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08.28.08

Forced Windows Purchases: A Decade Later, Still No Improvement

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Dell, Europe, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The regulators are fast asleep. Apart from the fact that Microsoft makes profit from GNU/Linux preinstalls [1, 2, 3], it’s still nearly impossible to find and then to get them.

Taiwan, China, Poland, [1, 2], and Hungary have formally complained about Microsoft this month, but not the United States. As pointed out yesterday (see the comment at the bottom), the American (US) regulators are indifferent because they are themselves corrupt. Meanwhile, says a reader, Steve Ballmer’s trip to Portugal might be aimed at intercepting Free software.

It’s not grim news all around though. Yesterday, for example, this article showed up and it proves that some people do get in trouble for buying Microsoft. Quebec’s government comes under legal scrutiny, which is not exactly surprising given prior complaints about the procurement process there. It’s equally bad in the UK and elsewhere.

Quebec’s open-source software association is suing the provincial government, saying it is giving preferential treatment to Microsoft Corp. by buying the company’s products rather than using free alternatives.

The lawsuit by Facil was lodged with the Quebec Superior Court on July 15 and made public on Wednesday. In it, the group says the provincial government has refused to entertain competing bids from all software providers, opting instead to supply public-sector departments with products bought from proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle Corp.

As a side note, speaking of lawsuits, Novell still has a lawsuit against Microsoft and it could win hundreds of millions of dollars. This was mentioned before as a possible reason for Microsoft to buy Novell once it becomes a suitable target (with .NET, patents and all that).

Steve Ballmer rides SUSEMicrosoft may have given up on its old strategy. See the previous post about a patents revenue strategy and recall those SCO analogies . Microsoft suffers from a customer retention issue. Could Microsoft buy out the lawsuit and the competitor? It could be less expensive than buying out threats like XenSource (using Citrix as a proxy) due to competitive bids and a large numbers of players in this space. Naturally, GNU and Linux can spread endlessly between vendors, which keeps them secure from hostile takeovers, but software patents change this. Novell and Microsoft actively try to change this using “licensing”. This exclusionary move shows just why Novell and Microsoft are already becoming the same company.

“This exclusionary move shows just why Novell and Microsoft are already becoming the same company.”Let us return to exclusion at the OEM level. Exclusionary OEM contracts is something that we covered before and this article from the Czech Republic was mentioned some days ago. It shows just how impossible Microsoft has made it to choose an operating system other than Windows (or no operating system at all, i.e. just bare-metal hardware bundles). Over at Groklaw, Pamela just wrote: “Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s nearly impossible to avoid buying Vista on a new computer, even if you have no desire to get Vista? And then Microsoft counts such “sales” as indicating an interest in Vista.”

Going a long way back, you can still find this detailed page on the impossibility of obtaining a Toshiba computer without Microsoft software. Not much has change since then.

I hope that this web page will prove useful to those people who want to purchase a laptop without Microsoft Windows. The short summary is:

* It is near impossible to buy a laptop without Windows
* The Microsoft Software License Agreement allows you to return the software if you do not agree to its terms.
* It is difficult, but not impossible to get Toshiba (at least in Australia) to send you a cheque in return for the Windows License.

Here is another good page, which is no longer live, but it has a copy on the Internet Archive.

My name is David Chun. I am an undergraduate student at UCLA, where I am in the UCLA Center for American Public Policy and Politics. I am working this spring as an intern at the Consumer Project on Technology. On May 25, 1998 through June 3, 1998, I called 12 computer manufacturers, known in the industry as original equipment manufactures (OEMs), attempting to buy computers without a Microsoft Windows operating systems.

This is not competition. It’s free market distortion.

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6 Comments

  1. Jens Staal said,

    September 11, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Gravatar

    I can definitely agree that it was nearly impossible to get a laptop without windows here in Europe. I checked with Dell and others and they all refused (Dell only offered an ubuntu installation for companies and not to individuals, and many vendors could customize hardware, but not leave out a default Windows installation!). The only one I found was the danish company Zepto, where the Windows Tax was refreshingly visible as you assembled your computer…

    Ps. I do hope that your rants about Novell proves to be false… because I am a very happy OpenSuse 11 user … Ds.

  2. Jose_X said,

    September 11, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Ps. I do hope that your rants about Novell proves to be false…

    Could you be more specific. BN posts a bunch of facts along with opinions. What are you disputing?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s not disputed that OpenSUSE works. In fact, I often stress that it’s one of the best distributions out there. Technical behaviour and ethical behaviour are separate though and we needn’t fall for one to encourage the other. It’s better to put one’s money and userbase where it serves Free software, as opposed to the Microsoft ‘cabal’.

  4. Jose_X said,

    September 11, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Gravatar

    The newest Mandriva (2009 beta? and even 2008.1?) have gotten very good reviews. Lot’s of people also seem to like Mint (Ubuntu deriv I think). PCLOS is like a cousin of Mandriva. Fedora tends to be among the more cutting edge. There are many others, but it’s difficult to know what will strike a random person’s fancy.

    We can use and contribute to make any distro the best. Why would be pick the one that most helps Microsoft maintain their monopolies? I have 0 interest in Microsoftizing Linux. Using Linux software is the beginning step of making Linux what you want it to become with the help of the developers and the rest of the community. .. Um.. choose wisely?

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 12, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Gravatar

    Yes, I’m on my Mandriva in my main PC at the moment.

  6. Jens Staal said,

    September 12, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Gravatar

    I was a “disto hopper” between some of the major distros (kubuntu, fedora etc) and got stuck at the OpenSuse mostly because of the complete “look and feel” of it…and the chameleon is cute. That only illustrates that there are often irrational reasons that makes the final call…

    It was not until after that I heard about the MS-Novell thing.
    Personally I am no fanatic MS hater as such, but I am very much against their monopolistic position and how their dominance feeds itself. I am a strong believer in a market with several equally strong alternatives (competition drives development) and do not wish a total demise of the MS OS, but a more level distribution of OSes which will inspire software/game makers to produce cross-platform products.
    In particular, the lack of choice of not buying Microsoft’s product when you want to buy a new piece of hardware is something that angers me quite a bit.

    Because of this, I am not quite yet ready to leave my favorite distro (OpenSuse) for plain ideological reasons… but if things get worse and some of the dystopic things mentioned on this blog and elsewhere starts to be true – I will definitely abandon it. On the other hand, Novell does not earn one cent from me running their software…

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