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Justice for the consumer who didn’t want Microsoft – An EU precedent?

Readers to OpenBytes may remember that a couple of years ago, I like many people bought a PC of my choice only to have Windows pre-installed.  It was unwanted, it was uneeded and presumably this forced inclusion, added to the claimed “sales figures” of Windows.  I enquired about a refund and after a little to and fro, found it was possible albeit a rather convoluted and maybe intentionaly weary return process where my machine could be striped of Windows and a recompense given.

An encouraging story from the pages of TechWorld which details a user with far more tenacity than me states:

A French laptop buyer has won a refund from Lenovo after a four-year legal battle over the cost of a Windows license he didn’t want. The judgment could open the way for PC buyers elsewhere in Europe to obtain refunds for bundled software they don’t want..

Source: Techworld

I imagine after much manovering and squirming the news that the laptop buyer has finally achieved justice will come as a refreshing conclusion in a world where consumers shouldn’t be forced into paying for items they don’t want:

After reconsidering the case, on Jan. 9, Judge Jean-Marie Dubouloz ordered Lenovo to pay Petrus legal costs of €1,000 (around US$1,300), damages of €800 and to refund the cost of the Windows license. Petrus had estimated the cost of the software at €404.81, but the court found that excessive, given that he had paid €597 for the PC and software together. Observing that “it is commonly accepted that the price of a piece of software represents 10 percent to 25 percent of the price of a computer,” the court ordered Lenovo to reimburse Petrus €120 for the software…

Source: Techworld

So maybe the old saying “the customer is always right” holds wieght with Judge Dublouloz.

A good link to bookmark would be the global campaign group “No More Racketware” which can be found at http://no.more.racketware.info/index and they have numerous projects aimed at people who want to become involved in ensuring that the future of computer is not one which software is forced onto users.

Thats good news for the consumer and in my opinion not so good on companies like Microsoft who have for so long ruled the computing world with software crammed onto a harddisk with no thought for what the end-user wants or needs.

I suppose Microsoft can always resort to plan B though – “If you can’t make the products people want to buy, skim a little off the top of those that do” (in respect of its patent aggression)

Tim (Goblin)

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About Tim Sparrow

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Justice for the consumer who didn’t want Microsoft – An EU precedent?

  1. Judgements in France will carry over in other EU juridictions.

    I wonder if some free software or even simple consumers groups are going to organize some kind of action. This news cant be left to be disemminated by the mainstream press.

    Posted by Jeff Albertson | February 8, 2012, 11:17 pm
  2. Agreed, I don’t think we can rely on BBClick or similar to give a report of this and even if they do, it will be in the wishy-washy way of irrelevance that I think the BBC is so skillful at.

    Posted by openbytes | February 9, 2012, 1:06 am
  3. IMHO, if any citizen in EU cites Judge Jean-Marie Dubouloz ruling, since it’s precedent, should have an easier go at getting the software refund.

    But I also think that the ‘planned patent aggression’ by the Microsoft racketeers will be brought up several notches followed with the EFI scam to keep other OSs from ARMed devices, since MS has nothing viable to compete with in the technological arena.

    Posted by Andrew | February 9, 2012, 12:14 pm
  4. Again I would agree. We can but hope. Certainly we wouldn’t have the mess we do now with Microsoft “taxing” its competition whilst either not having its own competing product or having a product which very few seem to want (WP7).

    Its nice to see people taking notice of the Microsoft tactics, afterall even in the world of the “average user” how many people can you find who actually are happy with Microsoft products.

    The answer I get repeatedly from mainstream consumers that I speak with is “I didn’t have a choice” or “Its always been on my machine” – Thats not good for the consumer and I think if there’s one thing you can say about the popularity of Apple products is that it’s showing a mainstream consumer shift in mindset in that they no longer believe that they need to see the Microsoft brandname on a piece of tech in order to do the things they have been doing for years.

    Obviously the same can be said of Android. Consumers are happy, the devices are popular, its just a shame that Microsoft is trying to sift money away from manufacturers of those Android devices.

    Posted by openbytes | February 9, 2012, 12:19 pm
  5. Well, I find a bit rare that if you buy a pc that you know it comes with pre installed software then you complain that you didn’t want this software and try to get a refund. Why did you buy it in the first place? You can find computers without any operative system, but you know, they cost the same if not more than the ones that come with Windows. I’m seriously planning to get an iMac but I don’t want to use MacOS X, do you think Apple is going to discount the price of the license? Two years ago I bought a netbook for 300 euros, it came with Windows 7 Starter, MS Works, Photoshop Elements, Acrobat Standard, all pre installed. I knew that before I bought it, do you think it would make any sense I send Asus to court because I want a refund for all these licenses? It would look I wanted to get the hardware for free, because if you count the cost of all the licenses it will easily be higher than the 300 euros I paid. Like thr guy of the news, he buys a computer for 597 euros and pretends to get 404.81 euros back. So clever but he didn’t certainly heard about OEM versions.
    I think the subject here is not if people have to have right to get a refund for unwanted software but if manufacturers have right or not to sell computers with preinstalled software. If they have this right, it doesn’t matter if this software is free or not and if it’s Lenovo, Sony, Asus, Dell or Apple, they should be able to stuff the pc’s they sell with anything they want, like Apple does, like other manufacturers that sell pc’s with a linux distribution installed.
    At the end, pc manufacturers that sell Windows machines will say that Windows (and everytrhing else installed) comes for free, you don’t want it you don’t use it, but don’t pretend the get the hardware for the half of its price.

    Posted by g2-c61c6071ce5fd7070d390bb126e65eabPere | February 13, 2012, 11:30 am
    • Apple has its product manufactured and has to stand behind it. Does Microsoft? Where is their PC factory? Which is their ‘Mac’?.

      On another note, the EULA states if you do not agree with the terms of the software you are entitled to a refund for the software.

      Posted by Andrew | February 13, 2012, 5:06 pm
      • Good points, but for those people who have pushed the Microsoft software onto people and effectively (as Bill Gates said in relation to China) got them addicted, the idea of getting a refund must be crushed.

        I don’t think Microsoft want the consumer getting their money back, they certainly don’t want a precedent set. Afterall, ask the mainstream consumer what they think of Windows…..the answers very clear. They don’t change because they have been force fed it.

        Regards
        Tim.

        Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 5:50 pm
      • “Apple has its product manufactured and has to stand behind it. Does Microsoft? Where is their PC factory? Which is their ‘Mac’?.”

        Yoe got that wrong. It’s not Microsoft that has to refund anything to that French guy, it’s Lenovo, this is: the pc manufacturer, which I want to believe has the same right as Apple to stand behind their own manufactured products. And like Lenovo, Acer, and Sony, and Asus, and Dell, and etc. They manufacture their own computers and are free to stuff them with whatever they want, they are free to make the deals they want with software companies, they are free to not offer computers without Windows.

        “On another note, the EULA states if you do not agree with the terms of the software you are entitled to a refund for the software.”

        Glad to know, so I can buy my iMac, install Windows or/and Ubuntu and ask Apple to refund me the money that costs their operative systemthat I don’t intend to use. Wish me luck.

        Posted by Pere | February 13, 2012, 6:48 pm
        • “Glad to know, so I can buy my iMac, install Windows or/and Ubuntu and ask Apple to refund me the money that costs their operative systemthat I don’t intend to use. Wish me luck.”

          Well if you don’t succeed then as a recourse you can apply to the courts like the other chap did. Thats called fair, not luck.

          “which I want to believe has the same right as Apple to stand behind their own manufactured products.”

          Of course they have the right. Although the court has decided (in respect of Windows) hasn’t it?

          Argue all you want about refunds, the court agreed, end of story. The story now will be will it set a precedent and how many “sales” of Windows will be lost because of it?

          Time will tell, however I think its clear the future (for the mainstream) is not with the desktop form factor anyway, so without a realistic offering on the table yet (and consumers very pleased with their non-Microsoft devices) I’d say Microsoft doesn’t get a look in.

          Mind you, who am I to predict? …… I was spot on about WP7, Zune, and the Kin to name a few….maybe that was just luck…. ;)

          Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 7:04 pm
          • As I just posted in response to another of your comments, this is France, in Spain it happened otherwise.

            I am curious about how you think consumers are very pleased with the tablets and smartphones they are forced to use with iOs and Android and those that are forced to use Windows on laptops and desktops seem are going in mass to court to get a refund. At least in France.

            Posted by Pere | February 13, 2012, 7:30 pm
            • “which I want to believe has the same right as Apple to stand behind their own manufactured products.”

              Well I don’t know customer feedback, the choice of Apple products, Android or the plethora of “forkish” type alternatives. Microsoft advocates call that bad & fragmentation, I call it choice. How long has Windows been forced onto the average consumer? You think many of them would ever dare remove it?

              Choice is a mindset. It started quite simply when FF managed to overcome the belief by the mainstream that internet=ie. The same is happening on multiple form factors with their platforms.

              Smartphones are not just limited to iOS and/or Android either. Check out your other alternatives some time…. Over in the UK Blackberry is quite a popular phone you know.

              You talk about France. Funny. Your police service switched to open source and away from Microsoft. Strange that many, when get the choice will do anything to get away from Microsoft…I wonder why? ;)

              In anycase, why should you care what courts decide about refunds on Microsoft products? Whilst I am pleased the consumer had the justice they wanted, it makes no difference to my life. Why should it bother you?
              Courts decided, you can bleat as much as you like. But thats all it is. I happen to agree with the court, I am assuming you dont. Fine.

              Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 7:37 pm
              • I’m not French, I live in Spain. So what happened in France with this case is of not much use for me, and less when a similar case here ended with the manufacturer winning. None of both cases bother me, I’m quite happy buying the computer I choose because of its hardware and then installing on it the software I want and removing what I didn’t ask for but I got for free. About the French police switching from Windows to linux (I supose), it’s happening here too with the public administration, and I wish it had happend before. What I don’t get is that for you now that they move to open source it’s because they are free to choose, weren’t they free to choose Windows before? Why this believe that everyone who uses Windows is because has been forced? The guys who for whatever reason decided that the French police should use open source software are not the same that some years ago decided they had to use Windows? Now they are free and before they weren’t?

                Posted by Pere | February 13, 2012, 7:58 pm
                • “So what happened in France with this case is of not much use for me, and less when a similar case here ended with the manufacturer winning.”

                  So you mean you’ve laboured the point for absolutely no reason what-so-ever? No case law or exception to the ruling? No circumstances that were not considered? You’ve type all that just to say the case is of “not much use to me?” Well forgive me for thinking otherwise after sifting through pages of your replies.

                  “I’m not French, I live in Spain.”

                  Lovely. Spanish then? Or just living there? What on earth does that have to do with anything?

                  “I’m quite happy buying the computer I choose because of its hardware and then installing on it the software I want and removing what I didn’t ask for but I got for free. ”

                  Go learn what “free” is and then ask yourself why people get offered a refund. I was offered one by Acer. You did not get it for “free”. Please grasp that before we go any further.

                  “About the French police switching from Windows to linux (I supose), it’s happening here too with the public administration, and I wish it had happend before. What I don’t get is that for you now that they move to open source it’s because they are free to choose, weren’t they free to choose Windows before? “

                  No. Look at the way Microsoft products were ingrained into the eccosystem. Ever read evangelism is war? What about Microsoft’s patent agression? What about the halloween documents et al? Netscape anyone? If you were read in what you were discussing we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

                  “Why this believe that everyone who uses Windows is because has been forced? “

                  Because show me an average mainstream consumer (the non-tech interested) who would even consider installing a new OS.

                  “The guys who for whatever reason decided that the French police should use open source software are not the same that some years ago decided they had to use Windows? Now they are free and before they weren’t?”

                  I’ve given you a small sample of the answer in the above paragraphs and this is off topic for the matter at hand.

                  Think on this, how is/was Canonical to compete with Microsoft PR budget? Answer that, and I don’t need to give you any other reason. This is why choice was stiffled, oh and a little giving expensive computers to bloggers, the mvp’s and the “Microsoft advocates” which lurk on forums.

                  Isn’t Microsoft a convicted monopolist? – Answer in your own time.

                  Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 8:10 pm
    • “Well, I find a bit rare that if you buy a pc that you know it comes with pre installed software then you complain that you didn’t want this software and try to get a refund.”

      That’s not rare…Its called choice…. How about buying an Audi and then being told it can only run on BP fuel? That fair?

      Whats so rare about wanting the specs/manufacturer has to offer but not wanting Windows pre-installed?

      ” You can find computers without any operative system, but you know, they cost the same if not more than the ones that come with Windows. ”

      I have an Acer (I love Acer products) find me one without Windows installed.

      “I think the subject here is not if people have to have right to get a refund for unwanted software but if manufacturers have right or not to sell computers with preinstalled software.”

      No. Manufacturers can have the right to sell whatever they want. Consumers can have the right to demand what they want. Acer with Windows? Fine Acer without Windows? Thats fine too. Thats called fairness. Nobody is asking for all machines OS’less, just the option to have it OS’less to be painfree and simple if thats what people require.

      And often Windows won’t cost “anything” because of the shovelware that firms pay to stuff onto machines also.

      “At the end, pc manufacturers that sell Windows machines will say that Windows (and everytrhing else installed) comes for free, you don’t want it you don’t use it, but don’t pretend the get the hardware for the half of its price.”

      I’m not sure what you are reading. Its certainly not this blog. There is no pretending about half price. I was offered a refund from Acer, the chap documented got a refund from another manufacturer. The bottom line isn’t how much, its paying for something you don’t want.

      ” do you think it would make any sense I send Asus to court because I want a refund for all these licenses? ”

      Yes. If you want an Asus machine without those things, you have two choices. Either pay at the time and claim money back afterwards or you can see if the make/model you want has an OS’less version.

      And lets be straight here. It does make sense to take Asus to court, the court agreed. Unless you are saying that you are right and a court of law is wrong? Personally I’d side with the court decision based on the facts, not a second guess of what you think I’ve typed here on this site and how the consumer “isn’t right”.

      Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 5:47 pm
      • “That’s not rare…Its called choice…. How about buying an Audi and then being told it can only run on BP fuel? That fair?”

        For what I get, nobody prevents that guy to remove Windows from his Lenovo and install whatever he wants. What you say sounds more like buying an Apple product and being forced to install only what they want you to install, and bought only through their shop (of course, this is an hypothetical example, we all know Apple doesn’t do that).

        “Whats so rare about wanting the specs/manufacturer has to offer but not wanting Windows pre-installed?”

        Nothing wrong with wanting this. I could want a Samsung Galaxy S2 too without Android.

        “No. Manufacturers can have the right to sell whatever they want. Consumers can have the right to demand what they want. Acer with Windows? Fine Acer without Windows? Thats fine too. Thats called fairness. Nobody is asking for all machines OS’less, just the option to have it OS’less to be painfree and simple if thats what people require.”

        It does not seem too many people require it, pc manufacturers might be greedy, but not idiots, if there were enough customers to target with clean computers they would offer them.

        “I’m not sure what you are reading. Its certainly not this blog. There is no pretending about half price. I was offered a refund from Acer, the chap documented got a refund from another manufacturer. The bottom line isn’t how much, its paying for something you don’t want.”

        Actually you are right: the French guy bought a pc for €597 and pretended to get a refund of €404.81, which is much more than the half. I’ve read this in this blog, you yourself quoted it.

        “If you want an Asus machine without those things, you have two choices. Either pay at the time and claim money back afterwards or you can see if the make/model you want has an OS’less version.”

        So I will end having for free a computer that costs 300 euros and comes with software for more that these 300 because I will get the refund for the software.

        “And lets be straight here. It does make sense to take Asus to court, the court agreed. Unless you are saying that you are right and a court of law is wrong? Personally I’d side with the court decision based on the facts, not a second guess of what you think I’ve typed here on this site and how the consumer “isn’t right”.”

        Actually, a similar case happened in Spain and the guy lost, so I would be wrong in France and right in Spain, and you the other way around. We should better talk about what we think is correct or not, if we base all in the law I would believe the death penalty is wrong because I live in Europe and will automatically think it’s correct if I move to the US.

        Posted by Pere | February 13, 2012, 7:20 pm
        • For what I get, nobody prevents that guy to remove Windows from his Lenovo and install whatever he wants.

          Very true. The court also agreed he was entitled to a refund. What can’t you grasp?

          What you say sounds more like buying an Apple product and being forced to install only what they want you to install, and bought only through their shop (of course, this is an hypothetical example, we all know Apple doesn’t do that).

          Not at all. And you have a habit of trying to put extra words (or merely imagining them) in what I say. Big difference. Microsoft has the monopoly, the generic default possition for 99% of desktops/laptops is Windows. No choice at all. Want to ask the Apple question? Fine, wait until its tested in court. You can’t say what would happen if it went there. Apple controls its hardware, Microsoft does not. That means for exposure on a retail level there is more Windows.

          I am actually very indifferent towards Apple, however the one thing you can say about them is that they have done what Microsoft was never able to do, produce a rock solid system which dare I say it turned tech into trendy. They have also shown to the consumer that there is choice. The ability to move away from what they have had forced upon them all these years.

          It does not seem too many people require it, pc manufacturers might be greedy, but not idiots, if there were enough customers to target with clean computers they would offer them.

          Fine. But the “rightness” of the courts decision matters not if its 1 user or 1 million. It was the right judgement made by a court of the consumers peers. Greedy Manufacturers? Well according to you there is no cost, ergo the manufacturer won’t loose anything by NOT putting Windows on a machine.

          Actually you are right: the French guy bought a pc for €597 and pretended to get a refund of €404.81, which is much more than the half. I’ve read this in this blog, you yourself quoted it.

          I am right, I know. I quoted the claim, I made no claims of what he did or didn’t get myself. I can’t be sure the figure is correct, I merely quote the statement.

          So I will end having for free a computer that costs 300 euros and comes with software for more that these 300 because I will get the refund for the software

          Don’t be so silly, I’m certainly not saying that. Whats your problem with a judgement made by a court?

          Actually, a similar case happened in Spain and the guy lost, so I would be wrong in France and right in Spain

          Again don’t be silly. So what? A success in France and not so in Spain. Matters not to the context of this article. Want to write about that Spain case? Great go write. This is not a won/lost battle and I am not sure why you labour the point of a court decision which nether of us had any input with.

          We should better talk about what we think is correct or not, if we base all in the law I would believe the death penalty is wrong because I live in Europe and will automatically think it’s correct if I move to the US.

          Oh dear. Now you are just taking this to silly extremes. If you actually understood law, you would realize what you mention is in respect of criminal law, what we are talking about here is civil law. Big difference and completely irrelevant to one chap getting a refund on a piece of Microsoft software he didn’t want.

          Posted by openbytes | February 13, 2012, 7:49 pm

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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