them here, because otherwise companies like Dell in this case abuse the fact that it will cost an average customer more to exercise their right than they can ever get back from exercising it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately there is no private action available under competition law.. the UK.

      We need to find a designated body to make a super-complaint regarding licence bundling.

      This matter does seem to be sufficiently important to OFT

      We could try to ask the Consumer Association, except that they seem to think that Microsoft is the answer, now what's the question?

      National Consumer Council? They nearly got there in 2008 with unfair licensing terms. Whatever happened to that?

      I doubt if CAMRA have locus :(

  13. Fred 4
    Gates Horns

    Not only Dell

    I have access to an employee price reduction program with HP, through the deal my employer made with HP. I want to play with a Hackintosh, so I looked at an HP desktop that meats the needed hardware requirements. But of course there is no option to purchase the desktop without an OS (windows only).

    BEFORE - I spent my money I tried to get an answer from HP about returning the license, even going so far as to offer to purchase a second hard drive, and returning the original one - unused.

    They also refused to confirm a refund would be made available, and even if one was, they refused to quote a value of the refund.

    I think a call to DOJ (in the US) and its equal else where might be in order.

    The EULA *does* indeed say - if you dont agree to these terms return the software (license) to the place of purchase for refund or credit.

    1. Craig Newbury

      Apple EULA terms

      Interesting that you would spend time looking at how you could use the MS EULA fully to your advantage in order to get a refund for pre-installed software, but ignore the Apple EULA stating that you may only install OSX on an apple-branded machine.

  14. Number6

    Mass buy-and-return?

    So everyone go order a Dell laptop and then return it for a full refund because you do not agree with the Windows licence terms?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Every week!

  15. Tom 7

    Illegal trading practice

    This sounds remarkably like dumping - where a product is sold below cost price to damage competition.

    I do hope the EU dumps on them!

    1. dbateman

      Dumping -> Product Tying

      This is not dumping, which is selling a product below its market value to kill the competition, you can be sure that Microsoft is making a profit from this sale. This is product tying

      which is tying the sale of one product that the customer wants to the sale of another unwanted and unrelated product. Yes its generally illegal in most countries, but the key here is proving that Windows 7 is an unrelated product to the PC its installed on..


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Typical MS-driven evasion

    I tried last year to buy a Dell laptop without an OS, as it was intended as a test machine and I intended to install my own multiboots of WinXP, WIn7, and some Linuxes. Instead the sales rep haggled me down to a price too low to refuse, but including Vista Home Basic.

    When the unit arrived that OS lasted all of 10 minutes before it got wiped and replaced ;-)

    1. Roger Greenwood

      But you paid the tax!

      Big win to MS. Clever ba*****ds.

  17. SynnerCal

    Anyone got Stallman's email addy?

    I'm sure that Mr Richard Stallman (remember founder of the Free Software Foundation) would vehemently deny that any version of Windows is "free". Or are Dell passing comment on Windows 7 - by saying that it's worth $0 - and therefore worthless. Ha-ha!

    Personally I would have thought that Mr Drake would have had a good case to at least get Dell to replace his Windows netbook with the Linux equivalent. At least it wasn't a desktop/laptop where you don't get the option - it's Windows or look somewhere else. That said, given the difference between Mini 10 (Windows) and Mini 10v (Linux) is only £30, I'd probably just junk the Win7 license because the M10 is a better spec anyway - which probably accounts for the price difference.

    Or get the best of both worlds - shrink the Win7 partition - and dual-boot with Ubuntu Karmic-UNR (which I've got, and like, on my little Acer Aspire One).

    1. John G nolet

      That my main grind about Dell

      If Dell was to offer the OS as an option on every computer that they sold I would not have any problem with them refusing a refund. As long as a) the Linux option is always cheaper and b) the real price that Microsoft get for Windows is clearly stated. But they don't their Linux offering is weak and sometime cost more than the same config with Windows and their no way in hell that Microsoft is giving away Windows 7 for free so show the peoples the real price and let it be their choice!

  18. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Dell failure

    If I go to buy a Dell Latitude L2100 it offers me XP as default, with the choice of linux with £24 reduction or Windows 7 at £17 more. So why can't he get the £41 back?

    It is high time that the "MS tax" was a choice, not something that is forced on most PC purchases.

    1. Guus Leeuw

      @Paul Crawford

      The 41GBP is only the sum of price diferrences against Windows XP. For sure Windows XP costs money to Dell as well, so you'd have to add this to the refund. Seeing that retail licenses are at least 70GBP, you'd expect the OEM license to be much less, but still worth some solid money.

      I (now) think the argument for combined sales is much stronger than any other argument. And this argument should go against any PC vendor building PCs for just one type of OS.

      1. cosmogoblin

        Not quite

        I think you've misunderstood the original post. The price difference between 7 and XP is £17. The £41 is the price difference between 7 and Linux, so unless they're charging for Linux, that's the entire cost of the OEM version of 7 they're using.

        This is fairly typical - you have the standard amount for a standard build, and it's more or less depending on what options you add or remove. To say that Windows is free would, in this case, imply that Linux costs -£24; and unless they have boxes of Linux in their store that come bundled with the price of a decent round in cash, that claim is clearly bogus!

  19. Tom 7

    Oh and another opportunity to mention

    They look a lot cheaper and better specced than dell anyway - and they may even have someone on the other end of the phone.

    Me - I use old pc's that business chuck out when the 'upgrade' their windows/office software.

    Its nice to find a supercluster for free!

  20. David Ward 1

    nothing to see here...

    They are abiding by the EULA by refunding the product if you return it as sold (i.e. on the machine it was installed on).

    Do you apply the same standards to apple? Bar for the exact wording of the EULA it looks like the same argument to me, can I claim to be installing Linux on the machine and return it for a refund too?

    1. Semihere

      Apple is a different scenario

      The difference with Apple is that they are both the hardware AND software vendor. Dell are only building the hardware and selling that hardware with third party software pre-installed for which they charge extra, but at the same time refusing to sell a 'hardware only' option or otherwise a choice of pre-installed third party software.

      If you were comparing a machine built and sold by Microsoft themselves pre-installed with Windows (or indeed a Dell machine running a Dell OS - maybe a variant of Linux of their own making) then it'd be a fair comparison to what Apple does, but in this case it is different.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      VERY different

      The point is MS -and pardners) have been forced by the courts to propose a refund in the case you don't accept the EULA. If they hadn't complied they would have been squashed for abuse of dominant position and associated nastiness. So the point really isn't "is it idiotic to buy a Dell machine when you don't want Windows", it is "Does Dell have the right to refuse a refund" and the answer is a big, phat NO. Especially as they otherwise insist that the EULA is legally binding (which is a load of bullcrap but you can't have your cake and eat it too...)

      Essentially what Dell is saying here is "it is our policy to disregard the law on that matter".

      1. David Ward 1

        They are obviously not disregarding the law

        "is it idiotic to buy a Dell machine when you don't want Windows", ehm who are you quoting here?, I don't believe I said that!

        Would you feel it was fair to remove the CPU from a system and return it for a refund?

        According to my legal friends who have read the EULA, they are complying just fine by treating the whole item as a product, i.e. hardware and software, if I bought a DVD player and it came with power dvd and I didn't agree with the terms and returned it for a refund I would need to return the whole product not just the power DVD disk, they would not be complying if you bought the item and gave you no refund if you then sent it back because you read the EULA and disagreed with it.

        Having said this if I were dell I would probably offer the hardware with no software installed for those who are so offended by windows licenses or don't understand how to format the hard disk, as this is no skin off my nose, however I wouldn't offer a discount as there are so few of them and the hassle in the production line and testing etc would probably offset the cost saving anyway. Also I guess I would remove all entitlement to any sort of support for any non-standard system.

        I have a couple of dell laptops and a dell desktop at work, all of which are running ubuntu or Debian, and all of which came with various windows licenses. I don't feel offended by this as I know that if I could have bought the same hardware from another vendor sans windows I could have done, but that Dell's business model and totally up to them.

        1. Gareth.

          The Power DVD EULA

          <hypothetical situation> Does the PowerDVD EULA specifically state that you are entitled to a refund of PowerDVD should you not agree to the terms outlined in the EULA?</hypothetical situation>

          As I understand it, the EULA for Windows refers to being entitled to a refund of Windows - not the entire product, i.e. hardware and software - if you disagree with their terms and conditions.

          Personally, I never read EULAs but I'm not fussed as Microsoft gave me a free copy of Windows (Vista for attending InfoSec a few years back and Win7 for pretending to have a Launch Party.... the suckers!).

          Similarly, I've not read the Apple EULA but I wouldn't have bought the hardware if I didn't want to run the software.

          I'm sure my Xubuntu has an EULA but again I've not read it... anyone know if it's worth reading seeing as though I paid nothing for the OS in the first place?

          1. David Ward 1

            powerdvd et al

            Does the PowerDVD EULA specifically state that you are entitled to a refund of PowerDVD should you not agree to the terms outlined in the EULA?

            apparently it does


            "As I understand it, the EULA for Windows refers to being entitled to a refund of Windows - not the entire product, i.e. hardware and software - if you disagree with their terms and conditions."

            The legal guy I talked to suggest that you do indeed misunderstand it, the text in question says


            1. Dell say that it is not applicable as they associate no cost to it, however they may return it to Microsoft for the cost they pay for it (which we do not know of course).

            2. Dell is perfectly within its rights to treat its sales and returns as an all or nothing thing.

            I don't know the business costs for doing it another way but in the end it is up to Dell, if enough of their customers wanted Linux or naked systems they would sell them that way and charge whatever they could get away with for them, if there were cost savings which generated them more sales by passing them on they would. End of story!

            As an aside my legal contact says that a judge in Italy made acer (I think) refund someone for the bundled software which was publicised a year or two ago, however this decision was actually later reversed by a court of appeal and the wording for the EULA in Vista and beyond was presumably subtly changed for OEM's, though ACER did in this case refund the user in the end out of 'good will'!

            I don't believe this has actually been tested in court in the UK so there is an opportunity for one of you to challenge the wording if you feel that strongly about it...

            "Similarly, I've not read the Apple EULA but I wouldn't have bought the hardware if I didn't want to run the software."

            But you would with Dell clearly!

            "I'm sure my Xubuntu has an EULA but again I've not read it... anyone know if it's worth reading seeing as though I paid nothing for the OS in the first place?"

            Finally Ubuntu doesn't have an EULA.

            Firefox and some other things (Sun Java, Adobe etc) do when you install their packages.

        2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          disregarding the law, or not?

          " "is it idiotic to buy a Dell machine when you don't want Windows", ehm who are you quoting here?, I don't believe I said that!"

          Erm, I don't believe I said that you said that -other people in this thread have, though-, and I phrased it as a question. To which my personnal answer would be "somewhat", btw. That's one of the reasons why I don't buy Dell kit.

          "Would you feel it was fair to remove the CPU from a system and return it for a refund?"

          Would you feel it was fair to prevent you from re-using said CPU (or the RAM, or hard drive,...) in another machine? Would it be fair to prevent you from reselling them should you not need the machine anymore? Actually you could even resell the whole machine /as is/ if you wanted to... but for the OS because the OEM Windows license is tied both to you AND to the machine: you cannot re-use it, and you cannot resell it. i.e. you pay for it but it has exactly zero value once you start using it. Which is why MS was forced to propose this refund option.

          "if I bought a DVD player and it came with power dvd and I didn't agree with the terms and returned it for a refund I would need to return the whole product not just the power DVD disk, they would not be complying if you bought the item and gave you no refund if you then sent it back because you read the EULA and disagreed with it."

          If your DVD player's seller acted as a reseller for PowerDVD, and the PowerDVD EULA stated that you are entitled for a refund if you don't want PowerDVD, I would very much expect a refund if I choosed to get rid of PowerDVD.

          "Having said this if I were dell I would probably offer the hardware with no software installed for those who are so offended by windows licenses or don't understand how to format the hard disk"

          No you wouldn't, because you would be tied by borderline-legal agreements with MS. Which is precisely why they were made (by court order) to provide the refund option.

          "however I wouldn't offer a discount as there are so few of them and the hassle in the production line and testing etc would probably offset the cost saving anyway. Also I guess I would remove all entitlement to any sort of support for any non-standard system."

          Appart from the fact that Windows (any version) is anything but "standard" (the "de facto" argument is fallacious, and wrong as the different flavours are not even compatible with each other), you could. MS would still kick your sorry arse though, as the real point here is to build a monopoly and construct nice market share figures to boost their stock. They probably don't care a lot about the price of the license -and neither do I-, they just want to be able to say that 99% of PCs run Windows (even if that's not actually the case). That's what I object to.

          "I don't feel offended by this as I know that if I could have bought the same hardware from another vendor sans windows I could have done"

          Good for you.

          "but that Dell's business model and totally up to them."

          No it's not. They act as a reseller for MS, and thus are bound by MS engagements. If they don't like that, they can stop selling Windows altogether. MS legally HAS to propose a refund if you don't want their crap, and they pass the bucket to the reseller (which is standard practice, if somewhat morally discutable). Therefore Dell _have_ to comply. Or they can stop being MS resellers.

          I actually own several Dell machines, which I bought second-hand -some for spares-, and none came with any OS because the previous owners could not resell the license. No biggie as they all run Debian or some BSD now, but the fact is, Dell disregards the law by merely _renting_ Windows licenses (i.e. they rent the right to use the OS, which is akin to a rent in itself, so they kinda sublet the OS) while disregarding the legal refund obligation that was dumped on them by MS.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Worked for us

    In the past we used to order desktops which came preloaded with Windows, and it was company policy to return the licence and get a refund prior to installing Solaris. Always worked for us.

    Of course uSoft will soon figure out the "administration charge" wheeze. "Yes you can return your copy of Windows for a $70 refund. Note: we will apply an $80 administration and restocking fee to your request".

    1. Semihere
      Joke which you reply...

      "Yes you can return your copy of Windows for a $70 refund. Note: we will apply an $80 administration and restocking fee to your request"

      And that payment will be made, minus an administration charge of $150 to handle the time wasted in having to return the unrequested licenses in the first place when no choice was given for an OS-free version.

    2. Mark 65

      Not in the UK

      Don't think we have a restocking charge and I'm not sure that you could get away with it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 7 free from Dell

    So if Dell is offering free copies of Win 7, can we all have one please? Where do I order my free copy? The mistake was made long ago when MS was allowed to force manufacturers to install only windows on their products. A comparison would be if perhaps Ford entered an agreement with Esso that you could only fill your car with Esso gas, and of course doing anything else would invalidate your warranty. Hmmm, I wonder how that would affect the sales of Ford cars?

    1. Alex 0.1

      Not quite

      It's more like Ford entering into an agreement with Esso that you have to use Esso fuel in your car, but that you can fill your car up for free for the rest of your life using Esso fuel. Then, the price of what would otherwise be an £8000 car is hiked to £15000. If you don't like the fact that you're paying the extra cash for free fuel for life, the answer is go buy a different car and pay for your fuel, not buy it then whine about wanting the 7 grand back because you'd rather use Shell.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Unbundle Esso, or rather, Windows!

        I actually considered this analogy recently, although I had Shell doing the bidding of Esso/Exxon. But again, your "I wouldn't mind" attitude is an obstacle to any comprehension of the matter.

        What if every car sold through a dealership had this "free fuel offer" attached and you couldn't choose to drop it? Or if you could, you'd still be paying £15000 because Ford/GM/Renault/VW claim that the fuel really is "free"? Have you considered what the regulatory response to this would be? I guess not: everyone concerned would be fined heavily by the regulators.

        All you're doing is saying that companies can bundle together as many products as they like, whether you want all of them or not, name a price (£15000), and then tell you that one of the products really costs as much as the ticket price but not the others. Oh, and you can't actually obtain the other things for free, even though they're separate things (the car doesn't have a pre-filled bottomless fuel tank). It doesn't take an economist to know that you're paying for the "free" products somehow - £7000 in this case - but all you're doing is advocating for that figure to remain secret.

        In effect, you're advocating an effective tax - there's £7000 (or the price of Microsoft Windows) that you can't avoid, even though there's no practical reason for its imposition - and price opacity (as opposed to transparency) - that all car manufacturers and retailers can pretend that a car really costs £15000 (or that a computer really does need Microsoft Windows which magically doesn't contribute anything to the ticket price). Next, you'll make the laughable claim that you're in favour of the free market or something.

        It is through such consumer ignorance as your own ("No, Mr Regulator, I'm OK with this!") that corporations are able to dish out the shoddy treatment they do. And yet you were so close with the car analogy.

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Yes quite.

        When they force-sell Windows, Dell don't offer anything more than what you'd get for buying a retail copy. They DO NOT offer a "lifetime free refills"-type feature that you wouldn't get if you got Windows by choice. Actually these days they offer LESS as the installs don't come with a physical support anymore. But as they charge less for the OS, it kinda balances out. Except if you want a real OS instead, in which case you end up paying MS for nothing, both directly and indirectly by inflating their perceived market share (it's great for their stocks and for abusing gullible customers with lies such as "everyone has it so you must buy it if you want to work with other people". Very effective with the idiots, the elderly, and the managers).

      3. John G nolet

        Not a bad analogy

        But think Diesel vs Gas and ask why we are not all driving Diesel car or Hybrid by now!

      4. I didn't do IT.

        Not Quite RE: Not Quite

        ... as long as you realize that the "life" of the car is inherently limited to X number of years. After that, support is dropped and you are on the side of the road.

        Just slightly better would be, instead of a consumable (which the OS is not), it was compared to the engine of the car (or powertrain):

        For the life of the vehicle (determined to be 5-6 years or so), we warranty that the engine installed in your vehicle will operate according to our minimum standards (by they high or not). Any security or functional modification will be done remotely when you connect your car to the Car Live! network. It is recommended you allow the car to automatically connect to the Car Live! network every night at 03:00 (local time) and update as needed. When we degrade support for your version of engine, we will only do minimal security updates. After this "grace" period, we will then no longer support updates to your engine. We provide no warranty that any tire, steering wheel, radio, etc. or other component will work with your engine (unless that manufacturer is also REALLY big and force legal action on us or bribe us to fix something). Any attempt to tweak your engine using anything other than our tools voids this warranty.


        So, if you can keep it going yourself without their "help", good for you. Just remember that unlike a physical product (like an engine), you can't give it any needed overhauls or replace broken parts after the support life-cycle ends. :(

  23. Kai Lockwood

    Policy varies with OEM

    I just recently bought a lowend Toshiba laptop and the EULA for this machine stated that the return policy was (and I quote):

    "By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed."

    Toshiba's policy on not accepting the EULA is:


    The loophole has closed.

    1. Mark 65


      I think the whole argument is whether, in the EU, it is legal or not. If it is not legal to bundle the unwanted and refuse to refund it's cost upon return then any contract is moot - you cannot sign away statutory rights.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    windows 7

    1/ Use a hair drier to remove sticker from computer .

    2/ stick on dvd case

    3/ download iso of windows 7

    4/ sell for £65

    5/ go to pub


  25. Neil Greatorex


    Buy one without the MS tax, and from people that talk properly.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I wish more sales people had a bit of spark

    Many moons ago I was involved with said refusnik company and I can only say that I wish the sales people were of an appropriate level where they could communicate with customers. Yes, marketing dosh from Microsoft kept the availability of alternative operating systems hushed and difficult to find, but most business machines were available with FreeDOS for a nominal tenner. Thus ensuring that all systems shipped with an OS of some description and therefore enabled tech support troubleshooting (if said FreeDOS was ever installed, which could be insisted upon by the tech support engineer in order to troubleshoot a system as it shipped). Also I beleive that it was a certain Redmond based company that stipulated that although a system didn't have to ship with a Windows OS, it had to ship with something in order for the manufacturer to have a chance of a sicky 'WIndows' label applied to machines that did ship with a MS OS.

    Anyway, obviously an anonymous post.

    Paris, as most sales people are about as knowledgeable.

    1. Rob Beard

      Naked PCs

      Correct me if I'm wrong but is there ANY law that requires that a PC ships with an operating system pre-installed?

      Okay I know Microsoft say that PCs shipped without an OS are 'Naked' and 'can' be subject to piracy but heck, doesn't mean they will, just as much as I could run over the neighbours with my car, doesn't mean I will (I don't want to dent my car!).


  27. Stu


    He should definitely fight this, bring it to the courts so the rest of us have legal 'precedents' to work with.

    But you know what will happen, MS's EULA states 'Refund or credit note'.

    I wonder which one Dell will provide him with....

    Hmmm, let me think.....

    Just what the hell would somebody do with a $100 credit note from Dell, buy a Dell (Logitech) wireless keyboard? whoop de doo, either way he has to leave the money in Dells hands which would leave me galling.


    There's always routes out for these ruthlessly unscrupulous companies. It seems the bigger they get, they just feign that they're too big a company to be flexible in such matters.

    But then because El-Reg posted the story (good job there, I doubt whether most of us will be able to muster up an IT related consumer rights news story) Dell will probably retract it and give him a refund. Oh and then claim it was a processing mistake so they can't do it for everybody else.

    1. MonkeyBot

      $100 credit note

      "Just what the hell would somebody do with a $100 credit note from Dell, buy a Dell (Logitech) wireless keyboard?"

      Buy a couple more, get the credit notes and use them to buy another laptop.

  28. Jamie Kitson

    "a touchpoint point for training refresh"

    Jesus Christ

    1. frank ly

      Not Jesus

      "Jesus Christ"

      No. It's the Borg.

    2. mafoo

      a touchpoint point

      That made me do a double take.

      Still not sure if the spokesperson were using sanctioned vocab, or just making words up.

  29. Jamie Kitson

    Do Agree

    They state that you are buying a machine with Windows on it, it shouldn't be a surprise to you when it arrives with Windows preinstalled.

    1. Mark Eaton-Park
      Paris Hilton

      @ Jamie Kitson where is in option on Dell site not to have winddowns

      The MS user agreement gives the option of a refund, I thought even MS users knew this.

      If he wanted a Dell in the knowledge that Dell have refunded in the past then he was quite correct to expect the same.

      These people just need to keep going eventually Dell will have to abide by the eula as they say it is part of the machine

    2. Marcus Aurelius

      No surprise but

      If Dell provided a machine without any OS whatsoever on it then you'd have a case. The Windows sign on EULA specifically allows you to not install and get a refund. Its the first opportunity you have to say "No" to Windows.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Missing the point

      Jamie, the problem is that the EULA states that Windows can be returned to the manufacturer. If Dell isn't going to honor this policy, then it is in violation of its own licensing terms with Microsoft.

      Besides, that clause in the EULA is the only thing that keeps Microsoft and Dell out of a DOJ lawsuit for racketeering.

  30. Glen Turner 666

    If the EULA refund clause is thwarted, then Dell are third-line forcing

    The clause is in the EULA to protect the hardware manufacturer from claims of third-line forcing, a behaviour forbidden by most consumer protection legislation. Dell's take it all or leave it all modification to the exercise of the EULA term very much results in third-line forcing.

    This isn't a problem for Apple, as both the Mac and MacOS are made by the same company.

    If a claim for a refund is rejected then I would approach your consumer protection agency.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Gates Horns

      Now then!

      I'm told the trick is to video the startup procedure and then involve the Trading Standards department.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Free return of lappy........

    If it was me, I'd just return the lot and get a complete refund.

    It'll cost Dell alot more to try to sell a second hand machine than just to refund.

    It's not like Dell machines aren't crap anyway, the guy could do much better.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Right. So what we do

      is organise a mass purchase of Dell laptops, followed by a mass return for a refund.

      Tux, because Paris isn't open source, unfortunately.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    never buy dell

    I bought a netbook recently with windows on it, immediately replaced it with Linux and posted the windows serial online for erm, "educational purposes"

    no hassle and you get the added bonus of denying ms more than the cost of one copy of windows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good Idea!

      Is there a website for this? Full of unused Windows serials?

      If I ever need an activation code for a VM I just go into a large company I work for who is forced to buy laptops with Vista/7 licences. They immediately downgrade them to XP (bulk license paid for) for use in a specialist system.

      This is one of the places that all the Vista/7 sales are going

  33. paul 97


    If I bought a dell with windows on it - I would put linux on it.

    I would happily take a 1p refund or credit note. Sometimes its not the money just the fact that Dell thinks its a windows sale and therefore windows is popular.

    Measuring linux install base is very very hard - because of things like this.

    1. henrydddd

      Del with linux

      I put linux on 2 Del computers this week

  34. blackworx


    "touchpoint for training refresh"

    Wow. Four little words. Well, three actual words and a fucktardism. Who would have thought they could cause such rage?

    Get on the blower to the lads at Oxford and tell them to can the fusion reactor, we've found a more potent and inexhaustible source of energy, although it is admittedly a _bit_ more volatile.

    Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in...

    1. Flugal
      Thumb Up


      My thoughts entirely.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Touchpoint? I agree. This is exactly the point.

      Steve Ballmer might be a complete bastard, but to my knowledge he has never uttered the phrase "touchpoint point for training refresh" in public.

      My (admittedly indifferent) feelings towards the Windows tax issue are completely dwarfed by the violence I want to do the person who said this drivel.

      I'd like to go round and give them some fucking "synergy" to think about.

      I'd "push the envelope" up their "low-hanging fruit", I can tell you.

  35. Charles Smith

    You expect us to buy Dell in the future?

    Ah well, that's just deleted Dell from my suppliers list and also from my recommendation list for my clients. My most recent order was for 100 PC's and they were Dell.

    I'll have fun when the Dell rep next calls me. "Tell me about your business practices Mr Dell?"

    1. Jolyon

      You expect me to buy services from you?

      If you thought Dell were worth buying before why not continue to recommend them now? I can't beliieve they were only on your suppliers list because you believed their business practices were exemplary.

      I won't buy services from someone who gives bad advice because of a point of principle; don't assume that your issues are my issues.

  36. RichyS
    Gates Horns

    Not just Dell

    My wife's school purchased a load of MSI Wind all in one PCs. No-one builds these PCs and sells them without Windows, so the 'buy from somewhere else' argument falls through.

    Now, the problem here is that the PCs come pre-installed with Win 7 Home Premium. Fine, except you can't join a domain with HP. The PCs don't come sold with a preinstalled Pro version. So, my wife's school had to buy a copy of Win 7 Pro for each machine (a site license would have cost even more, as you have to declare every PC in the school, regardless of whether you want to install Windows on it -- all the other PCs have legitimate OEM copies of Win XP Pro). Now the school has paid Microsoft twice for each PC. No wonder their sales figures are so fecking good.

    Naturally, the EULA on each PC was rejected (so Pro could be imaged). On asking the retailer (CCL) for a refund, she was told that the PCs were sold as a package, so no refund was possible. Thanks CCL, that's a few books you've stolen from the school.

    Just to be bloody minded, I think I'll take this up further with them...

    1. Jolyon

      Maybe someone should bring teacher an Apple.

      That isn't evil business ripping off hard done by schools that's an idiot making a bad purchase.

      "We bought a load of things that obviously wouldn't do what we wanted and then had to buy more stuff to get the job done."

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Michael Hitchins

      missing the VLK point

      your post sounds like you're trolling MS. Maybe the government department that looks after all your schools is utterly incompetent, or you have some wacky per school management idea designed to utterly break the benefits of volume purchasing at any level, but I do doubt it.

      If your education department doesnt have a contract with MS to supply software I'd be amazed, and looking to quickly fire the CTO and put someone who has a clue in his place. I'd rather imagine there are contracts in place, maybe not run as full on as the West Australian system that I know oh so well, but instead your school is going it alone for one reason or another.

      Any large education organisation can get very flexible licensing from MS, and this includes downgrade and upgrade rights if the price is right. Such a license would allow you to use a VLK to install any computer with any copy of a MS OS installed on them. This would happily cover your HomePrem to Pro7 upgrade or a downgrade to WinXP Pro.

      I'm guessing this is in place for you, as MS are keenly interested in getting into every school ever and this system gives them 2 sales and gives you an appealing level of flexibility. What I see from your post however is a lot of strange waffle about site licensing, and it leads me to believe whoever chose to go down this path did so either misinformed or rather deliberately to troll MS.

      VLK can be issued for 10 or more PCs. This should be considered just a fact, really. You dont need to declare anything to get them, or buy a site full, just order the amount you want. You'll get the education discount if you're in education, but, and its a big but, unless you're a tiny self supporting education centre you'll find the loverly MS rep on the other end of the phone will point out you have already got an organisation-wide license if you actually ask.

      Lastly of course without a VLK of some description imaging your new toys would be hell on earth, dealing with activating OEM or retail keys and having individual keys per PC... I doubt any tech went down this path, but if they did they are either hugely incompetent or really trying to show 'how evil MS are' by doing the most convoluted setup possible.

      I'd consider raising this via school management personally. I wouldnt want to see that much coin pissed away like that, but thats me

  37. Anonymous Coward

    UK-based school teacher Adam Drake

    Sounds like a show boating Douchebag from this article.

    Quite frankly if I was the rep I wouldn't have given him his money back if any one talks to me like that.

    1. hplasm

      The return of-

      The Internet Tough Guy.

      I thought you were dead?

  38. sage


    I once bought a laptop from TigerDirect that had Vista preinstalled on it, so I reformatted and put Ubuntu on there. Rather than getting a refund, they informed me that by rejecting the EULA and removing Windows I had voided my warranty.

    Windows may not be free, but the viruses you're about to get will be.

  39. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'd return it too.

    "If it was me, I'd just return the lot and get a complete refund."

    Me too! Well, honestly, I would look first for a unit that doesn't have Windows. But, I will not pay for Windows, period, the EULA allows a refund. Showing Windows at 0 cost and bundling it into the cost of the unit is probably illegal bundling, I would certainly return the lot in this case. This is the thing, Dell is figuring people will just suck it up -- if they don't, then Dell will follow the rules.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    My Mini 9 runs Mac OS X 10.6.2 quite nicely.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Your point being that you own something rather boring...? Or?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        RE: So?

        Ponig being that windows sucks and anyone with half a brain is going to want to install something else instead...

  41. Ryan 7

    Even if Windows is not free

    The OEM copies that Dell get only cost about £15 to £20 anyway. THAT should be the refund amount, not the retail or system-builder (the OEM that you can get in shops) price.

  42. apexwm

    This is a disgrace

    We all know that Windows is not free. If you have to buy it in a retail store, then you need to buy it with the PC. If Windows was free, then it would be free to download, like Linux. However, treating it like a "component" of the PC is very clever on Dell's part. If they are not willing to allow the customers to truly customize their PC and remove Windows, then I'd suggest shopping at another vendor like HP. I've heard HP honors the refund, not sure on Windows 7 though.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OEM deal = anti-competitive

    Resellers should be obliged to sell separate OS-licences for the price of a bundled one. Solves the problem. In this case the customer could request any number of windows-licenses for the same price as the bundled one (free) to resell to recoup his/her expenses.

    1. Solomon Grundy


      No they shouldn't.

      1. The BigYin


        They should. (I can rise to the same level of argument.)

        What is the reason for your stance? Mine is that we need consumer choice and we don't have that at the moment. The major OEMs all force you to have Windows and to pay the MS Tax.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Buy the Ubuntu version

          Plese check your facts - Dell offers a version with Ubuntu. Buy that if you don't want Windows, but don't buy the Windows version and complain afterwards - that's just plain stupid!

          1. Robert E A Harvey
            Gates Horns


            It's my experience that Dell offer an ubuntu version grudgingly, and at greater cost than the equivalent windoze one. Whether this is to present a facade of choice, or not I cannot imagine.

            In a properly free market you could buy the laptop without an OS, and have done with it. As long as you can't, there is something creepy going on.

            And as for warranty and support excuses, are they really saying they sell something so flaky that it won't run the commercial OS out of the box? Why should I want it then?

          2. The BigYin

            Show me

            They sell ONE crippled netbook. That's it. IT IS NOT A VIABLE CHOICE!

            Show me where I can simply switch the OS from Windows 7 to Ubuntu in their customise dialog.

            I know you can't.

        2. Jolyon

          @ BigYin

          Do we need consumer choice (to a greater extent than it exists already) or is standardisation more of a benefit? Discuss.


          @ whichevertard said that in a free market we could buy PCs without operating systems, we can buy PCs without operating systems now. Some manufacturers would always choose to include a standard operating system with each machine so that a) It would do something without the purchaser having to install an OS and b) so that they coudl offer support knowing that the OS at least was a known factor.

  44. bexley

    on theother hand

    people that 'do' want windows are getting a good deal no?

    just saying...

  45. rastansaga

    win free PCs in UK

    It's not remotely difficult to buy a windows-free PC in the UK. I've bought netbooks, laptops and desktop systems. Two suppliers that spring to mind are thelinuxemporium and novatech. Ever since Linux/Ubunutu got to the stage where wireless tends to work 'out of the box' I've been completely windows-tax free.

    1. The BigYin


      ...System67 (USA, but they will ship I think) and Frostbite Systems (USA only). And probably any semi-decent PC shop where they employees actually know their stuff. They don't need to know Linux per se, they can just give you the naked PC.

  46. bigolslabomeat

    I've done it

    Ordered a number of Dell machines without any OS on it at all (thus saving the need to even send it back) even when Win7 was the only option. You just need to speak to someone in the order process.

    They are nice enough to throw in a disc with FreeDOS on it and drivers for said OS. So good luck getting the network card to work if it's your only PC.

  47. apexwm

    Forget Dell then, look at HP

    I haven't looked at HP's line lately, but I've heard that they have honored the Windows Tax refund. If Dell can't step up to the plate and simply offer computer with NO OPERATING SYSTEM, or sell systems for less that have Linux bundled with them (since Linux is FREE), then it's time to look at a vendor that WILL do this. It's too bad that Dell is stooping this low, they were a good company at one time and over the past year everything has been going downhill for Dell. They obviously have some sort of deal with Microsoft where they have to sell Windows. There's a reason that they bundle Windows with PCs and make them cheaper than ones with Linux. My broad assumption with the Windows Tax refund is that your mileage may vary. I've found with Dell support that you get different answers with different reps.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Don't look at HP

      You cannot buy a HP consumer device without Windows. I know, I've tried.

      Can someone please prove me wrong by providing a direct link to a HP consumer device available to the UK, without Windows and having the same spec as the Windows encumbered device?

      As for providing Linux for free...they don't need to do that (there is a cost in setting up the installation process, and it'll be similar for Windows).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just buy the Ubuntu vesrion...

      Or - if you don't want an OS, call Dell and ask if they offer an n-series version of the machine you want. Not available on all models - but if you don't like that, why don't you start your own PC company and drive these yanks out of business...

      1. The BigYin

        @Just buy the Ubuntu vesrion

        My, that is a viable choice for the average consumer!


        1. Jolyon

          The average consumer wants Windows

          Whether or not they should, they do.

          That is precisely why Dell does this.

          It might be wrong, it might be stifling innovation, it might make you stamp your feet but it is true.

  48. LaeMing

    I considered a Dell for my mum

    Why? 1) because where I work uses a lot of Dells and I get a discount, 2) They were the only all-in-one unit I could find that didn't have a gimmicky touch screen.

    My mum just wanted a word processing station to replace her dead MacSE. She doesn't need all the tedious mucking about with software keys and anti-virus.

    I called Dell, asked if I could buy the desired unit without Windows as Kubuntu was more suited to the intended user. They said "no." I said "Thank you for your time." They said "Are you still interested in purchasing." I said "Sorry, not if I have to pay for an OS I won't be using."

    Then I went and built mum a beige-box atom+ion micro-system.

    Mum is happy. My brother is scared of the thing. My 8- and 11yo nieces, who had never seen a KDE desktop or OpenOffice before, took 15 minutes to get up to speed enough to help mum with her text formatting.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vous devez avoir acheté France


  50. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Umm, it's one thing or the other: call the OFT

    If Dell doesn't refund the cost of Windows then you could in principle involve teh Office of Fair Trading as the EULA is then misleading to the point of hitting the Trade Descriptions Act (any tame lawyers here)?.

    Put another way, it's either the OEM who ends up in trouble - or Microsoft. It would actually be good to get a decent statement out of the OFT for this (it would also be unique, but I digress) because it would act as a benchmark. Given the actual content of the EULA I cannot see this going Dell's/Microsoft's way, so if Dell is smart it caves as soon as it gets hinted at OFT involvement. The last thing they need is a precedent there.

    Keep pushing guys - if they want to use make-believe it's time to call them on it. If my next system wasn't going to be a Mac (fed up with the hourly patching of Windows just to keep it semi-safe) I'd buy one just so I could be a royal pain too.

    Isn't it lovely when you can hang a company by its own BS? :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Just buy the Linux version if you don't want Ubuntu - check the one to the right:

      Adam Drake had that choice, but he chose Windows. So why is he complaining?

      1. The BigYin

        The sell...

        ...ONE crippled netbook. That's it. THAT IS NOT A CHOICE!

        And it is the previous LTS.

        When I can select (just about) ANY Dell product and choose a non-Windows OS as an option (with appropriate cost saving) then we will have choice. Until that time THERE IS NO REAL CHOICE.

        Now kindly shut-up and stop astroturfing for MS.

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
        Gates Horns

        The choice is irrelevant - the statement counts

        "Adam Drake had that choice, but he chose Windows. So why is he complaining?"

        Actually, Linux or not is wholly irrelevant. ANY copy of Windows started up for the first time will make the refund statement. They should either be called on this bullshit, or stop displaying the statement.

        That, and that alone, is the issue here. That this refund rubbish is pretence is pretty much clear by now, but unless Microsoft and OEMs are called on this it will continue, that's why it's an OFT issue.

        1. The BigYin

          @Fred Flintstone

          I agree completely. By and large the choice on all PCs should be

          - No OS

          - Windows flavour(s)

          - Linux flavour(s)

          The first one is THE most important. I can live without the other two.

          1. Jolyon

            My, that is a viable choice for the average consumer!

            Do you honestly think the average consumer wants to install an OS? Phones aren't sold like that . . .

            Do you honestly think PCs would be cheaper if Dell supplied theirs without Windows?

            So what's the difference between no OS and and OS that will disappear when you install a new OS?

            They payment to Microsoft irks you?

            Then buy one of the many machines that is available without paying MS anything. You will pay more but you will be doing the world good.

            1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              Also not relevant

              There is nothing stopping from consumers buying an OS, but Microsoft has been running this OEM scam to lock out competition for so long it ought to quality for the Guinness Book of Records as longest con ever.

              The primary issue here is that that statement is only there to allow some US legislators to nod "OK" while they get great handfuls of dollars stuffed up their cranial cavity instead of taking the anti-competitive action they're supposed to. As a matter of fact, I'm a bit surprises Neelie Kroes didn't track this one when she was in office.

              If that refund statement was true it should be easy - buy, provide proof of install cancellation, return license code, cash refund, and the volume could then encourage better competition. Instead, they still appear to run an OEM blackmail scam, hiding behind a statement that is as true as any statement uttered by any New Labour politician (i.e. only close to the truth if you're familiar with measuring in imaginary numbers).

              If there was a consistent refund process you would end up with a consistent refund value, an incentive for people to look at the *actual* numbers and an end to lock in. That's also precisely the reason I can never see that happen, but that wouldn't stop me giving them hell and bad publicity if I was ever inclined to buy another Windows system..

              Heck, I may buy a cheap one just to do this. Worth it, and I can still stick Linux on it later so it actually works in a reasonable safe way (I just wish OpenSuSE could work out how to set the gateway when picking up WiFi DHCP. That they still manage to screw that up is IMHO astonishing - but I digress).

              Bottom line: either do as stated or face the consequences. Or remove that statement and receive your due that way.

  51. Callum

    N series, remember them?

    I bought some Dell XPS M1330N for my business - remember them? they were the Linux laptops? brilliant, even a a few years on, it works brilliantly with the latest Fedora 12.

    ahhh, now I understand.

    1. sell Dell systems with windows

    2. let clueless users clog them up with rubbish

    3. clueless (l)users equate computers with Austin Allegro's - "it's old, it is getting slower"

    4. Dell sells cluless lusers new systems

    5. profit!

  52. Neil Cooper

    Make the lost sales visible.

    Phone Dell and begin to place an order. Get some way into it then tell them that you will only buy the laptop if they can supply it without Windows, and with the appropriate price discount to reflect that. Walk away if/when they say they can't do that.

    If you do this, they will actually have visibility of lost sales due to their fucktardness. If enough people do this, they will have to take notice.

  53. Ashley Stevens

    Good hardware suppliers

    Is there a list of hardware suppliers anywhere that are known to comply with the EULA and offer refunds to customers refusing the Windows license? Information on suppliers who do offer it would be very useful. Armed with this information, then the customers and market can decide. I suspect Dell is not alone in acting like this?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Sure there is

      Here's the list:

      And there you have it. A complete list of computer manufacturers who fulfill their legal obligation to refund the cost of Windows without getting the courts involved. The good news is that the courts consistently side with the consumers on these cases.

  54. Goat Jam

    Consumer Disobedience

    Maybe a grassroots campaign of ordering PC's, rejecting the EULAs and returning the shit to Dell might wake them up to reality.

  55. Joel Mansford

    Just ask for a laptop with no OS !?

    I'm on my fourth Dell laptop each time I dealt with business sales and asked for no OS. I guess if you're after a 'home' machine then it may be more difficult but I've always found them happy to supply Latitudes with no OS.

    See I have an MSDN and MS Action Pack subscription so have no need to buy another copy of the OS.

    1. LaeMing

      Business customers only

      My workplace gets them no-OS too as we have a site licence for MS stuff. Trying to get this as a normal consumer is not possible AFAIK.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      AND you have MSDN, Dell probably have a clause for that in their contract with MS.

      Come back when, as a consumer, you can buy a Dell PC that is not infested with Windows. And I do not count their crapppy Ubuntu netbook as a viable option.



    I thought that computer manufacturers were legally forbidden from bundling Windows on a PC without the option of a refund because Windows was a monopoly OS and the bundling allowed shady back-room deals from Microsoft and prevented healthy competition.

    I though that was why the line about returning the OS for a refund was in the EULA.

    Anyone know for sure?

  57. benoit


    Why are you buying a Dell?

  58. M man

    cough up dell...

    just sent the free-tard his £0.00 cheque!

  59. Vince

    Yes, there is value in it. Precisely £0. So nothing to refund.

    Of course if Dell say they're offering a PC for £200 with Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB RAM, 160GB Drive, DVD-RW Drive, Mini Tower Case etc and they don't offer an option to "remove" Windows (which they normally don't) then there is effectively no direct cost for Windows. If the PC can be readily ordered with no windows then it is a little different since there is a clear "component part" to it.

    If it cannot be shown that the vendor of a product offers is a standalone option (in this sense Dell is the vendor for windows in the same way they're the vendor for the memory, drive etc and offering it on a "all or nothing" basis) it is in fact inclusive (not free), but there is £0 value attached, and therefore nothing to refund.

    There is case law on this.

    Of course if you call Dell and ask them to ship you a PC sans windows, they will, and do. What this gets you in reduced price or not is pretty much down to your bartering skills and sales chimp.

    However more importantly, if you just avoid buying Dell (never a bad thing) and buy hardware from someone else that doesn't bundle it, then it no longer matters. The key here is not buying a machine with something you don't want. There is choice, go elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Tied down

      It gets even worse than that. Dell systems are actually _tied down_ to Windows. See that Media home button? It boots into a stripped down copy of the NT kernel with Cyberlink PowerCinema sloppily slapped onto it that resides on a separate partition. Want to make it boot into Splashtop instead? It's theorically possible, but afaik no one has done it.

    2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Windows has a direct cost

      "Of course if Dell say they're offering a PC for £200 with Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB RAM, 160GB Drive, DVD-RW Drive, Mini Tower Case etc and they don't offer an option to "remove" Windows (which they normally don't) then there is effectively no direct cost for Windows."

      Yes there is. Look up another model where they have an option of Windows or not, and do the math. That's the "value" of Windows. I mean, if some models let you order them with a no drive, a CD drive, or a DVD drive, and a second model only ships with a DVD it doesn't mean the DVD is worth $0 -- it's easy to compare the price of a "no CD" and a "DVD" model and see what the DVD drive is worth. The difference being, Windows has a EULA requiring Dell to take Windows back and refund it while the DVD drive doesn't.

    3. Mark 65


      Not sure you can get away with this if you had to pay MS for the license. If Dell made the OS then this would indeed be the case. However they don't, they pay Microsoft for it and so a price/value of £0 cannot be attributed. If MS EULA says the cost will be refunded then Dell must refund the cost. They didn't pay zero to MS hence money is due.

    4. Rod MacLean

      RE: Yes, there is value in it. Precisely £0. So nothing to refund.

      Yep, windows is worth £0 - it's rubbish.

  60. Eldnah

    No more recommending Dell until this is reversed

    I was planning on assisting a friend in purchasing a Dell laptop online tomorrow. Not any more. Maybe they just saved themselves from having to give a refund for a bloated, overpriced malware magnet. But they've lost a sale of a laptop tomorrow, and many recommendations (and personal purchases) I might have made in the future.

    Dell FAIL.

  61. criscros

    I'm waiting for my FREE™ Windows copy

    Nope. Still nothing.

    Don't really want one, tbh.

  62. elderlybloke

    No Dell for me or any brand

    I just selected what Motherboard , PSU, CPU etc I want in the white box and my trusty computer man popped them in for me.

    I don't anticipate ever buying anything from Dell.

  63. Solomon Grundy

    Bundling & Vendor Selection

    As 100+ comments on this article have stated over and over again, the PC vendor is different than the OS vendor.

    A decent analogy is an automobile. Hundreds of separate vendors are involved in building and supplying all the components of a car but at the end of the day you are paying for the complete car, not its individual components. You are paying for all the engineering, process analysis, etc... that goes into the complete package (bundle) you purchased. For example I absolutely despise the side mirrors on my car but I don't expect to be able to remove them and request a refund from Audi. I bought a pre-configured car, if a part of that car fails then I expect the vendor to make it right, but I don't expect them to refund my money because a specific part of the bundle wasn't what I wanted.

    If you don't like the bundle a vendor is offering then choose another vendor. That's what purchasing and customer education is all about. Pick the vendor that offers the product you want but don't expect someone to change their entire business because you are unhappy with a single component of your bundled purchase.

    1. The BigYin

      A very bad analogy

      Audi will have designed your mirrors and written a spec on how they should work. A contractor (or Audi) will then have made them, and the components that make them up. Same goes for every single piece of the car. Audi write the spec and either make the part, someone else makes the part or someone finds an off-the-shelf part that meets the spec.

      This is not the same with PCs.

      MS are demanding that you have their OS on any PC. Beyond a few very small players, you cannot buy a PC from an OEM without Windows. If I go from Dell to HP to Toshiba to Sony to Acer, I am forced to take Windows. In the car world if I hate Ford engines (say) I can buy Toyota and get a Toyota engine. You just cannot do this in the PC marketplace (business accounts are different, we're not talking about them). It is not possible to choose another vendor and body-swerve the MS Tax.

      If you want to stick with the car analogy, consider the radio. There's usually a choice, heck BMW used to spec sans radio! That's the kind of choice we want and need in the PC marketplace.

      You only get choice from the minor vendors (e.g Morgan in the car world). They can and will meet whatever spec you desire, but you may have to pay a higher price or suffer some inconvenience (less support, less locations, longer delivery time etc etc; not always the case though).

      Dell are, IMHO, wrong not to offer the refund.

      MS are IMHO wrong to force vendors to sell a PC with Windows, vendors should be allowed the "no OS".

      People who bash others for wanting the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE are wrong.

      The USA does not have the balls to step-up to this, so let's see the EU do what's right for consumers and ensure a fairer marketplace.

      Cue the MS shills...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Using the force

        "MS are IMHO wrong to force vendors to sell a PC with Windows, vendors should be allowed the "no OS"."

        Of course, ask Microsoft and they'll tell you that they're not forcing anyone. Whether this is technically true or not - it's very possible that they threaten vendors with sanctions if they don't ship Windows on everything - they presumably have the refund clause to avoid getting into some very hot regulatory water, revisiting old antitrust allegations:

        But this is part of a wider scam: Microsoft are off the hook because their EULA tells you that they supposedly aren't imposing their product on you; Dell and friends are off the hook because they can pretend that they can't read the small print. And all the narrow-minded apologists will fail to see this until, one day, someone will pull a similar trick on them. Then they'll finally get it.

      2. Jolyon

        Shill schmill

        No one is restricting your right to choose.

        What you are objecting to is not getting something non-standard for as low a price as something standard.

        If Dell or Microsoft are not meeting their obligations then they can be made to come into line - this is a matter of law not principle.

      3. Jim in Hayward
        Thumb Up

        This is why I switched to a Mac 10 years ago.

        I don't want to support Microsoft. My only option (other than building it myself) was to go Apple.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      PC Vendor is the OS Vendor....

      "As 100+ comments on this article have stated over and over again, the PC vendor is different than the OS vendor."

      Ah but the PC vendor IS the OS vendor too, you see Dell is responsible for all technical support for the Dell version of Windows that is installed on their machines. All Dell really has to do is refund the value of the O/S (which might actually be a paltry sum on a per-unit basis) and have the customer acknowledge that software technical support is not available to him.

      The car analog doesn't work.

  64. RW

    Small claims court?

    Since the amount at stake is probably under the limit for going to small claims court, that might be a useful route to follow in countries that have such courts. It's supposed to be lawyer-free, btw.

    The amusing sequel comes when Dell ignores the judgement you will get against them; you then sic the bailiffs on them and have a truck or an office building seized to be auctioned off to pay the judgement.

    1. Jacqui

      winding up order

      AFAICR Wrong! - when they ignore the SCC judgement you move on to a winding up order.

      You can ask the court to infer by thier failure to pay the judgement that they cannot pay and as such should be wound up. A winding up order is issued and they have so many days to pay you and prove they have done so before their bank accounts are frozen and receivers are called in.

      In the case of the gent who took a certain mobile phone company to court to get his 50UKP back, he decided that just after the winding up order was instigated was a good time to go on holiday (stopped answering the door and phone). Note that simply posting a cheque does not satify the court they have paid thier debt - they have to get your signature to that effect.

      He said it is so much fun to have a nast corp running aroud like a headless chickens trying to track you down for your signature...


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Online claim...

      It is indeed very easy to make a 'small claim' online in the UK - simply go here...

      It only costs £25 and is indeed lawyer free, in most cases where there is any reasonable basis for a claim (as there most certainly is here) the defendant will either fail to respond in time (meaning you win, known as judgement by default) or they will settle without prejuice before it goes to an actual court where theyd be forced to pay lawyers and turn up in person.

      I used this method to get a refund out of PayPal (they settled without prejudice for mu full claimed amount + my £25 costs) when a Hong Kong seller refused to refund a knock-off item and PayPal (as usual) tried to wriggle out of honouring their guarantee.

      (If the defendant is large company then getting your lolly should be no problem, however, it could be considerably more difficult to actually get a resulting court order enforced against a private individual or sole trader for example.)

  65. Orionds

    Other brands to consider

    I recently bought (and typing on it now) a new mini-notebook for US$100 cheaper as it came pre-installed with Ubuntu 8.10. It's an Olevia X13D-815HK with 2G ram, 250G HD, dual-core AMD L325 cpu.

    I'm absolutely delighted with it. With my older notebook, I could not get function-key compatibility with my BenQ projector. Now, I can through the HDMI link. I can view my desktop + video at the same time on the notebook and via the projector at the same time. With XP in my older notebook, I could view a video on the projector only when the notebook LCD was off.

    Search for brands that offer you a choice of Linux or Windows. This is better because you know for sure that the hardware will be fully compatible with Linux. I had a bit of bother with the wi-fi because it was a newer version to the driver included in Ubuntu. However, a search of the Ubuntu forums directed me to a PPA that had the driver. Ever since then, it has been plain sailing.

    More and more brands from Asia are including Linux in their offerings.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    What your language!

    "recently tried the same Windows rejection trick."

    Excuse me, this isn't some sort of scam to get free money, it's a legally supported move by a consumer!

    Come on, better choice of words next time eh?

  67. Fred 24

    Naked Computers

    For people who like to say “No Thanks!” to proprietary operating systems

    These guys will get my next domestic order!

  68. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. bluesxman

      You build your own laptops?

      Colour me impressed.

    2. Arclight


      I'm geeky enough to build my own, and most of the PC's I've owned have been made by, case n'all. But I haven't done for a few years now, as its simply cheaper to buy them already assembled.

      1. Jolyon


        Its simply cheaper to buy them already assembled *with Windows bundled*.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Oh dear! Geek attack from the basement!

      Listen Mr Know-it-All, some off us happen to like realtively good design and pukka hardware in one box, if the option is legally available to dump the MS tax, then so be it.

      I use to build all my own kit, but then got a life and let me tell you, after a hard day slaving over other people's PCs and assorted software/hardware problems at work, I simply want to go home and chill by switching on hardware that works without fault and and O/S that doesn't cack itself at the sight of a new device!

      I know quite a few Windows and Unix admins, very talented ones, where I am, that swear by Macs and OSX for home use, even using Apple laptops in preference to their tools-of-trade, the reason? Same as quoted above, we need to switch off and use kit that actually works, if not then have someone to shout ourselves, just like our users do to us!

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take a chill pill.

    If the Genious customer had ordered a netbook with Linux, he wouldn't have to get the Windows version. Dell has that option available, the Ubuntu version is £199, the Win7 is £229, but once you order Windows, that's what you get. How hard is that to understand?

    He's just a cheap bstrd trying to cut some cost....

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      I kind of agree...

      Maybe he thought instead of saving £30 he could buy it with Se7en and get the full OS price refunded, I assuming that he was going to return the Windows key stuck on the bottom of his machine in an "as new" condition as well? Dell (and every other OEM) get very little on every sale of "OS" included if they are going to process a return for something that wasn't even priced separately any profit made would be gone, can't blame them really, that said, maybe if there's more demand for "bare machines" then they'll start doing them, but I guess the demand isn't significant enopugh yet.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Check the one to the right..

    It has Ubuntu, no?

    And is cheaper, right?

    Problem solved then?

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Shock story

    Man buys computer, man doesn't want to use windows.

    Maybe sanity is contagous and soon the curse of windows will be over. Here's hoping!

  72. Mike Imrie

    My conversation with Dell last month

    16:04:28 Customer Mike Imrie Initial Question/Comment: Choice of operating system

    16:05:03 System You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat

    16:05:03 System System Connected with Bhanu_Koduru

    16:05:08 Customer Mike Imrie Hi

    16:05:18 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Hi

    16:05:28 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Thank you for contacting Dell Sales Chat. This is Bhanu, your Sales Advisor. Please give me a moment while I review your query. In order to Help you better can you provide me with your email address and Telephone number in case we get Disconnected I can call

    16:05:33 Agent Bhanu_Koduru How can I help you

    16:06:08 Customer Mike Imrie I'm a proud owner of a number of Dell systems, and each of them runs Linux. My question is, how do I buy a system from you, without paying for software I don't want?

    16:07:28 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Can I know your requirement and which machine are you looking at ?

    16:08:26 Customer Mike Imrie Anything. I have needs for mini-netbooks, laptops and desktop systems.

    16:09:08 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Ok.......Let me inform you that we cannot degrade any system

    16:09:25 Customer Mike Imrie degrade?

    16:10:23 Agent Bhanu_Koduru means if any comes with the specs online we cannot take it out any specs

    16:10:48 Customer Mike Imrie So, which systems do you sell that don't come with Windows?

    16:11:18 Agent Bhanu_Koduru We dont have any machine without OS

    16:11:44 Customer Mike Imrie Which systems do you sell that come with a Linux OS?

    16:12:43 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Let me check for you

    16:18:14 Agent Bhanu_Koduru We dont have any machine with the Linux OS

    16:18:34 Customer Mike Imrie er, what about

    16:20:14 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Do you want the mini netbook ?

    16:20:45 Customer Mike Imrie I want to know what other products you sell with a Linux (Ubuntu) OS

    16:21:19 Agent Bhanu_Koduru

    Bhanu_Koduru pushes page,

    16:21:29 Agent Bhanu_Koduru Only this netbook has the Linux OS

    16:21:57 Customer Mike Imrie Why no other systems?

    16:23:14 Agent Bhanu_Koduru It is not available at the moment although it is mentioned on the technical specs of Precisions Desktops

    16:23:33 Customer Mike Imrie OK, Thanks for your help.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Does this mean that I can contact Dell and get a free copy of Windows 7?

    If not then it's part of the cost and can be removed / refunded as necessary - as per the EULA.

    Of course, if they're saying the licence doesn't apply and they're authorised to make such statements on behalf of Microsoft then that's a whole different ball game...........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "If not then it's part of the cost and can be removed / refunded as necessary - as per the EULA"

      The EULA only says that not agreeing to it and returning the software unused is a valid case for a refund, i.e. Microsoft will refund the reseller for it as if it were faulty. Dell however CAN and apparently DO choose not to refund separate components of their products just the whole product, i.e. if you do not agree to the EULA Dell can choose to refund the whole item on its return and still abide by the EULA.

      They would only be breaking the law if they refused to refund the software license AND refused to accept not agreeing with the EULA as a reason to refund the whole item.

      In terms of the cost they are simply saying there is no associated cost with the license i.e. they are not going to tell you the component cost of each system and work out how much to refund, i.e. what is the processor in the same system worth on any particularly day? depends on lots of things right, and Dell would therefore not associate a cost to that either for a particular system at any time. That is what they mean, they look at the total cost of building a machine and sell it at the appropriate price, end of story.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        No more word games.

  74. John G nolet

    The OS should be an option on all Dell Computers

    If Dell does not want to refund peoples and deal with this angst Dell should start offering Linux and naked system (No OS) for every computer configuration they have and make it cheaper. If you make the OS an option and show the real cost of Windows peoples who pick Windows would have done so by choice. You will not have to waste customers supports paid time on dealing with Linux users who want their refund! Off course MS would freak out but you're freaking Dell! Microsoft is suppose to be your bitch not the other way around!

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      And this would be the board discussion....

      We've decided to sell bare metal machines as an option now, our Desktop machines cost £500 with windows 7 and we think it would be good to let customers de -select the OS...

      <some time later>

      Yes we've done it, and now the no OS price has been held to £500 and the Win 7 price is £530, a success I think....

      <blank looks from rest of board>

      Although we've had to increase our stock storage and picking, re-negotiate with our disk supplier to provide imagaged and non imaged disks, increased and re-trained sales and technical staff, accepted extra returns from people who didn't know they needed an OS or couldn't install anything else due to lack of technical knowlege or the face that netbooks don't come with CD drives changed our testing for OS and non OS machines we've really kept the costs down, oh and of course now we have been recieving complaints that we don't host all the Linux drivers for the hardware and most of the non OS machines end up with Linux installed our customers expect us to host the drivers and updates.

      Windows may not be everybodies favourite, but defaulting to the most popular operating system and not offering another (nor even none) is cheaper for Dell and therefore cheaper for the customer, the reason why Dell (and other large manufacturers) can sell a lot of kit for a reasonable price is purely down to "box shifting" economies of scale, selling bare machines (as well) would cost more overall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Economies of scale?

        "Although we've had to increase our stock storage and picking, re-negotiate with our disk supplier to provide imagaged and non imaged disks, increased and re-trained sales and technical staff, accepted extra returns from people who didn't know they needed an OS or couldn't install anything else due to lack of technical knowlege or the face that netbooks don't come with CD drives changed our testing for OS and non OS machines we've really kept the costs down, oh and of course now we have been recieving complaints that we don't host all the Linux drivers for the hardware and most of the non OS machines end up with Linux installed our customers expect us to host the drivers and updates."

        Although there are some valid points about logistics, it isn't always the case (or may not even be the case generally) that the OS is ready to use upon first power-up. Thus, for machines with CD/DVD/USB ports, it's entirely possible to supply boot media and not image any disks at all. As for updates and support, vendors could quite easily nominate others to provide that, just as they do right now with Microsoft.

        "Windows may not be everybodies favourite, but defaulting to the most popular operating system and not offering another (nor even none) is cheaper for Dell and therefore cheaper for the customer, the reason why Dell (and other large manufacturers) can sell a lot of kit for a reasonable price is purely down to "box shifting" economies of scale, selling bare machines (as well) would cost more overall."

        Sure, testing the kit with Windows and knowing it works allows them to ship the same kit in large quantities, but you only have to do that with one instance of that kit, and then the price of verification dissolves into near nothing as the volume increases. You're implying that testing some Linux variants is either obscenely expensive that it significantly affects the per-unit cost, or that such testing somehow stops being effective when some random number of units is exceeded, which is absurd. And you're also suggesting that manufacturers are adding super secret sauce when most of them are just using what Intel and partners suggest, much of which probably won't involve a serious amount of additional verification work, and most of which can probably be contracted out to the people doing the real engineering.

        The perverse thing about arguments claiming that it's too complicated for vendors can be trivially undermined by observing that for various enterprise models, Dell already supports Linux. Such arguments, just like those which assert that no-one is really being harmed or that "it's only a few quid", are unfortunate reminders that many people can't be bothered to think further than their own immediate personal convenience, happily throwing issues like choice or competition overboard if they can get what *they* want.

        1. No, I will not fix your computer

          Re: Economies of scale?

          You weren't meant to take my board discussion as anything but an illustration, I'll summarise;

          Adding a new option, piece of kit, configuration will always increase the cost of logistics, while it may be counter-intuitive to think that a "bare" machine will cost the same or more, you have to consider the size of the market (i.e. the profit) of holding an extra product line (for each machine). Dell have chosen to use pre-imaged disks, this is obviously a financial benefit to them, they buy the disks with the image on (for only a few cents per unit more), no need to distibute media, this may only save a few $, but no packing, picking, stock all adds up.

          There's also the indirect costs, Dell will be expected to hold Linux drivers, expected to answer questions about installing on to a bare machine, they *could* refuse, but what if the USB, network card, screen driver doesn't work, is it the driver or is it the hardware, they will be expected to have an answer or expect a return, look how good their Windows support is, put in a tag reference and you get a list of drivers for optimum stability (for your exact machine), should they do this for Linux or say "you're on your own, no warranty for bare machines", either way they couldn't win.

          Finally, how much do they actually make on an OS? $10, $20, $50 I suspect (although don't know) that they make very little on each licence, which brings us all the way back to the point, would the extra cost of supplying another line (and all it's associated costs) be more than the the money they make on selling a machine with Windows?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This would be the case in a perfect world

      This would be/should be so but a little bird in my head tweats that the contract between Dell and M$ is quite handcuffing, for Dell (something to the effect you will sell only our crapware, except for a couple of crippled models, and they WILL be more expensive than the Crapware laden kit; violate this and you can kiss your OEM windows pricing goodbye) and then hiding it under that favorite device of all mega-corps, and NDA agreement.

  75. pctechxp

    why most manufacturers don't sell 'naked' systems

    1. They cant test the assembled system that easily before shipping.

    2. Support for bleeding edge hardware in Linux is flaky at best.

    3. Customers would not be happy to receive hardware that is dead on arrival because it wasn't burn-in tested.

    1. Neil 6

      We be burn in

      You don't need an OS installed to burn in, you can just use WinPE or linux from a bootable CD or USB stick and run the burn in tools.

      Or in Dells case, hit the diagnostics button on POST and run the extended tests built right into it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Actually, there are plenty of bootable tools for "burn-in testing" a system, if Dell even does test each and every one of their systems before shipping, which I sincerely doubt. So you're talking complete FUD on those two counts.

      As for "bleeding edge hardware" in a Dell. Don't make me laugh.

      The real reason they don't sell computers without an OS is because Microsoft would spank them silly.

    3. The BigYin


      ...let the consumer make it. Anyway, the burn in tests will be done from the "support" partition they image on to the drives. Only a complete moron would remove that as tech. support will want you to have gone through some tests to get error codes etc for hardware issues.

      Still no need for the machine to be infected with a full Windows deployment.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      You guys crease me up!

      Dell? Test? You think they test them? Ha ha! Funny!

      They flash the HDs with a standard WinXp/Vista/7 image, shove the HD into a pre-made case of kit, box it up and send it to the customer! No one tests the kit other than simply powering on the system to ensure it won't be DOA!

      Testing! Funny stuff!

  76. Arclight

    Here goes

    At the risk of being torn apart for sticking up for the eebil Dell, if you buy a windows based PC you can hardly complain when you recieve a PC with windows on it.

    Its like buying a new car, then a week later asking them to take the seats back because you've decided you don't like the colour, and have found the ones you want at another dealer.

    Don't want windows? Don't buy a PC with windows installed. Seems pretty straight forward to me

    1. The BigYin


      "Its like buying a new car, then a week later asking them to take the seats back because you've decided you don't like the colour, and have found the ones you want at another dealer."

      Another bad analogy. The problem in the consumer PC market is that all the seats are blue, for every major manufacturer. THERE IS NO REAL CHOICE! Dell offer NO REAL CHOICE (one shitty netbook does not count). Nor to HP, Toshiba, Sony etc.

      I'll type this slowly so people can keep up.






      1. steve 44

        Maybe i'm slow.........

        But i've just googled "linux laptop" in shopping and immeadiately found lenovo, acer, asus and HP laptops with linux pre-installed. Maybe if you look for a linux laptop, you will actually find a linux laptop. So there is real choice.

        I'll type this slowly so you can keep up.





        1. The BigYin

          Show me the links

          C'mon, so me the links. I ahve asked time and again on here for links to the ACTUAL PRODUCT and NO ONE can provide them

          I know the HP is a lie, because I have tried. Yeah, you'll get Google results but they go no where, or they vanish into the quagmire of USA business account handling. Urgh. UK site, consumer device; prove it.

          I would LOVE to be wrong.

        2. The BigYin

          Oh, and those links?

          Show them to "proper" systems, not to the single, crippled version of some netbook that they may sell as a pathetic PR stunt.

          1. steve 44

            You use a velvet glove, i'll use chainmail gauntlet



            Next idiotic comment? Pretty sure neither of these are netbooks, nor crippled. And hp offers several probooks with linux on them. It's not my fault if you are too stupid to use google, but maybe you shouldn't post comments on here before you learn?

            And just in case you think these are home made versions, here's a page from hp's own site


            So, i'll take an apology as soon as you can get your head out of your a$$

        3. Arclight


          There are plenty of companies who give you the option of buying a PC without an OS installed. But as someone previously said, you also have the option of building your own.

          Just because the major players cater to what most of the PC public wants doesn't mean there aren't companies feeding the niche market.

          By the same token, personally I can't see why Dell don't offer the choice, as they offer the opportunity to tailor build your own PC, so surely an OS option should be do-able.

        4. The BigYin

          Caught you out Steve.

          I just did as you suggested - no results (beyond a few components).

          C'mon Steve 44, put your money where your mouth is and show me the hard links (UK site, consumer device, any Linux distro, direct from HP, Sony, Tosh, ANY major OEM).

          Or I can only conclude you are in serious error with reality.

          1. steve 44

            Not so smart, are ya?

            I did post something with three links in, guess moderators didn't like it.

            Try this one


            Look in the opearting system options. Pretty sure "SUSE LINUX" is a linux operating system. Can't be sure though.

            Try harder.

            1. The BigYin

              @Not so smart, are ya?

              Thanks for proving me right. Those links go no where. Yes, the first page shows SUSE for some notebooks. Now, click on the clink for one of them (say the 4710s), SUSE no longer an option. So then you select "All models". Still no SUSE.

              I can't find the page where I can actually BUY this laptop.

              AND this is appears to be a business device.

              This is exactly what I was going on about - thank you again for helping me prove it.

          2. steve 44

            Mods hate me

            Tried posting several links, but the mods aren't letting them through.

            Try going to the hp website, even the uk one, and looking at the probooks. Do you know what you will find as an operating system option? Suse Linux. Shock horror.

            Will be here, waiting for my apology.

            1. The BigYin

              @Mods hate me

              No apology forthcoming, there is still no link to a page where a consumer can buy a PC from a major OEM either naked or with a non-MS OS. I know there are landing pages for business customers, but they lead no where if you want to buy on-line.

              Dell's singular offering does not count as a real choice in my book.

              That leaves Joe Schmoe with no viable choice other than Windows (tech savvy users can always get what they want (either going to a niche retailer or DIY), but I am not thinking about them).

              Don't misunderstand; I want to be proven wrong, I want people to have a choice, I want to issue that apology/thanks for getting a link.

              It's not happened yet.

              And yes, I have been looking too. I can find Linux systems from other sources, but again that is not what I am talking about. I am pretending to be the average consumer going to the "household names". When you do that it Windows or nothing.

            2. C-N
              Thumb Down

              re: waiting for my apology.

              Don't hold your breath.

        5. C-N

          You are slow

          If you'd actually attempted to purchase a laptop with Linux on it; you'd have noticed that the models available are a small crappy subset of the ones available with Windows.

    2. John Bailey


      So what happens if you buy a car, and decide to install a nice set of luxury leather bucket seats?

      Are you obliged to keep or destroy the original seats?

      Or.. Can you whack em up on Ebay and get a few quid back.

      Or.. Can you leave them on the kerb, free to a good home.

      Or.. Can you put them on Freecycle, Loot or any other means of getting someone to take the things away and put them to some use?

      Because this is the big difference between a car part and Windows. You can at least give the car part away. You can't do anything with Windows. Including giving it away.. These days, you don't even get a copy of the install disk.

    3. Craigness

      Don't want

      If you don't want windows, you buy windows and ask the retailer for a refund. That has always been the way. It doesn't become an idiot strategy just because someone changed the rules without telling anyone. Only now that we know the new rules does it become an idiot strategy. New strategy: shop elsewhere.

      Penguin because I'm running Linux on a (never windowized) Dell.

  77. Anonymous Coward


    Every laptop I have used that has failed in some way has always had the word Dell written on it - don't buy shite

  78. Anonymous Coward

    Cods Wallop

    If its free, can I have a copy of W7 Pro?

  79. Magnus_Pym

    Buy and return?

    Some people have suggested ordering a machine from Dell and returning it under the EULA conditions just to piss them off. They would be much more pissed off (and it is more likely to take place) If everyone called Dell and offered to buy a laptop then decline when they will not supply one without a Windows licence.

    It would appear on the sales figures as 'lost sales' and be a much larger figure than refunds would be likely to reach.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They may not have a leg to stand on...

    ... Unfortunantly, when you go looking for win7 eula from Microsoft, available at :

    Then, when you make the choice of:

    From manufacturer


    home basic (or any based on multiple random checks)


    then wait for the pdf to load, it seems that the eula shows:

    "By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed."

    So unless it has changed since this started, its up to the manufacturer/installer to decide if they will give a refund or not.

    It does not say "If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit."

    This appears to only apply if you purchase as "packaged" software (buy the software separately in its own box it may appear) or from Microsoft directly.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another car analogy - Yay!

    Imagine a car company, that only makes and sells diesel cars. You like the look, and build of these cars, but want a petrol version.

    You ask them to supply you one without an engine, because you want to fit it with a diesel engine yourself. How likely is this to happen? It will impact their production, they couldn;t service it, provide a warranty etc.

    Once you've bought the diesel version, you can replace the engine if you choose, but don;t expect the company to take it back and refund you. But you wouldn't expect the company to be forced to offer you one without, or offer a petrol version.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Just because you've seen some terrible car analogies is no excuse to make your own. Stop it.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Another car analogy ... why?

      That's a great analogy for buying x86 and complaining that it's not RISC. Substitute seat covers for engine and your analogy might work.

    3. mfraz
      Thumb Down

      Another car analogy - Yay!

      Except that you are free to sell that diesel engine on to someone else, but you can't do anything with the copy of Win whatever that you don't want not even give it away for free.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So return the whole system as defection and unusable

    I makes sense to return the entire system, as it defective and unusable if you don't accept the EULA -- ask Dell for a system without this defect.

  83. Martyn Welch

    What to do?

    Ask Dell via their on-line chat why they don't provide Linux or FreeDOS on PCs in the UK. They seem to offer many in the US, but not the UK.

    The more that ask, the greater the apparent demand...

  84. D 13
    Gates Halo

    Now that news

    of the EULA discrepancy has broke the public will immediately reject Microsoft and embrace Linux.

    Sorry boys, but it's just not going to happen.

    Everyone's heard of linux, some of us have given it a try and it's OK, but no thanks. There isn't going to be a great awakening of the masses, most people are going to stick with Windows even if it does cost them money, and will never move to Linux.

    Time to move on. Spend a bit more time on your social skills or personal hygiene, you'll find it a lot more productive in the long run.

  85. Anonymous Coward

    Get Over It!

    I'm not reading all the posts that have gone before: I've heard it all before.

    Don't expect pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap suppliers (though with Dell, really not SO cheap, but that's besides the point) to make exceptions for geeks. He may be in good company in these forums - and those of other nerdy publications - but he's in one tiny, tiny minority since PCs became so commoditised.

    He should view the cost of Windows embedded in his laptop purchase as a geek tax instead of trying to stick it to the man by quoting their EULA back at them. And if the paying for it irks him so bad then find out in advance what the policy is before buying (though we all really know that he knew he would have a fight on his hands before he even started, and was relishing the thought!)

  86. Andrew 42

    Dell and Linux - they were once the good guys...

    There was a brief window last year when Dell sold proper laptops in the UK (Inspiron 1525) with Ubuntu pre-installed. I was in the market for a laptop, so snapped one up. And I am quite happy with it.

    But then within about three months they stopped selling them. Perhaps too many people were ordering them, and Microsoft put a stop to it? Their Linux offering shrank to one under-spec'ed netbook.

    One ray of hope that I see is the Google operating system. Chrome OS doesn't sound like it would suit me, but I would be more than happy to buy a machine what that on it, and wipe it for my own OS install of choice. Yes, I know that Google will one day be regarded as we now regard Microsoft, but buying their operating system right now would not leave as bad a taste in my mouth.

  87. slooth

    forgot i need a title...sorry, its mr

    I don't see the hoo-haa here. If you don't want Windows, put something else on the machine. you can sell the license to an unsuspecting friend for more than the "zero" dollars, pounds or euros you paid Dell to put it on 'your' machine.

    Just remember..... 'your laptop/pc will be more expensive if it came without the 'subsidised microshite software pre-installed.

    And cheer up dammit! It's weekend!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The hoo-haa, here it is.

      The hoo-haa is that every time one of us basement dwellers wants a new laptop, we, in effect, pay a portion of its cost to Microsoft. It's called "The Microsoft Tax" Imagine if the situation were reversed.

      No, I am not at all certain that I may legally sell my surplus Windows license in that case. Nor would I want to. Pretend for a moment that I object to Microsoft products on ethical grounds.

      "Just remember..... 'your laptop/pc will be more expensive if it came without the 'subsidised microshite software pre-installed."

      Wat? I've been trolled, haven't I? You aren't really that thick; are you?

  88. bdoe

    Way to go, Dell!

    Thank you for providing yet ANOTHER reason to not buy Dell!

    So, let me make sure I have this straight: By "free", does this mean Dell does not have to pay Microsoft for each license they install and sell? Or does this mean Dell is very graciously not passing the cost on to their customers?

  89. steogede

    Have and Eat?

    To my mind Mr Drake wants to have his cake and eat it - it's not enough to have (dons fireproof suit) a better operating system installed on his system, he wants to cash as well.

    Okay he has a point when he says that Dell are (almost certainly) incorrect when they say the OS was free - however, we don't know exactly how much they pay Microsoft. If Dell were to turn around and say "Here is your 1p refund sir, please don't spend it all at once", how could he prove that he was entitled to more for (dons suit again) that worthless pile of steaming shite. After all you don't buy dog food and tell them that you want a refund for the consequent turds.

  90. shmerl

    Cases of Windows tax refund by Dell

    Any claims by Dell reps that previous refunds of Windows tax were a mistake are an outright lie.

    See for details about other cases and the overview of the Windows tax problem in general.

  91. apexwm
    Thumb Down

    Hopefully Dell will get the message...

    That there are users out there that DON'T WANT WINDOWS. It's being shoved down our throats. How simple is it to sell a computer with NO OPERATING SYSTEM? Clearly Microsoft has their hands on this one, they have worked out a deal with Dell so that Dell is essentially forced to sell PCs with Windows. And the whole story about Windows costing zero is fake. Windows is and has never been FREE. Somebody is paying for it, and you can bet it's not Dell. The cost of the Windows operating system is being passed along to the customer, you can count on that.

    The other posters that are questioning the Windows Tax refund need to know that yes Dell DOES offer Ubuntu on selected systems. But... when you compare the machine specs to the same system with Windows, the system with Windows is cheaper. Windows costs money, Ubuntu Linux is free. Do the math, something is wrong here.

  92. shrdlu

    Oooh Windows 7 is free

    If there's no exchange of consideration then there's no contract. If there's no contract there's no license agreement.

  93. Matt Hawkins

    Why Bother?

    Dell don't want to offer refunds because they would have to admit how much Windows actually costs. It probably isn't a lot. $10? $20?

    When you get a bundled copy of Windows on some hardware it might as well be free because when the hard drive fails you should consider it gone.

    Better off just formatting the laptop on arrival and choosing a proper operating system. Either a proper retail copy of Windows or Linux.

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