Microsoft to say no to Windows refund requests

Open source software enthusiasts in five countries plan to ask Microsoft in the US today for a refund for Windows software that came bundled with their PCs. They say they haven't used the software, and claim that a clause in their end-user license agreement entitles them to their money back.

But Microsoft won't be writing anyone any checks, Rob Bennett, group product manager for Microsoft Windows, warned. Microsoft instead will provide information on how to reach computer manufacturers, he said.

"It's fairly clear that if a customer does want to request a refund on the version of Windows that comes with their PC that they should contact their PC manufacturer," Bennett said. "It's funny. These customers have bought Windows PCs and it's almost like being surprised that the cherry pie you bought has cherries in it."

Events planned include a peaceful demonstration at Microsoft's offices in Foster City, California, where organisers say hundreds of users will gather to request refunds. Other activities are planned in New York and Southern California, as well as in New Zealand, France, Japan and the Netherlands, organisers say.

Momentum has been gathering behind "Windows Refund Day" ever since an Australian notebook user apparently secured a $US110 refund from Toshiba Systems for Windows software that came bundled with his Toshiba Satellite notebook PC. The problem, according to critics, is that it is extremely hard for users to buy a PC that doesn't come bundled with Windows, even if they don't plan to use it.

But Microsoft's Bennett argued that there are manufacturers that offer PCs with other operating systems, even Linux. "I think there is some confusion . . . that there's not choice out there and in fact there is an abundance of choice out there," he said.

Organisers of Monday's event say terms of the end-user license agreement distributed with Windows software entitles them to a refund. Essentially, the agreement states that if users don't agree with Microsoft's licensing terms they should "promptly contact PC Manufacturer for instructions on return of unused product(s) for a refund."

"This is coming from all the open source users who are reading their software licensing agreement, finding they are entitled to a refund, and then finding they have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get it," said Donald B. Marti Jr., cofounder of Linux marketing company Electric Lichen and organiser of the Foster City protest.

Users of Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and other open source software programs are invited to attend the events. They are asked to bring their Microsoft Windows original disks, manuals and authenticity certificates which will be presented to Microsoft.

Organisers, who also include Eric Raymond, author of an open source manifesto called The Cathedral and the Bazar, and Larry Augustin, president and CEO of VA Research Linux Systems, say the activities aren't intended to cause trouble or embarrass Microsoft.

"It's not about whether Microsoft's products are good or bad," said Marti. "It's definitely about the money."

The open source community has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of Microsoft and other commercial software vendors. Open source refers to software for which the underlying code is made freely available and can be modified by users to suit their needs. Improvements are built back into the original program, which makes it the preferred method for software development, proponents say.

By contrast, the source code for many commercial programs like Windows is kept a closely guarded secret. Commercial software vendors say their software is more stable and better supported.

Marti has high hopes that Microsoft will start forking out refunds on the spot when users in Foster City are individually present their unused software and ask for a refund today.

"We expect Microsoft to take a stack of checks, stick them in the laser printer and do the right thing," he said.

Information on the organised events, including links to foreign-language Web sites, is on the Web at http://hugin.imat.com/refund/.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?