back to article Sony wins case over pre-installed Windows software

Selling a computer with pre-installed software is not an unfair commercial practice and there is no requirement to list the costs of the software, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled. The CJEU, Europe's highest court, was ruling on a case between Vincent Deroo-Blanquart and Sony. Deroo-Blanquart bought …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    "The national court will have to decide whether, when a consumer has been informed before the sale "that the model of computer is not marketed without pre-installed software and that he is therefore free to choose another model of computer, of another brand, with similar technical specifications and sold without software, the ability of that consumer to make an informed transactional decision was appreciably impaired," the CJEU said."

    But what if there aren't any? More or less it's impossible to find such brands, so does that change the decision?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't supply them without an OS as there isn't a huge demand for non-OS installed PCs. Then again you use to be able to order from online retailers without an OS if it was a build in-house PC.

      However most people doing that would more likely have just built the PC themselves anyway. Only mass produced computer that didn't come with a pre-installed OS would be the Raspberry Pi I guess.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        However most people doing that would more likely have just built the PC themselves anyway.

        Not if you wanted a laptop. A desktop PC I can build myself, but not a laptop.

        1. Eddy Ito

          @alain williams Sure, you can easily buy a barebones laptop and mod it.

          Granted it's a bit harder of late as manufacturers are becoming more enamoured with glue.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Sure, you can easily buy a barebones laptop and mod it."

            There's a bit of a giveaway in the article linked to. The OS was Vista. That article was written a long while ago. Things have become tighter since then but there are still the sort of options available at vendors such as https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/

            The main difference of desktop vs laptop is that the former has a range of cases to take standard components whilst the latter has to have a good proportion of the components, especially the mother board, designed around the case which itself is styled as much as designed. When you don't have a choice of motherboard there's a limited amount of options available to you.

            A laptop case designed to take the latest thin mini-itx boards would be a good start.

        2. Shane McCarrick

          Why not a laptop?

          I've put together around 20 in the last year- I've settled on a fairly standard configuration- makes it easier to troubleshoot/replace parts that fail (a few bits do fail here and there).

          You can pick up laptop chasis fairly cheaply online- and get the components whereever you like........

          If you want a top-notch laptop- it doesn't make sense to build it yourself- however, if you want to kit out 12 or 14 reasonable specc'ed machines for a teacher training college in the arse-end of Kenya- its very doable, and cheap (providing you keep back a few generations).

          I was building 2-3 computers a week back in the early 90s- before Dell really took off over this side of the pond- nice little earner it was too. Went into networking/storage/data-recovery then for a few years, when I couldn't compete with Dell any longer (yes- I'm one of those whose eyes glaze over with happy memories of the K6-2-500)- before getting out of computers altogether for a decade- and now put together laptops for charities/not-for-profits.........

          I initially just reconditioned Panasonic toughbooks- and HP Elitebooks- before going off the reservation and putting them together from scratch........

          No reason at all not to put a laptop together- if you want to- its a little more challenging than a desktop- but very satisfying at the same time. Major issue is not people's technical ability- its their ability to do it cheaper than the mainstream manufacturers- when you can have a fool pointing at a cheap Lenovo G570 and ask why your machine costs so much more- its just not worth it- but some people do appreciate virtually bullet proof, rock solid kit- and a friendly person who will be on the phone to troubleshoot it if something does go wrong.

          Yes- I have done troubleshooting over satellite phone with warzones on a few occasions- and have framed letters from a few media organisations and from one military- thanking me for going the extra mile for them.............

          Its a pity there aren't more old school techies around- we're dwindling in number by the day.......

          1. illiad

            It gets even worse for some big companies.. they will not finance *any* place to buy new kit from!!

            the 'management' is running scared of 'not Microsoft' things, can only buy from 'acredited' suppliers, etc...

            So us poor techs have to struggle to make it work... :(

        3. TechicallyConfused

          You can buy laptop casings and components now. Not as widely as desktop but you can infact "Build your own" but with far more limited options.

        4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          However most people doing that would more likely have just built the PC themselves anyway.

          Not if you wanted a laptop. A desktop PC I can build myself, but not a laptop.

          I get around this by only using used equipment. I'll get the hardware after some other poor sod has had to deal with MSWin on it, and they fob it off on me once the warranty's done.

        5. BobChip
          Unhappy

          Key purchasing point

          This is surely a fundamental point in the argument. I can't buy a bare desktop off the shelf, but it really does not matter as I can - and have done - easily build one myself.

          It is much harder to find a bare laptop. And as laptops or similar portables are what most users want these days, the practice of selling machines pre-loaded really does restrict consumer choice. Since the court's decision seems to have been based on a presumption of free consumer choice, which in practice does not exist, I suspect that it could be challenged.

          That said, there are a few suppliers out there who will build a laptop for you. The bits must be available from somewhere. Argument for someone to step up and offer to supply DIY laptop kits? Such a machine might not be as slick as a MS Surface, but it would be maintainable, repairable (not glued together for keeps), open to component changes and upgrades, and a damn sight cheaper. It could even run Windows if you really wanted it to

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Only mass produced computer that didn't come with a pre-installed OS would be the Raspberry Pi I guess."

        And I for one would buy a laptop based on a Raspberry Pi 3 compatible motherboard, with no OS included at all.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "And I for one would buy a laptop based on a Raspberry Pi 3 compatible motherboard"

          Seek and ye shall find: https://www.pi-top.com/

        2. illiad

          The 'problem' with Raspberry Pi is the same as most *motherboards* you buy...

          NO HDD

          NO Optical disc drive

          NO keyboard or mouse

          NO power supply

          NO monitor

        3. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re Laptop with Raspberry Pi 3 compatible motherboard,

          There is the Pi-Top which comes with a Pi3 for ~£250 and its own OS (Raspbian modified to use the hardware that the laptop comes with) I'd hope someone comes up with a Superbook (laptop base for phone at $99) but the Pi-Top should take the next version of the Pi which will be pretty damned good I guess - for £30 you can upgrade your laptop!

      3. pakman

        "However most people doing that would more likely have just built the PC themselves anyway. "

        Not true: we use two organisations to source built PC's without an OS (we are a Linux shop, and install the OS ourselves). What you get by doing it this way that you don't get from a self-build is:

        * hardware testing of the assembled system as a whole prior to shipping

        * some kind of warranty/support if there are problems after purchase

        * advice from people who are more knowledgeable than us about potential hardware issues/conflicts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I tried to do this with a fairly well-known PC supplier/builder on the south coast, but the build standards (or lack of) quickly became apparent, when 40% of the PC's had to be returned in the first month due to faults.. What made it worse was rather than fix the machines or replace them onsite, they took them back and spent 2 weeks "testing" them!

          Might have just been a dodgy batch of parts, but I never did this again, we turned to Dell for all future purchases and just simply wipe them on receipt..

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            we turned to Dell for all future purchases and just simply wipe them on receipt..

            Er, why didn't you ask Dell to supply the machines without an OS? They charge less and you don't need to do any wiping. Not €450, but a worthwhile saving nevertheless.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Not sure if it is still true, but Dell used to charge MORE for a box WITHOUT WinDoze installed, even if the spec was exactly the same.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Dell used to charge MORE for a box WITHOUT WinDoze installed"

                Because they experienced higher end user support costs with more issues logged per system - and the cost of developing the OS images, drivers, etc was per system far higher than a Windows system due to economies of scale...

                1. Kiwi
                  Linux

                  "Dell used to charge MORE for a box WITHOUT WinDoze installed"

                  Because they experienced higher end user support costs with more issues logged per system - and the cost of developing the OS images, drivers, etc was per system far higher than a Windows system due to economies of scale...

                  Oh yes mr MS Shill? And your evidence for this (aside from MS marketing lies) is?

                  Oh of course. You have none. Just making it up as you go along.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "Because they experienced higher end user support costs with more issues logged per system"

                  Citation needed. You have made a direct statement, now you need to back it up with evidence.

                  FWIW I look after around 5000 Dell desktops and servers. None run Windows directly (a few virtual Windows instances on the servers though). The only support calls I've ever logged were for genuine hardware failures covered by warranty (hard disks, RAM modules, etc).

                3. nijam

                  > ... and the cost of developing the OS images, drivers, etc ...

                  ...is zero for a machine with no OS. In particular, not higher on any basis, even "per system".

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              just looked at Dell site, half a dozen randomly chosen machines do not offer an OS-free option in the standard shopping flow for consumers.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "just looked at Dell site, half a dozen randomly chosen machines do not offer an OS-free option in the standard shopping flow for consumers."

                Probably because the consumer level kit is full of trail versions of software the suppliers have paid to have pre-installed in the hope enough mugs will pay to "upgrade" to the full versions. This not only negates the price of the OEM Windows install but adds to the profit margin. Lots of suppliers do this, I assume Dell do to. An non-OS version of the same PC/Laptop would likely cost more, not less.

                1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                  Probably because the consumer level kit is full of trail versions of software the suppliers have paid to have pre-installed in the hope enough mugs will pay to "upgrade" to the full versions.

                  The reason according to my friend who works for Dell is rather more mundane. The average purchaser isn't all that bright when it comes to computers; heck, we've all had a few laughs here over some of their misunderstandings. So, average punter purchases the cheapest machine available. Note here that charging more for a machine without Windows + bloatware would not be smart marketing. Average punter then attempts to install Open Office that he/she/it [delete whichever is inapplicable] just purchased for $AU18.95 from eBay, but can't because there's no OS installed. Result = one very pissed off customer.

                  Requiring customers to specifically request there be no OS keeps those who want Windows and those who don't happy. Except for those who are too fucking stupid or lazy to pick up the phone, or use Dell's chat facility to make the request.

            3. TechicallyConfused

              If you are planning to use Windows on the machines then it is most cost effective to have it ship with an OEM license. For all MS volume licensing options there is an assumption that a valid full license is already associated with the machine on purchase.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                For all MS volume licensing options there is an assumption that a valid full license is already associated with the machine on purchase.

                You appear to be claiming that organisations that already have fully licensed machines voluntarily give MS even more money for what they have already paid for. Really? Evidence...

                1. Sandtitz Silver badge
                  Happy

                  "You appear to be claiming that organisations that already have fully licensed machines voluntarily give MS even more money for what they have already paid for. Really? Evidence..."

                  MS FAQ: (this is for Win10, but 'twas the same for earlier versions)

                  "Note that Windows licenses that are available through Volume Licensing are upgrade-only licenses and can only be acquired on top of a base operating system license"

                  'Home' editions are therefore valid licenses and companies with VL usually order their business computers with the non-Pro versions due to being cheaper. HP (for example) offers Windows Home preinstallations but they only support the Pro and Enterprise versions in their business computers.

                  I'm not disputing the money grabbing daftness behind these scheme...

                  1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                    @ Sanditz

                    Well that's much different from when I was involved then. Win95/98 didn't come in Home and Professional versions and Win9x was the standard desktop OS. Those Win95 licenses were certainly not upgrades for machines running Win3.11 because those machines were never available with Win3.11.

                    I suppose WinNT4/Win2k could be construed as a professional upgrade to Win95/98, but I rarely saw them on corporate desktops and given the small numbers involved when I did, unlikely to have been Volume Licenses.

                    Also I attended a Tech Briefing on MS licensing changes in 1997, a memorably boring event. I suspect I would have recalled this requirement of effectively purchasing two licences per machine had it been mentioned. I would have been appalled.

                    The free breakfast was very nice; I recall that. And the free copies of version 8 Corel Wordperfect Suite, CorelDRAW! and Wordperfect for Linux. Sadly, the copy Ventura Publisher was a timeout demo only.

                    How times change...

            4. TheVogon

              "we turned to Dell for all future purchases and just simply wipe them on receipt.."

              Assuming you were not using them as door stops and were buying a reasonable volume, why not just use Dell's factory integration process and have them delivered with the system image of your choice....

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "we turned to Dell for all future purchases and just simply wipe them on receipt.."

            Dell Latitude E6410 laptops were sold in two versions - "W7" or the "N" version with no OS.

      4. Adam JC

        Ebuyer still do this, they sell the 'Zoostorm' range with FreeDOS or no O/S

      5. Dave Howe

        would be impressed

        At someone who can build his own high-end laptop. :D

        However, I think the key here is that he wanted to be paid the cost of a retail copy of windows for not using part of a bundle; during that era, the OS often had negative cost (given the company would be paid to include trial copies of office, antivirus etc which could come to more than the oem cost of the OS ) and many vendors had contracts *requiring* all machines to be preinstalled with the software in order to get a per-copy discount.

        Nothing in this solution stopped him wiping off windows and installing an OS of his choice - this is purely an attempt to get money for having done so. In that respect, it is a lot like ordering a serving of neapolitan ice cream in a restaurant because you want the chocolate and strawberry, and demanding a refund for the vanilla you didn't eat

    2. Adrian Midgley 1

      Suppressed by a supplier though ...

      thus tending to change the pattern of purchase.

      An option which would not be ridiculous would be:-

      Press A to accept and complete installation of your pre installed bundled software or

      Press B to permanently remove pre installed software, you will need an operating system.

      Offering to generate a code to hold to demonstrate deletion would also be good for a consumer.

      1. nijam

        Re: Suppressed by a supplier though ...

        Your second option is incomplete. It should read:

        Press B to permanently remove pre-installed software and obtain a full refund for its retail price. (You will need an alternative operating system.)

    3. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Happy

      @DavCrav

      "But what if there aren't any? More or less it's impossible to find such brands, so does that change the decision?"

      There are. HP offers Freedos (and no Windows license) on their business computers.

      Why are people not asking for blank phones/tablets without any operating system?

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: @DavCrav

        Why are people not asking for blank phones/tablets without any operating system?

        Considering the sheer impossibility of customizing/configuring and generally removing all the useless crap pre-installed on phones/tablets, I would LIKE that idea. I should be able to boot my tablet with a USB or microSD and install whatever I damned well please on them, and none of what I don't want.

  2. James 51
    Megaphone

    I'd love the option of buying a system without Windows 10 preinstalled but if you walked into Currys/PC World (I know most people here are more likely to go to more specialist suppliers or build their own) and say you didn't accept the EULA and wanted it removed and refunded or returned they'd look at you like you'd grown a third head and tell you to go away.

    1. Ole Juul

      @James 51 I'm with you, but don't feel there is such a big problem when people who care and have the skill to install an OS can quite easily get a box with no OS or with hardly any effort put one together. Where that goes awry is that "computer" to many people nowadays actual means "laptop" and one cannot easily get a custom built one or do so oneself. So, for many people now there is indeed no option but to swallow some unwanted OS or at least pay for one. Personally I think that is a chicken shit marketing strategy for companies like Microsoft.

      1. VinceH

        Indeed. It really annoyed me when I had to buy a new laptop in a hurry, so I had no choice but to go to the local Currys PC World and buy one with Win 8 on it. If it wasn't so urgent, I would have been able to order a Win 7 machine online - but because I needed one there and then, it had to be Win 8.

        (I have since got one with the last real version of Windows, of course).

        It's tempting to head up there and make a point of perusing the most expensive machine they have, and when the sales droid comes over to offer assistance, ask "How much for this machine without Windows 10?" - and if (as they inevitably will) they say it's not an option, tell them "in that case, you've lost a sale" and walk out.

        1. Chris 125

          "It's tempting to head up there and make a point of perusing the most expensive machine they have, and when the sales droid comes over to offer assistance, ask "How much for this machine without Windows 10?" - and if (as they inevitably will) they say it's not an option, tell them "in that case, you've lost a sale" and walk out."

          Which will prove what, exactly?

          Will it be Option 1: where the salesperson reports it to his manager, who phones head office, gets the buyers involved, they chase the manufacturer who consults with Microsoft over the wording of the contracts and hammer out a deal to get OS-less products made, all before lunchtime?

          Or Option 2: The salesperson watches you walk away, serves someone else who understands that you go there to buy something they sell, not to invent something they don't, and later in the staff room recounts the tale of the plonker who wanted a laptop without Windows because he was one of those nerdy weirdos.

          How much cost does Windows add to a laptop anyway?

          And how much is a laptop subsidised by McAfee/Norton/Office Trials/photo editors /games/all the other shit that we all uninstall (if it's not erased for good by reinstalling another OS). Remember you won't get that subsidy if there's no OS to install the crapware on. Sony once suggested a $50 charge for a "clean" OS, which makes me think they get paid about that much for the bundling. If a volume licence of Windows costs less than $50 (which I can believe), then you'd actually pay MORE for a bare hard drive.....

          1. VinceH

            "Which will prove what, exactly?"

            That I can be mildly entertained by my own childishness, even if it serves no actual purpose. That sometimes I can do stuff just "because" with no real goal, and without actually achieving something as a result.

            That I am fully in touch with, and sometimes -willingly- controlled by my inner child. As fully grown men should be.

            1. VinceH

              And as an afterthought, there's also something it might get (if I really wanted to buy): a discount.

              Although I've never done it for a computer, there have been plenty of occasions when I've discussed something with sales droids in places like that (including Currys itself) and, for some reason or other, said "No, because..." and as I turned away received the offer of a discount.

            2. Teiwaz Silver badge

              "Which will prove what, exactly?"

              I used to go up to Pc World with a guy who liked to approach a staff member and ask about PCs, feigning ignorance of computers and asking about everything on the feature lists until the staff member tripped up and then catch them on it.

              Very childish, and quite entertaining. I couldn't do it as I can't help look informed and intelligent (it's mostly the glasses and the ponytail at the time).

              1. d3vy

                Re: "Which will prove what, exactly?"

                "I used to go up to Pc World with a guy who liked to approach a staff member and ask about PCs, feigning ignorance of computers and asking about everything on the feature lists until the staff member tripped up and then catch them on it."

                Curious, does your friend do this in other shops? Or is he only a dick in PC world?

                Does he for example go into car showrooms and try it on the sales staff there?

                I hope one day your friend meets someone who is more informed than him who promptly (and rightly) makes him look like the utter tit that he is. in public if possible.

                Deriving entertainment from belittling others is a sad endeavor for an adult to undertake, don't you think? Does your friend have emotional problems? Was he bullied at school?

                1. BitDr

                  Re: "Which will prove what, exactly?"

                  "Deriving entertainment from belittling others is a sad endeavor for an adult to undertake, don't you think? Does your friend have emotional problems? Was he bullied at school?"

                  Please stop deriving entertainment from belittling others.... oh wait...

                2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: "Which will prove what, exactly?"

                  "Does he for example go into car showrooms and try it on the sales staff there?"

                  I have gone into a car showroom and after waiting an unreasonable time for attention, left. And I was seriously looking to buy a new car - which I did from the showroom across the road.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Which will prove what, exactly?"

                I used to do something similar - but with HiFi.

                Amstrad had just brought out their crappy CD mini system for £250, I used to go in and ask for it to be demonstrated, go through all the settings (note they turned the treble right down to get rid of the awful hiss - even on CD), prevaricate for a bit then say that perhaps I would be better off spending the £250 getting my current turntable's stylus* re-tipped.

                Amstrad System 1 was so awful, the best sounding component was the TUNER.

                *Ortophon MC20 Super mounted on a Rega RB300 arm and fitted to a Manticore Mantra turntable.

            3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              That I can be mildly entertained by my own childishness, even if it serves no actual purpose. That sometimes I can do stuff just "because" with no real goal, and without actually achieving something as a result.

              That I am fully in touch with, and sometimes -willingly- controlled by my inner child. As fully grown men should be.

              I've reached this age, I *deserve* the opportunity to be the grumpy old sod. They don't like it, feck 'em.

          2. DropBear
            WTF?

            "the salesperson reports it to his manager, who phones head office, gets the buyers involved, they chase the manufacturer who consults with Microsoft over the wording of the contracts and hammer out a deal to get OS-less products made, all before lunchtime?"

            There's zero need to "consult" or "hammer out" anything at all; in Eastern Europe laptops are routinely sold optionally without an OS (I'm looking at a random site right now: laptops with Win10 - 111, laptops with FreeDOS - 186...). All it would take is some interest on the part of the vendor, they are free to sell all the OS-less hardware they reckon they can...

          3. BobChip
            Linux

            Bare machines again

            The PC Worlds of this planet don't sell bare machines because :-

            1 It would cut into their profits,

            2 They have a cosy marketing relationship with M$ and Apple, where both profit,

            3 Next generation PC sales push sales of the latest OS versions, and vice versa, need them or not,

            4 And provide an opportunity to load machines with all the data-sucking bloatware they can find.

            5 Most consumer purchasers (NOT El Reg readers) would not have a clue about installing an OS from scratch, never mind having the faintest idea that there are perfectly good alternatives to M$ and Apple out there.

            The fact that there are lots of suppliers of bare systems out there is of relevance only to those who know, and have clearly defined system requirements. And some pretty uncommon technical skills as well. These are not the people who suddenly have to get a new laptop because their student son sat on his after a night on the booze.

            Sad but true. I don't like it, but I can see why Sony won. I'm happy to be in the small minority who can build their own machines - and load Linux - and I expect it to stay that way for a long time yet.

          4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "If a volume licence of Windows costs less than $50 (which I can believe), then you'd actually pay MORE for a bare hard drive....."

            I believe that at one point some years ago, our online tool for customers to specify exactly what build they wanted would drop the price by £5 if you chose the "No OS" option from the OS dropdown selector. I don't think there was any promo type software pre-installed, almost exclusively business customers. This was WinXP, pre any service packs so I suspect that £5 was what we paid MS for each "no-media" pre-install OEM OS.

        2. d3vy

          " and when the sales droid comes over ... tell them in that case, you've lost a sale and walk out."

          You might as well tell the checkout girl (or boy) at Tesco that you're not buying their beans. Sales staff are not on commission, other than the slight hassle of trying to provide assistance to some one who has no intention of buying anything* you wont factor into their day.

          * An act which in my opinion makes you look like a bit of a tit.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          If they did sell a computer without an operating system installed, they would get a lot of returns from people complaining that it didn't work, and Watchdog etc would be on the case.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      "I'd love the option of buying a system without Windows 10 preinstalled but if you walked into Currys/PC World "

      You wouldn't want to buy a no OS PC from that bunch of sharks because if anything didn't work then they'd simply blame the OS you'd installed yourself and would refuse to replace or refund it. At least having windows on the machine lets you test the hardware before you install linux so you know if the machine is working properly.

      1. James 51

        True, hadn't thought of that. Although you'd hope that they'd handle any problems responsibly (I know I know).

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        You wouldn't want to buy a no OS PC from that bunch of sharks because if anything didn't work then they'd simply blame the OS you'd installed yourself and would refuse to replace or refund it. At least having windows on the machine lets you test the hardware before you install linux so you know if the machine is working properly.

        My solution there, if I knew for certain it was the hardware, would be to wipe the drive before returning it, and point out that since it contained proprietary information you were required to wipe it before sending it in for repair. If they complain, accuse them of wanting to steal your data.

    3. BobChip
      Happy

      Three heads and bare machines

      Absolutely right. I have asked, and that was the response I got too. It was pointed out to me that if I were so deranged as to not be slavering over Win 10, I could of course un-install / overwrite it with the OS of my choice. Pre-set hardware constraints permitting, of course. And I'd be forever registered as a happy Win 10 user / statistic. And I'd have paid for the b****y thing too.

      There is a very cosy (and profitable) relationship between PC vendors and the OS manufacturers. They can push any PC - OS - bloatware combination they wish with complete part-pricing obscurity. An offer to supply a bare machine would seriously undermine a significant part of that business model. Which is why the big outlets will never do it.

      Two or three years ago, the only option for the "deranged" buyer was build-your-own from a list of components, and hope you knew enough to spec your bits properly. Ten minutes on the internet today will easily produce a list of a dozen or so suppliers who will sell you a properly spec'd DIY computer build kit (desktop), or a ready built bare bones machine with no OS (desktop or laptop). Competitive prices too, and a warranty saying it will work for specified OS's.

      This can only mean that the demand is there, and that at least some sectors of the marketplace are responding. So that's where I shop now.

      1. IsJustabloke
        Meh

        Re: Three heads and bare machines

        And you are not the customer Currys/PC World are looking for... so everyone is happy.

        1. BobChip
          Happy

          Re: Three heads and bare machines

          Dead right. And Currys / PC World are not the supplier I am looking for either, so yes, I am happy. Neither know nor care about how Currys / PC World feel about it .......

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Three heads and bare machines

        Two or three years ago, the only option for the "deranged" buyer was build-your-own from a list of components, and hope you knew enough to spec your bits properly.

        What evidence do you have that Dell, or HP make you assemble the machine yourself? Or are you just making the claim because you read it on the Internet so it must be true?

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Three heads and bare machines

        "There is a very cosy (and profitable) relationship between PC vendors and the OS manufacturers."

        Only as long as the OS is seen as promoting the sale of the machine. If it becomes seen as a toxic brand then the vendors have a problem.

    4. Pompous Git Silver badge

      I'd love the option of buying a system without Windows 10 preinstalled but if you walked into Currys/PC World...

      For some reason this reminds me of the Marty Feldman sketch where he goes into the Post Office and demands they sell him a pint of milk.

      Post Office sketch

    5. swm Silver badge
      Linux

      No Operating System Workstation.

      I had a workstation built for me at a local computer store and specified "no operating system". They said, "OK, but we will not test the machine beyond POST." I took delivery and installed ubuntu and it has been running happily ever since. Saved the cost of a Micro$oft operating system.

      The only issue is having all of the peripheral drivers in linux so I only chose slightly older disks, dvdrw etc. I had no problems.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: No Operating System Workstation.

        What would actually work better for the likes of PC World is to actually buy, open up the machine (ie open all the packaging etc), and then decide you don't like the terms of something. Especially if there is bloatware on it and it's not clear before you open it exactly what you are getting or the terms under which it's there.

        Under UK (and I think pan-EU) law, you cannot be held to any contract unless all the terms were made clear to you before you entered it. Thus if there is any term in the "click OK or you go no further" agreements then you're entitled to take the machine back and get a full refund. That's the quid-pro-quo for being allowed to use the click through agreements - you must have the opportunity to reject it when you first become aware of the terms.

        But of course, an obviously opened package is now worth less to the seller than the unopened box it ;-)

        At one time, the click-through on Windoze said you could take it back for a refund - hence people getting a refund for the nominal value of the Windoze installed. Now it specifically says that vendors may have a "all or nothing" policy so you either accept the terms or return the whole package.

        It's just a pity that so few people even read what they are agreeing to, let alone care about what it actually means.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: No Operating System Workstation.

          It's just a pity that so few people even read what they are agreeing to, let alone care about what it actually means.

          The problem of that is where do you find the time to read all of the EULAs for all of your software and also understand the legalese, or have your lawyer explain the terms to you (expensive). Most of us just want to get the job done and your suggestion just reduces the amount of revenuing you can do. Somehow I don't think you're eating your own dogfood. If I'm wrong, and you are independently wealthy, then good luck and thanks for doing this on my behalf ;-)

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    "without pre-installed software"

    "The national court will have to decide whether, when a consumer has been informed before the sale "that the model of computer is not marketed without pre-installed software and that he is therefore free to choose another model of computer, of another brand, with similar technical specifications and sold without software, the ability of that consumer to make an informed transactional decision was appreciably impaired," the CJEU said."

    Laptops without pre-installed/supplied with operating systems are almost like Unicorns. From time to time Dell and a few others offer alternatives to Windows, not nothing. Generally speaking the ONLY retail alternative to Windows is overpriced hardware from Apple.

    I hope there is some later appeal or clarification. While we are at it, the retailers and boxes have stopped listing the screen resolution, only giving screen diagonal.

    Also no-one seems to supply media now to re-install the OS if the HDD fails or is replaced.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      Laptops without pre-installed/supplied with operating systems are almost like Unicorns.

      There is OS and there is the gigantic raft of non-updateable crapware which used to be shipped on Vaio and other consumer laptops.

      IMHO, forcing via regulatory means all PCs to be available _ONLY_ with plain Windows and any "preinstalled crapware" to be an optional free add-on is long overdue.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: "without pre-installed software"

        'IMHO, forcing via regulatory means all PCs to be available _ONLY_ with plain Windows and any "preinstalled crapware"to be an optional free add-on'

        I think that you are repeating yourself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      Really? Unicorns?

      You aren't trying hard enough. Laptops without an OS are easy to buy, you just have to buy from the right supplier.

      You are always unlikely to get an OS-less computer from a store because they're not aimed at selling to people that know that they're doing and are just reselling what is being offered.

      I'd reckon that 99.9% of computer users just want the cheapest machine that does what they need, email, p0rn and swearing at.

      If you want one without an OS, try Scan or PCSpecialist, both of whom offer you Unicorns.

    3. Richard Lloyd

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      I've found the unicorn you were looking for:

      https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/custom-built-laptops/

      What I like about pcspecialist's laptops is not only can you configure almost everything inside them, you can buy them without an OS too! This typically knocks a substantial 89 quid off the price, but I wish they'd tell you about Linux compatibility, because if you're going to buy it without Windows, it's fairly likely you'd be putting some Linux distro on it.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "without pre-installed software"

        can you ask them to install OS/2?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "without pre-installed software"

          can you ask them to install OS/2?

          You forgot to add - and have everything working.

          This applies if it was Linux being installed as well because most (all) laptop manufacturers are geared up to have everything work for windows and there is a lot of wincrap hardware about that require drivers that are not available for any other OS.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "without pre-installed software"

            For example, Broadcom WiFi and modem chips, both of which require proprietary firmware that's only supported in Windows. Since they've practically cornered the market for these uses on laptops, finding one with a chipset that works in Linux is a crapshoot.

            1. Chemist

              Re: "without pre-installed software"

              "Broadcom WiFi"...."require proprietary firmware that's only supported in Windows"

              Ah, ah.

              I must tell my wife - she's using a Lenovo laptop running OpenSUSE 13.2 with Broadcom WiFi. It obviously shouldn't be working !!

              (I've had 7-8 laptops over the last ~15-20 years and Linux has installed on all of them. Most of the recent ones have had Ralink, Realtek or Intel WiFi . Indeed 2 of the very cheap USB WiFi dongles for some Pis plug into the laptops and work without any issues.

              My Huawei mobile dongle also works without any issues.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: "without pre-installed software"

                @ Chemist

                To your list I will add my ASUS Zenbook and an ancient core solo Toshiba Satellite. This latter was bricked by WinXP SP3 (it came with XP SP1), but runs Mint 17.3 just fine.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. Kiwi

              Re: "without pre-installed software" @Charles 9

              ...finding one with a chipset that works in Linux is a crapshoot.

              I think you have your wording mixed up. "Crapshoot" does not mean "works beautifully every time".

              I've installed or used (eg via live distro for data recovery or AV) Linux on a hell of a lot of laptops, many of which have broadcom chips. Never once had an issue.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "without pre-installed software" @Charles 9

                "I've installed or used (eg via live distro for data recovery or AV) Linux on a hell of a lot of laptops, many of which have broadcom chips. Never once had an issue."

                Oddly enough, I would have agreed with you until last week. I was on site trouble shooting an almost brand new Laptop and one of the tests I often do with any potential hardware fault is to boot a live Linux from USB just to try and quickly eliminate/confirm Windows OS or driver issues. I couldn't get either Ubuntu, XUbuntu, or Mint to boot through to the GUI at all. Not even in VESA mode. Obviously a video driver issue, but something weird enough that those Linux boot images didn't support the hardware.

                It turned out that someone had disabled ALL the networking devices in the BIOS setup when trying to disable UEFI/enable legacy and get rid of secureboot so a chargeable call out anyway.

                1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                  Re: "without pre-installed software" @Charles 9

                  It turned out that someone had disabled ALL the networking devices in the BIOS setup when trying to disable UEFI/enable legacy and get rid of secureboot

                  You have no idea how wonderful it is to be retired and not have to do that shit any more :-)

                  1. Chemist

                    Re: "without pre-installed software" @Charles 9

                    "It turned out that someone had disabled ALL the networking devices in the BIOS setup when trying to disable UEFI/enable legacy and get rid of secureboot"

                    So NO new OS could be loaded - scarcely a Linux problem then.

    4. Expat-Cat

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      I wasn't aware that I could buy any Apple hardware without a pre-installed OS and/or ask for a refund.

      1. Just Enough

        Re: "without pre-installed software"

        Apple OS is free. You're paying for it in the hardware.

        But that's a invalid argument anyhow. If Apple want to sell their product in only one configuration/OS/colour/whatever then that's up to them. Other hardware is available from other suppliers.

        1. Velv

          Re: "without pre-installed software"

          @ Just Enough

          "But that's a invalid argument anyhow. If Apple want to sell their product in only one configuration/OS/colour/whatever then that's up to them. Other hardware is available from other suppliers."

          EXACTLY. If Sony want to sell their product in one configuration then they are equally free to do so. So the argument is not invalid, it is the exception that proves the rule.

        2. TheVogon

          Re: "without pre-installed software"

          "Apple OS is free. You're paying for it in the hardware."

          So it's not free then...You still pay for it.

          1. d3vy

            Re: "without pre-installed software"

            "Apple OS is free. You're paying for it in the hardware."

            Wasn't that the point of the court case, that they didnt want to pay for the OS via inflated hardware cost?

            So the point still stands, Try to get apple H/W with no OS and see how far you get.

            The fact the guy wasn't asking for a refund for the windows licence that he didn't want but also £2k+ in "Damages" says quite a bit about his motives.

          2. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: "without pre-installed software"

            "Apple OS is free. You're paying for it in the hardware."

            So it's not free then...You still pay for it.

            The only OS that Apple currently charge for is Snow Leopard. Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan are all free downloads. If you want to pay, there are sellers on eBay who are more than happy to oblige, but that's an option I wouldn't be willing to take.

    5. Sixtysix
      Facepalm

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      I have only once bothered to negotiate a delivery of computers without Windows pre-installed, and I no longer bother to try now.

      WE take new kit, image with our Enterprise licence, and WEEE scrap after 5/6 years... I really, REALLY don't have any use for pre-installed Windows.

      When ordering 400+ machines several years ago from an Enterprise manufacturor equally known for it's servers, I managed to get them delivered with a Novell DOS version instead of Windows 7, for a grand saving of.... £5 per machine. They had to be built special order, which delayed my project, and meant I couldn't take full advantage of other customisations that the framework contract allowed (leaving out mice and keyboards).

      On reflection I decided that we'd probably actually lost value on the transaction and haven't tried to repeat since.

      1. James Turner

        Re: "without pre-installed software"

        If that's an Enterprise licence of Windows you're installing, it's generally only an Upgrade version. So you still need a Windows licence attached to the machine to upgrade from.

    6. VinceH

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      "Also no-one seems to supply media now to re-install the OS if the HDD fails or is replaced."

      That's been the situation donkey's years. What always seemed to be the case, though, was that you'd have a means to create media for that purpose.

      However, I used past tense for that because of the desktop on which I'm typing this. I replaced Windows with Linux Mint, but since it was going to be my first go with Linux, I thought creating reinstallation media would be a sensible step. There was no option to do so, though - the best I could find was a sort of restore point on external media; fine if the problem that warrants the use of such a restore point isn't, say, a failed hard drive.

      I don't know if that was unique to that system or manufacturer, but if not I don't like where it's going.

      Yes, I know there are other ways, but that's not the point. ISTM this is another symptom of the endemic problem whereby manufacturers are trying to push people to buy new things unnecessarily - in this case (El Reg readers and their IT skills aside) if your hard drive failed previously, you could just buy a new hard drive and reinstall the OS; this approach means you buy a whole new computer.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: "without pre-installed software"

        That's been the situation donkey's years. What always seemed to be the case, though, was that you'd have a means to create media for that purpose.

        Not only that, but at least HP claims you can only do it once. Makes you wonder what happens if you end up burning a coaster. I guess you're out of luck. Seems very silly restriction.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: "without pre-installed software"

          HP claims you can only do it once. Makes you wonder what happens if you end up burning a coaster. I guess you're out of luck. Seems very silly restriction.

          I purchased my HP netbook from the now defunct Dick Smith Electronics. There was an application for backing up the install partition. I asked the salesman what happens if the backup didn't work. He said that DSE would reimage the hard disk; for free if the machine was still under warranty and a small fee if the warranty had expired. I'd assume other retailers of HP provide a similar service. The critical thing here is the Product Key and that was inside the battery compartment.

          It was irrelevant to me in any event as I ran Ubuntu on the netbook until I sold it after reinstalling W7.

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "without pre-installed software"

      "Also no-one seems to supply media now to re-install the OS if the HDD fails or is replaced."

      The primary reason is that there is a hidden restore partition put there as part of the HDD duplication/imaging process and the physical media costs money to supply to the end user. OEMs have been supplying PCs without physical installation media for a long, long time now. And for that matter, a lot of desktops/laptops come without optical drives these days. It can be a pain in the bum for those of us asked to "fix" them, but consumers on the whole, buy on price.

  4. sabroni Silver badge

    How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

    I know that all us super tech heads just love fucking around installing OSs, but most consumers would see a pc with no operating system as being like a car with no motor or a fridge with no door.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

      Perhaps they don't want Spy OS 10 and would like to put an alternative on it. Well now MS can't be economically penalised for Spy OS 10 which is the only language they understand.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

      Not an ex-boss of mine. Back in the late 90s, when I proposed a PC replacement project, he reckoned you could run a PC without an OS but with just a browser on it, since everything could be accessed through the browser.

      You wouldn't believe the arguments we had until I finally got to the bottom of our, um, misunderstanding. Still, the stress of it all was partly made up for by the joy of watching everyone else's jaws drop.

      Edit: Probably should posted AC to better protect the guilty.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        Whilst technically correct, I know my wife's Vaio has a useless 'quick check' function that basically does just that. Fires up the machine into a browser and doesn't bother loading the primary OS.

        That said, it fires up a rather aged version of firefox on what appears to be a version of linux with everything else stripped off, so still technically an OS but it was pretty much useless from day one and has only ever been fired up in a fit of curiosity before being forgotten about again.

        I think Intel tried something similar as well where you could have a weird super low power mode to 'check emails and light browsing'. (On an unrelated note, what constitutes heavy browsing?)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

          I think Paris knows what constitutes 'heavy browsing' ;o)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

          (On an unrelated note, what constitutes heavy browsing?)

          BBW pr0n sites???

      2. jason 7

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        Your boss was just ahead of the times that's all.

      3. David Nash

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        Come on then, what was the reason for the "misunderstanding" with the ex-boss?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

      I would disagree with your analogy (car with a motor). You DO have a choice of engines after all...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        I don't imagine Vauxhall would reimburse you the cost of an engine if you bought a new car from them expecting to put in a Honda engine yourself!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

          but hey, wouldn't it be great if ALL (major) car manufacturers in the world offered just three (is it three with W10?) engines? Great choice for 7 bilion people. Nothing to do with monopoly by saturation, nosir. And what am I complaining about, I can always build my own tuk-tuk, or use a Samsung or Apple bike... Great choice, I say.

        2. kryptylomese

          Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

          A closer analogy perhaps would be buying a car and choosing if you want a full tank of fuel, and further what brand of fuel?

          1. OtotheJ

            Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

            I think an even better analogy would be something else which requires an OS like a TV, the majority of consumers would like to buy one which does everything they want out of the box whilst a minority would use it simply as a monitor.

            The majority of consumers rocking up to PC World don't understand what an OS does for them so assume that Windows is required. They certainly don't want to arse about installing another OS.

        3. DonL

          Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

          "I don't imagine Vauxhall would reimburse you the cost of an engine if you bought a new car from them expecting to put in a Honda engine yourself!"

          But in that case you would be legally allowed to sell the preinstalled engine you replaced.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        "I would disagree with your analogy (car with a motor). You DO have a choice of engines after all..."

        And sony offer different CPU/Memory configurations... However Ill bet your car manufacturer wont supply you a car with blank ECU so you can configure it yourself...

    4. Updraft102

      Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

      "I know that all us super tech heads just love fucking around installing OSs, but most consumers would see a pc with no operating system as being like a car with no motor or a fridge with no door."

      To me, it's more like a new sketchpad with nothing drawn on the pages, or a crossword puzzle book with none of the puzzles completed. Of course, people like me are in the minority, even if we're the majority here. Most consumers would feel just as you mentioned.

      Still, even if a computer left the factory sans OS, that doesn't mean it will always end up being delivered to the end user in that form. The retailer could accept shipments of laptops with no OS (or even no hard drive/SSD) and put whatever OS its users want on them. The mass market megaretailers would never do this, of course, but the handful of smaller retailers out there who do know a little more would be able to offer their customers Linux or Windows 7, if that's what they want (if they can find the licenses of the latter, anyway).

      There are a few of that type of shop around me. For desktops, it's no big deal; they build their own, just like many of us do, so they already don't come with an OS. Laptops, though, are another animal, and it would be nice to see them offered by the manufacturers in a way similar to how Intel offers their NUC SFF PCs... as barebones units without memory, HDD/SSD, and (obviously) OS.

      Of course, there is also the possibility that shipping PCs with blank HDDs would not result in those laptops being any cheaper than the current Windows-equipped versions. The crapware that is installed alongside Windows is not there because the PC manufacturer thought you needed McAfee or Norton or whatever else. It's there because the publishers of those products paid the PC maker to put them there-- which subsidizes the cost of the PC, offsetting the license fee the manufacturer had to pay to Microsoft for the privilege of selling Windows preinstalled.

      It's why a Dell PC (I think it was a laptop) that actually did come with Linux preinstalled (and no crapware) cost more than Windows versions of the same PC, shocking the community of people who expected it to cost less. Without the crapware subsidies, it cost more, even without the Microsoft tax.

      So it may be that the way to go is to simply regard Windows PCs as having blank hard drives, if you don't like the OS they come with, and to treat them accordingly-- format it and install whatever you want, just as you would if the drive were actually blank. That's what I did with the most recent PC I bought preassembled... in 2008, I bought a laptop with Vista on it, and I put XP on it the day it arrived. It kept that XP installation until about a year ago now, when I went to Windows 7. It's now a Linux Mint/Win 7 dual boot PC.

      I don't get people who just open the box and use things.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I don't get people who just open the box and use things.

        I had to call a specialist in to open my consignment of box knives.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How many consumers want a pc with no OS?

        I wonder though, if it comes to the point that when you change the OS and the hardware goes phut, they refuse to honour the warranty, because the pre-installed OS (Windows) has, in the meantime, weaseled itself into the contract of sale as being "an essential component" without which the hardware can not operate, therefore, dear smart-ass customer, fuck off and die, we're no longer responsible.

        And don't tell me that retail and hardware manufacturers wouldn't love to find any opportunity not to honour the warranty.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    So what does this do for Italy?

    Their high court found that consumers could get a refund for the MS tax.

    The Windows tax fight is finally over: Buyers can get a refund on their Microsoft OS in Italy

    Two directly contradictory rulings, one at European level and one at national level.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: So what does this do for Italy?

      Actually the rulings don't really contradict each other. All this ruling says is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Bundling software with a computer, and that you don't need to list the individual component prices when selling as a bundle. Seems a pretty obvious thing to me.

      What this guy wanted was to buy a bundle but not get one of the things in the bundle. Sony don't do that. That is there prerogative I guess. If he had gone Dell or whatever, where customization is perfectly feasible, then he could have chosen not to have Windows. No problems.

      So its your choice, go to a customizer or buy an off the shelf package. Job done...

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: So what does this do for Italy?

        So an OEM says, "supplied with Windows 10", you are given the choice of accepting or rejecting Windows 10's EULA, but your rejection is worthless because the OEM was accurately describing what comes in the box.

        You think it's a good ruling, I think it's a pretty stupid ruling.

        It's a step backwards and doesn't aid consumer choice.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: So what does this do for Italy?

          You can always click No on the EULA, uninstall Windows and install your own OS. No problem there, however, you HAVE bought a PACKAGE knowing it comes with Win 10, so why are you complaining? If you don't want a specific OS, find a seller who will supply you said computer without the OS. Not that hard. There's plenty out there, big name and small.

          If you buy a package holiday, you cant really complain and ask for your money back when you decide to stay in another hotel. You bought the package, not the individual components.

      2. Hans 1
        Mushroom

        Re: So what does this do for Italy?

        >What this guy wanted was to buy a bundle but not get one of the things in the bundle. Sony don't do that.

        The EULA says you can get a refund if you return the software, which, since it is no longer shipped on the hard drive, you no longer have to do.

        >That is there prerogative I guess. If he had gone Dell or whatever, where customization is perfectly feasible, then he could have chosen not to have Windows. No problems.

        That is NOT true, there are few Dell laptops available with Linux, precisely, 2 (I just looked), that cannot be further customized. One with a dual core Celeron, thank you - but NO, and one with an i5 (but 13" screen, tx, but NO).

        Besides, when I try to search for Linux laptops on Dell site I get "error_anav_search" and "synd_no_results", every second mouse click ... great.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: So what does this do for Italy?

          That is NOT true, there are few Dell laptops available with Linux, precisely, 2 (I just looked), that cannot be further customized. One with a dual core Celeron, thank you - but NO, and one with an i5 (but 13" screen, tx, but NO).

          Try telephoning and asking the sales rep for a Dell laptop without Windows. You do know about telephones and asking...

          Thought not.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: So what does this do for Italy?

        "... European judges more corrupt than Italian ones. Who'd have thought it."

        Well ...

        A great many Italians citizens, who are not prejudiced.

        Like you seem to be.

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: So what does this do for Italy?

          A great many Italians citizens, who are not prejudiced.

          Like you seem to be.

          You're right, I missed off the smilie, the comment was supposed to be ironic.

  6. PNGuinn
    Trollface

    Should be enough right there to shoot off any remaining feet slurp has got left.

    "such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers"

    1. Hans 1
      Coat

      Re: Should be enough right there to shoot off any remaining feet slurp has got left.

      >"such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers"

      Indeed, unequivocal! Sony, pay up! El'Reg, what is this story about again, who won what ?

      1. The case is NOT over yet.

      2. Sony "won" nothing, absolutely nothing, just yet. Did you read the article you posted ? The above sentence means Sony has already lost the case.

      German, French, and Italian courts have already awarded people with a refund.

      As for the story, the Europe courts upheld L 120-1 of "Consumer Law" (or whatever you call it)

      Article L.120-1 du Code de la Consommation:

      "Les pratiques commerciales déloyales sont interdites."

      From here on:

      "Une pratique commerciale est déloyale lorsqu’elle est contraire aux exigences de la diligence professionnelle et qu’elle altère, ou est susceptible d’altérer de manière substantielle, le comportement économique du consommateur normalement informé et raisonnablement attentif et avisé, à l’égard d’un bien ou d’un service. (…)"

      Word for word what the EU court said.

      Sony have already lost, why are they even fighting this ? Since the computer manufacturers are all doing this, they should all be fined until they stop.

      I am saddened by the very poor reporting El Reg has done on this one, seriously ... computer vendors are losing left, right, and center across the EU on this. Each time it costs the tax payers money for courts to uphold law that these companies are trying to circumvent - BIG time for heavy EU fines until they adhere to the law.

  7. MrKrotos

    OS Refund

    HP, Dell and many others DO give you an option to NOT have an OEM OS included. A lot of IT suppliers can evenn sort this out too.

    You can even get a refund on OEM OS part when buying, you just have to ask them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OS Refund

      I think you'll find that the range of models/suppliers this is available on is very limited and it is actually quite difficult to but a laptop now that is compatible with linux.

      However I don't think you can really blame manufacturers. Modern graphics/wifi drivers for the latest tech simply doesn't work properly in Ubuntu for example and it is a considerable cost to develop them for a handful of power users who arn't paying anything extra!

      1. Hans 1

        Re: OS Refund

        > it is actually quite difficult to but a laptop now that is compatible with linux.

        > it is actually quite difficult to buy a laptop now that is NOT compatible with linux.

        TFTFY

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OS Refund

          @Hans1 that is quite simply incorrect. For example there are no working linux drivers for the latest atheros chipset which is in practically all the latest generation of laptops.

          So to get working wifi you will need to add or replace it with an older supported one. That is not compatibility.

          1. Hans 1

            Re: OS Refund

            Artheros, are you sure ? They were the first TO SHIP n-grade OpenSource (!) wifi drivers for Linux back in the day. I am happy to be proven incorrect. A quick google search made me none the wiser ... I am genuinely interested!

            Do you have chipset families or some more precise information ?

            See for yourself:

            https://wireless.wiki.kernel.org/en/users/drivers/atheros

            ac and ad support ...

            Oh, and an m2 connector provides PCI-E lanes ... so should just work, in theory ... ;-)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: OS Refund

              "Artheros, are you sure ? They were the first TO SHIP n-grade OpenSource (!) wifi drivers for Linux back in the day. I am happy to be proven incorrect. A quick google search made me none the wiser ... I am genuinely interested!"

              Atheros chipsets aren't fully supported natively (I'm holding one from Netgear right now, an ac USB device which is NOT listed). Plus there's Broadcom, which are an infamous reason for development on ndiswrapper, which is still a bodge at best.

          2. Chemist

            Re: OS Refund

            " latest atheros chipset which is in practically all the latest generation of laptops."

            Apart from all the new ones with Intel chipsets.

            As I mentioned before £7 USB dongles the size of a fingernail are available for Pis and work fine in all the Linux laptops I've tried assuming you are unlucky enough to have problems with the built-in adaptor

      2. Chemist

        Re: OS Refund

        "and it is actually quite difficult to but a laptop now that is compatible with linux."

        Nonsense ! - my ( as usual ) anonymous friend

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: OS Refund

        "I think you'll find that the range of models/suppliers this is available on is very limited and it is actually quite difficult to but a laptop now that is compatible with linux."

        How many people go round butting laptops?

        Buying laptops compatible with Linux doesn't seem to be a problem, however.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: OS Refund

        "However I don't think you can really blame manufacturers. Modern graphics/wifi drivers for the latest tech simply doesn't work properly in Ubuntu for example and it is a considerable cost to develop them for a handful of power users who arn't paying anything extra!"

        It would cost almost nothing in terms of the turnover/profits of the big suppliers to test the latest releases of a few alternative OS, say 3 or so different and popular Linux distros and maybe FreeBSD and include the information in the tech blurb stating that OS foo, version bar was successfully tested on this model. They only need to do it once per year for the currently stocked range. An ideal task for the new apprentice/trainee/intern/PFY

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: OS Refund

          It would cost almost nothing in terms of the turnover/profits of the big suppliers to test the latest releases of a few alternative OS, say 3 or so different and popular Linux distros and maybe FreeBSD and include the information in the tech blurb stating that OS foo, version bar was successfully tested on this model.

          True. OTOH they probably figure that the Lunix community already does that testing without costing them a cent and posts the results on the interwebs to be easily found by anyone who bothers searching.

    2. Richard Lloyd

      Re: OS Refund

      I just went through most of Dell UK's home and business laptop range and I didn't see a single model that was shipping without an OS. Almost every single model forced either Win 10 Home or Pro with no choice. The only tiny exception was the rare "Developer Editon" (e.g. XPS 13) with Ubuntu which at least added larger RAM/SSD to compensate for charging the same as the Windows version.

      I suspect you may have been thinking of servers - for example, Dell's PowerEdge range not only lets you customise the hardware up the wazoo (much better than the annoying zillion different Dell desktop/laptop models), but also lets you buy it with no OS, which is ideal for Linux servers.

      1. MrKrotos

        Re: OS Refund

        You have to ask for it, it isnt advertised.

        No I mean all computers, Desktops, Laptops, Servers all of em.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    So what about Windows browser choice?

    "The CJEU said that it is not necessarily an unfair commercial practice to bundle computers with pre-installed software, so long as "such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers".

    Yet Microsoft got fined and were forced to provide users with a choice of browsers and quite frankly I fail to see the difference. Especially considering the fact that all those browsers can be picked up free of charge, therefor I'd argue that there is little commercial impact. In fact, one could even argue that the browser can be used to download other browsers on the Internet.

    "A commercial practice is to be regarded as misleading if it omits material information that the average consumer needs in order to make an informed transactional decision"

    I think one could also argue that it's not the role of an operating system to inform the end users that there are more choices when it comes to browsers, also because the role of an operating system is to be used to run software on it (any software). And with search engines such as Google and Bing (or the Internet as a whole) I think it's not that far fetched to argue that consumers can easily use that to get hold of other software (such as browsers). All they'd need is a browser to get there.

    Now, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the EU's ruling back then, but I do think that this new ruling contradicts the verdict we got back then. And that's not exactly how the law should work: it should apply to everyone. Which then leads me to wonder if there are any benefits for the EU with Sony's current presence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what about Windows browser choice?

      You may have a point if Sony were an effective monopoly on the sale of PCs but they aren't so it doesn't contradict.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: So what about Windows browser choice?

        It wasn't about Sony, it was about all OEMs.

    2. Just Enough

      Re: So what about Windows browser choice?

      The difference you can't see is staring you in the face.

      Users do not need informed that they have a choice of other makes of laptop. They know that. If they do not like the options and configuration of laptop that Sony offers, there are plenty of other companies happy to offer alternatives.

      1. Hans 1

        Re: So what about Windows browser choice?

        >there are plenty of other companies happy to offer alternatives.

        With Windows as OS, yes ... in France, you cannot sell two things together if the consumer does not want them. As in, you want one AA battery, open a 4 pack, take one, go to the till ... of course, they will moan as well, because they have no "official" way of selling you said battery, however, they must ... it wastes everybody's time, so you just grab the 4 pack ... here, we are talking hundreds of euros ... one guy managed NOT ONLY to get Windows reimbursed, but all the software as well + his legal fees + compensation ... Acer basically gave him a laptop + a few hundred euros, for his time spent fighting them ....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So what about Windows browser choice?

          So can you open a box of cereal and take a handful to the counter, or maybe pour yourself a shot of whisky out of a bottle?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just grow up?

    Seriously - this case is like complaining that your car comes pre-equipped with a dashboard and steering wheel, and demanding a refund before going out and buying your own stereo / dials / wheel. It's utterly juvenile.

    An OS is necessary for out-of-the-box functionality. Accordingly manufacturers and retailers have to choose one, and they will chose the most popular that they can; PC + Windows (95% of the time) or Mac + OSX. I assume that someone, somewhere, sells laptops with Linux pre-installed, and you are free to buy from them. But to buy a PC with windows on it and then demand a refund for the windows install on the basis that this is an unfair practice is stupid, I'm sorry.

    Feel free to flame on, but its simply the truth.

    1. OtotheJ

      Re: Why not just grow up?

      I'm with you, there is only a very small minority of consumers outside the enterprise who don't expect a PC to just work out of the box.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Why not just grow up?

        Problem is they do not just work out the box.

        Buy your typical consumer Win PC / laptop with Windows on and you have to do an install of windows ("automated" but still time consuming - especially as after install drearily completes get Mb / Gb of updates to download depending how long PC has sat on the shelf and how many weeks of Win updates it is behind ).

        Working out of the box would (to me) imply an OS already installed and admin and bog standard user added (you are supplied with the usernames & passwords obv, and then free to add other users).

        What would be more useful to me (& possibly other consumers who do not intend retaining the "installed" OS) would be info on any issues with installing another OS on that PC - would save a lot of dreary web searching to see if any issues with Linux on a particular manufacturers model

      2. Kiwi
        Linux

        Re: Why not just grow up?

        I'm with you, there is only a very small minority of consumers outside the enterprise who don't expect a PC to just work out of the box.

        If it comes with windows on it you won't have it work out of the box anymore.

        First, there's the time spent faffing around while it installs various bits of crap that should've been done in the first place, maybe 40 minutes going through all the user settings (or 40 hours if you want to try and turn off all the spyware and marketing), then it'll do an "update" which will be a sequence of 40+mins to start, few seconds looking like it's working, 40+ mins to do "configuring updates" while it automatically reboots for you (slowly), then another 40+ mins of "configuring updates" after it restarts, followed by either a total crash or a few sequences of "updates failed, reverting" for an hour or so, a reboot, then more "configuring updates".

        One thing windows does not do any more is work out of the box. And I don't think it has since Fista.

        (Now, where's my asbestos leotard...)

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why not just grow up?

        "there is only a very small minority of consumers ... who don't expect a PC to just work out of the box."

        Work for whom?. Some of us want the PC we just bought to work for us.

    2. Richard Lloyd

      Re: Why not just grow up?

      I think the problem here is the lack of choice - almost all laptops (barring Apple of course) from the major OEMs ship with Windows pre-installed. It's obvious why: MS gives a big discount on its OS if you sell gazillions of them (so selling another OS or no OS would lose the discount) and no OEM usually wants to support 2 OS'es because of the cost.

      I think the missing tricks here are:

      !. Persuading OEMs to ship with no OS and maybe with a hardware diagnostic live Linux distro on USB or CD that would allow the user to run and have it report issues (i.e. "hardware fault detected - please return for repair or refund if inside warranty"). Support costs for the OEM would just be keeping the distro up-to-date for all their models. In an ideal world, all major OEMs would get involved and Github the whole thing, but that's probably stretching the dream too far..

      2. Certify the hardware to run Linux, even if Linux isn't shipped with it. This could be as simple as booting a couple of the most popular live Linux distros (Mint, Fedora, whatever) and runing through a hardware (and some software) checklist to ensure things are working. Cue a penguin logo on the product page if it passes the testing (would need small print to confirm which distro versions passed). Still make it clear that a machine shipped without an OS has no OS/software support from the OEM, even if it has a penguin logo.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. jason 7

      Re: The free market

      I have offered PCs and laptops to customers with Linux installed. Told them it reduces the price by £x and will do what they need.

      But they don't want it. Simple as that. They want Windows.

      The 0.1% that might walk into PC world (for some reason) asking for a laptop without Windows just isn't a concern. Give them the blank looks and let them go elsewhere. After all they won't dare tell their tech buddies they walked into PC World.

      1. Chris 125

        Re: The free market

        "But they don't want it. Simple as that. They want Windows."

        True. The most returned PCW product in one year, some time ago, was the Eee PC that was available in both Windows and Linux flavours.

        Customer walks in, looks at the cheapest "laptop" available, decides they want it.

        Salesman starts to explain why there's a £50 difference between one and the other

        Customer stops them short as they think they're being sold a pricier model they don't need.

        Customer takes Linux one home, doesn't work like their WinXP desktop, they can't find the start button, or where Word is, or access pornography, and they take it back to store.

        Remember folks, you're dealing with the 95% here who don't give a shit about free, open source software. They want their Word icon to always be in the same place.

        1. Hans 1

          Re: The free market

          You mean Microsoft "Works" icon ... the files that Word cannot open, right ?

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: The free market

          A commenter here a while back told of customers in PC World getting a long talk from staff if they tried to buy a Chromebook because they had had many returns from people expecting a windows 'experience'.

          Personally I think if you buy from mass retail, you expect a mass retail experience, full stop. It'd be nice to have a choice of a barebones systems, but sales wise there wouldn't be much demand so it's either never likely to happen or if it did the choice would be so poor it would be self defeating.

          There are firms that will sell you linux pre-installed laptops, and more that supply non-mobile machines with choice of OS or non at all. Sometimes they are a little more expensive due to lower bulk purchases, but at least you are supporting a company that is friendly not some conglomerate that couldn't give a damn.

          It's always a gamble if you buy a machine for Linux without checking the various components are Linux compatible. If I were having to buy from the likes of PC World due to short notice need, I'd note the model and check the components were well supported by Linux before buying.

          I usually build my own, but last purchase, I went for a Computech Fit-PC4 (I wanted something silent) from a UK supplier. I could have gotten a choice of Windows, Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora for varying amount extra and my choice of HDD and or SSD and memory size.

          Surely access pornography is so easy anything and anyone can do it as long as they manage to find the browser? You're right about 'word' icons. I had to rename all icons 'Internet' 'Word' 'Spreadsheet' etc. for him on the desktop.

          1. Darryl

            Re: The free market

            Which icon did you rename 'Porn'?

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The free market

          "The most returned PCW product in one year, some time ago, was the Eee PC"

          Since then the growth of mobile devices has shown people that there are alternatives to Windows. So much so that the one thing people don't want on their phones is Windows.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Relevant

      "the latest chips ditched x86 entirely rather than leaving dark silicon disabled by BIOS/microcode."

      How to put it mildly... you're talking out of your arse.

      The latest chips have all the x86 ballast you'd expect from them.

      "The result is that in about 5 years if you put a 7 disk in a laptop assuming it even has a USB2 compatible port (guess what, USB2 could end up going the same way!) it will refuse to work or even boot from it."

      Windows 7 already refuses to install from a Skylake USB3 port since the new USB controllers don't emulate UHCI/OHCI/EHCI anymore, but require native XHCI drivers which Windows 7 didn't ship with. The XHCI drivers can be "slipstreamed" to the Windows 7 media which enables installation of Windows 7 on Skylake systems.

      Similarly Windows 7 knows nothing about NVMe so you'll need to provide those drivers as well if you're installing on the more expensive computers these days.

      Microsoft is not supporting Windows 7 on anything post-Skylake products. That doesn't mean Windows 7 won't work, it just isn't supported. There's a difference.

      1. Conundrum1885

        Re: Relevant

        Should probably have rephrased that, x64 is dominant now however they *are* removing the old 32 bit instructions entirely which is due to lack of use however obviously you can still simulate it in a VM so it does not matter what the hardware "looks" like.

        The Atom chips get around the lack of certain instructions by simulating the missing ones using a RISC-like setup or so it seems.

        Re. the "simulated core", just realized that this is actually not completely accurate as what happens is that the four x86 cores are turned off if *unused* which is not the same at all!

        This is more a way to save power than anything else, chips have been doing that since 1970.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Relevant @Conundrum1885

          "Should probably have rephrased that, x64 is dominant now however they [Intel] *are* removing the old 32 bit instructions entirely"

          Impossible. Perhaps after the next decade or so. There are just too many x86 components in use in Windows ecosystem making the transfer to pure 64-bit systems extremely hard. Many modern software packages still use 32-bit components or are fully 32-bit.

          I'm not sure what would be achieved via removing the 32-bit instructions since AFAIK that's a very small part of the CPU die anyway, and disabling 32-bit instruction sets in Windows/Linux doesn't bring any speedups, probably only problems in the long run.

          Intel hasn't said anywhere that they're removing the 32-bit instruction set. Got a reference?

          I'm not sure how to answer to the rest of your (rambling) post.

  12. Neil Lewis

    Depends on how you understand the phrase:

    "such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers"

    It's certainly arguable that the bundling of Windows with almost all PCs has hugely distorted the market over many years, by making the PC+Windows combination pretty much the only choice available. That in turn leads to mostly Windows only software being offered to average consumers, which further drives the market distortion.

  13. Gil

    This is not going to be a popular opinion on here, but I kind of think the court made the right decision here. At point of purchase, there was nothing deceptive going on - exactly what was promised and sold for that price was provided.

    To use a car analogy (shudder), if I buy a car and I don't ever listen to the radio in it, instead preferring to install a different model of stereo of my choice, would I be entitled to go back to the manufacturer and return the original unit and ask for a refund of the value of the original stereo?

    1. Hans 1

      At the time of purchase, you can choose your stereo, or none ... although, these days, on newer models, you get an odd shaped piece of OEM shit that you could rip out, but would cost you time and money to make or buy a compatible casing for your type of car for the radio ....

      Thing is, once more, the EULA states you can get a refund, end of discussion.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: the EULA states you can get a refund, end of discussion.

        This is an interesting angle that it would seem, as yet, hasn't been explored in the court case, but it isn't the end of the discussion.

        The Win7Pro EULA contains the following statement:

        "By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the

        software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit. If you cannot obtain a refund

        there, contact Microsoft or the Microsoft affiliate serving your country for information about Microsoft’s

        refund policies. "

        From the court papers the laptop was purchased in 2008, but it is not stated whether Deroo-Blanquart actually purchased it or received it as a Christmas gift. Also it is not stated where the laptop was purchased other than it had been "acquired in France", the presumption from the information given is that it was directly purchased from Sony and not from a third-party. Hence in this instance Sony is the 'retailer' in MS's EULA. So it would seem that Deroo-Blanquart after receiving Sony's refusal to give a refund for the MS software, he should have approached MS and engaged with them to discover what their refund policy had to say...

        Obvioously, given when the purchase happened, it would seem he is now out of time to claim a refund from MS, but then MS may simply offer him a 'Free' upgrade to Windows 10...

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          @Roland6

          In Australia MS's conditions are that you have 30 calendar days in which to request a refund and that "we may also require you to sign an electronic letter of destruction as a condition of withdrawal from this contract." I would imagine that it's similar elsewhere.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about pre-installed software that actively impedes the operation of the computer…

    I'm looking at you Novell / McAffe…

    Or the pre-installed software that leaves egregious security holes in the machine…

    I'm looking at you Dell / Lenovo…

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple

    But a PC that is cheaper due to being subsidised by Microsoft and vendors filling it with crapware, and take replace it all with Linux Mint.

    Win-Win.

    Cheaper hardware, with a decent easy to use o/s that even Granny can use, with no hint of Microsoft spyware and bloated shit.

    1. Chris 125

      Re: Simple

      Doesn't make sense.

      If you remove a subsidy, your hardware gets more expensive - not cheaper.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Simple

        He's saying take the subsidized laptop (which because of the subsidy has a lower bottom-line than a bare laptop) and simply remove the OS from it. The dealer wouldn't care (they get paid as long as it's sold). Only Microsoft would lose because they pay out for an unused OS and no metrics.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Simple

          "Only Microsoft would lose because they pay out for an unused OS and no metrics."

          It's the crapware vendors that lose out because they paid to have their advertising put on there.

  16. JimmyPage

    Is there some point missing ?

    As a few commentards have noticed, taking a machine with it's pre-installed OS actually does have 2 advantages:

    1) It means you have a tool with which to test and (if necessary) demonstrate any faults on the vendors OWN TERMS.

    2) You are taking the machine as intended, and so can't be accused of any warranty infringements.

    As long as nothing prevents you from installing your OS of choice side-by-side, then - discretion being the better part of valour - there's some sense in accepting the Windows-loaded machine.

    As I grow older, I find it's much easier to go with the flow than try and build Jerusalem.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Is there some point missing ?

      >As long as nothing prevents you from installing your OS of choice side-by-side, then - discretion being the better part of valour - there's some sense in accepting the Windows-loaded machine.

      Except, you paid for Windows license you did not want, worse corporates pay for Windows licenses with volume licenses, yet, when they buy their laptops, they paid for an OEM license AS WELL. The EULA states that you can get a refund - END OF DISCUSSION.

      You should be able get your refund, why vendors make it hard on themselves I do not understand ... it is a lost battle - I guess the consumer gets a refund, but not them ... their damn fault, should offer computers with alternate OS' and no MS racket attached.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Is there some point missing ?

        Actually, the bottom line means they paid YOU for the license. The laptop is cheaper WITH it than WITHOUT it. It's like this kind of oddity: five-stick packs of gum are 4/$1. Meanwhile, a 15-stick big pack costs $1.50. Guess what? You can pay 50 cents less but still get 5 more sticks. That's kinda what's happening. Which means you might as well get the bundled laptop. No one's forcing you to actually USE it. It's not like Microsoft will show up at your door and demand their subsidy back. You win, and the dealer doesn't care (since they'll have receipts and can get their subsidy regardless of what you do). In fact, the loser here would be Microsoft ponying up for something you don't use.

      2. constance szeflinski

        Re: Is there some point missing ?

        In the case of a subsidized machine that "refund" will actually cost you money because removing the OS adds cost, it does not subtract it :-)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Is there some point missing ?

          No, removing the OS (on your own, easy enough) is neutral because last I checked you don't have to pay for the privilege of formatting your drive. And since Linux only sets you back a spare USB drive, that's a negligible cost as well.

      3. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Is there some point missing ?

        Except, you paid for Windows license you did not want, worse corporates pay for Windows licenses with volume licenses, yet, when they buy their laptops, they paid for an OEM license AS WELL. The EULA states that you can get a refund - END OF DISCUSSION.

        Evidence required. Dell and HP sell machines sans OS to their corporate customers who have volume licenses as well as individuals who request them.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I buy a laptop without Windows on it?

    - I asked the guy in PCWorld.

    Sure, dad, he replied, the Macs are over here, and the Chromebooks over there.

  18. David Nash

    Linux is great and all that and I am comfortable installing and using it but there's no civil rights to be offered a PC with no O.S. or indeed any particular piece of consumer electronics you might desire.

    Sony et.al, are perfectly within their right to make a commercial decision on what configurations and O.S. they put in their PCs and laptops.

    If you don't like it, don't buy it. And if you can't get what you want, tough. It's a commercial decision, not a fundamental right.

  19. jason 7

    Sony may have a point...

    ...specifically for their Vaio laptops.

    As a roving IT guy I have had several Vaios handed to me to repair, install upgrade etc.

    They are notorious for having features that will refuse to work unless you use the EXACT OS build it was installed with. For some reason Sony seems to love dicking with standard hardware firmware to lock it to a specific OS.

    Take a Vaio and slap a newer OS on it or a standard clean build of the original OS and you'll find media buttons and other bits and bobs will never work again. Drivers will either not work or just not be available.

    I don't like them.

  20. Dave Stevenson

    That makes me wonder now.

    About a year ago I bought an Asus laptop preinstalled with Win8.1. Secure boot was enabled so I couldn't get into the BIOS to tell it to boot from USB without entering magic runes at a Windows terminal prompt. So how was I meant to install an alternative OS without accepting the Microsoft EULA?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. d3vy

      I dont think Ive ever needed to go into the OS to change secure boot... what weird ass machine were you using?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So how do you turn off Secure Boot without booting into the secured and signed OS to begin with? Part of Secure Boot's security is locking the EFI/BIOS so that you can ONLY boot into the secured OS. This happens to disable external booting unless you go through the secured OS first.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Economic Behavior Of Consumers

    "such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers"

    I think the distortion of the market is clear to see and has been going on for decades. Pre-installed operating systems come one one of only two flavours, and predominantly one of those (Windows) rather than the other (OSX). This obviously directly channels the vast majority of consumers into using that operating system and therefore the software ecosystem compatible with it.

    Its getting even worse with the advent of locked down firmware which only boots 'signed' operating systems. Thats less about security than about further restricting consumer choice.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Economic Behavior Of Consumers

      I think the distortion of the market is clear to see and has been going on for decades.

      It has indeed. Where's the Linux versions of InDesign, AutoCAD, Quickbooks etc? If there were viable alternatives to such applications it would be a no-brainer to make the switch. Is it really MS's fault that there are no suitable Linux alternatives for essential production software?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Economic Behavior Of Consumers

        It's what's known as a Vicious Cycle. Mircosoft totally dominates the end-user OS so software makers concentrate on that OS (because the return isn't there for alternatives anymore), which reinforces the decision to stick with Windows, and so on. And since there's money involved throughout the cycle, normal business sense makes the cycle self-reinforcing.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Economic Behavior Of Consumers

        "Is it really MS's fault that there are no suitable Linux alternatives for essential production software?"

        What part of "distortion of the market" did you not understand?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Economic Behavior Of Consumers

          What part of "distortion of the market" did you not understand?

          Don't you think it's a little disingenuous to piss and moan about MS distorting the market when the community you advocate for isn't bothering to compete? We know that in the areas where the Linux community does compete with MS, it wins resoundingly. It isn't Windows that makes MS successful, it's the many useful applications that make it so. It isn't Linux itself that makes it a success in the web serving arena, it's Apache. According to Paul Thurrott:

          About 1 billion devices are running Apple software

          Windows has about 1.5 billion active users

          Android about 1.4 billion devices

          That's some "monopoly" ain't it?

          Frankly, rather than hear people whining about how unfair MS is, I'd rather hear "Have you checked out this kewl new application that means you won't have to boot into Windows ever again?"

  22. andrewj

    The most depressing part about this story is the fact that it took 8 years for the court to make a decision.

  23. constance szeflinski

    You can't always get what you want

    Oy vey! This is ridiculous - I can choose to sell only red hats but pink hats are simply not available even if all the hats start out pink before I dye them red. This is the foundation of this absurdity. Here's what I'm selling - don't want it - don't buy it!

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: You can't always get what you want

      This is the foundation of this absurdity. Here's what I'm selling - don't want it - don't buy it!

      Not at all absurd. In the 90s, The Git had a business training computer end-users. Initially, he had a problem with cash flow. So he offered a 10% discount for clients who paid in advance, or on the day. Clients who "needed" 60-120 days to pay rapidly found that The Git was unavailable. Presumably you would somehow have had him forced to accept doing business with the laggardly payers.

  24. sisk

    Finding a pre-built computer sold without an OS is fiendishly difficult, but my understanding for quite a long time has been that the consumer is not paying for Windows on computers that come with it. Rather Microsoft more or less gives OEM copies to manufacturers.

    That said I do think that the fact that 99.99993%* of all computers except Macs sold in the last 20 years have come with Windows represents a significant barrier to any new OSes that might come out. It does give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the OS market in my opinion, but really there's nothing to be done about it at this point.

    But hey, what do I care? I build my own computers, I haven't bought a prebuilt machine in...um....Actually I'm not sure I ever have, unless you count the one my parents bought me as a kid or the one they gave me as a high school graduation gift.

    *Yes, I pulled that number out of a bodily orifice. I've no idea what the real percentage is, but I'm guessing it's close to that one.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Finding a pre-built computer sold without an OS is fiendishly difficult

      Back in 1996 I was managing a computer training organisation that had a site license for all MS software. I managed to order 14 new PCs by... I know this is difficult for some to comprehend... picking up the telephone and requesting a computer retailer to provide them sans operating system.

      I have also purchased single computers from EYO in Sydney, Principal Computers in Hobart and Game Dudes in Brisbane. In fact, hardly any of the dozens of computers I have purchased for myself or on behalf of others has come with an OS.

      Is it really the case that it's only in Australia that it's fiendishly easy to purchase a computer without Windows? Or are we Australians just a helluva lot smarter than anyone else on the planet?

      Rather Microsoft more or less gives OEM copies to manufacturers.

      Are you on crack? Principal Computers are currently selling Win7 Pro OEM for $AU234.84. Do you honestly believe that MS gives away software for free so that retailers can sell it for that kind of price? FFS! I think you pulled all of your post out of a bodily orifice.

      For some reason El Reg doesn't want to accept my HTML for the hyperlink, but here's the URL:

      http://principalcomputers.com.au/product-category/software/operating-systems/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Are you on crack? Principal Computers are currently selling Win7 Pro OEM for $AU234.84. Do you honestly believe that MS gives away software for free so that retailers can sell it for that kind of price? FFS! I think you pulled all of your post out of a bodily orifice."

        YES. It's called loss-leading. Eat a bit now to send out the lure, hook your fish, and get the money back later (in this case, with Office and Back Office and Windows Server licenses, which are all bookoo bucks, some of which are periodic rather than one-time). It's a known tactic, a bit dirty, but pretty well known in other markets.

  25. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Greed?

    AFAICS from the article he wasn't content with getting the cost of the Windows licence, he went for damages, maybe from greed, maybe just to make a point. Assuming there was the equivalent of the small claims court in his jurisdiction he should have gone for that. Now he's created a precedent which is probably the very opposite of what he intended.

  26. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Buying a Laptop

    Fortuitously, the ASUS Zenbook I purchased works fine with Linux Mint 17.3. Bluetooth, Wi-fi, trackpad, the lot work without any requirement from me other than run the standard installer. It was a refurb and that means I didn't have the option of ordering it without Windows. As a manufacturer’s refurb it came with the full warranty of a new machine. Being a refurb it cost $700 instead of full retail $1,300. Basically that means I don't give a flying fuck, or fiddler's fart about the "Microsoft tax". I saved $600.

    I suspect that when it needs replacing in several years' time (I've had it for three) I will use this thing called an Internet search engine and determine beforehand whether the portable I'm seeking (preferably a refurb) works with Linux (Mint or other).

    I suppose there's some sort of cachet associated with brand new, and "they forced me to pay blah, blah" but I'd rather spend less than more and not lie through my teeth about anybody forcing me to do anything.

    1. illiad

      Re: Buying a Laptop

      Be wary of 'laptop/ All-in-one' supporting windows' - they mean *win 10* - and if the chipset is skylake or newer, it will even need a *USB 2* DRIVER!!! The Dell 3240 is one of these.. we bought it for a great 30in lcd, SSD HDD, etc, etc... BUT the only way to load the driver is by disc...

      The NEXT chipset may not be as 'easy' to install.. anyone know whtat win10 drivers will work with win7 or other??

      The reason that dell was cheap, could be no one wanted win 10... :/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Buying a Laptop

        "BUT the only way to load the driver is by disc..."

        Since you didn't mention USB3, I would imagine a USB3 stick would suffice as well. Or a direct download...

  27. Medixstiff

    Back in the early 90's

    We were told by our suppliers that it was illegal to sell a computer in Australia without an OS.

    I used to LAN at a place where members of the Perth Linux Users Group would meet, a few of them told us they also tried asking for their money back because they didn't want Windows 9x, they tried going to court and were told "Linux isn't an operating system", so they were stuck with the OEM WIn9x, even though they did not agree with the EULA.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Back in the early 90's

      We were told by our suppliers that it was illegal to sell a computer in Australia without an OS.

      Clearly, you were lied to. It's a harsh world out there. Current T&Cs for what used to be called Microsoft Certified Trainer include the following:

      With either subscription, you get access to core Microsoft products for training use, including Office, Windows, SharePoint, SQL Server and other resources valued at up to $15,000 USD.

      MS has never required paying twice for the same product. Nor have there ever been laws passed by Australian state or federal governments requiring such. OTOH it could be you that's lying. Care to provide evidence?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem used to be (and probably still is) that the cost Microsoft charged for the preinstalled version of Windows was really, really low, and our contract said we had to pay per box sold *whether or not we sold it with windows*. So there was zero cost difference if the customer decided to not take Windows, and even if we took the hit and didn't charge them, it was about 30% of what they see an on-the-shelf retail box of Windows costs. So as a retailer we were boxed in on each side by Microsoft's pricing policies. Customers didn't understand it so we gave then $50 off and swallowed the lost profit.

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