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Windows Refund Wrapup 122

There are lots of stories about Windows Refund Day. As I predicted, nobody got refunds, as referenced in this ZDNet Story. Chris is quoted near the end. Here's a Nando Times story, a wired story, an MSNBC Story, a San Jose Mercury Story, and a Washington Post story. (All sent in by anonymous readers). Macerick sent us A front Pager from the NY times. And finally, Marc Merlin sent us his own report which features the Story and Pictures.
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Windows Refund Wrapup

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Time for a class action lawsuit?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All those people look like morons. Talk about bad publicity for Linux
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe a more interesting method of getting refunds and media attention would be to call up the "Consumer Reporters" at your local news stations.

    They love these innocent consumer gets ripped off stories, and the story is simple enough that they could pack it into a couple segments.

    Let THEM do the legwork contacting OEMs and Microsoft.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I buy a car, and it comes with a sony stereo. While waiting for the car, I pick up a shiny new Diamind Rio. My car comes in, I rip out the sony, slap in the rio, and then try to go to Sony for the refund. Even tho I bought the radio from my Hyndai dealer. (Why I am driving a Hyndai is another story .. ) M$ Sucks ass I know that for a fact, but they sold the product to various resellers ( I know I am purchasing at my ISP ),and then those places in turn sell the OEM M$ Wincrash to the customers. Places like Gateway and Dell make the PCS and install Win9X on them. If you want a refund, you should go to the place you bought win9x from. Not the place that made win9x. I wouldnt get anywhere going to Sony to return my radio, but I might get somewhere trying to get a refund from where I bought the car, and where they made the car.

    Just my 2Cents.

  • Heh.. I sent an email to one of the local news stations (WCCO, in Minneapolis, MN) I wrote a little story about someone walking into McDonald's and being forced to buy Coke with her Big Mac, and then compared that to how people get treated when they ask for something other than Windows on new PCs.. I think it was the best way of getting them to understand ;-)

    I hope it got them interested, but you can never tell...
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Oh man, now that's a keeper [merlins.org]..
  • Read the license. It is an agreement between the consumer and the OEM. Legally, Microsoft has NO obligation.



    IMPORTANT: READ CAREFULLY: This Microsoft End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and Microsoft Corporation for the Microsoft software product identified above, which includes computer software and may include associated media, printed materials, and "online" or electronic documentation ("SOFTWARE PRODUCT"). The SOFTWARE PRODUCT also includes any updates and supplements to the original SOFTWARE PRODUCT provided to you by Microsoft. Any software provided along with the SOFTWARE PRODUCT that is associated with a separate end-user license agreement is licensed to you under the terms of that license agreement. By installing, copying, downloading, accessing or otherwise using the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, you agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA. If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, do not install or use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; you may, however, return it to your place of purchase for a full refund.

  • They may be refusing to honor the license agreement, but they still hold copyright to the software. There is an up to $100,000 fine under federal law for each incident in which you copy software without the permission of the copyright holder. The existence (or not) of a license agreement does not change federal law regarding the rights of copyright holders.

    Again: Copyright has nothing to do with licensing. Saying "This means we can copy it and sell the copies" is thus stupid. I am aghast that anybody could even suggest engaging in an illegal act like that. I thought the whole point was to point out Microsoft's breach of contract, NOT to do something just as illegal!

    -- Eric
  • Community is a significant element here. I enjoy hanging w/ members of the local LUG, and might engage in some penguin-waving with 'em from time to time... however, that doesn't make me any less effective in a serious debate or when explaining to someone why Linux (or, in the case of an artist I spoke to yesterday, Be) may be a better OS for them.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by gaheris:

    This may be a good way for the DOJ toprove its case against MS. Let them go out to various vendors, buy a series of machines, and, if possible, Linux distrobutions (that way they're on the same receipt), then go through the process of installing Linux and trying to get a refund for the Windows software.

    Now, if only the DOJ would read this and do it!
  • Posted by gaheris:

    If you want to make a point, and you want it to stick, then you have to put on a professional appearance. Otherwise, you won't get the respect or response that you're looking for. Next time, get your leaders to dress at least in casual day wear (something better that t-shirts and jeans), if not suits. Costumes do add an air of rediculousness (think about the trekkie that reported to jury duty in a Star Fleet uniform, and the response that got...and, yes, I've been heavily involved in fandom and costuming for many years now).

    How ever the T-shirts commemorating the day looked really good.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by gaheris:

    I just went to the DOJ's website on the MS case (http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms_index.htm) and sent them an email suggesting that they do the Windows refund boogie). Don't know if they'll do it, but if other people do so, they might. There is a mailto link at the top of the page.
  • Posted by gaheris:

    blunt, to the point and accurate. Someone selling pirated copies is going to end up on the wrong (losing) end of a court battle.
  • Posted by oooOOooo:

    I read somewhere that (a) all lawsuits involving sums less than $x (I think it's $2000 or so) must go to small claims court, and (b) that representation by proxy is not permitted in small claims court.

    Just out of idle, stupid curiosity, has anyone considered nuisance-suing Mr. Gates, as CEO of Microsoft, for Win9x refunds?
  • Posted by Mr. Assembly:

    From looking at the pictures you can tell that it was a mamby pamby show of force. If they had really meant to accomplish a mass refund they should have resulted to tried and true acts of civil disobedience such as;

    1) Chaining yourselves to the front door of the office building.

    2) Sitting in a large circle to the entrance of the parking garage and sing "We shall overcome".

    3) Throwing all your MS software in a pile and burning it.

    4) Burning an effigy of Bill Gates or the MS windows flag - or at the very least burning that "Microsoft welcomes Linux users" banner.

    Yes, they would have been arrested. But that's the point. It would have made great tv as the police forcibly dragged everybody and their penguine gear to the paddywagon. It would have been a lot better than the half of a soundbyte this story got. These pencil-neck pansies have to stop being well intentioned and let MS know that they mean business when it comes to the EULA.
  • I gotta say that post was really lame, it opens up about a million places where you can be flamed. I use Netscape on a Solaris box. I have no choice in the matter because IE[4|5] for Solaris never works, so I do not appreciate your bullshit "[Linux] is not the end-all of OS excellence."

    BTW: NT in this lab leaks memory to the point where any machine is unusable after 10 days (300MB of memory used, swap is full, 100MB kernel memory) and needs to be rebooted after 5 days. This is NT4SP4, with all kinds of extra stuff (AFS, NDS) to attempt to make it into a working system. Muhuhahaha! I've seen Linux run for that long without using 20MB of RAM!

    Face it guys, Slashdot is fun. I like Slashdot. But KlomDark is not the end-all of OS excellence.

    But, a big FUCK YOU to KlomDark. What an imbecile.

    The Creationist Theory. There was nothing, which was God. And he made everything.
  • Hmm.. that's a really good idea. You would have to educate them a bit I think. Would they buy a computer specifically to see if they could return Windows? Would they be fooled by the OEM telling them that Windows is part of the computer? Would they know not to even turn the computer on until they have a Linux boot disk in it? I think it could work, but only if you got a really good reporter that could understand this stuff.

  • Yeah.. real bright there. Let's all go get a life and let Microsoft do as it pleases. Who cares about the law anyway? Why should a big successful company like Microsoft have to honor it's agreements with insignificant consumers? C'mon.. you need to ditch the apathy. You're officially part of the problem and another reason that Microsoft is allowed to get away with this kind of stuff.

  • We need to find a way to put some real pressure on the OEMs to reveal exactly what prevents them from giving refunds for Windows. If they reveal that their contracts don't allow them to receive any compensation for those copies that are returned, then they need to be forced to either eat those costs or change their deal with Microsoft.

    Either way, the truth needs to be made very public. Everyone needs to see this so that people will stop whining about how the government is just after Microsoft because it's big and successful. It would be a violation of the spirit of the consent decree, but not the letter of the decree since Bill asked for changes to the wording and the DOJ was dumb enough to make those changes. Once it is made clear to people that there is a violation here, maybe they'll wake up and realize that Microsoft is not the innocent victim here.

  • They tried returning Windows to the OEMs, but the OEMs said they can't do that. Since the agreement is between Microsoft and the end-user, with the OEM as a third party, going to Microsoft for a refund is the next logical step.

    The OEM's argument that Windows is part of the machine is not valid. The EULA is not for the machine. It's for the software. It specifically says that if you don't accept the license for the software, that you should seek a refund from the OEM.

    The OEMs are a third party to this agreement (meaning they gave their explicit consent to the terms of the EULA) and they are supposed to uphold the EULA as well, so there is a case to be made against them as well as against Microsoft.

  • Actually, I believe the EULA expressly forbids installing the OEM version on any machine other than the one the software came with. If I'm wrong about that, and someone can show the part of the EULA that says so, then this post is pointless.

    Assuming that I'm right, then I would have to wonder if that means that you aren't allowed to change or upgrade any components in your machine? If not, then is the EULA tied to the processor? The case? The motherboard? I don't know. I doubt Microsoft knows either. They just want to leave things as open as possible to interpretation by their lawyers I think.

  • Heh, I'd pay at least what I'd get for my Windows refund to see that.... :-)

  • Your car dealer does not have you sign a document that says "You may use this car's radio in the following ways...[snip]...if you do not agree to this, don't sign this document; talk to us and you can give the radio back for a refund." Copies of Windows do carry this notice:

    If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, Manufacturer and Microsoft Licensing, Inc. ("MS") are unwilling to license the SOFTWARE PRODUCT to you. In such event, you may not use or copy the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, and you should promptly contact Manufacturer for instructions on return of the unused product(s) for a refund.

    "Product" here clearly refers to the "SOFTWARE PRODUCT," i.e., Windows. This is not a loophole. This says in plain English that if you reject the terms that your hardware manufacturer has licensed Windows to you (and it is your hardware manufacturer; they're reselling Windows) then you have a recourse: you can contact your hardware manufacturer and return the Windows license. Your hardware manufactuer has made a statement in this license that it will accept Windows for a refund. If it does not, it's probably committing fraud. The excuse that "Microsoft won't pay us back" doesn't cut it. The hardware manufacturer, through the publication of this license, has placed itself under a legal obligation to follow it, no matter what the financial cost to it is.

    The protest against Microsoft is right-minded in spirit - it's a protest against the pressure tactics Microsoft uses to prevent hardware makers from honoring this clause in the license. Microsoft, though, doesn't have to provide refunds, since they didn't license the software to the demonstrators. Microsoft is correct that someone wanting a Windows refund should contact his OEM. If the OEM refuses to pay, then the only recourse for the consumer is legal action to try to force it to pay.

  • for the people who were refused refunds.

    Quite simply the Windows EULA is a contract. It is all that stands between you and rampantly selling copies of your Windows CDs on street corners.

    Since the PC makers and Microsoft are refusing to respect the license agreement it is invalid. If it is invalid then those who have been refused refunds are free to sell copies of the CDs.

    Be prepared to fight though. This is a way to bring them to the courtroom since they will laugh off a class action suite for years.
  • Or did the MSNBC article just cut&paste large sections of the Wired article?

    And talk about an astroturfed poll...
    3% think that M$ giving us refunds will raise the price of PCs? 25% think windows is part of the machine? Please.

  • story [theregister.co.uk]

    if microsoft is going to take this tack, this nullifies the end user license agreement between microsoft and the consumer!!! if they don't have to live up to the end of their agreement and are making it the responsibility of the vendor, then what right does microsoft have to enforce its end user license agreement?? they have transfered their rights to the vendor. electronic milhouse is in the process of setting up a microsoft software distribution site whereby, they will purchase a p.c. from an unnamed vendor and distribute the software freely since it is incumbent on the vendor to enforce the license and not microsoft. this is 100% serious. war has begun. see you on the news!!

    electronic milhouse [nai.net]

    "The lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."

  • I was part of the one vs Packard Bell. Back in the 286 days when they where using used parts in PC's that they where selling as new. It was also over them not for filling their part when it came to tech support & warrantys
  • by SpiceWare ( 3438 ) on Tuesday February 16, 1999 @05:20AM (#2014417) Homepage

    I'd seriously have to disagree with Marc's statement of "I can't say I really blame manufacturers for..." not giving a refund. After all, if the manufacturers would sell us what we ask for, then they'd never be in this predicament. It's not like they don't let you choose a different monitor, video card, etc. The OS should be no different!

  • If anyone has video of the Windows Refund Day,
    I'd be glad to encode it and put it on the Net
    in streaming format - pop email to info@thesync.com
  • The BBC news website spoke of "supporters" of
    Linux, rather than "users", and wrote the whole
    thing up very much as some sort of political
    rally. Nothing wrong with that - OS choice *is*
    political. We'll be written up as freedom
    fighters next time.
  • I gotta say that is really lame, that page on Mark Merlins page that opens up about a million IE windows on the screen. I use IE at work on a Win NT system. I have no choice in the matter so do not appreciate your bullshit "You are an IE user so I am going to trash your system" page.

    BTW: NT was bright enough to finally give me a script timeout dialog box, where I was able to stop the execution of the script and then kill all the myriad explorer instances. NT DID NOT GO DOWN. Muahahaa! I've seen Netscape on Linux crash with less abuse.

    Face it guys, Linux is fun. I like Linux. But it is not the end-all of OS excellence.

    But, a big FUCK YOU to Mark Merlin. What an imbecile.
  • Ever seen a rally? Most people head out in jeans, backpacks, signs of all sorts, yelling, shouting, talking...

    generally it looks like a huge-moving party, with a few people @ the front organizing the whole thing. The point is to get people out there en masse as a SHOW OF SUPPORT.

    As long as ESR didn't show up in a Thong, nobody cares!

    It's all in good fun.

    Now, go get your sorry head out of your butt and look around - what did YOU do today? hmm? complain? Anything else? No? then STFU!

  • Microsoft ends up looking smarter than the linux hordes in this incident - the EULA states that you should contact the computer Manufacturer for a refund. Since all the manufacturers are telling people to talk to Microsoft, they're the ones not fulfilling their own agreement.

    A Class action suit against Dell, Gateway, Compaq and other large manufactures is the way to go about this. There are lawyers who would take this case on a contingency basis. If Dell, Gateway & Compaq were held over the fire, they'd go after Microsoft themselves.
  • So how come the newly proclaimed Linux supporters at c-net didn't cover it for News.com?
  • Isn't locking doors and shutting out elevators against some fire regulation? Did anybody call the fire department? ;-)
  • I would say that the signs and shouts of linux this and linux that from the great unshaved might have, i dunno, perhaps shown them to be a special interest group?

    i wonder if they beat each other up about how to pronounce "linux"
  • It says you have to return "to the place of purchase"! How many of you bought those copies of win-slow 98 at micro$oft's corporate offices? Not many, huh... That *may* be the reason you didn't get refunds there.
  • Oh you guys are so silly. The idea came from userfriendly (http://www.userfriendly.org), specifically the strip at http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/98de c/19981203.html

  • Yes, Virginia, there was an event outside the Bay Area, although it was a lot lower key.

    Here's my page of photographs and commentary [amazing.com]

  • Oh yeah. He thinks Linux isn't the best OS so he deserves to get flamed. That makes sense. Get a life.
  • Washington Post article states Redhat ~ $50 while Windows is ~ $90. Since when has Windows been $90? I hate reading articles that pass off upgrade prices as full version prices. I have seen this before where they reported Office as being like $1xx bucks. Please!

    Sorry all, that just really peaves me.
  • Although its a bad/sad thing that OEMs/Microsoft don't want to give refunds though they say they will in the contracts... why don't more people just build their computers from the parts? I did, never had to pay for M$ in the first place, and I know exactly whats in my computer :)
  • What's worse is that $50 is awfully high for linux, I think. Bonehead journalists on their Macs keep equating Red Hat with linux, and assuming that you have to buy linux from RedHat.

    I think more people would be impressed if they knew Red Hat could be downloaded free of charge, or bought on 2 CDS from linux central for $2.95 + shipping.

    or, even better, they might mention other distributions.

  • I cringed looking at those fellows in the same way I felt embaressed for the Democrats during the last convention with their oversized hats and banners.

    Come to think of it, I cringe every time I go to LA and see people in a nice restaurant with sneakers on as well...maybe I'm a jaded NYer.

  • What if you buy the software direct from micro$oft? Who is the OEM then?
  • I really thought most of the Linux comunity was beyond that kind of hateful banter. If you don't know what I'm talking about there is no hope for you.
  • It's better than ABC. From what I understand ABC is forbidden from reporting anything negative about its parent company Disney. Atleast MSNBC has an occasional Anti-MS news story.
  • Disclaimer: I'm not suggesting being obnoxious, impolite, or in any way immoral.

    Part of the OSS movement is changing the rules. So they don't wear suits. So they wear weird cloths. The point is to win, not to replace. What do you think that the US setting up a democracy was about? They didn't set up a respectable monarchy. They did something really stupid, they gave people (even if just a fairly limited set of people at that point). And it worked. What's the point of fighting if you're not fighting for something?

    Some starry-eyed idealism is worthwhile. Why win if you're not going to do something better than your competition. Maybe we are a bit nuts. Isn't that part of the fight? To be a little nuts? To give things away rather than keeping the source? To work together? That makes us a hell of a lot more weird than some funny clothes. The point is to win as we are, not to win by joining the enemy.

    Another disclaimer: I was speaking with a good deal of hyperbole. I'm not advocating acting like a bunch of fools. I'm also not talking about not acting strategically. However, of the two ideas, giving away source code and wearing mildly funny clothes, which seems more nuts to you? Of course there is the idea of breaking people in gently. On the other hand, I can't help but think of the line from blade, "Get over it." There are a number of business men who really need to hear that.
  • Perhaps I'm just prone to arriving at slightly paranoid conclusions, but why are there similar messages about taking things to the next level by employing illegal tactics on most of the message boards that I have seen relating to the event on the 15th?


  • by choo ( 14599 ) on Tuesday February 16, 1999 @05:19AM (#2014439) Homepage
    'Microsoft welcomes the Linux community'?
    That's pretty cunning of them ... it subtly potrays the whole refund day saga as action by a special interest group (Linux users), and not something that most people want (which is probably true).
  • It is totally possible to assemble a laptop from parts, although it is more difficult than building a desktop PC (primarily because the parts are not as readily available... but it can be done)

    That issue aside, every major city on the country has some small chop-shop computer store that buys Korean-built laptops (with names like "Novacomm" and things like that) that ship from the factory with no OS. I purchased my last laptop with no OS installed from just such a store in Orange County (CA). They charged me $50 less, and gave me a machine fresh out of the shipping container in the back of the store, probably untouched by human hands since it left Korea.

    That being said, however, if you don't live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, or any other city big enough to have a subway system, you probably are screwed. And this is what Refund Day was supposed to be about. Microsoft stated that you had a choice. While that is technically correct, it is highly problematic to purchase any assembled computer without a Microsoft operating system installed.

    The flip side of this argument is: if you really want a computer without Windows, you can probably find one. Has anybody who wanted a computer with Linux installed ever called VA Research, Linux Hardware Solutions, or any of the other hardware vendors that advertise in LJ?

    Maybe it's time we Linux folk actually put our money where our mouth is. Reject the Microsoft Tax by (here's a novel concept) purchasing your computers from a vendor that supports Linux in the first place, and won't treat you as a second class citizen!

    Yes, and they even sell laptops. </rant>

  • That's right. Dressing up as good old Obi-Wan reinforces the Microsoft meme that computer users are either Windows users or FREAKS!

    I think freaks are cool, being one myself. But if you want to be our spokesman, Eric, put on a damn suit when you're making a media appearance.
  • I seem to remember way back when, when M$ was the media darling and not the evil empire, they used to talk about how Bill could scarcely dress himself in the morning without looking like a spaz. His mom had to pin shirts and pants together so he'd at least match. Marsha probably fills that role these days.

    Still, Obi-Wan? Please!
  • I disagree. Linux being a great OS is inextricably linked to those "idiots" with the penguin dolls. They are the reason it is a great OS: they are the coders and users; it is their enthusiasm that has made it great, and it is also their enthusiasm that makes them extreme.

    I think people have a valid point that the Linux community might benefit from a more "mature" and less geeky, extremist image. But I don't think the extremists should be written off as idiots, nor disassociated from the success of Linux.

    Personally, I'm not as worried about the geeky image in this event, because in my opinion this event should be targeted more at greedy lawyers with "CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT" written on their foreheads, not at PHBs.

    Oh yeah, if I lived in Washington, I would have been there. Can't vouch for any penguin attire though. :)
  • Hey, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a computer nerd. Hell, that's a compliment. Don't like it? Just wait till you meet me and I'm your boss. muhuhuhahahah Still, I guess we should be trying to keep up a good appearence. Hey, I wonder if Obi-Wan will be at Comdex Spring in Chicago for the first "Linux Pavilion." That'll look good with all the big-wigs right? I think I'll get out my light saber from 4th grade and take him down.
    On a personal note, are any others going to that Linux Pavilion. It's like $200 for 4 days and a hell-o-fun. E-mail me if you are interested. I want to get a big group of us Star-War-lookin' LINUX junkies together for that.
  • If they fail to honor the license then you are allowed by certain consumer's state laws to not honor it (right?). So why don't we start making copies of your WinOS and sell them _legally_?
    The foregoing ideas have been copyrighted. Works based on, derived from, or spawned from these ideas, regardless of shape or form are properties of BogoNicko Carpo, irrespective of content.

  • Ask before you buy. If an OEM won't refund the cost of Windows, or won't ship you a system without Windows, DON'T BUY FROM THEM. Money is the only thing that will change this situation.
  • Most of the articles came from AP. The New York Times article was an exception.
  • As a Linux lover it is painfull to look at those pictures. This isn't the kind of press the linux community needs.
  • >...but I can't see the dolls hurting our success either.

    you can't see how proudly waving a toy as a rallying cry makes you seem more like a member of a group of raving nuts and less like a concerned consumer?
    the fact that 'refund day' and 'linux community' are so inextricably linked means that anyone who thinks that 'refund day' is an immature PR stunt (which, although incorrect, is a perfectly understandable first-glance misconception) also thereby thinks that the 'linux community' is a bunch of immature loudmouths.. which then negatively reflects upon the OS by detracting from all that it really is -- a damned good piece of software.
    bottom line: if the people want to be heard they need to look more like -the people- and less like a selfish special-interest group.. and microsoft victims in general are definitely more the former than the latter. that's the kind of thing that needs to played up, and that's the kind of thing that you don't help by waving a plush penguin proudly in the air..
    it's tough, y'know.

  • It's telling that the nytimes story on refund day
    was sponsored by Microsoft. (had a couple of Microsoft banners on the page.) With the money Microsoft has, they can afford to be wrong for a long time.
  • Sounds like a nice idea (if legally applicable), however, it may be wrongly taken:

    "We, Linux community, think Windows is a great OS, we just don't want you to give money to Microsoft for it, so here is the solution, give the money to us."

    I must agree, it is still better than the current situation where people use Windows and give the money to M$... :-)

  • The MSNBC article has a poll that seems to be doing ok (45% in favor of refunds) - but I also noticed we could get the article seen by more people if we rate it higher - looks like you need about 500 recommendations at 6.0-7.0 to get on the top stories list - /. should be capable of that right?
  • If I wanted BF Goodrich tires on my new Chevy car when I bought it, but the car came with Michellin tires, should I seek a refund from BF Goodrich? Or should I organize a "Tire Refund Rally"....
  • Alright kids...
    Since the EULA states that should you disagree with the terms, you are to contact the "MANUFACTURER" of the PC....not the manufacturer of the OS, that would mean that the mfg. of said OS is not responsible for your refund.
    (ignorance is bliss pal)
  • bottom line kids....burn witches

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.