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Refund for Windows action 168

In an update on the windows refund story, BiGGO writes "Someone was quick enough to open a site about the EULA-refund trick. They are encouraging people who were forced to pay for Windows but never used it to ask for a refund on a special refund day, Feb 15th" 136 people have already joined them in the 24 hours since the site went live. Update: 01/20 07:09 by S : David Cornette contributed this Wired story on it, and elflord forwarded this ZD-Net Story.
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Refund for Windows action

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  • Anonymous Coward wrote:

    In the current case against Microsoft, they are charged with illegally tieing their browser to the OS. Personally, I think this is a rediculous charge and MS will easily win.

    I think the charge has some merit, but almost nobody with legal knowledge (except the direct Microsoft spokespeople) say that Microsoft will easily win. They might win, they might lose, it means more to the investors than it does to me.

    HOWEVER, all of the PC vendors who refuse to sell systems without also charging their customers for Windows could be breaking the law.

    I don't know about other countries, but it is both legal and expected in the United States. First, bundling is only illegal for a monopoly, there is no PC vendor with a monopoly. Secondly, Microsoft's OEM license charges most of these vendors per machine sold, not per copy of Windows sold. The profit on a computer is so small that most companies can't afford to reduce the cost of your machine by the Microsoft tax, unless they neglect to pay Microsoft. This constitutes a breach of contract, so the discount becomes against the law, not the charging for Windows.

    AFAIK, I have every right to demand that, say, Compaq reduce the price of a computer by removing all traces of Microsoft from it before they ship it. And, if they do not, they MUST refund the price if I don't want it.

    Nope. Compaq has the right to charge what they consider is a fair price for their machine, and you have the right to take it or leave it. Compaq is not the one who you can demand the refund from, it is part of the "End User License Agreement" between you and Microsoft. They are the ones who must supply a refund if you do not wish to use their software.

    Also, if legal action was taken, would Microsoft be inable to strike agreements with OEMs which require them to bundle Windows with their products?

    If Microsoft is ruled to be a monopoly (which you indicated was "rediculous": hint, tying the browser to the OS is only illegal bundling in the US if they are a monopoly), then prohibiting such agreements would make a lot of sense. If Microsoft wins, it will be impossible.
  • Look at [] (nee' sunsite) for a list of vendors who will set you up with a system w/out any MS products (it is all the way at bottom of page).
  • by J4 ( 449 )
    How 'bout a URL for the stats page?
  • The bitmap is in logo.sys. You can edit it with MS Paint or whatever. The "Please wait" and "Your computer is now safe to shut down" screens are in logow.sys and logos.sys.
  • So, when one of the first ships came into the boston harbor carring the legale tea the people of Boston (not in mass, the majority were probably loyal to the crown at this time) planed, and one night snuck into all the ships and threw all the tea overboard.

    I think you're leaving out a rather important point. They didn't just arbitrarily do this 'cause they were pissed. They refused the shipment first, because they hadn't asked for it and were unwilling to pay the tax. The governor of Boston (a British government official) refused to let the ship leave harbor until the import duties were paid. The dumping of the tea was kind of a symbolic flipping of the bird to the British government.

    The (often overlooked) point being that they tried to do it the 'proper' way first, and only resorted to vandalism out of frustration as a way to call attention to the inequities of the situation.

    Gotta admit it was pretty effective if people are still talking about it over 200 years later ;-).

  • Yeah, it's higher than the national average, but last time I checked the stats, it was still only 30-40% or so. My website, which I suppose can be considered an "average" website (since it's not computer-oriented, it shouldn't be biased towards any particular OS) has approximately 0.05% Linux users, and around 0.1% total *nix (*BSD/Linux/Irix/Solaris/etc.).
  • 4) Linux is annoying as hell to install/configure. I had a hell of a time getting Linux and XF86 to work properly, and I'm certain the rest of my family (who are a lot less computer-knowledable than I am) would have no clue where to start.
  • Waiting until February 15th may not be a good idea. The EULA does mention that the product should be returned promptly, so the sooner the better. If they interpret promptly as being 30 days, it will almost certainly be too late by then.
  • No. The CD is still copyrighted, so you could still get arrested/fined for software piracy, even if they did violate the EULA.
  • Posted by wri guy:

    Hate to tell you, but a lot of companies are
    using Linux as a mainstay server and development
    platform. Windows is in decline already, as the
    Mac, Linux and Java are resurgent.
  • Posted by Navig8r:

    Not too confusing if you realize he meant to use the word "except" instead of "Accept"... Makes quite a bit of difference in meaning....
  • Posted by [OPticle]:

    In the Netherlands every Toshiba Notebook comes with english Windows.
    Most users want a dutch version, but toshiba says they have a contract for only the english version.
    They can't ship a notebook without windows.

    Should it be possible to return this windows using the EULA statement?
  • If you delete logo.sys, you still get a logo. The default logo is built into io.sys.

  • /. effect yet? :)
  • I'm assuming your not an American (the country), otherwise you need to go study your history not read this. I wouldn't expect the rest of the world to know this item though.

    Back in the mid-late 1700's The US was a colony belonging to the british goverment. At the time Britton decided to tax tea going to their colonies (and the mainland too I belive), which they did through their investments in a tea company (East India tea company I think). The colinists got around this by buying tea from a different company, based in Holand. (note, the two tea companies could have been the other way around, I didn't look it up). The king (of England) didn't like this idea, and eventially passed a law making tea not from the east Inida tea company illegal.

    So, when one of the first ships came into the boston harbor carring the legale tea the people of Boston (not in mass, the majority were probably loyal to the crown at this time) planed, and one night snuck into all the ships and threw all the tea overboard. This is the Boston tea party, and is important in American history, though not of much interest to the rest of the world.

    Of course the crown wasn't happy, and determined the colonies would pay for the tea they ruined. I don't know how that turned out, but I do know that to this day few people in the US drink tea, prefering coffee. (Accually more people might drink tea today if the biggest tea company in the country didn't make aweful tea. It is hard to find good tea in America today.

  • Or so I recall Microsoft saying. NT didn't cut it for games then though, and until it does Microsoft will update the 9x (under a new name to be sure) as they can to get the upgrade dollars.

  • 1) DOS 7 is strange. When botting from a floppy it says "Windows 95". When booting from the hard disk, the 95 logo appears. The bitmap is probably in io.sys.

    Even when having the entire Win95 installed, you can change "BootGUI=1" to "BootGUI=0" inside MSDOS.SYS (text file) to only boot to DOS.


    a) They pay for the OS anyway.
    b) They figured you were an idiot.
    c) They are idiots.
    d) All of the above.

    You choose. :-)

    3) That is to be seen. I think it the formula is


    D=Big Mouth
    A=Amount of people
  • For illegal copies of software the fine is up to $100,000 for each software title infringed, provided there is no evidence of other criminal activity (intent to distribute, etc).

    The fine is up to $250,000 per title infringed if criminal intent can be shown.

    Such huge fines are usually only levied against corporations, however.

    Pretty steep, eh?
  • "gotchas"
    - The vendor is well within thier right to demand the entire package, computer and all, be returned for a full refund rather than accepting only part of the package (i.e. Windows).
    - Refunds in general for returned merchandise must be requested within a "reasonable" time period after purchase unless extended by a warranty. The EULA even uses the word "promptly". So you are almost certainly out of luck on a copy of Windows 3.1!

    - The OEM versions of Office, Works, Money, and all the other preinstalled packaged that come from certain vendors have similar EULAs. I wonder what fraction of the advertised "$500 software value!" on some systems could be coerced out of a vendor?
  • A couple of points:

    1) Most vendors will custom bid machines about any way you want them, if purchased in a sizable lot. Some vendors feel a sizable lot is 10, others 100, your mileage may vary.

    2) More vendors will sell you a "softwareless" computer now that the DOJ is all over MS. They are feeling less threatened because MS really isn't in a position to be making threats right now.
  • sometimes is slow in posting replies to articles. i have often posted a reply only to find 30minutes later, someone post the same thing i did before me, only it had yet to be posted.
  • that's a pretty lame argument. it's similar to saying "don't vote for him, he's black." one thing has nothing to do with the other. besides, if people wanted to pay me money to advertise their products that only ran on windows, i'd let them.. you know why? because THEY are paying ME.
  • They probably just formatted the hard drive and did a sys on it so they could run scandisk to make sure you weren't getting a hard drive full of bad blocks. You probably weren't charged anything for it. Sounds like they just used a dos system disk made off a win95 box. I do the same thing with new hard drives to get a visual of the bad blocks. The last drive I bought was riddled with 'em.

    I know when installing Linux you can have it check for bad blocks, but I have no idea how to tell if there are any found.

    If they did charge you for the dos 7.0, you shouldn't have to pay since dos 7 is AFAIK part of win95. Since you didn't get the full product, you could probably get back whatever they charged you, since you could argue that they gave you an incomplete product, unfit for use. except maybe for scandisking and running msd.exe.
  • Now, based on my understanding of contract law, as soon as one party violates the terms of the contract, the other party is immediately released from having to fulfill their obligations under said contract. So it seems to me that in Igor's case, as soon as the EULA was violated by Toshiba refusing to issue a refund, he was no longer bound by the EULA.

    I don't know if what you describe is true or not, but it's very likely that he was never bound by the EULA in the first place, since shrinkwrap licenses are not valid in many jurisdictions.

    If that is the case, why could a person not, once MS or their representatives had broken the contract, simply start burning copies of the Windows CD and handing them out on a street corner?

    Unauthorized duplication is prohibited by copyright law, and has nothing to do with the license agreement. If the EULA was determined invalid on the grounds you specified above, he could do other things like reverse engineer or disassemble the software, but he probably already had those rights in the first place.

  • Either way, the first comment was especially rude.

    You may have thought it was rude but I laughed my ass off. "Try to customize your responses so that they are specific to the article in question." Funny as hell. Of course, as I mention earlier, I seem to be a bit drunk so YMMV =)

  • When I purchased my custom built dual p200 system a year and a half ago, I specifically said, "No operating system. Do not even format the drive."
    When I powered the system up, I got the hideous '95 bootup screen, and then a DOS prompt. So '95 wasn't on there, but MSDOS 7 (or whatever it's called) was.
    So my questions are this:
    1) What sort of license does this have? It was a 'fancy' DOS 7 that had a nasty win95 bootup screen, and that's it.
    2) Why would they put that on when I specifically asked for *NO* operating system and for the drive not to even be formatted? (Note: This was a custom built system, and the HDD was out of the manufacturer's box, just like at Best Buy and places like that, which means no OS would be on there anyway)
    3) Although it's been a year and a half, and I have no proof that it was ever on there (except the friends/witnesses that saw it), what sort of $ could I get out of it? (There was no EULA, no dox for the OS they put on there, and no mention of the OS. And being M$, I can be assured that someone paid for the OS that was installed on there, and I doubt it was a freebie to me)
    Ugh. I stop rambling now.
  • A large market share doesn't mean you are a monopoly

    This is taking the literal definition of a monopoly instead of the legal definition, which is a common misconception. The legal definition for anti-trust purposes is much less retrictive. A company can have as little as %60 market share and fall under anti-trust laws. Basically, what anti-trust laws do is create certain restrictions on companies with dominant market share in order to prevent them from hurting competition and therefore the consumer. Here are some actions that would be illegal.

    1) Tying the sale of one product to the dominant product. While this would be legal for a non-dominant company it is illegal for a dominant one. I think this is true because I woudl kind of like Win98, but I don't want IE4 yet I still have to pay for it. (The differences between Win95 and Win98 without IE4 are minimal and don't justify $90 to me. So I don't buy it.)

    2) Predatory pricing. This is the situation where if a potential competitor arises the monopolist can reduce their prices in the short-term to put the competitor out of business then recoup those losses when the monopoly position returns. This is actually illegal for everyone, but more so for a monopolist.

    3) Monopoly pricing. Charging extra for products because you can. (I think Win98 is an example of this, when you compare it to Win95. The differences are minimal especially if you don't want IE4.)

    Now in order for a company to fall under anti-trust law the requirements are fairly simple.

    A) Dominant market share.

    B) High barriers to entry of compaetitors into the market.

    'B' is the hard one, and requires proof. because this is the one that prevents a competitor from springing up to take the dominant players place. The idea is that if a monopolist raises prices enough there is now enough incentive to take the risk of entering the market. but, if there are high barriers to entry that would require extremely high potential profits for someone to take the risk of entering the market the company is a monopolist regardless of who i left floating around at the edges of its market. So, the DoJ first needs to show that A and B are true which is a fairly easy task especially with MS own economist saying so during cross examination. Then, they need to show that MS did any of 1-3.

  • Is this a system error or are you entering the exact same comment in response to multiple articles? Try to customize your responses so that they are specific to the article in question.
  • The last I heard, the other fellow is right. Windows 2000 is intended to merge the desktop (Win9x) and server (WinNT) lines. This is one reason W2k is going to be so huge. Of course, if Microsoft says they intend to publish something else for the desktop, I guess that's what they intend to do. :^)

    As an aside, I find it quite amusing to see two people arguing with and insulting each other anonymously.

    (Remove "x"'s from

  • Accually more people might drink tea today if the biggest tea company in the country didn't make aweful tea.

    What are you talking about? I don't know who's the biggest, but you surely don't mean Bigelow. Their Earl Grey is far superior to Twinings'. (Can this be the next caffeine poll? Who makes the best Earl Grey tea blend?)

    Oh, wait! I see: "aweful", not "awful". Does "aweful" mean full of awe? Is it like "awesome"? Speaking of picking on typos, at least balance your parentheses.

    David Gould
  • by RISCy ( 5493 )
    NT is much better than 9x....but "much better" is all relative. ;-> I cant wait untill I upgrade my machine and move completley to Linux. I was Planning on and AMD K7 when they come out, a TNT2 card and about 128 megs of ram, any thoughts/suggestions?
    --------------------------- ------
  • I suppose you could... but why?

    May be selling Windows (to some dorks) and donating money to GNU will do something usefull, other then that...

    Just make copies of your Linux or *BSD CDs and give them out on the street...

  • My guess: yep, you can send it in since the EULA still applies, and you will get a refund of "free" ($0.00)
  • What about all my mental anguish? I've suffered greatly the past several years that we have been selling win 3.x, 95/98 and NT. Shouldn't M$ have to cover my psychiatric bills? Their psychotic Bills? Someone please stop the voices!!
  • ..against them. This is truely beautiful if you ask me. They use the law to get what they need. lawsuits and buying out other companies etc. Now the OSS community is turning it around!
    ironic and beautiful!

  • it simply allows people using an alternate os the ability to get refunded of the microsoft tax by using microsofts own tactics.

  • First off, I'm not a lawyer. My legal credentials consist primarily of 3 credit hours of a basic business law course that I pretty much slept through. :)

    Now, based on my understanding of contract law, as soon as one party violates the terms of the contract, the other party is immediately released from having to fulfill their obligations under said contract.

    So it seems to me that in Igor's case, as soon as the EULA was violated by Toshiba refusing to issue a refund, he was no longer bound by the EULA.

    If that is the case, why could a person not, once MS or their representatives had broken the contract, simply start burning copies of the Windows CD and handing them out on a street corner?

    Could someone with more legal knowledge explain why I'm wrong, as I'm almost certain I am.

    Regardless of the outcome, this scenario could really do nothing but generate bad PR for MS once their enforcement efforts and the ensuing legal battle made the news. :)
  • Unfortunately, you missed a word

    > the SOFTWARE will perform substantially
    > in accordance with the accompanying written
    > materials

    Unless bugs make the product unusable (not just
    unreliable), I think you're SOL.
  • I can't see how any retailer could in clear conscience sell a system that they hadn't even tested! My guess is that they installed Win95, "just for testing", verified that all the hardware was working, and then blew away everything except the COMMAND.COM file (and perhaps some HW drivers). It's impossible to say if they paid M$ for the OS, or for that matter, if you paid for it burried in the cost of the system. I suspect though it was not a legal copy. Since you removed it right away, "All's well that ends well..." (i.e., M$ can't come after you for a pirated copy of the OS, and you can't go after M$ for the price of the unused software.)

  • Switch that the other way 'round - Linux will be popular when lots of people start writing games for it.

    Anyone who says Windows is easy to install hasn't installed enough Windows systems! Your "Joe Average" computer user would be hopelessly lost on most installs on anything other than a carefully selected setup of the most recent hardware, precisely tuned for the OS. One little mistake and you're SOL.

    Show two systems to an average user, one with Windows and one with Linux, and he will ask, "Can I run games?" and "Can I run word-processing and email?" in that order...

  • The refund site advertises History tree or some such thing. It run on win9x only.
    Give me a break.
  • A retailer may refuse service to anyone for
    any reason...INCLUDING... just don't like you...
    race, color, creed, don't want your money,
    customer has bad breath, annoyed that you asked
    me to remove windows, whatever...
  • I think the original poster meant "en masse"...


    (somewhere in tenn.)

  • your exclusiveremedy shall be, at Manufacturer's option, either (a) return of the price paid, or (b) repair or replacement of the SOFTWARE or hardware that does not meet this Limited Warranty...

    they would just send you the "new and improved" version. Mailing you a new CD is a lot cheaper than refunding your money. Which do YOU think they would do?

  • I assume someone has notified the media

    I got an email from somebody at wired who wanted to do a story on it. Stay tuned !!!
    -- Elflord
  • Okay, to extend the broken EULA concept a little further.

    If it is a breach of contract to not return your money, and if decompiling Windows was possible for a short while (ie before injunctions and lawsuits), it could lead to some interesting things eh?

    And when I say that I mean finally learning why Windows line of product is such a bugfest to begin with. Sort of a 'Emperor's New Clothes' situation.

    Just think of MS coding exposed to real peer review? oooh nice : )

    ~"I like a man who grins when he fights." -- Winston Churchill
  • Is there a list of companies that are non-MS friendly? If all non-MS users bought equipment from these vendors, we can avoid the MS tax and bring to the public's attention that alternatives exists.

  • Yup, I agree, there is more than Linux.
    OSS is not a necessary requirement. BeOS and O/S2 are 2 examples of a non-free non-MS operating systems.

  • No more MS taxes!!!!
  • If you don't respect the copyright, that's a criminal offense. Can you say, "body cavity search?"

    And I would point out that copyright, in principle, is not a problem. Extending copyright to the author's life +95 years is a problem, but one that can theoretically be resolved at the ballot box.
  • Did anyone read any of the comments the novice ZDNet readers posted? I found it most disturbing. Mostly ignorant Windows users reminding us that we're all losers, and we should just deal with it, because of how great Windows is. One moron even said to buy a Mac.. Heh. I wonder if MacOS has such a clause? Of course, you never have go agree to an EULA with them... Still, that would rule. Apple's worse than MS in the OS-forcing arena.
  • This has some interesting parallels to the event the started the American Revolution over 200 years ago. After one day, it's at over 200 people. I hope this really wakes some people up.
  • If you really want to cause a headache, let's see some of the more forward thinking I/T departments get behind this one. =) Our department has a massive site license for NT & 95, yet our hardware manufactures still pack in licenses for NT and 95. Could an I/T department refuse the EULA on grounds that it already has a license?

    If so, we have a shipment of a hundred licenses coming in in a couple weeks. *WEG*
  • Heck, I wasn't even looking for a symbolic victory. I just wanted to annoy the heck out of Microsoft and our vendors in revenge for all the time I've been on hold with them. =)
  • Minors can enter into legal contracts. They can also withdraw from them at anytime before they reach 18.

    In other words, if you are an adult making a contract with a minor, be careful.
  • The amount of refund is a good question. The OEM obviously must get some kind of discount that gets included in the hardware price because of the exclusive contracts. Are we talking about a $15 refund? How big are these discounts? I don't even know what M$-95-NT retails for.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
    "We could be happy if the air was as pure as the beer"
  • I love it...maybe this will make vendors re-think the MS tax!!

  • My NT at sometimes eats up more than 70 (110?) megs with *no* apps running. And I have 128 megs !!! Is as if there's a little function ...

    while (there_is_more_memory())

  • My NT at sometimes eats up more than 70 (110?) megs with *no* apps running. And I have 128 megs! !!! Is as if there's a little function ...

    while (there_is_more_memory())
    malloc(total_memory() - used_memory());
  • Recently my lab purchased two gateway 2000 computers and we received a Windows98 upgrade by mail for free. Since the college sys admin wouldn't "support" Win98 we haven't opened the package. Unfortunately we use the win95 that the computer was shipped with. Can I send the win 98 in?
  • goverment, Britton, belive, colinists, Holand, eventially, carring, legale, planed, prefering, Accually, aweful

    Everytime bluGill misspells a word, take a drink!

    I don't normally pick on someone this way -- most Internet posters are sloppy when it comes to spelling. It's just that I don't think any of bluGill's posting have ever been free of misspellings. It's true that some of the mistakes can be attributed to typing too quickly. But many are blatant mistakes. Maybe Rob can run our comments through ispell.


  • The laws that Microborg is being accused of breaking are 15 USC 13(a) and 15 USC 14, the quick summary of which is:

    Microborg sold IE at an unreasonably low price (read "free") with the specific intent of driving Netscape out of business. That Microborg gave IE away for free is not in itself illegal, but the underlying conspiracy against Netscape is. That's why the DOJ subpoenaed all that incriminating email. That's what is in violation of 15 USC 13(a)...

    Microborg then tried to write IE into Win98 itself on the idea that if Windows' web browsing ability was no longer a stand-alone app, then Netscape would technically no longer a competitor -- Netscape sells a web browser, Microborg sells an OS. (Yeah, it's stupid, but that's how Microborg thinks.) As such, Microborg would then have more leverage against Netscape in its OEM contracts with the PC manufacturers. Again, it's not the act itself that's illegal, but the conspiracy/intent behind it. That's what's in violation of 15 USC 14...
  • I've managed to avoid paying for windows by always building my own system.
  • Meept would like to know what would a christian do in this very homosexual situation?

  • I'm an average user.
  • I heard from a few people on this, and I am removing for now the link to HistoryTree. It's a shareware program that, yes, runs only on Windows, and I wrote it some time ago. It was in the sidebar because is just a server for misc. projects of mine and others.

    I don't think it's necessarily wrong to have a link to Windows software on the Windows Refund page, but it became clear that a) not everyone knew at first that it was Windows-only, and b) it's not clear that it's a home-grown project and not an outside ad. I don't accept outside advertising. So thanks for the feedback, folks. That's my position for now.

  • Except for the fact that users may gain money for their unused software,
    if they refund day plan will succeed, it will make a big noise (hopefully).
    So it doesnt matter if we get our money back (and we should).
    We should show the world we're not going to continue paying "Microsoft Tax" anymore.
  • I just read the Microsoft EULA from one of the links and it states that Microsoft Software may not be viewed on any other device. Does this prevent the use of such remote display software packages such as VNC?

    I do not that they do allow application sharing with Microsoft Netmeeting, but don't mention any other software.
  • Finally, an alternative 2 winbloze, CA$H, which is good....... IM IN LINE FOR THE REBATE!! =)

    an option has now opened the door wider.... lets take advantage and show our superiority
  • From Ziff-davis, "At press time, a Microsoft corporate spokesman said the company was preparing a response to the campaign." Should be nice. At least they've recognized the initiative.
  • by El ( 94934 )
    This could turn out to be an interesting Class Action Lawsuit. Interesting way to repeal the Microsoft tax. Are there any lawyers here that have on opinion on whether or not per-processor licensing violates the consent decree? Anybody lawyer want to take on this case? How many people can truthfully claim to have _never_ used the software that came preinstalled on their hard drive?

    For some reason, this reminds me of the Boston Tea party... could be the start of something big.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...