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Buy PC Without an OS... Get a Visit From MSFT? 639

sebFlyte writes "'Don't sell PCs without operating systems or we'll send the boys round.' That seems to be the general message coming out of microsoft's antipiracy unit, according to ZDNet. While MS seems to accept that people might want to get hold of PCs without Windows so they can put Linux on them, they don't think that's a good enough excuse. "We want to urge all system builders -- indeed, all Partners -- not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business," says Microsoft. The FSF has given this policy short shrift, saying: "It looks like a private sniffing service which is supposed to spy on these who do not want to pay the Microsoft tax anymore. It is an incredible piece of impudence.""
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Buy PC Without an OS... Get a Visit From MSFT?

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  • Volume licensing (Score:0, Informative)

    by fusto99 ( 939313 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:59AM (#15067236)
    I went through this problem when I just bought 10 new computers for my company. We have volume licensing agreements from Microsoft so we didn't want to pay for separate OEM licenses that Dell would provide. The only way we were allowed to do this was if we chose FreeDOS as our operating system. So MS would still get mad if I ordered a PC without an operating system preloaded even though I was going to load a legal version of their OS on it? That's pretty stupid!
  • by Aqws ( 932918 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:02PM (#15067269) Journal
    There are places that sell PCs and don't force you to pay for windows. I found this website from someone else who posted a link to it on slashdot. They also have other nice things music like that doesn't have DRM.

    You can get stuff here []
  • Old News (Score:2, Informative)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:04PM (#15067310) Homepage Journal
    They've been saying exactly this since []">at least 2000 (Courtesy of the wayback machine).
  • Oh, this again? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:10PM (#15067389)
    Oh come on, get off it, Microsoft. In the interest of keeping this short, here are all the valid reasons for getting a "naked" PC:

    • We already have a volume license for the operating system, and it may purchased at a cheaper rate than what the OEM payed. Either way, it's already paid for.
    • We're running an older version of Windows that we have volume licensed, because our software requires it.
    • We're replacing the hardware only, so it's basically a hardware upgrade.
    • We're running another operating system (especially if it's a server)

    I'm more concerned about still paying the Windows tax. If it comes with a copy of Windows because it's more effecient for the OEM to produce it that way, I'm not going to sell it on the black market, I'm just going to erase it.

    Sheesh. :rolleyes:
  • Re:Volume licensing (Score:1, Informative)

    by fusto99 ( 939313 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:17PM (#15067501)
    FreeDOS doesn't cost anything. So basically you're saving whatever the cost of an OEM license is. I believe it is somewhere around $150 per OEM license. Volume licensing is cheaper depending on how many PCs you get. Plus, the Volume license can be transferred to any PC. Since XP has been around for about 3 or 4 years, you only have to pay for a license each time a new OS comes out. If you order a PC, you would have to pay for a new OEM license each time.
  • Re:Here we go again (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbrader ( 697703 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:22PM (#15067559)
    Check out []. They sell OS-free laptops and desktops. I've never actually bought from them but I've heard from the grapevine that they're reputable.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:26PM (#15067614) Homepage Journal
    Okay... And trying to force the bundling of your software isn't abusing an abuse?
  • This is getting old (Score:3, Informative)

    by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:31PM (#15067682) Homepage Journal
    The article specifically and explicitely states that Microsoft will not come calling on customers who bought naked systems.

    I wouldn't put it past them, but this looks like a straw man that we have predictably knocked over. Congratulations, Slashdot, for another brilliant victory.

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlmitton ( 610008 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:35PM (#15067716)
    Absolutely correct. And it should be noted that in the antitrust trial, the findings of fact said that one of the ways in which MS abused its monopoly power was by charging OEMs per processor, not per copy of Windows shipped. Telling them not to ship without Windows at all is dangerously close to the same thing, and I can't imagine it wouldn't be considered an abuse of monopoly power as well.

    Before anyone tries to complain about the findings of fact, remember that the appeals court never disagreed with the facts Judge Jackson found, only the remedies he demanded. So that the original practice was an abuse of monopoly power still stands. As would the present case of strong-arming people into always including Windows.

  • Fuck Dell (Score:3, Informative)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:41PM (#15067793)
    I was thinking of purchasing a machine from Dell a little while ago -- tired of the hassle involved in building my own. They absolutely refused to sell me a machine without windows, even though I already own a legitimate copy of the exact same OS.
  • MSDS (Score:4, Informative)

    by NemoX ( 630771 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:43PM (#15067812)
    As an annual subscriber to a Universal MSDN package I don't think I should have to pay for it twice. That is called racketeering - a federal offense.
  • Are you daft? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:44PM (#15067819)
    Both "partner" and "system builder" are titles for CERTIFIED ms resellers.

    They are not asking that mom and pop shops stop selling blank PC's they are saying hey, we give you a deal on our OS, we give you special treatment with regard to pre-installs, we would rather you not sell blank PC's because research has shown that 73% of blank PCs (PC's that need NOTHING but an OS) get a pirated version of windows installed on them.

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:45PM (#15067829) Homepage Journal
    Okay... And trying to force the bundling of your software isn't abusing an abuse?

    Oh, it is, but they were convicted in a US court, which doesn't have jurisdiction in the UK (much to the consternation of the RIAA and MPAA). Even then, they got off lightly enough that they don't seem to be terribly concerned with risking a repeat.
  • Re:Here we go again (Score:4, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:03PM (#15068027) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft USED to have a 30-day unconditional money back guarantee but now they engage in fraud by claiming it is still in effect. See _Microsoft_in_$143.50_Legal_Battle []
  • by slakdrgn ( 531347 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:05PM (#15068044) Homepage
    If you can't buy a naked PC, then how are you going to make the most out of your volume license agreement?

    If you ever read the volume license agreement, its an upgrade to your existing windows license. Basically you should already have a license for the PC you are installing the volume licensing version on. You more pay for the connection access license (CAL) and various other 'use' licenses per user.

    From Microsoft's Website

    Only Windows Client upgrades can be acquired through Volume Licensing; the full operating system license must be acquired as FPP or be pre-installed by an OEM or System Builder.

    Its under Licensing Basics [] but also comes with your VLA and sometimes as a reminder in your VL Software Packs.

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by OwnedByTwoCats ( 124103 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:19PM (#15068198)
    It is illegal for a company to tie the purchase of a monopoly product to the purchase of a competitive product. I.e. they may not say "you must purchase our product I, instead of competitor's product N, in order to get our monopoly product W." Such ties are likely to result in the monopoly provider taking over a formerly competitive market, even though their competitive product is inferior to the competition.

    So Microsoft cannot "give away" product "I" by "including it free" with product "W". That is an illegal tieing.
  • Re:Fuck Dell (Score:2, Informative)

    by gid ( 5195 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:23PM (#15068980) Homepage
    Maybe you called the wrong number or looked the wrong place. The n series [] from Dell Small Business comes with FreeDOS or RedHat EL.

    Most people I talk to say to buy from Dell Business, not Home.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:47PM (#15069206)
    The fact that I need to watch a MOVIE to agree with your scenario means it's already pretty far-fetched.

    First of all, the 'movie' you are referring to is a documentary which has won two dozen international awards since its release at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

    Secondly, why does my providing reference to a body of research, like the above mentioned doucmentary, automatically make the scenario it supports far-fetched?

    Do you feel the same way about books? Or journal articles? Or anything which cannot be fully quoted in 50 lines or less in an original Slashdot post for your sound-biten reading pleasure?

    There is a lot more randomness and herd mentality in play on /. all the time. Somehow, a pro-religious discussion gets modded down, or you happen to use/like Windows stuff, that gets modded down ALL THE TIME. Why else do you think any slightly pro-MS comment on /. is always started with "I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but..."?

    I'm really not following you here. How exactly does pointing out that the standard bias on Slashdot is anti-Windows, help support your argument in even the smallest way?


  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:42PM (#15070449)
    And it should be noted that in the antitrust trial, the findings of fact said that one of the ways in which MS abused its monopoly power was by charging OEMs per processor, not per copy of Windows shipped.

    My boss at the time actually downloaded and printed the whole thing :) He is one of those, "I hate Microsoft, but I exclusively use their products, and make a living off of them" kind of guys.

    One thing I remember from back then was how MS screwed over IBM. They sold IBM Windows at a higher price because they had a competing operating system, OS/2, and strongarmed them into trying to not let them let out the secret that there were other OSes besides Windows. Also, they double screwed IBM by delaying their OEM licenses until after the "back to school" sales rush.

    I actually forgot about that crap. No wonder I quit that job, and quit using MS products soon after that.

    What a lowpoint in my life. More info about that wonderful company and the "findings of fact" here: icleID=18991&DisplayTab=Article []

  • by Acer500 ( 846698 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:54PM (#15070563) Journal
    I think Hanlon's Razor might apply here: "Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice."

    IMO your friend's post was not worded that well, not enough that I'd mod it down, but I wouldn't mod it up either unless I knew that the statement accusing Daniel Lyons was true (and I don't know whether it is).

    Plus, there are many Slashdot readers that either work with very closely with Microsoft or directly are Microsoft employees (for example 1&from=rss [] has several posts by either Microsoft employees or ex-employees), which might have felt that the post was a troll (it is a strong acusation).

    I would be surprised if at least some of them didn't have mod points (just reading regularly and being reasonable when posting seems to give you some).

    That only leaves the timing to explain, but I guess they would naturally be attracted to a Microsoft story.

    Of course, your explanation might be true as well, I definitely hope it isn't so (the implications would certainly be disturbing).

    BTW which of these explanations fails Occam's Razor?
  • Re:Drivers (Score:2, Informative)

    by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:30PM (#15071888)
    More expensive??? Huh??? Linux is well-known as running better than Windows on lower-end hardware, something that will become even more true when Vista finally makes it out the door. Most of the PCs out there today, including most of the ones on store shelves, don't have the guts to run Vista well. That's astonishing. Some of the computers I have running Linux are over four years old and have never been upgraded. They're still doing fine, and will still be doing fine when Vista comes out and Windows users have to start buying new PCs just to run it.

    Unless your definition of cheap starts at the bottom of the professional scanner range, you're really off track here. My scanner, for example, is an Epson, and it's supported out of the box by SANE and was when I bought it. I paid about 50 bucks for it. So are most other scanners, especially consumer-grade scanners. SANE supports hundreds of scanners. SANE support is so broad that before I bought my scanner, I didn't even bother specifically checking to see it it was supported or not. All I had to do was bring it home and plug it in. None of this BS like having to install a driver from CD first, like with certain legacy operating systems. In fact, the level at which hardware "just works" on many distros these days is getting more and more Mac-like all the time.

    Scanner software, on the other hand, is something else again. Kooka is not bad but doesn't have a Copy function (astonishing; if you're a Kooka developer, please add that), and X-Sane is pretty clunky but at least it has a copy function. Scanning into GIMP is fairly well-supported, but a Windows user (and even more so, a Mac user) will find scanning on Linux to be tedious.

    Anyway, scanners aren't even a good choice of example IMO. Most people don't want a scanner bundled with a computer system because they either don't want/need a scanner, or if they want one, they usually already have one. Scanners aren't something people upgrade very often. Heck, I don't even want a printer bundled with a system. My HP Photosmart 7350 serves my needs just as well now as it did two years ago when I bought it. I see no point in replacing it.

    Of course, if I did want a bundled one, no problem. You'd have to look a long time to find a printer that wasn't supported on Linux these days.

    Where is Linux hardware support not generally up to the level of Windows? 3-D accelerated graphics, something you didn't touch on. For most people that's not a huge problem, because there aren't many games for Linux that really take advantage of it, either. If you're a gamer, you need a console and/or a Windows box, that's just a fact on the ground. But for most people, who just need a computer for Internet access, light word processing, managing digital photos, etc., Linux is ready. Right now. Today. Desktop-oriented distros are as easy to use as Windows, they're more reliable, there's more software available than anyone fitting the above profile could ever need, and that software is easier to install than it is on Windows (honest; if you haven't used Synaptic or Adept (on Ubuntu), you need to try it. Puts Windows Update to shame).

    Linux has been my desktop OS since the late nineties. Back then, there were real challenges in doing a lot of stuff. Now, things are so easy it's almost not fun anymore :-) The hardest thing right now isn't hardware support, ease of use, application availability, or anything like that. The hardest thing right now is getting the word out to people that Linux is ready, it's easy to use, it's fun, it's reliable, and for most of you, it will meet all of your needs right out of the box. This is especially true for people getting their first computer. If you don't have a computer and need to get one, buy a Mac or a Linux box. You'll be glad you did.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith