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Microsoft Tax Refund Quest

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A page for tracking progress of the Microsoft Tax Refund Quest

Manish from ILUG-Delhi is leading this initiative.

Summary of the conversation till now

See the discussion thread in ILUGD for the entire conversation

(Atanu is from Linux for You)

Atanu> I need some info before I can take this up as a story...

Could you be a little more specific please?

Atanu> When you buy a pre-bundled Windoze and boot it for the first time, does this licence pop up, or the
Atanu> machine starts normally, and you have to accessthe licence somewhere to have a look at it?

You power it up and the second screen (first one is language selection, I think) displays two licenses (in small text boxes where you need to scroll a lot, possibly to discourage from reading it): first one is the MS EULA and second one is Lenovo terms and conditions. There are check-marks to indicate your acceptance to the licenses under each one. There's no other means to indicate your refusal other than switching the machine off. Unless both are agreed to the "Next" button does not get activated. I took a picture of the screen at that stage but it's about 2 megs.

@Niyam: Thanks for everything. Seriously, I couldn't have spread it so far and wide and got involved so many people and publications on my own.

Sudev> Manish do not feel that you are being made a murga
Sudev> but "hum tumhare peeche hain" ;-)

:) Thank you. I really appreciate the sentiment.

Mr. Rao> Most OEMs sell laptops with Linux/DOS preloaded
Mr. Rao> on them. So you don't *have* to buy a Vista
Mr. Rao> machine.

As Dhiraj pointed out, hardware vendors do not offer high-end models with GNU/Linux. What if what you want does not come without Windows? Do you buy and compromise (i.e. pay M$ tax) or not buy and compromise (i.e. buy an inferior machine?) Aage kuan peeche khayee.

Kenneth> I do not see why we should not reward those
Kenneth> manufacturers that treat linux with respect and
Kenneth> buy hardware from them. Maybe a small sacrifice
Kenneth> that one will not get the 'exact' config one
Kenneth> wants - but then, that is the price of freedom ...

If the machine in question suits your needs, absolutely. But that's not the point. See more below.

Anupam> Or maybe 'punish' the ones that don't by asking
Anupam> for refunds.. Just as effective in my opinion and
Anupam> you can buy whatever machine you want..

I agree except that it's not punishment. It's just being fair.

I compared the refund/credit statements of Windows XP and Windows Vista EULAs.

,----[ Windows XP (on a machine with functioning Vista) ]

,----[ Windows Vista (on a "virgin" machine) ]

The choice of words is telling. Microsoft seems to have left the decision to refund at OEM's/installers' discretion (at least in the case of machines preloaded with Vista.) And OEMs may conveniently choose not to refund at all!

What galls me are the statements like these:

"Nevertheless, 140 million PCs have sold with paid copies installed."

Paid my foot, I feel I have been pick pocketed by Lenovo on Microsoft's behalf. Imagine MS as some kind of don and L as servile sucking up local goon collecting "hafta" (extortion money) or pick pocketing for the don. :)

From my perspective, the whole issue boils down to these arguments/points to be settled.

  1. Is it legal for OEMs to bundle software with the machines AND charge for it and require consumers to agree to a license before they can use it (after having paid)?
  2. Are the terms of the Windows license (EULA) enforceable in India?
  3. If a customer does not agree to the license required to use the bundled software, then does/should the consumer have a right to refund?
  4. Are the terms of the license legally binding on only the paying consumers or also on the vendor (OEM)?
  5. Can OEMs refuse to be bound by the terms and conditions of a software license _they_ bundled and charged for (agreed they did not author it but they did charge for it)? If OEMs are exempt then how can the terms be binding on consumer?
  6. What is the fair price of Windows to be refunded? In my opinion, it should be at par with the market price or OEMs need to disclose the price at which they bought licenses (for legal entities to determine the fair price.)

In case it turns out that this land does have a fair law and has not sold out to corporates at the expense of consumers, then following is what I expect to get out of this Mahabharat when/if this ends.


Short term/this specific case

  1. A formal (verbal/written) apology from Lenovo.
  2. Refund from Lenovo.

Long term/general case

  • OEMs required by law to provide "No OS" option on all machines (No, I do not want to purchase or be force fed Novell Linux either.)

Or at the very least

  • Legal requirements binding on OEMs to document, print and distribute the timebound and simple refund process (along with the cost that will be refunded) _with_ the machines; may be distributed as part of the user manual or as a separate pamphlet but _with_ the machine (not just hidden behind tons of links on their website).

So I guess there are going to be two parts to this effort/fight: short term and long term.

The short term part needs to be dealt with in MRTP and/or consumer court. BTW, meanwhile Lenovo is figuring out their address in India that can receive a legal notice.

But what about the long term issue? Who/which organization needs to be influenced/educated to implement it? Do we even attempt it? How? Do we discuss it here at all since the list is for "Linux and Linux-related issues" and this may be considered off-topic. IMHO, it's not since it's about computing freedom.

-- Manish

Other cases

I have just ordered an X61s and that comes with Vista pre-installed. I figured it would be straight-forward to return the COA and get a refund from Lenovo. Manish, could you post the names of people you have been interacting with and the information exchanged ? By reading this page, I understand that Lenovo are claiming that they have no refund policy.

I would of course be willing to take it to Consumer Court if necessary. It might not be possible to combine our cases but we could save duplication of effort in the preparation of the case.

Alephnull 09:45, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

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