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Amazon UK Refunds Windows License Fee, With Little Hassle 194

Posted by timothy
from the obey-lord-good-idea dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "Alan Lord, a FOSS computer consultant based in the UK, has announced that Amazon UK honored his request for a refund of the Microsoft license fee portion of the cost of a new Asus netbook PC that came with Microsoft Windows XP. Lord details the steps that he took to obtain a refund of 40.00 GBP for the cost of the EULA, complete with links to click to request a refund. Lord's refund comes 10 years after the initial flurry of activity surrounding EULA discounts, started by a blog post by Australian computer consultant Geoffrey Bennett which appeared on Slashdot on 18 January 1999. That Slashdot story led to mainstream press coverage, such as stories in CNN, the New York Times Online, and the San Francisco Chronicle, to name just a few. The issue quieted down for a few years, but has started to gain some momentum again in recent years, with judges in France, Italy, and Israel awarding refunds. But if Lord's experience is any indication, getting a refund through Amazon might be as easy as filling out a few forms, at least in the UK, without any need to go to court."
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Amazon UK Refunds Windows License Fee, With Little Hassle

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  • US? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Niris (1443675) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @03:42PM (#28799161)
    So this should work in the US, too? I'm looking to buy a new laptop sooner or later, but I sure as hell won't be using Windows. A refund would be prettty awesome.
    • Re:US? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @03:47PM (#28799223) Journal

      The thing is, I imagine the license fee is quite variable. I've heard 40$ us, 80$ us, and other numbers, not to mention based on the version of windows that happens to be included (you'd not expect the same for ultimate vs home edition).

      Anyone else care to correct me or provide more info (I'm sure people are more familiar with this than I am)

      • variable (Score:4, Informative)

        by clarkn0va (807617) <apt@get.gmail@com> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:09PM (#28799501) Homepage

        From what I've read, the range of refunds given has been variable if not arbitrary. This thread on the ubuntu forums [ubuntuforums.org] is an interesting place to start reading about some differenct experiences people have had.

        I was also interested to learn recently that it is possible to buy machines with no OS from some vendors. The college I work for has this ability through our Dell rep. This post [ubuntuforums.org] in the above-mentioned thread is particularly interesting, as it claims that anybody can request and receive a new computer without an OS from several vendors.

        • Re:variable (Score:4, Interesting)

          by scubamage (727538) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:17PM (#28799609)
          Really? I remember arguing with dell for close to an hour a few years ago that I didn't want an OS. I told them I wanted a blank hard drive. They told me they couldn't do it. I asked to speak to a manager, and they affirmed the lower person's statement. Maybe this has changed since?
          • Dell's much more likely to do that for a business like a college that buys many machines than for any individual customer.
            • by clarkn0va (807617)

              Dell's much more likely to do that for a business like a college that buys many machines than for any individual customer.

              That would be my assumption. Nevertheless, somebody has claimed otherwise on the ubuntu forums, and regardless of whether that claim is true, it has inspired me to ask next time I go shopping.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Shipping a machine without any sort of OS makes it difficult to test it beforehand. Ask about Ubuntu or FreeDOS (both are free, and you might even want Ubuntu).

            • Re:variable (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Christophotron (812632) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:52PM (#28800781)
              I think that is a very weak argument. How is it any more difficult to test? If Windows is preinstalled, then the EULA must be accepted before the computer will be able to do anything. Why wouldn't they test using a LiveCD or LiveUSB of some sort, that has nothing to do with the installed OS and can run a series of pre-defined tests? I fully support OEMs (including Apple) being required to sell computers with blank hard drives in them (and refunding the "OS fee") if that option is chosen by the purchaser.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386)
        UK£40 is about 46euro or US$66. Maybe that's the rate for XP these days.
        In Finland, the rebate for Vista Home Premium seems to be about 100euro, which is UK£86-ish or US$140-ish at current rates. That was the in-store price reduction I got for each of the two PCs I bought this year (in January and June from different local small system builders).
    • A refund would be prettty awesome.

      It would have to be to compensate for the grief of using Windows. ;-)

      I do hope that one of those "few links" offers a "Comments" field, preferrably one that isn't limited to 128 characters, though I suppose something like "Hey Microsoft! I want my life back. And no, you can't have any more of my money!" would fit and provide the requisite emotional reward.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      I just ordered an Eee PC 1005-HA from Amazon US. Let's see how this will work...

  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @03:52PM (#28799305) Homepage

    To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software. I can't understand why this hasn't been done by either the EU or USA.

    Software and hardware are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows in hardware from a number of vendors, and you can install a number of operating systems on a PC.

    So you would buy a computer and you would get two receipts, one for the machine and another one for the OS. The OS can even be preinstalled on the machine and you would only get an activation key with your receipt. If you don't want the operating system, you just buy the hardware and don't pay for the activation key.

    What really makes me mad is that the only reason this is not considered by the authorities is because Linux is not commercial, so they are not losing money from Microsoft's monopoly abuse. Only companies matter to government. The fact that the public would benefit from an operating system market where Linux would be allowed to compete on equals grounds is not relevant to the government because there is no single company making money from Linux.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Red... hat?

    • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

      by Seth Kriticos (1227934) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:02PM (#28799423)
      Now where do you get that from? There are vendors that sell boxed and/or subscription based Linux distributions (most known are Red Hat and Novel (SuSE), but there are others too).

      And there is a lot more money in support, money that actually is helpful for the local economy.

      Also there are other commercial operating systems that are sold (e.g. QNX).

      They just don't have the power and ruthlessness of OEM bribery and monopoly like Microsoft, but they are there.
      • by linhares (1241614)
        where can I find them in Best Buy?

        They are there, in a veeery abstract sense, that they exist and profit from linux. Not that they will actually change John Doe's behavior, whereas paying more for the OS just might.

        • by yincrash (854885)
          They exist in the enterprise market. Servers. I think the biggest reason is still that linux is not a good experience for a normal person. You can also get netbooks off the shelf with linux installed, with custom UIs. If you want to play any media on it that isn't opensource, it's not as simple as just trying to play the video and automatically finding the codec.
          • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

            by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:47PM (#28800015) Homepage

            > If you want to play any media on it that isn't opensource, it's not as simple as just trying to play the video and automatically finding the codec.

            This is simpler under Linux than it is Windows, and far simpler than MacOS.

            Ubuntu has staked the heart of this particular bit of FUD.

            • by Chabo (880571)

              Yeah, it's a simple dialog box saying something like "Would you like to install restricted codecs to play this video?"

              Compare this to Windows, where you have to download a codec pack (or, make a mess of your computer by installing 10 different codecs independently). Windows users also haven't quite come to a consensus on the best codec pack (I use CCCP), which means that there's a chance of incompatibility between two machines. This has made it so that even though most people use WMP, MPC, or Zoom Player, t

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tepples (727027)

              [Automatic installation of software to decode popular audio and video formats] is simpler under Linux than it is Windows, and far simpler than MacOS.

              Not in the United States, home of Microsoft, Apple, and Slashdot. In the United States, popular media codecs and containers are patented and not licensed for use in free software.

              Ubuntu has staked the heart of this particular bit of FUD.

              If you try to install the "ugly" codecs from multiverse, Ubuntu also puts up a big scary warning that the codecs require a patent license in some countries and that the patent license is not included.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Red hat makes no money from Linux?
      IBM makes no money from Linux?
      Novell makes no money from Linux?

    • Because Microsoft does not manufacture any computers. That HP you just bought that came pre-loaded with Vista, well the manufacturer is HP not Microsfot. Same for that shiny new Eee system you just bought except it's made by Asus and not HP or Microsoft so how do we split the Microsoft hardware division out and force em to sell without an OS installed?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software. I can't understand why this hasn't been done by either the EU or USA.

      Microsoft does not bundle hardware and software. OEMs do it. Arguing against OEM pricing is foolish given that it is SOP in every industry from car parts to parts cars.

      Software and hardware are clearly two different markets. You can install Windows in hardware from a number of vendors, and you can install a number of operating systems on a PC.

      Yes, that is true, and an argument against your position IMO.

      So you would buy a computer and you would get two receipts, one for the machine and another one for the OS. The OS can even be preinstalled on the machine and you would only get an activation key with your receipt. If you don't want the operating system, you just buy the hardware and don't pay for the activation key.

      There are vendors who will sell you a computer with no OS and vendors who will sell you an OS with no computer. No remedy is required because the market has spoken: most people want to buy OS and PC together.

      What really makes me mad is that the only reason this is not considered by the authorities is because Linux is not commercial, so they are not losing money from Microsoft's monopoly abuse.

      No, the only reason it is not considered by the authorities is that it is r

    • The fact that the public would benefit from an operating system market where Linux would be allowed to compete on equals grounds is not relevant to the government because there is no single company making money from Linux.

      Do Red Hat, Canonical, Mandriva, IBM, and Hewlett Packard ring a bell? All of those commercial companies make money from selling Linux, along with a host of other companies I haven't listed.

      And at least up until now, Microsoft doesn't bundle Windows with hardware. The OEM's do, under economic death sentence from Microsoft (though to be fair, the dumb-ass OEM's helped dig their own holes). The DoJ handed Microsoft its abusive monopoly license back when it allowed Microsoft to pay OEM's for refusing to put

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      To me, of all things that have been considered as a remedy against Microsoft monopoly abuse, the only one that is logical and practical would be to stop them from bundling hardware and software.

      Microsoft doesn't bundle hardware and software. Microsoft doesn't even make hardware that runs desktop Windows. ("Desktop" used to exclude the Zune OS and Xbox OS.) OEMs do.

      And the reason the courts don't do, or even propose, this? Is that nobody wants this. Nobody wants to buy a computer that is unusable when unboxe

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:48PM (#28800023)

    And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy License, then shalt thou count to 40 GBP, no more, no less. 40.00 GBP shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be 40. 50 shalt thou not count, neither count thou 30, excepting that thou then proceedest on to 40. 60 is right out. Once the 40.00 GBP, being the 40th number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy License of Windows towards thy Amazon, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

  • by Sun (104778) <shachar@shemesh.biz> on Thursday July 23, 2009 @04:50PM (#28800049) Homepage

    The case in Israel was an out of court settlement. It never got to a judge. It was unique in that the plaintiff refused to settle unless it was also made public, but still, no judge.

    Shachar

  • Can we do the same with mac os x? and new apple systems? Even if it just to get the real price of mac os x out of them. Will psysar try this in there court case?

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      The real price of OS X is known - its about $130. You can walk into an Apple store and buy a copy off the shelf...

      I think what would be more interesting is after he got his $40 back (sorry, dunno how to do euros or pounds on my keyboard - i'm american) is to go in the next day and try to buy a copy for that price.

  • by Polarism (736984) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:03PM (#28800211)
    Copy Print Exit 4:58:39 PM CustomerChristian Initial Question/Comment: Rebates 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Jeremy has joined this session! 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Connected with Jeremy 4:58:44 PM SystemSystem Hello my name is Jeremy. How may I help you today? 4:59:20 PM CustomerChristian Hi there, I was reading an article about how amazon refunded the microsoft OS price for a netbook that was purchased. http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2009/07/21/getting-your-microsoft-tax-refunded-1010-for-amazon-uk/ [theopensourcerer.com] 4:59:35 PM CustomerChristian I was wondering whether Newegg would do that on a laptop I ordered, because I don't accept the EULA. 5:00:34 PM AgentJeremy We do not offer this return. 5:01:02 PM CustomerChristian Didn't think so. :) Perhaps one day when EULA's are challenged in court we can get this fixed. Until then, viva la microsoft tax eh? ;) 5:01:49 PM AgentJeremy Do you have any other questions, or is there anything else I can assist you with today? 5:01:53 PM CustomerChristian Nope, thanks. Send Session ID: 658231 Question40 Pick one of the following options: OK Cancel Timeout40 Do you wish to continue this chat session? Continue Session End Session
  • Let's hope that's the beginning of a trend rather than an isolated case. Not that $40 matter much to me on a $1000 machine, but I'd never ever want to give them to Microsoft. If I ever get a Windows discount, I will donate it to the FSF or some other free software project.
  • This won't go far (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @06:34PM (#28801247) Homepage

    Amazon is not the company that bought that Windows licensed. That would be Asus. That implies that what really happened here is that Amazon decided to eat the cost to keep a customer happy.

    My guess is that the customer (the company that actually bought the computer--not the guy they gave it to) does a lot of business with them, so they were willing to eat a little on one sale to keep the end user happy, to keep their customer happy.

    I doubt Amazon is willing to in effect buy a Windows license for everyone who wants to buy a netbook from them and use Linux on it, so I don't expect this to go far.

  • Isn't this sort of like buying a car and demanding a refund on the crappy OEM stereo because you immediately replaced that crap stereo with some audiophile fanciness?

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.

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