Friday, August 20, 2010

It is a Windows World

"If you don't like Windows so much then don't use it!"

This is something I have been told more than once (sometimes in not those kind of words) by various people when we have been discussing operating systems. As much as I would like to take their suggestion, the fact is I can't. The sad fact of the matter is, it is a Windows world for desktop computing. Microsoft has a monopoly on the marketplace and this isn't about to change anytime soon.

My most recent dealing with Microsoft on my own personal computers came about when I bought my tablet PCs. They both came stock with Windows 7, meaning they had an inflated price tag to cover the cost of the software. Neither of the systems are currently running a Microsoft operating system - the way I like it. Now, fair is fair so if I wasn't going to use the software they sent me with the laptop - why should I have to pay for it? So I boot the laptop and navigate my way to the Windows EULA. Browsing through the license carefully I find the paragraph I am looking for towards the bottom, it says the following:

"By using the software you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed."


Now I didn't want to return the laptop as a whole, but I wouldn't mind getting some cash back for the copy of Windows. So I call up Asus and get your typical level one run around

Asus: Hello this is Asus how can we help you?

Me: Howdy There, I just received my new Asus EEEPC and the Windows license says that if I cannot agree to it then I need to contact the manufacturer to get a refund for the software.

Asus: You want to return Windows? Your computer will not work without Windows being installed on it.

It annoys me that they would even say this. I've bought Asus computers that don't have Windows on them before, this person knows as well as I do that I do not need Windows for my system to function.

Me: Actually I am going to run an FOS operating system on the laptop, so I don't need Windows for it to function. How do I go about getting my refund for the copy of Windows?

Asus: You need contact Microsoft to get a refund for Windows, it is their software.

Me: Really? The EULA clearly states to contact the manufacturer for the refund. Asus is the manufacturer the EEEPC not Microsoft, correct?

Asus: Yes, but Windows 7 is Microsoft software so you will need to contact them for a refund.

Me: Do you have a supervisor I can speak to?

Two supervisors later I was finally told I needed to contact the place I had purchased the laptop from in order to get a refund on the entire unit. At this point I was three hours into this and was ready to just return the system and get something non-Asus. So I contact the company I had purchased the laptop from and they inform me they have a zero refund policy for opened laptops.

Great.

I placed a call back to Asus (thankfully I had the supervisor's direct extension this time) and inform them on this. They apologize and inform me there is nothing they can do about this. They again suggest I contact Microsoft for the refund on Windows because "Asus does not process refunds" even though the EULA says they should.

The EULA is a binding agreement like a contract, if I can get into trouble for breaking it so should they, right? Is it even worth my time to try and sue Asus to get my money back? Maybe next year when I am done with school.

~Jeff Hoogland

42 comments:

  1. i had a similar battle with acer.

    here is a thread i kept tracking the events. Hope they can help.

    :-)

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  2. sorry here is the thread

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1291873

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  3. system76

    There is hope.

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  4. This is exactly what small claims court is designed for. The EULA is a form of a contract, and it gives you certain rights. Spend the $50, file in Small Claims. Companies hate having judgements against them. It's worked a few times on various issues for me.

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  5. This is one of the main reasons I buy desktop computers in pieces, then build them myself. I have choice of operating system, and I don't pay for Windows in the cost of a pre-built PC. It's sad that the same sort of freedom is much more difficult to come by in the laptop world.

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  6. Take them to small claims court, you are clearly in the right, it doesn't take long, and it is quite likely that they wont turn up, so you win by default and get the money.

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  7. you sound like a whiney little bitch, suck it up!!!

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  8. Anonymous at 8/20 11:17AM is a little bitch.

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  9. There are a number of examples of folks getting a refund, but in most cases it takes perseverance and sometimes legal action. I say if you have the patience and fortitude, go for it, if only to make a statement and help raise awareness in these companies that a lot of people don't use Microsoft.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_refund

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  10. I bought an Eee 1005HA from Amazon a while back and their email support folks got me a Windows Refund without much question.

    They asked me "How much is the Windows license?" I told them that MS didn't release pricing for Starter Edition, but Home Ultimate was about $200 on Amazon.

    They refunded $200.

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  11. This is a very troublesome situation. I sent this to my school and asked them to provide incoming (and current) students with the information. That said: it doesn't look good: http://racketware.info/msdnaa/call-on-students

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  12. Thanks for sharing your experience. I was about to get an ASUS Netboook and install Linux on it.

    I'll look at some other brand now.

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  13. The EULA situation is nothing but a scam that is being participated in by every company involved in computer software and hardware retailing. Microsoft, computer manufacturers, retailers. All of them. The EULA is pretty clear. Anyone who wants a refund on unused and unwanted software is entitled to a refund on the software they do not use. It should be clearcut and simple. You don't want Windows, you get a refund. What happens instead is a circle jerk of excuses with each party pointing at the other and claiming its "their" responsibility, not "ours". This leaves the purchaser with no alternative but to "accept" the situation and go on with life. This is exactly what Microsoft wants. The only reason this lowdown scumbag scam has gone on for so long is because the entire computer/software industry has floated under the governments legal and regulatory radar since its inception. Were this any other retail market sector this kind of anti competitive collusion would have been shutdown by various agencies, such as the FTC (US), a long time ago and rightly so. Stop playing their game, contact the FTC or any agency like them, and register a complaint. Rather than waste your energy on just playing the game as Microsoft wants you to play it, play it your way by targeting the agencies that should have shut down this crap ages ago.

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  14. $12.00 file a small claim. Either they will not show up and you can foward the judgement to them which they should pay, or they will show up and most likly they will lose, if they don't, you are out about $12.00

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  15. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. The fact of the matter is that even among the Free Software community, the fact that you can get a refund on a Windows license which you never use isn't as widely known as it should be. A lot of people are complacent and use Windows because it came with their computer. The level one person who you spoke with likely genuinely believes that your computer won't work without Windows.

    If you didn't record your conversations with Asus, should you take this to small claims court, you don't have any proof of the phone call. It is likely that Asus recorded the phone call but you would need to subpoena the recording. I wish you good luck in retrieving what might be anywhere from $200 to $20.

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  16. Sorry, but don't buy from what you don't want in the first place. It should be simple.

    System76 has a decent lineup of Ubuntu-machines, if you're into that, but there are a lot more small niche manufacturer that may suit you better.

    However, since you've bought and broken the packaging, go ahead, sue them. It's one way to make a statement.

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  17. Yes - I have also had problems with Acer tech support: You see, I have one of those original Acer Aspire Ones that came with Linux prepackaged. Slight problem, though: It came with a distro that I didn't necessarily like. It had the RPM package format (Fedora 8), it was extremely outdated (the packages for it were dated back to 2008), and you couldn't change the DE without getting errors resolving dependencies. I'm talking about Linpus here!

    So here's what I did: I replaced it with Ubuntu (9.10 and then 10.04/10.10 Alpha 3). As soon as I contacted Acer tech support, they said they won't help me until I put Linpus back on it!

    So, I just said the heck with it. I am not going to put a crippleware Linux distro on my computer just to have them help me.

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  18. System 76 (or anywhere that I've heard of) sells a tablet netbook with Linux on it. If anyone is aware of one please - shoot me a link.

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  19. If Dell is an example to go by, Computers with Windows on them are cheaper. Why? because the manufacturers presumably get paid for installing time limited Virus Killers, and Office. A proportion of these will get converted to fully paid software... this will generate further commission for the Vendor. Of course they are not likely to reveal this fact... but the upshot is that I suspect that the installation of this products makes the product possibly cheaper. In other words I can count on proprietary software which I can delete to make way fro my FOSS stuff...winning on both counts. However, there is no record of the transition, perpetuating the illusion of a 1% Linux desktop presence. Herein lies the problems... the refusal of vendors that Linux or other OSs are in any way relevant.

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  20. Doesn't ASUS sell Linux-Laptops anymore? I bought a EEE900a (ok, it's a netbook) about 2 years ago. I wouldn't have bought it with a Windows XP license, even it's about 10 EUR.

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  21. I don't understand this infatuation to refund the $10 license for Windows that comes with the netbook.

    You may not realize it now, but if you DO need to call support you will need that copy of Windows that you returned.

    Without it, it is very difficult if not impossible to get tech support for your hardware. So, in addition to losing the license you are effectively also losing support.

    It just isn't worth it. Throw the license in a drawer and if you never need it, GREAT.

    Oh, by the way. That license is GREAT for a virtual machine. If you are installing it on the same hardware it would be completely legal too.

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  22. System can't run a VM and there was no way to replace the hard drive in the netbook (upgraded it to an SSD) without voiding the warranty :-/

    So I won't be calling tech support with it.

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  23. You may put Windows into VirtualBox and run it over Linux. Such approach will give you a lot of advantages. For instance, you may save hd image of once installed windooze with all needed application and restore it in a minute when something goes wrong with your installation of stupid and unpredictable but unfortunately very popular OS.

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  24. You can run a VM on a T101MT. ;)

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  25. According to http://ark.intel.com/ProductCollection.aspx?familyID=29035

    The N450 atom chip that the T101MT ships with does not support virtulization.

    Also I actually did end up selling one of my two Asus tablet netbooks and the person I sold it to kept Linux Mint and is quite happy with it.

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  26. Don't count on the idea of being able to run a OEM copy of Windows in Virtualbox. While that may be possible its just as unlikely that it will NOT work at all for several reasons such as.....

    1. Its unlikely you were even provided copies of Windows as many manufacturers are using the "its all on the hard drive" scam. The only way you'll get any copies of the software you paid for is if you accept the EULA and use the create discs utility these pathathic scam artists use to justify this rip-off. Once you have done that you have essentially locked the copy of Windows to the specific hardware you installed it on. To move it to something like Virtualbox, which will be seen as a different set of hardware by Windows, you may be at the mercy of Microsoft's Product Activation depatment. They may opt to not let you do this or they may allow it. Its their call. Funny how that works eh?

    2. If you're even able to get that far its very likely they have included some kind of routine on the discs that recognizes the manufacturers specific Bios or motherboard and that may not even allow you to use the discs in this manner.

    3. While the poster might be right in assuming the OEM only pays $10.00 per copy of Windows it is also very likely it is higher so using that low amount as an excuse not to push the issue of a refund is extremely bogus. Every report of a successful refund I have seen has been higher than $10.00 and usually much higher.

    If the original poster can provide a specific list of OEM Windows copies that will actually work in a Virtualbox type environment as he/she makes sound so doable I would be more inclined to think his post was not an attempt to detour this thread off of its original message which is that the EULA specifically states you are owed a refund.

    Without that list it is at the minimum talking off the top of his head, or worse, it its smells suspiciously like FUD.

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  27. That just means you don't have VT-x capability in the CPU. You can still run a Virtual machine it just won't offload CPU virtualization directly to the CPU.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware-assisted_virtualization

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  28. @anonymous - Your inability to understand how OEM Windows works doesn't mean that I am spreading FUD.

    Here is an example of a simple method to convert OEM Windows from my blog published some years ago:

    http://www.fewt.com/2008/06/switch-from-windows-to-linux-and-keep.html

    You can also do it with any OEM Windows installation media or in many cases bootable recovery media since most times it is just a ghost image it will restore fine. Most virtual machines can be configured to use a basic IDE driver supplied by Microsoft (see the article for a link).

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  29. "@anonymous - Your inability to understand how OEM Windows works doesn't mean that I am spreading FUD."

    While you might not be spreading FUD....exactly....you are certainly redirecting the topic of Jeff's post. And how the hell do you know what I do or do not understand? Secret Internet Ninja telepathy powers?

    Jeff's post was about dealing with the contract known as the EULA and what do do BEFORE handing even more money and control to the Microsoft monopoly and bending over and taking it up the wazoo for Uncle Bill and Steve.

    Your posts are about finding a way out of the quagmire AFTER you've been bent over. While that may be handy information for someone after the fact everything you have said here, and at your linked howto assumes accepting the EULA and assumes everyone just loves to keep and use Windows.

    The whole point of Jeff's post was about NOT accepting the EULA, NOT being forced into using Windows, and seeking just compensation as the contract states you're entitled to, not simply going along like a good little sheeple and giving Microsoft more monopoly control and phony user statistics they can use to promote how much Windows is loved as a "choice" by the consumer. You're way off topic even if, on some far off bizarro planet, it might have been meant well.

    So....everything I said about the OEM situation, lack of actual discs etc is completely true. Everything you said was completely off topic, glosses over the actual situation, and seems like an attempt to redirect the topic into an attitude of "Why bother, won't get much anyway, go along with the program, lookie over here at my wowzer howto to KEEP using Windows. Oh, and if you point out I am suspiciously off topic you don't know squat."

    Lets see that howto on doing what Jeff posted about. Forcing computer and software companies to honor the EULA contract they should be legally required by law to honor by them giving your money back for software you never wanted in the first place.

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  30. @Anonymous - There is a simple solution to the refund problem posed here. If you don't want a computer that has Windows, buy a computer that doesn't come with Windows.

    See how easy that was?

    Your comment made it clear that you have no concept of how OEM Windows works, it didn't take any magic. There are very few OEM recovery disks that look at the vendor information in the BIOS before restoring. For those that do, my blog article talked about how to use it anyway. I didn't redirect anything, I simply commented that I didn't see the point, followed by another that provided insight into why it may be worth just keeping it.

    I'm sorry that you didn't like my comment, but get over it.

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  31. Sorry FEWT, gotta go with anon on this one. Linking to your blog post about how to keep and use an OEM copy of windows and run it in a virtual machine on a linux machine is way off topic. You wanna discuss that, fine go talk about it in your blog.

    I understand that discussions in blogs tend to veer off topic, but if someone is pointing it out to you and you STILL come back talking about OEM recovery disks and vendor information, and how the other person has "no concept" of how something works - well you're not getting what he's saying either; that it's meaningless, and belongs on a different blog post/different discussion.

    This is about buying something you don't want, being told very simply how to get your refund - and then not being able to get your refund. It's not even really about windows and laptops - just about legal responsibilities and large companies saying one thing, but making it almost impossible and getting millions of dollars in free money from people (you and me) who don't even use their product.

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  32. Had the same issue with Gateway/Acer, they say talk to Microsoft and they say it's an OEM install so the manufacturer is to do the refund. This is simply wrong, I don't want the OS and don't use it so I should get a refund. It should be that simple!!

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  33. My opinion is that the principle of the matter is important. While the cost of the license may be negligible, it seems to me that the principle of telling the companies (Assus and MiCrOsOfT) that you don't want their stinking OS is the salient point.

    In a free market (which has not existed in the US since the 1700s), we vote with our feet and our wallets. These companies, however, are making it almost impossible for us to use our wallets to officially state our preferences. This is, of course, a scam on the part of these companies.

    When "they" enumerate the market share of WiNdOwS users, I would imagine that a buttload of those "WiNdOwS users" are people who have removed that nasty little toy-OS from their computers and have installed Linux, but who haven't gone through the process of officially not getting counted as a MiCrOsOfT-droid.

    Hell, if I find myself face-to-face with a non-Linux public computer (at the university, for example) I carry live Linux distros on USB, CD, and DVD, as many of these public computers have not disabled booting from USB or CD/DVD.

    Final note: If a distributor (Assus, for example) tells you that the WiNdOwS license is only worth $10, maybe you can ask them where you can buy a few dozen of these $10 WiNdOwS licenses (hey, make a profit) and see what they say, and if you cannot, indeed buy a $10 license, then how can they expect you to accept that the license is worth anything less than the regular market price?

    In my opinion, it would be preferable for you to keep up the good fight, if you persevere and do get a refund, then publish that fact far and wide.

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  34. "The sad fact of the matter is, it is a Windows world for desktop computing."

    I'm quite happy about it and I hope it doesn't change anytime soon. I'm so glad that my little software company can make big money with big customers and we only have to target one platform.

    That said, we use Linux as well. Just not on the desktop.

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  35. That's the same reason I'm delaying buying a laptop...
    I'm living in Taiwan at the moment, the land of computer you'd think, but the last time I attempted to shop for a computer there were 3 different answers I got when I pressed the non-Windows issue:
    - It is impossible not to agree to the EULA
    - They cannot sell computer without operating system
    - It is illegal (!) to sell a computer without Windows...

    After about 6 months, I'm really at a point where I would pay MORE for getting a computer with no system preinstalled, just wouldn't pay a cent to Microsoft...

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  36. Don't waste your time. Use it to make productive things. It will take a lot of work for you(more than the money you recoup) and they are right(you decided to buy the computer). You had the option to assemble it yourself.

    I have 4 computers, 3 linux(and one windows on the network without monitor), this one I'm writing on is a mac. I bought an acer one with linux just before MS convinced them to don't give an option.

    IMHO, MS doesn't matter anymore, seriously, they are zombies who they are alive but they are dead.

    Retail follow the money,and money is moving to Android, Ubuntu and iX. Change is coming with tablets and MS is the IBM of 1991.

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  37. Do you not understand that you are part of the problem? If you don't want to pay for windows then don't buy a tablet with windows on it!! The refund for windows is something you should have discussed BEFORE buying the tablet. At the very least find a company that is willing to refund for windows or sell you a tablet without windows. STOP GIVING MONEY TO MS! I build my own desktop computers so that windows is not part of the purchase. If you can't find a tablet without windows then don't buy a tablet! The free market obviously isn't giving you what you want so don't give them money.

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  38. So you bought a computer that clearly stated it had Windows on it, looked at it in the store, and then, when you went home you decided you wanted a refund? WTF? I wouldn't even bother suing, bro. Use the PC (as a long time user of Macs, my desktop has now switched to Windows 7) and see if you like it or not. I get that you didn't read the EULA, but it's probably nothing to worry about...it's usually just a couple of comments stating that you won't pirate the software, etc. Are you a pirate?

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  39. I'm a new guy to your blog. But not for FOSS. In my county there are no one to contact for Asus or Microsoft. If I go for refund my money for win7 they will look at me like a Alien. Because in my country most people don't read EULAs.They go to market and buy pirated copies for Rs.100(like $1). They don't know even they need to pay $350 to get windows 7 ultimate licence. But there are some others care about software piracy.

    Oh! I forgot to say. I read all of your posts in one day and this blog is fantastic.

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  40. The EULA clearly says that if you do not agree to the terms, you are entitled to a refund. Someone needs to file a lawsuit claiming that Microsoft is not honoring the terms of the contract and that by doing so, they have invalidated any other restrictions they have placed on your use of the software.

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  41. In France, a refund for Windows can be obtained from Acer http://bit.ly/bQJIDc (and they expose the steps).

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  42. choose hardware that has linux support, and gain control of your kernel. and use the appropriate distrobution. then nothing can stop you.

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