New Windows refurbisher program fights piracy, Linux

Microsoft's attitude 'Please don't pirate software. But if you do it, make it's ours'

Microsoft introduced late last week a new pilot program to encourage refurbishers to install legitimate copies of Windows XP on used PCs.

The new Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program offers a discount off the retail price of Windows XP, along with deployment tools to help refurbishers reinstall Windows and all of the relevant drivers on renewed PCs in as little as 15 minutes, said Hani Shakeel, senior product manager of the genuine Windows product marketing team.

When MAR is fully expanded, it will also help stem what Microsoft acknowledges as widespread flouting of Microsoft's XP licensing rules by price-pressured refurbishers.

"There's a range of behavior. Definitely, what you're describing is happening," Shakeel said.

Observers say MAR also attempts to ameliorate another risk: that refurbishers, frustrated by the high cost and difficulty of following Microsoft's arcane Windows licenses to the letter, will simply install a free Linux operating system on renewed PCs instead.

Some resellers "are saying, 'We're just going to ship this stuff out with Ubuntu Linux,'" said Adam Braunstein, an analyst with the Robert Frances Group.

Braunstein estimates that for now, no more than one in ten refurbished PCs goes back out for sale sporting Linux rather than Windows. But Microsoft is worried.

"There are pieces of the armor that are pretty rapidly deteriorating," he said.

And the first two contestants are...

Two large refurbishers have been initially selected to participate in MAR: Redemtech and TechTurn.

Microsoft has long encouraged the donation and reuse of older PCs, albeit in a limited way. Its Community MAR program lets PC recyclers obtain cheap copies of Windows that they could use to install on used computers.

But the catch was that those licenses were only available for PCs destined for use by charities, schools and other non-profit groups. As a result, only 200,000 refurbished PCs worldwide last year benefited from the Community MAR program, according to Microsoft.

Meanwhile, up to 28 million refurbished PCs will be sold this year, making up 10% of the global PC market, according to Microsoft's Shakeel. Nearly all are destined to consumers and smaller companies.

Many of those PCs shipped will be violating some aspect of Microsoft's complicated End User License Agreement (EULA) for Windows. For instance, most refurbishers will assume that they can reinstall Windows onto a recycled PC using the license number on the original Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that shipped with it. In fact, Microsoft requires that refurbishers also have the original Windows installation CD.

That's a "near-impossible" requirement, says Braunstein. "You're probably lucky if half of the PCs [at a large company] still have the COA after three years," he said. As for the installation CD, "one of the first things a company does when they get a new PC is throw away the installation disc."

Confirmed Jake Player, president of TechTurn: "The majority of machines we get don't come with the original Windows CD."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?