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MS Wants To Know Whose PC Is Windows-Free 386

AJGriff writes: "This article over at Aaxnet details an e-mail sent from Microsoft to computer system builders in an effort to bribe them in to handing over the customers that bought OS-less pcs from them. The more users they turn over the better, too. The prize for fingering one of your customers who was irresponsible enough to buy an OS-less pc, or more accurately a Microsoft OS-less pc: 5 Microsoft Games, a Fossil watch, and a grill and lawn chair combo." This sounds like an extension of the policy of harrassing the makers of "naked PCs" touched on a few months ago, except with some bland prizes. (It's as if Microsoft believes that all computers need to run Windows ...)
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MS Wants To Know Whose PC Is Windows-Free

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:50AM (#256170)
    I think Microsoft is right, you shouldn't buy a "naked pc" or for hevens sake a pc with linux already intstalled. Have you seen the Linux logos out there these days? Most of them feature an unclothed penguin mascot, and that's just wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:06AM (#256171)
    With MSFT down 50% from it's all time high and the company's growth levelling off, it should surprise no one that Microsoft's blood-lust for license-money is getting more and more desperate. Their hunger was kept at bay by massive revenues, but now that those are not as large as they once was, they are starting to really squeeze the PC buying public.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:35AM (#256172)
    As noted by several people, clearly the intent is to turn in those companies bidding on machines who have existing (?site?) licenses with Microsoft. However, this has several significent legal and ethical problems even within that context.

    There are THREE classes of companies that would do this; 1) those companies upgrading machines whole and believing they should be able to reuse their existing licenses on new machines rather than paying for windows twice! 2) those certainly that do just pirate windows onto additional desktops (very rare in the US anyway), and 3) those REDUCING their dependence on MS software by purchasing machines for use with free operating systems.

    In that this could be used to get a list to threaten or intimidate companies in category 3, who are trying to reduce their use of MS software, and has significent anti-trust implications. Category 1 is simply shameless exploitation, but nothing new, as other articles have plenty of info on how Microsoft has been forcing companies to re-purchase windows multiple times for the same users thru various licensing changes, and represent either a healthy lesson in monopoly 101; the economics of why monopolies are bad and hurt their customers, or the last breath of a company desperate to make next quarter revenues.

    Since they are encouraging people to turn in companies and organizations engaged in competitive bids, this could provide another significent set of potential civil "liabilities" for Microsoft, starting with restraint of trade and/or tortious interference in a contract depending on if one considers the supplier or purchaser.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:35AM (#256173)
    Whats to say they can't have a mixed environment of both Linux and Windows machines? Sounds to me that M$ will be more worried about pilot programs using Linux instead of Windows in a company or the company jumping ship on M$ altogether. If I'm a company who is buying 500 "naked" PC's, M$ site license or not, it is NONE OF THEIR GOD DAMN BUISINESS that I bought the PC's without an OS. The seller has absolutely no right (well they shouldn't if they actually do) to go handing off my private information to Microsoft. Now if there is real evidence that I am using unlicensed versions, I can see them pushing for a license audit, but I feel they need more than just that fact that I purchased it to do that. If I go out and buy a hunting rifle, does that mean that the gun shop should give my info to anti-gun protestors so they can raid my house and dig into my background to see if might be connected with some unsolved murder? No it does not, this kind of thing should be illegal and if it is not, then we the people need to stand up to this lest we lose even more rights to the corporate pigs who seem to be running this country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:35AM (#256174)
    Subject: RFP

    I have been informed that in Mountain View, CA. has purchased over 8,000 PCs without Microsoft OEM OS on them. They claim they're running something called Leenux and this entitles them to OS-less PCs. They must be installing Microsoft Windows on them, because we all know PC's won't even boot up unless you have Microsoft Windows.

    Can you ship my eight Grills and Travel chairs to my P.O. box?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @02:58PM (#256175)
    Just last week, the small startup company where I work was invaded by Microsoft lawyers who wanted to see proof of every piece of MS software we had. They called the invasion a euphemistic "Microsoft census". It wasn't a search warrant invasion; but since our IT is enslaved to Microsoft, they felt that they must obey.

    Since we buy all of our MS software preloaded on machines, we really had nothing to fear. But why would they invade us so suddenly? The answer is connected to this article.

    A few weeks before the invasion, we bought 100 rackmount PCs from Dell without any software preloaded. We needed them for development of our own proprietary operating system. This article just confirms what I already suspected, Microsoft probably found out that Dell sold 100 PC's with no MS preloaded to a startup company (which frequently like to conserve cash, and are easy to bully). Of course, MS found no wrongdoing. They just assumed we must be pirating.

    I hope Microsoft's hubris comes back to bite them hard.
  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:11AM (#256178) Homepage
    It's NOT piracy. Far, far too many people in this discussion are using the word piracy to refer to people who use software in violation of its license agreement. This is not piracy, it is theft. Piracy is illegally boarding ships at sea, killing or enslaving the crew and passengers, and stealing the cargo. It involves guns and knives, lots of threats, and usually murder. If you hear the word for that used to describe the crappy little offense of license violation, eventually you'll come to think the penalties for both should be the same. Don't get me wrong; stealing software is wrong. But it sure ain't piracy.

    While we're on the subject of misleading semantics, please don't use the word "win" to refer to Microsoft's products. If you feel compelled to use shorthand for "windows" use "w" or "lose." Do not associate the idea of victory with Microsoft's product. Do it often enough and you and those who read your posts will subconsciously hear Microsoft and think "it's a win!" It sounds silly, but it's true. Words have meaning; connotation is important. Say what you mean and nobody will be confused.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:09AM (#256183) Homepage
    Excuse me, but doesn't a SITE LICENCE mean that they have ALREADY PAID for the dubious priveledge of running Windows?

    You're doing nothing more than defending a Robber Baron's efforts to intimidate people into buying the same thing twice.
  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:48AM (#256184) Journal
    My favorite part of that article is "We always thought 'compliant' had decidedly negative connotations, as in: 'a spineless, compliant little boot-licker'. Leave it to Microsoft to sell submissiveness as a virtue."

    Ah, the Register-- blunt, punny language + BOFH. What more could you ask?
  • by Gregg M ( 2076 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:57AM (#256185) Homepage
    Absolutely right! Why isn't there such a thing as a license exchange? Where people donate their old win 95 and 98, 98se licenses to charity groups and schools. I went to my library with old pIIs but they didn't want the licensing headaches. They turned the computers down! I couldn't believe it! A library turning down free computers!
  • by jjohn ( 2991 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @02:04PM (#256188) Homepage Journal

    There's been a fair amount of press lately about Microsoft cracking down on licensing. They go after big targets (like towns, universities, large businesses), so I doubt this is an effort to finger *nix users.

    What it does suggest is that things are getting ugly at Uncle Bill's farm. Microsoft has always preferred to litigate rather than innovate. In the early days of Windows, Microsoft benefitted from OS piracy. People wanted the OS to run applications, therefore the OS had value. Now, the PC market is nearly saturated and Microsoft has to squeeze organizations to show profits to their shareholders.

    If Microsoft were a star, they'd been in the red giant phase right now. Red giants expand by atomically fusing heavier elements together, having run out of the lighter fuel (hydrogren). Fusion with these heavier elements requires a lot more engery. To anthropomorphize this process, it's like a drowning man desperating treading water while wearing lead boots. This phase doesn't last long (in celestial terms).

    This is a sign of things to come for Microsoft.

  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:17AM (#256189)
    From the article:

    By submitting bids that request PC systems without an Operating System due to a Microsoft site license, you can earn points and win!

    (emphasis mine)

    It's not "PCs sold without an OS", it's "*new* PCs sold to companies that possess (or claim to possess) a site license, which request that the seller not include an OS on the PCs" - Basically MS is trying to track down companies that are claiming they have a site license (in order to get a discount per unit on new PCs they order), but in fact are just using one copy of Windows that gets "passed around".

    Still, it's kind of dirty pool, in a "guilty until proven innocent" way. MS calls up your IT department, and tells them they're suspected of piracy, and need to PROOVE they're innocent.

    It should be up to MS to prove them guilty, not the other way around. Although I'm not entirely sure HOW that could be accomplished without covert ops... ;P
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:42AM (#256190) Homepage
    Don't wig out.

    All Microsoft is doing is offering "valuable" incentives for people to provide some basic information: who out there is buying non-Windows PCs?

    This information, not-too-scientifically-obtained, will then go into some kind of statistical survey: "We offered valuable incentives to anyone who would could find somebody who doesn't have Windows on their PCs. And guess what? The statistics that came back show less than 1% of PC owners not using Windows. See? You WANT us to rule the world. Shut up and buy."

    And IT analysts will say, "Oh." And Slashdot will cry, "Outrage!" and try to disprove their statistics. And we'll all see this same story come back yet again, just with a different spin.

    Don't worry about it too much.

  • by Anonymous Cow ( 6787 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:09AM (#256197)
    Somebody just posted to Slashdot with the correct usage of "cite" and "site" in the same post?!? What's this world coming to?
  • I don't think there's any doubt that MS is the victim of a lot of piracy. I can understand that they would want to try to climb on top of the problem, but it seems like a lot of the stuff they do -- recovery cds vs. full versions of the OS on cd, and things like harassing pc manufacturers who don't install Windows -- puts unfair burdens on their own customers and even on people who don't use their products.

    People have been screaming about the new MS license servers. But if they work, won't it be a good thing for Linux users? If they can actually control piracy, what happens to their argument in situations like this? And how will they justify giving people crippled recovery CDs?

    Commerical software piracy is bad for free software because it tends to blur the difference between the free stuff and the commercial stuff. MS Office is better than Star Office. If a guy can borrow the CDs from work, he's going to use MS Office. But if he has to pay $400 to run it, he's probably going to run Star instead.

    So I think we should support reasonable and well targeted efforts on the part of MS to elminate piracy. Harassing naked PC people isn't reasonable and it isn't well targeted. But the license severs are both of those things.

  • by Maserati ( 8679 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:36AM (#256204) Homepage Journal
    It's a combination of third-party software and hardware issues. Apple got a lot of flack for not warning people the latest G4 firmware upgrade disable out-of-spec RAM; on the other hand a lot of random Mac crashes are caused by dodgy RAM.

    A Mac running 9.1 can be more stable than NT if it's set up right (which takes a lot less than an NT box) and winds up being almost virus free and more secure in the bargain.

  • by kraig ( 8821 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:12AM (#256207) Homepage
    it is your imagination.

    This article does not IMPLY anything, it says it STRAIGHT OUT, and I quote:

    Therefore, we strongly advise that each new PC that will be running a Microsoft Operating System be pre- installed with an OEM version of the Operating System.

    Because they don't do volume site licensing on OEM OSes any more. In other words, if you know your customer intends to install a MS OS, best to make sure they purchase an OEM licence, because there's no other legal way to do it unless they buy a retail version - and that would cost more.

    Yeah, they're checking for mass piraters - but they're also doing people who don't know their site licensing terms & conditions a favour.

    Why don't y'all try *reading* the articles first? All the way through. Read them for content.

    Oops, too much work, easier to just assume that MS is out to get you and set flame mode on.
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:54AM (#256219) Homepage
    It isn't theft either.

    How about "revenue stream hijacking"? :-)

  • by puzzled ( 12525 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256220) Journal
    Just DoS it - everyone in a purchasing position should take a few minutes today and ask Dell, Gateway, etc for a quote on 500 machines without any preinstalled OS. Its *another* crackable M$ 'security' scheme - stop whining and go give it the abuse it richly deserves.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:04AM (#256226) Journal

    Hey, if that's what it takes to encourage thoughtful and informative posts in this forum, then I'm all for it :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:02AM (#256227)

    Businesses do this all the time. If you pay by a method other than cash, companies will buy the customer lists from stores. Buy a case of Ms. Pauls's fishsticks, pay with a credit card. Now you're in the database. Gorton's Fish Products buys the customer list from the grocery store and sees that you bought a competitor's product. Now you suddenly receive a coupon in the mail for a discount on Gorton's brand of fishsticks. Of course, I expect everyone will go nuts because 1) they've never heard of this before, and 2) this is Microsoft, but hey, let's not embarrass ourselves, people.


  • The problem with that is that MS licenses are generally not transferable from one PC to another, regardless of whether you have OEM or retail licenses. The license is tied to the specific machine.

    Not the old licenses.
    That's why I keep our old NT 4.0 licenses.
  • by seizer ( 16950 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:33AM (#256236) Homepage
    We have the Data Protection Act in the UK, which requires companies to have your permission before they pass on any data at all about you to third parties (including other branches of the same company). It seemed rather draconian, until I read this, and suddenly began to understand :-)

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:27AM (#256239)
    It says that the quote request must specify that they aren't purchasing an operating system because the already have a site license. Apparently, microsoft doesn't sell such licenses.

    By submitting bids that request PC systems without an Operating System due to a Microsoft site license, you can earn points and win!

    This is not "an extension of the policy of harrassing the makers of 'naked PCs'"

  • As far as I'm aware, the restriction still stands, as shady as it is.

    What I wonder is if there is a way to get around it. Most consumer PC manufacturers have custom installs with all sorts of strange stuff on them such as "tech support tools" and whatnot (Toshiba and Compaq spring to mind).

    Since they (Toshiba et al) can sell machines with customized Windows installs as OEM copies (and thus pay a lower rate for each license), I imagine that an OEM copy needn't be "stock" Windows.

    What, then, is to stop a company from working with a small distributor and dictating the configuration of the "OEM install" such that it mirrors the company's default install. That way there is no need to deinstall the OEM copy and then install the custom config (after paying for 2nd copy of Windows). I'd imagine any small shop would love the extra business (there may be a small "service fee" involved but it would be nowhere near the cost of new licenses) and the company would save money. Essentially, the "OEM Copy" is your custom install, with the cost savings of the OEM license.

  • by YoJ ( 20860 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:58AM (#256243) Journal
    If you actually read the email, you see that they are awarding prizes and stuff for people that report requests for computers without OEM Windows installed because of a site license. Microsoft says that their site licenses do not cover new computers.

    Move along, nothing to see...

  • by Levine ( 22596 ) <levine&goatse,cx> on Monday April 30, 2001 @12:19PM (#256245) Homepage
    I have a friend who, about a year ago, came up with this interesting scheme to get free stuff from Microsoft. He would call up their returns and exchanges number, and claim "I bought [some product] at Best Buy and it doesn't work. They said to call you." The guy on the other end would then send my buddy a brand new whatever it was (always to some proxy address) and asked my friend to please send the receipt ASAP. Of course, he never did, and the bare-bones version of the product always arrived in a timely fashion.

    Over the course of a few months, I think he got every piece of Microsoft-manufactured hardware that existed and was being sold in stores. Several of those top of the line Intellimouse Optical things, as well - Christmas gifts for a bunch of people (not me, of course). The scam ended when my buddy asked for some programmable remote control that was advertised on Microsoft's site.

    "Yes, I bought this remote at Circuit City and it doesn't work."

    "Sir, that remote isn't being sold in stores."

    Needless to say, he stopped that practice relatively quickly. I bet the scheme still works, though.

  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:59AM (#256249) Homepage
    Actually, you're wrong. If you buy a PC and Windows, then scrap the PC, you can install Windows on a new PC.

    Point to the copyright law that says otherwise.

    Microsoft's EULA isn't a valid contract and isn't binding. Ignore it.
  • by SnowDog_2112 ( 23900 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:10AM (#256250) Homepage
    You didn't even read the quote you included in your article:

    "...each new PC that will be running a Microsoft Operating System be pre-installed with an OEM version ..."

    They're targeting companies that buy a few hundred PCs for their WINTel shop, and say they don't want to buy windows, because they can handle getting Windows themselves.

    They don't care about your single PC, and they don't care about a Linux shop. But if a customer says, "yes, I plan to run windows on these" and then doesn't buy Windows, MS wants to know.

    So, yes, that's sleazy and underhanded. But it isn't what you're saying it is.

  • by tomreagan ( 24487 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:10AM (#256251)
    Practices like this establish an antagonistic relationship between Microsoft and its customers. While I of course recognize that MS has the legal and ethical right to take whatever actions necessary to enforce compliance with any and all license agreements that it creates, this seems really, really stupid.

    Sure, they need to combat piracy. Companies and individuals steal copies of Windows every day. I have, I'm sure many people have as well. While I think that MS charges too much for too little, they certainly have the right to do so. But again, this is a dumb way to combat piracy.

    The solution is to entice people to pay for copies of Windows. Right now, there are no incentives (besides avoiding fees and fines if MS finds you) for being compliant. Thus, people pirate their copies. Simple actions like license amnesty days will not solve the problem. And now, by setting customers in opposition to MS, they have made it worse. If MS instead tried to figure out a way to make customers want to pay for licenses instead of simply ordering them to do so, they would be far more successful.

    In psychology, business, and life, you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.
  • by Biolo ( 25082 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:03AM (#256252)
    Anyone buying 500+ machines to use internally is going to blow away the OEM windows install as soon as it comes in the door (or pay their reseller to do it). They have their company standard OS, config and apps to install. That immediately blows the argument about the benefit of OEM installs out of the water.

    Does anyone know what happened about that clause in MS's license agreement that stated if you blew away the OEM install, you had to buy another license? If that still stands, then MS is trying to get large companies to buy their OS twice, once to get their own install on, and once to avoid the MS Police pounding on the door, disrupting their entire IT operation for days/weeks/months and charging the company with whatever systems are illegal due to; negligence, user "upgrades", administrative error, or whatever.

    That said, it's not just MS that does this, every member of FAST, BSA, whatever is responsible for just these sort of actions. Last company I worked for had a visit from these cowboys. The representative, who came round with a promise to help us check we were compliant, and a veiled threat of a raid if we didn't, turned out to be a salesman. He was essentially selling a "we won't break your door down" pack, and made it clear that failure to comply would be detrimental. Luckily we were bought out before they could do anything, so we just pointed them at head office. The really annoying part is we walked into the meeting with the results of our latest audit (2 weeks old) that showed we were compliant, but they didn't care.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:14AM (#256259)
    to fall for this?

    ***At your request a letter can be sent to the issuing Company clarifying Microsoft licensing policies.

    ...and pissing off the potential customer so bad that you are guaranteed NOT receive the contract.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:20AM (#256262) Homepage Journal
    a reseller who's willing to tick off the kind of customer who buys 1K PCs at a pop, in exchange for what amounts to a chance to win a free lottery ticket?

    Pushing boxes is such a hardscrabble existence. The slightest chance that you could get blacklisted by a free spending customer is a much higher cost than the possibility you might be eligble to win fabulous prizes.

  • by CharlieG ( 34950 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:48AM (#256266) Homepage
    Having known a company that got audited, it's a bitch, but here's my question

    Let's say I have a shop with NO Microsoft software, and that has NEVER had any Microsoft software. Can they audit me, and , if they can, what gives them the right?

  • by ??? ( 35971 ) <k@ko b l y . c om> on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:54AM (#256269)
    They appear to be doing so by exploiting their existing business relationships with distributors to allow them to intimidate people who are not necessarily their customers.

    If I put out an RFQ to hardware distributors, there is no reason whatsoever for Microsoft to get involved. Their difficulties with educating site licensees about their licenses are exactly that - their problem. This is an issue that they need to address by talking to their site licensees (who they already know).

    Now, in many instances, the threat of an audit or a review of license terms can be sufficiently costly as to force the installation of Windows on PCs. When faced with a nasty letter, it is often easier to go along than to fight.

    That said, it is questionable how many distributors will participate in this. This kind of breach of confidentiality is precisely the sort of thing that can sour a potential business deal (and that's what this is - they are going after RFQ's, not PO's). Any employee of a distributor who participates in this program deserves to be fired for a breach of the customer's trust.

    As far as antitrust goes... This and the old naked PC story come awful close to illegal product tying, even if the tie is not completely enforced...
  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:01AM (#256271) Homepage Journal
    If you're buying 1000 OS-less PC's there's a far greater chance you'll resell them or use an illegal liscense.

    My apologies if this sounds brisk, but your viewpoint on this matter as expressed in that last sentence is inherently wrong. Just because I purchased 1000 machines *without* a copy of Windows doesn't mean that I'm a) going to install a pirated copy of Windows, b) mean that I'm more likely to resell them to users down the pipe with a pirated copy of Windows, or c) mean that I'm not planning on putting legal copies of Windows on those 1000 machines anyhow. At the university I previously worked for, we had a license agreement with M$ that gave us permission to install Windows on any and all machines we wanted to site-wide. We later noticed that the wording didn't exclue out users from gaining from the arragement either. Any dealer that cares as little about their customers so as to sell off the confidential information isn't worth dealing with in my opinion.


  • by mfarver ( 43681 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256273) Journal
    Note the text:
    Therefore, we strongly advise that each new PC that will be running a Microsoft Operating System be pre-installed with an OEM version of the Operating System.
    So if the PC is not going to be running Windows, MS doesn't care. A major shift from MS's naked PC "if it doesn't have an OS, the user is going to pirate a MS OS" policy.
  • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher&gmail,com> on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:12AM (#256274) Homepage
    So now anyone who wants to buy a bunch of hardware to put free software on needs to include a countering phrase in the RFQ.

    Put a statement into every RFQ (most places already have a boilerplate of necessary statements) that warns the channel that any participation with the M$ grasser (snitch) policy is a binding agreement to pay any and all costs associated with any resulting audit, regardless of whether the bid was placed with the channel or not. That should make the channel think twice about losing customers in return for a cheap watch and a few lousy games (which they probably already have pirated). Any channel not wanting to alienate potential customers will quickly establish a policy to never contact M$.

    Assuming M$ doesn't continue to use its monopoly position to force channel partners to participate, market forces will eventually punish enough snitches. Customers who are legitimately buying kit for non-M$ purposes will not want to pay 2x-3x the price for an audit, and will quickly learn not to deal with bad suppliers.

    the AC
  • by tak amalak ( 55584 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:59AM (#256281)
    Last week I bought a PC that didn't include Windows... I got it from MacWarehouse.
  • Microsoft doesn't care that you built a cool new Athlon and put Linux on it. They aren't after you. They are after the big companies that think because they just scrapped 500 old Pentium 166MHz systems they now have 500 Win98 licenses to use elsewhere.

    A lot of companies think because they either have a site license or scrap old PCs they can just order new systems without buying a new Windows license, but that is not correct. They aren't going after Linux users....g'z....

    Oh wait, I forgot, this is /.
  • by fwr ( 69372 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:13AM (#256286)
    People in 1776 were not forced to drink tea either. You fail to understand the meaning of "force" and the fact that an option does not necessarily need to be the only option to be forced on someone.
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:36AM (#256289) Homepage
    You weren't forced to sign the license or to use MSFT products; if you don't like the terms, you don't have to use their software. No comparison.
  • by graxrmelg ( 71438 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:59AM (#256292)

    Gorton's Fish Products buys the customer list from the grocery store and sees that you bought a competitor's product. Now you suddenly receive a coupon in the mail for a discount on Gorton's brand of fishsticks.

    Did you skip the part where people from Gorton's show up to do an audit of your freezer, hoping to levy fines? If not, how is this at all the same?

  • by bendawg ( 72695 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#256293)
    Am I the only one who can't click that link?
    Well, for anyone else who can't, here's the link. []
  • To: From: Eponymous, Showered Hello - I frequently purchase and send requests for PCs without any operating system. You see, I build Linux systems for friends and local non-profit organizations so they aren't caught on the expensive Microsoft upgrade treadmill that they'll eventually fall off of. I'm hoping to persuade our local library to switch to Linux as well. Thus, I'd like to enroll myself in the RFPs and Qs contest. Since the Microsoft game titles will not function on my Linux computers, please send the Fossil watch. If you can't do that, then I'll accept the games. I suspect I can get a few dollars for them on eBay. Thanks for such an excellent contest - my fellow open source users and I will certainly enjoy the prizes.
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:49AM (#256300)
    If one day, I decided to replace all the X-terminals in our factory with PC's running Linux, I could very well run into this problem. The same would go for many of the point of sale type setups that some companies are using Linux for, with thousands of machines being involved.

    This type of thing only going to get more likely in the future.

    On another note, if I were buying machines from a company and they turned me in, I would never buy from them ever again.
  • If you think this scares you, Boeing is about to unleash a special version of Win2K on it's employees. This version will scan the users machine on boot, look for any OS'es that are *not* Win2K, and erase the boot information for them... It doesn't matter that you might actually *need* Linux on your machine for your work at Boeing, that LILO boot is gonna go bye-bye the next time you boot with this Boeing Win2K edition.

    Nice huh?

    perl -le '$_="6110>374086;2064208213:90<307;55";tr[0- >][ LEOR!AUBGNSTY];print'
  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256306) Journal
    Well, I'm sure that this is a two-sided strategy. First and most obvious is that they want to track those who are possibly using an illegal copy of Windows on their machines. I don't really know what they'll do effectively with this data, since there is no way to know if someone who bought a PC sans OS is running an illegal copy of Windows, or another OS. The second strategy is probably a way to get a feel for how many people are potentially using a non-Windows operating system. I guess every non Windows box sold is another potential Linux/BSD/BeOS box out there.
  • by dave-fu ( 86011 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:08AM (#256307) Homepage Journal
    Site licenses only cover machines you already own, not ones you'll be buying in the future. That's the long and short of it.
    You don't like those rules? No one's stopping you from using another OS; they're just trying to stop big corporations from "recycling" licenses.
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:03PM (#256310)
    The UCITA legislation will give them the right. On top of that, it will give them the right to close down your business while they do the search for the unlicensed software. That's why UCITA is so damned scary. Microsoft could do something like temporarily halt a competing business' operations (e.g. Red Hat) looking for pirated software that they know doesn't exist. That's why UCITA is so damned scary.

  • by Tiroth ( 95112 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:15AM (#256324) Homepage
    You're only partly correct. They cite the site license mistake specifically, but they are in fact interested in any volume purchase.

    Even companies that are legally purchasing naked PCs to run other OS on can be subject to audits, and may in fact lose a lot of money due to mistakes in other areas of their IT departments.

    An audit is threatening to almost /any/ business, regardless of how compliant they are trying to the threat of such is a potentially powerful one. I think an argument exists that gathering information to (potentially) request an audit on businesses that choose not to buy Windows creates a chilling effect.

    There is a lot of anti-MS FUD on /., and this article in particular was poorly presented. That doesn't mean there isn't a real story in there.
  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:39AM (#256329) Homepage Journal

    Yes, yes, this is definitely a troll post blown out of proportion. That said, however, there is still some interesting meat here.

    The interesting part really is the focus on corporate bulk purchasers justifying OS-less PC hardware by virtue of existing site licenses.

    Why interesting, you say?

    Well, because those buyers would be the intelligent cost-conscious consumers of new PC hardware, that's why!

    If you have a n 1000 site license like my large corporation, where PC support wipes the disk clean at Stage Zero before Ghosting on the full complement of officially sanctioned and approved corporate standard (Windoze) apps suite, etc., then why should you buy a PC with an OS already installed if you're going to blow it away first thing?

    The only reason I can think of for doing so is to implicitly provide MS with a gratuitous revenue stream from an effective double purchase of an OS: the preinstalled one and the one for which we have the site license. This happens all the time with one-off purchases of PC hardware that inevitably comes with a preinstalled OS. Since most large corporations have left hands and right hands operating independently, I suspect this revenue stream is not insubstantial.

    MS is simply curious who has figured this out and wants to FUD them back into what is the more profitable business model for them.

  • by outrage98 ( 99696 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256333)
    I read until I hit this sentence...

    Microsoft says this is to "help you help your customers be compliant".

    Prizes for turning in your customers? A "Fast Cook & Grill Combo and Travel Chair"?

    I think I'm finally starting to understand the secret to Microsoft corporate culture: the complete and utter lack of any sense of irony.

    Honestly, this is revolting...

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:18AM (#256336) Homepage Journal
    If you actually read the email, you see that they are awarding prizes and stuff for people that report requests for computers without OEM Windows installed because of a site license. Microsoft says that their site licenses do not cover new computers.

    The email quoted was shown as an example and also shown to justify why they were doing it.

    What MSFT is asking the OEMs to do is rat out anyone who requests a bid on PCs without asking for a quote on Windows being installed on all the machines. This is tantamount to claiming that all PCs should be running Windows or the purchasers are pirates. This then probably means that the purchaser should then expect a visit from the MSFT audit team.

    It's an interesting ploy and seems reasonable when one considers that most people buying a large number of PCs would want an OS installed until one realizes that they may plan to just put Linux or *BSD on the boxes.

  • by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:32AM (#256338)
    The point is that it's none of MS business whether or not a machine will be running windows or not. How is the reseller supposed to know what the purchaser plans to do. If I buy a naked pc and take it home to put Linux or FreeBDS on it, I don't want MS sending me crap in the mail much less assuming that I am pirating their crappy software. However, if the customer has to opt in ("yes I am getting windows from another source and I am willing to release that information to outside parties") then it's not such a big deal.

    And on top of everything else, this would include consumers who have traded up their pc's for a new one. Myabe they allready have a copy of windows, why should they be hassled in any way? I'm sure the click through prevents you from running(*) the same copy of windows on two or more of your personal machines at once (which is bullshit in my book but I digress), but as long as it's only running(*) on only one machine at a time you should be allowed.

    * Note --- I use the word running for lack of a better term to describer the state of windows operation on a machine.

  • by garoush ( 111257 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#256340) Homepage
    MS is only after those who are buying PCs in volumes, and than installing Windows on them from ONE single licensed/unlicensed CD (typically coming from MSDN subscription.)

    I don't see anything wrong in MS taking this action, other than that, IANAL, if it has the legal power to enforce it, but yes it does have the marketing power to force it.

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:14AM (#256344)
    I agree that the wording of the original article is blatently biased. But I am going to call you this assertion:

    If you're buying 1000 OS-less PC's there's a far greater chance you'll resell them or use an illegal liscense.

    What is the basis you making this assertion? If I am a company that is convinced of the value of Linux and want to deploy it in MY COMPANY, the chance that I will use an illegal license is ZERO, The chance that I will resell them is ZERO.

    And if I do resell it, as long as I don't put a pirated version of Windows on it, it is not illegal. Why should MS care that I have "an increased chance of reselling a legal non-Windows PC"?

    I believe people still have the right of association. I can walk into a Honda dealer, buy a Honda and couldn't care less what the Ford dealer across the street thinks. That dealer has no right, simply becuase I choose to do this, to invade my privacy. The MOST he could do is attempt to make a survey, and find out why I did that. And even for that, I am under no obligation to comply.

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:51AM (#256345)
    Not offense, but I think you have no idea what you are talking about.

    I could be making a purchase for a College computer lab.

    Or I could be a Linux reseller, interesred in providing Linux solutions to OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES who want such a PC. I buy the computers in volume, and resell my services in installation Linux/FreeBSD.

    Whatever my business it, the basis for making this claim is a narrow-minded categorization. 1000 PC's == Amazon Server Farm? Think again.

    Again I assert the right not to have to my business "spied upon" by MS.

  • by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @02:00PM (#256346) Homepage
    Can Red Hat do this? ;-)
  • by ReelOddeeo ( 115880 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:58AM (#256348)
    You weren't forced to sign the license or to use MSFT products; if you don't like the terms, you don't have to use their software.

    Untrue, IMHO. It's monopoly power at work.

    You do have to use their software.

    It's like saying you don't have to have a telephone. You don't have to have electricity. They are a monopoly, and they control a product that most people simply must have.

    MS is widely used. Imagine the same situation with any other commonly used office product: FAX, cell phone, copier, etc. Now imagine if any one of these could only be obtained from big monopolistic corporation. Sure, there maybe alternatives, but not really. That's why the monopolist has a monopoly -- the fact that there are not alternatives. Sure, free alternatives may be on the horizon. We may advocate freedom. We may celebrate each growing victory for free software. But for most people, the vast majority, these are simply not usable yet.

    If you truly believe that free software is at present a viable replacement for MS, for most users, not just a few, then you must necessarily also believe Judge Jackson was dead wrong in declaring MS a monopoly. What does monopoly mean? It doesn't mean the most market share. It means they have you over a barrel. (And now that you're nice and bent over...)
  • by xscarecrowx ( 118632 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:18AM (#256349)
    Wow, I can't imagine why Google would need 8000 computers for it's search engine [] when you would think others do it with less. []
  • by ClayJar ( 126217 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:38AM (#256359) Homepage

    Basically MS is trying to track down companies that are claiming they have a site license (in order to get a discount per unit on new PCs they order), but in fact are just using one copy of Windows that gets "passed around".

    Bzzzt! Wrong!

    What MS is saying (and has said all along) is that a site license only covers the PCs at the site at the time it went into effect. A site license, in MS terms, does not cover new computers. If you buy a new computer, you have to pay for a licensed copy of Windows regardless of whether you already have a site license for all the computers in your organization.

    I guess that's the rub. You pay umpteen dollars for a business-wide site license, but that does absolutely nothing to your licensing situation. You already paid for all the Windows licenses on the computers you've already purchased, and you have to pay for licenses on any new computers you purchase, so a "site license" is simply a sacrifice to the MS legal department to keep them from considering you for an audit (unless you buy new computers).

    Do I have this at all right?

  • by Wintermancer ( 134128 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:13AM (#256365)
    Yup, the boys at MSFT really want to know what is being shipped.

    Is this any different from any other company doing market research? Not at all. It's just a metric to use.

    If they know that 5% of PCs are being shipped OS-free, that is a statistic that they do not need to concern themselves with. If 99.9% are being shipped OS-free, now they have something to be worried about.

    It's more than a metric for market share. It is also an indication of how much software piracy is going on. This is useful information if your business is selling software to the hoi polloi.

    But I bet knowing that even 5% slipped by without the Microsoft Tax being applied still gets their goat.
  • by TomV ( 138637 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:04AM (#256368)
    Er, now I can see how MS might have some rights to know who's bought machines WITH OEM windows on them

    But if I, as an individual or as a company, choose to buy PCs with no MS products on them (and since the MS Apps only run on the MS OS's, buying a non-windows pc means it's MS-free), then what on earth would give them any rights whatsoever to information about my activities?

    If they want to find this info, they can ask their good friends at Intel how many x86 chips they've shipped and then compare that with the sales figures for Windows. That would be intrusive maybe, but ethically reasonable.

    But to ask the suppliers for information about someone else's customers is just preposterous. And probably contrary to Data Protection laws in those countries which have them


  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:05AM (#256377)
    Do you USA folks have a privacy act? Not a flame, it's a question. My understanding, is that in Australia (where I'm from) the company you bought the machine from would possible be exposing itself to breaches of the privacy act.
    I gotta admit, while I'm fairly OS agnostic, this DOES tick me off. Who gives MS the right to know whether I'm intending to put in windows or Solaris or Linux or whatever..... None of there fking business
    I work in a workplace with a hybrid selection of pc's and the like. Solaris for DB's, Linux for firewallrouters & various inetd type tasks an Win+ange box, various NT workstations, theres even an old novell box dickin' around somewhere.
    F*k MS if there going to profile me however. We occasionally do defence contracts and I'd be stuffed if a foreign company is gonna get it's dirty mits on info on our LAN
    I'd assume American companies feel the same way. Perhaps they ain't gonna do it here tho. Whats the privacy law situ in the states?
  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:13AM (#256378)
    How is that flamebait? Admiting that I'm OS agnostic?. I raise a serious issue here. I'll repeat.
    In Australia privacy laws protect customers from having data given to 3rd party companies. I wanted to know if they have similar laws in the state
    Oh and btw;- Haxor Moderation abusers suck. Read the friggin guidelines or dont mod at all.
  • Now here's my post for the troll of the week award.

    Maybe why this generates so much attention, is because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that appears just one step away from being a serious problem. Does the average Linux user have anything to fear here? No, not yet. Does the average company that runs several Windows machines and a few Linux machines? No, not yet. Could this information become dangerous to people that Microsoft wants to hurt? Very likely.

    What if Ziff-Davis publishes something bad about Microsoft, and spends a bunch of money on "Naked PC's", then some wag at Microsoft decides it's time to do a license audit on them. Regardless of whether the systems are all legal, it's a major hassle that can do damage to a business. And what company can say for absolute certain that none of it's thousand employees will have anything questionable on a machine? And what's to say Microsoft won't give this information to the Software Publisher's Association to help compile a list of suspected pirates, and tries to snare some of it's critics in the same blow?

    Is there anything to fear right now? Probably not. Could there be? Possibly.

    I don't like it, either way. I don't think of myself as paranoid, but then again...

  • by TTop ( 160446 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:13AM (#256380)
    The MS email says to "Notify and provide copy of the bid to your Microsoft Account Manager at:". I wonder if this email address would be a good place to voice concerns over this policy?
  • by sepulcrum ( 161180 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:16AM (#256381)
    Guess they'll be going after Google pretty soon , with them buying 4,000 non windows pcs [].
  • by DeadVulcan ( 182139 ) <`moc.xobop' `ta' `nacluv.daed'> on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:22AM (#256394)

    They're targeting companies that buy a few hundred PCs for their WINTel shop, and say they don't want to buy windows, because they can handle getting Windows themselves.

    It's even more than that. In the example letter they showed, a company was asking the supplier to pre-install Windows for them at no cost because they claimed their site license already covered the OSes on the new machines, which it doesn't.


  • by Mike the Mac Geek ( 182790 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @01:50PM (#256395) Journal
    Apple sends MS a list of all buyers and Mac users, demands booty, and disperses it among all the Mac users. Huzzah!

    Everybody wins!
  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256401) Journal
    I believe what was meant by the 'going after individuals' was they are pitching this to individuals at the distributor willing to turn in customers who buy OS-less computers.
  • by mitchkeller ( 208117 ) <> on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:28AM (#256411) Homepage
    Right in the section where they talk about what you have to do to earn prizes, it says (as previously quoted)

    By submitting bids that request PC systems without an Operating System due to a Microsoft site license, you can earn points and win!

    Sure sounds like they only want RFQ's where the company actually says that they have a site license. Yes, their motives may not be completely pure, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt this time and save the bashing for something truly heinous.

  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:57AM (#256414)
    The article is wrong. Microsoft isn't going after individual users, they're only after larger customers, corporations and resellers maybe.

    You need to turn in customers who purchased at least 500 machines in order to be eligible for a prize.

    A more descriptive (and more accurate) story is on TheRegister [].

    If you buy an OS-less PC and put Linux on it, they won't care, If you're buying 1000 OS-less PC's there's a far greater chance you'll resell them or use an illegal liscense.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:12AM (#256421)
    I think having a 100% non MS shop would be the only way not to have any EULA that would permit MS a free permit to come in and inspect. If there is not a single copy of any MS product, then they do not have an agreement to inspect with out a reasonable cause and search warrent. That means even the Pocket PC's have to be banned to prevent an audit without a search warrent. Unfortunately any shop of any size has at least one person with their own WIN PDA that opens the door.
  • by Evil Grinn ( 223934 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:57AM (#256428)
    Sure sounds like they only want RFQ's where the company actually says that they have a site license

    Why would a customer need say this in the first place? If they want to order 1000 naked computers, why do they need to explain to their reasons to the vendor?

  • by jabber01 ( 225154 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:58AM (#256429)
    And in other news, Old Navy, a subsidiary of the clothing store The Gap, has begun collecting statistics on it's customers, and turning these over to The Gap's management for follow-up action.

    Contact information on customers who purchase more than one shirt, sweater or jacket, without at the same time buying shorts, pants or a skirt, will be contacted by The Gap with special offers for these items.

    The Gap's management claims that this will greatly reduce the problem of public nudity and indecency, which is sure to result from too many customers owning only the top portion of a complete Gap Brand outfit.

    An un-named, but high ranking, Gap Official was quoted as saying " We at The Gap feel that it would be indecent, nay! Immoral, for all those people to prance around in Old Navy shirts without matching Gap Khakis! We're just trying to protect the children. "

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

  • by xFoz ( 231025 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:07AM (#256432)
    I'm turning in that one guy who posts here all the time. You know Anonymous Coward.
    He must be responsible for at least 500 machines all by himself!
  • Audits are painful - I've seen companies spend months trying to match PO's, those silly hologram logos, and what not prepping for a visit. Be careful when you kick a sleeping dragon... it may not matter if you were justified or within your right.

  • that five or so local computer stores were under investigation for piracy a year or so ago. I shopped at a few of them and asked - seems Microsoft was concerned about them selling "bundle only with a new PC" copies of Office, and Microsoft and them were haggling over what a "new" PC is. This is really a can of worms for people who upgrade boxes - myself, I have had had the same hammer for years, replacing 3 heads and 5 handles - but that is another rant....

    At the same time, a shop that was not on the list was selling Office 97 with a main board / hard drive at OEM prices. I was building a new box for a friend, so I bought what I thought was a legit copy. Turns out, the CD with "on-line" activation was really a replacement media CD that was priced like an OEM version of Office. They are now gone, so what do you do?

    Anyhow, a few shops survived the inquisition. I see the problem, but have mixed feelings about their tactics.

    (PS, for all the jokes we make about Big Brother, it is be worth mentioning 1984 is a fantastic read and worth doing in your off-line hours.)

  • by tempmpi ( 233132 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:41AM (#256440)
    I don't know how it is in the US, but here in germany you have the right to do so. If you have 500 old PCs with 500 win98 licenses you are allowed to scrap the old PCs and buy new PCs and use your win98 licenses on them. There might be difference with a site license but with simple retail or oem licenses this is legal in germany.
    Microsoft tried to sue a few computer resellers that sold windows oem licenses without PC, microsoft lost in the court. When you buy software in germany it is yours and you are allowed to do with it whatever you like, but things that are forbidden by other laws like the copyright laws.
    A lawyer looked at the product activation system in Windows XP, and he said that he thinks that this product activation system is against the law in germany, because it prevents you from selling it to someone else.
  • by vodoolady ( 234335 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:34AM (#256441) Journal
    By submitting bids that request PC systems without an Operating System due to a Microsoft site license, you can earn points and win!

    Emphasis mine. They're going after people who are misusing a Microsoft license, not regular customers. Microsoft's email is a bit confusing, but no more so than slashdot. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. You guys are unresponsible, unaccountable morons. More predictable than a computer.

  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:55AM (#256469)
    It states in the letter that they are looking for volume purchases where it is stated by the purchaser that the reason an OS is not needed is because of *existing* MS volume licences. It makes no mention of reporting purchases where the stated intent is to install alternate operating systems.

    Of course not, and for two very good reasons:

    1. According to Microsoft (when dealing with OEMs anyway), there is no such thing as an alternative OS. It's Windows or nothing. If you go back and do some reading on the letters that MS started sending out regarding "naked PCs" a few months ago, you will see this mentality shining through. In Microsoft's mind, a naked PC will end up with a pirated version of Windows on it.


    2. If they didn't mention the "erroneous" claims of MS volume licenses, then they'd have absolutely no business asking for this info. Not that they really have any right to ask for it in the first place, but throwing in this line about volume licenses does at least add the veneer of legitimacy to it.

    The simple fact is, until recently you had to buy an additional license if you had a volume license agreement and wanted to reimage a PC that came with an OEM installation. That's right, you pay for a new machine with an OEM Windows install on it, then you are required to buy an additional license in order to reimage it with your corporate standard. In this context, the MS letter makes perfect sense.

    Unfortunately, MS modified it's volume licensing (Select and Open) agreements to allow you to re-image an OEM installation without having to buy a second license for that PC. The reason for this was because volume licensees (large corporations) started screaming about not only the existence of a Windows tax, but having to pay the Windows tax twice. Taken in this context, it would seem that you should be able to purchase additional licenses via Select or Open agreements and buy naked PC's and potentially save some money on your OEM deal.
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:06AM (#256476) Homepage

    I found that article rather amusing as opposed to MS trying to take over the world. It would have been nice to include the entire email, headers and all as opposed to just posting something. [].

    Equally funny is:
    we need your help in assuring that each and every PC has a licensed and legal operating system.
    Did they mean PC running Windows or are non MS based OS' illegal?

    Either way I could see MS' beef with wanting to know if PC's are shipped with Windows where the buyer didn't pay MS for their oh so beautiful product []. Now it would have been interesting to hear from MS sending out something similar stating they wanted to know how many PC's are shipped with alternative OS'.

    What ever happened to that incident where users of Linux/BSD were demanding rebates for purchasing PC's without Windows, where they felt they shouldn't have to pay for Windows since they didnt use it.

    Anyone remember that from like 2 years back or so?
  • by anshil ( 302405 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:04AM (#256477) Homepage
    When I remember somewhat back into late 80ies early 90ies people asked a lot on magazines (the internet wasn't that big that times :), why is software expensive, i can't affort to pay $100 for my MS-DOS copy (or whatever), the usual authorative answer was, look buddy did you steal your copy? right now for every sold copy we know 10 people are using it, so it's quite logical we've to charge the 10 fold price...

    well it seemed like a devil's-circle, if they would go cheaper, people would by products, if more people would buy products they promised to go cheaper.

    Then the CD came, for some few years (cd burning was not normally affortable) pirating was heavily reduced, however did the prices go down a single bit? No! They just happily collected the money.

    And don't let us forget what made microsoft big. It was msdos and windows 3.* And why did so many people use it? Because it didn't cost them a thing, people that had really some money to spend used big *nix machines from the big vendors that times IBM, HP, etc. however for us small 0815 man, we didn't have money to spend, the 386 times -most- pc's we selled blank, and you asked you're buddy, hey pal can you ""borrow"" me your three msdos disks for a moment please?

    when pc's came up with msdos and win 3.* microsoft "free'd" us from the grip of the multi-concerns. That quite expensily selled -their- software preinstalled on -their- hardware systems, so you could really not pirate it unnoticed...

    Now the swing turned heavily over and ms is today in the position they opposed once before ~10-20 years.

    Let's see if history repeats again, or if things will turn out differently...
  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#256478) Journal

    Microsoft isn't going after individual users, they're only after larger customers, corporations and resellers maybe.

    I've read the story twice, wait let me triple check it ... okay, three times now. I don't see anywhere where it says anything about "individual users."

    If you follow the link, you'll see the entire email that started the whole thing. It's pretty clear Microsoft is targeting corporations who are trying to use their site license to load images onto all new boxes. Apparently, that's against the terms of the site license. (Not that the terms are clear enough to read without legal assistance. Hey, the article links to a whole story about that problem, too.)

    And in case you missed it, the Register article you seem so fond uf is based on the same article that this Slashdot story is based on!

    Oh, and thanks for throwing on your own FUD:

    If you buy an OS-less PC and put Linux on it, they won't care, If you're buying 1000 OS-less PC's there's a far greater chance you'll resell them or use an illegal liscense.

    Yup, no chance at all someone actually meant to buy all those boxes and put something other than Windows on them. They simply have to be doing something illegal.

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:34AM (#256479) Journal

    What are they supposed to be doing? Install Windows and apps on thousands of machines?

    In the original article about the rat out your clients game, there is a link [] to an article about licensing. In there you will find:

    If you got your computer with an OEM license, but you "ghost" the hard disk as most larger companies do to achieve consistency, you have to buy a second Windows license for that computer. Installing this second license voids your OEM license so the OEM no longer provides support. You now have to get that from Microsoft at $350 per incident.

    So in short, yes, you are supposed to install all apps individually onto a clean OEM Windows install.

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:53AM (#256480) Journal

    No offense, but the odds of you finding one thousand computer users willing to keep Linux on their desktop for everyday use is also next to ZERO.

    Gee, it would probably take me so long to look up a few Linux [] Users [] Group [] pages [] and ask who uses Linux for a desktop. There can't be any [] of [] them [] out [] there [] ...

  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <`r_j_prahad' `at' `'> on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:31AM (#256484)
    The grill will have a 400 square inch cooking surface, but it'll only be able to heat one item at a time. You'll have to completely replace your patio with a new one before you can use the lawnchairs. The watch will display time in a non-standards-compliant proprietery format. And worst of all, you'll have to pick five games from Microsoft that don't totally suck.
  • by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:11AM (#256485) Journal'd have been able to make a situation where every PC was a "naked" PC as part of the Microsoft antitrust case settlement. Then there wouldn't be a need to break them up, other operating systems would have a fair chance of beating MS at the installed base of APIs game, and PC manufacturers would be forced to produce more standardised equipment rather than making PCs that can only be supported in one operating system configuration.

    Instead we have a situation where Microsoft can harass PC manufacturers who don't wish to play its game, and where the vast majority of PC buyers have to pay the Microsoft tax, regardless of whether they want Windows, a user friendly reliable alternative, or an open, reliable, and free speech alternative.

    I'm not surprised the above wasn't the settlement. Microsoft is the company that's (found to have) violated antitrust laws, and the solution above would have "punished" "innocent" third parties. But perhaps this illustrates that the law doesn't work in this case. Microsoft can get away with harassing third parties, solutions that would punish it wont necessarily do anything about its monopoly, and solutions that would do something about the monopoly can't be implemented.

  • by CargoCult ( 313610 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:06AM (#256486) Homepage
    I wonder if people who've recently bought naked pc's could:

    a/ Mail me a picture...
    b/ Mail me your address details - 500 mails and I get the BBQ set!!

    Thx....every cloud has a silver lining for someone

  • by IgorFL ( 318202 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @02:39PM (#256490)
    And I'll turn in my university!! :)
  • by pjt48108 ( 321212 ) <> on Monday April 30, 2001 @03:11PM (#256493) Homepage
    Ok, it's a stretch, buuuuttttt....

    Dear Sir (or Madam),

    Hello. My name is Billy Gates, and I attend the Senior High with your daughter, ________, where I am the student computer tutor and future pant-shittingly rich tech entrepreneuter.

    It is common knowledge that your daughter has received a great deal of tutoring from me, yet has chosen not to allow the installation of my OS on her HD.

    Therefore, I am offering you this opportunity to win one of many prizes, and all you need to do is convince your daughter to achieve some measure of installation. Simply convince your daughter to be mine for an evening, and you could win (based on, well, bases achieved):

    First Base: if I am able to proceed to FB, you will receive a year's subscription to free Windows Bug Patches, er, I mean upgrades. (But remember, just registering will get you a FREE PC with a three-decade subscription to MSN!).

    Second Base: Second base will earn you a shrink-wrapped, previously unowned copy of Windows NT4 Server on floppy disks, complete with all half-dozen or so updates. Also includes the option of free Hailstorm enrollment (when announced). What a deal already, and only half-way to Home!

    Third Base: Should your daughter and I proceed to Third Base, you will receive a preview version of the Toast-Box, running MS Toaster-Struedel 2001. This special MS product also includes InternetRadio 2001, preset to WMSN, my favorite station here in Redmond.

    Home plate: If I get to home plate, you will recieve 10 shares of Microsoft stock.


    p.s.: Know a neighbor with a little hottie at home? Forward names and addresses to me, and if I succeed in installing my OS on their daughter's HD, you will be registered to win many more neat-o prizes!

    Please send to:

    MS DateGetter Services Division

    Gates Compound

    Redmond, Washington
  • by janpod66 ( 323734 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:59AM (#256497)
    We have a Microsoft site license and we order some PCs without Windows preinstalled--to run Linux on them.

    The complaint people have with the letter is Microsoft's limited and self-centered mindset, as if the only use of a PC was to run Windows on it:

    Therefore, we strongly advise that each new PC that will be running a Microsoft Operating System be pre- installed with an OEM version of the Operating System. The alternative would be to purchase retail product, at greater cost and inconvenience to your customers.

    Whether Microsoft does this kind of nonsense with Machiavellian deliberation or out of clueless incompetence doesn't really matter; the effect is the same: they make money for selling licenses that customers don't need or want. How are competitors to Microsoft outcompete Microsoft if every PC purchase automatically results in a license payment to Microsoft?

  • by fantastic ( 398233 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:28AM (#256498)
    Except your comparison is not the same. You are talking about a competitive incentive. Microsofts version is presumption of guilt even though you may be innocent.

    I know a company that recently bought 400 pcs and installed Linux on them (they were not pre-installed with linux as they needed a specific custom build). Should Microsoft be given their details to remind them what MS license policies are? Is there a money off coupon involved, no!
  • by dhamsaic ( 410174 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#256501)
    what's wrong with "recycling" licenses? if i'm a company and i have 500 computers, and 4 of them get dropped in a move and busted and so i have to buy 4 more, what's wrong with installing with the site license i already have? i've already paid for the operating system 500 times, so why should i have to buy it again?

    just because that's what the license says doesn't mean that it's right. back in 1776 it was legal to tax mercilessly without representation, but that didn't make it *right*...

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:05AM (#256502)
    How many non-Windows PCs has Microsoft bought for things like Hotmail?
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @12:46PM (#256503)
    OK, according to this contest, I can give customer info to Microsoft, and I'll...
    1.) Get fired by my employer for violating company policy (if not breech of contract) by giving out internal information on customers

    2.) Get sued by my former employer, so they can recoup their losses from getting sued by the customer for giving out internal company information.

    3.) Never get hired in the same industry again, since it can be seen from my work history that I'll give out confidential and valuable internal information for almost nothing.

    4.) Be entered into a drawing for a watch.

    This sounds more like something from a Douglas Adams novel than real life. Forget ethical/unethical, I have my doubts this is LEGAL. If it's against the law to incite or pay someone to commit a felony, what about this?

    Oh, and to all you people out there who complain about anti-Microsoft flamers on this topic, going on about how Microsoft isn't the only company to do things like this: Hitler wasn't the only person to invade Poland, but that doesn't mean he also wasn't the first to set up death camps there.

  • by Tech187 ( 416303 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:32AM (#256510)
    Unless you purchased retail-box copies of Windows 98 that you put on those two new machines, you're in violation of the license terms on the OEM copies that you moved to the other machine.

    Actually, the Retail box version of Windows, even at the higher cost, is a pretty good deal (albeit only from a non Freenix point of view) because you basically have the right to a completely transferrable copy of Windows that you can run forever on any single machine that you choose. A 'free' OEM license dies when the machine it was purchased on dies.
  • by Darth Paul ( 447243 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:28AM (#256526)
    Guy: Hello? Microsoft: Hello. I'm Bob from Microsoft piracy control. We recently received an anonymous tipoff that you recently bought a large number of OS-less PCs. Guy: Yeah. We're putting BSD on them. We power our web services with them. Microsoft: I notice you used to have an NT licence. You know you can't use those NT licences anymore, right? Guy: Yeah we tried NT, but it bombed out miserably. We're back to BSD now. Microsoft: Very good. Thankyou for not using pirated software. Guy: Cool mate. Have a nice day. Thank you for calling Hotmail support. Just send the BBQ upstairs ASAP.


Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.