09.13.10

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‘Microsoft Tax’ Comes in More Than One Form

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ancient parchment

Summary: ‘Microsoft tax’ now applies to Linux-based products from companies that sold out to Microsoft, but it also applies to new PCs and to all taxpayers, who increasingly take the bill for cleaning up the mess left by Bill

WHEN someone buys Ballnux (e.g. SUSE, Samsung’s Android phones, or a Kindle), Microsoft gets paid. It’s ‘Microsoft tax’ for the mere allegation that Linux is violating Microsoft software patents which Microsoft refuses to show or to even name. The best known ‘Microsoft tax’ is the tax one pays when buying a new computer. Microsoft has pressured OEMs into forcing all buyers of hardware to also pay for Windows, regardless of whether is gets used or not.

Alan Lord said last week that “PCs with Compulsorily Bundled Software Should Be Outlawed”:

I’ve written about the Microsoft Tax many times before and have even had a minor success with regards to getting it refunded.

Now a fellow Open Source blogger and businessman, Dr Adrian Steel of Mercian Labels, is trying, so far without luck, to get the cost of an unwanted Windows License refunded from a company called Fonestop Ltd. He’s kindly providing an ongoing record of the correspondence between himself and the supplier whilst he seeks a fair refund for the software that he does not want nor require.

[...]

As many of you know we started a website some time ago called Naked Computers to track these Brave and Admirable suppliers around the world. It’s been useful to many but it has been quite quiet recently and it could definitely do with a revamp to make it look more appealing (any WordPress Theme designers fancy knocking up a new look and feel for the site?).

In the UK there is one computer supplier that, in my humble opinion, should be applauded for their attitude: Novatech. I think that every machine they sell from their website or retail outlets are offered with or without an Operating System; it’s your choice. It’s quite interesting to look on their site and see just how expensive Windows really is: ~£70 to ~£800 or more!

Also in the UK, OpenBytes told us that it’s still working towards receiving that Acer refund for unused Vista 7. It’s just taking a while. We first reported about it less than a month ago.

“The third form of ‘Microsoft tax’ is the tax which nobody can ever avoid.”The computer that I use at the moment I bought from Novatech, which just as Alan Lord explained is the rare exception where a shop sells computers without Windows at all. This ought to be the norm.

The third form of ‘Microsoft tax’ is the tax which nobody can ever avoid. It’s the tax which all taxpayers hand over to help extinguish problems caused by Microsoft’s shoddy software, which crashes a lot* and falls under/into the hands of crackers (due to bad design and maintenance). Last year we showed that in Germany, for instance, taxpayers were forced pay very directly to address Windows problems. Here it goes again. From last week’s news:

Germany will soon launch a service to help consumers remove malicious software from their computers in an attempt to stem the spread of spam-sending botnets.

For those who think that tips are enough to keep one safe from those spam-sending Windows botnets, here is an important reminder. A new worm [1, 2] is said to be linked to a “Cyber Jihad Group” and less wealthy countries take the toll:

Symantec’s Norton division Norton Cybercrime Report found that Chinese users are most at risk with 83 per cent having fallen prey to computer viruses, credit card fraud and identity theft at one time or another. And this is despite their Internet access being the most controlled in the world.

In many of these articles Microsoft gets a free pass. But it’s its bad software (worst when it comes to patching) which continues to be insecure as more patches — including “critical” onescome by the dozen (that’s 13 patches at the very least because Microsoft hides many). Why should the public pay through the taxing system to compensate for Microsoft’s mistakes? Its employees recommend formalising such a tax [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
_____
* Microsoft finally acknowledges the many recent downtimes caused under its very own watch.

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A Single Comment

  1. NotZed said,

    September 13, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Gravatar

    It’s not a tax, it’s private rent extraction. Taxes fund useful things like schools, the pigs, and roads – i.e. social stability and national progress. The deliberate mixing of the the terms just pushes a particular political agenda.

    Around here … except for laptops it’s trivial to buy a computer without microsoft software – every time i’ve asked at a local computer shop it’s been no problem to leave it off, if it was even there to start with. If they said no I’d just go to another shop – there’s little two-man computer shops everywhere. Not that i’ll have to buy another one for years – they’re getting so fast and reliable (after those problems with those dodgy cheap chinese electrolytic capacitors a few years ago).

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