OEMs to Potentially be Forced to Unbundle Windows as Forced Vista 7 ‘Sales’ Lead to Class Action Lawsuit
Summary: Carlo Piana et al. take Microsoft to court for removing choice in the OEM channel, including reasonable choices such as GNU/Linux, BSD, or simply no operating system at all
THE MICROSOFT WINDOWS chokehold is being eroded in the OEM channel. Vista 7 refunds are already becoming possible in Denmark, in Brazil, and in Portugal. Back in the days we also wrote about similar actions pressing for unbundling in France.
Some of the many reports about the new lawsuit in Italy stress that there is international relevance:
The Italian consumer watchdog is suing Microsoft over the “Windows Tax” – the near impossibility of an ordinary user getting a refund if they decide to delete Microsoft’s software from a new computer or laptop.
The class action case says Microsoft makes it too difficult for people who buy a computer with Microsoft software on it to remove that software and get their money back. Most users do not realise that starting the software means you have accepted the end user licence.
Carlo Piana, a lawyer who helps defend software freedom, is personally involved in it and there’s stressing that “it’s a class action, PPL can join (later)”
“OK,” writes Piana, “now it’s public. I’ve served a class action against MSFT for bundling & refusal to reimbourse Windows, for ADUC” (he links to an article in Italian) and there is also a “blog post on ADUC class action against Microsoft #MSFT,” starting with this introduction:
Aduc, an Italian Consumers association, has served on Microsoft Italia (the local branch of Microsoft Corp) a class action complaining that the company consistently refuses to reimburse users the price of ubiquitous windows licenses, bundled with OEM (Original Equipement Manufacturers) computers. I am part of a much larger legal team that has produced it and I can briefly illustrate what it is about.
Italy has adopted a regulation (Art. 140 bis of the Italian Consumers Code) that allows consumers individually (not consumers associations, which is strange) to file class actions, through ordinary proceedings, open to be joined at a later time. A class action is a case which is arguably identical to a class of users and which is likely to protect the interest of this class. Unfortunately, the Italian version has been adopted with very odd provisions that limit the effectiveness of it, as one can read in this document by Aduc (in Italian).
The case, which was filed in Milan by the Associazione per i Diritti degli Utenti e Consumatori (ADUC), and picked up by The Register earlier today, points to Microsoft’s end user license agreement (EULA)–as outlined in various copies of Windows–noting that once users turn their computer on and begin to use it, they are no longer able to return the software for a refund.
Microsoft booster Peter Bright adds this: (special thanks to Girts for some of these pointers)
This is not the first time ADUC has taken to the courts over Windows preinstalls. In 2007, the group successfully sued HP after it failed to abide by the terms of the Microsoft End User License Agreement, which explicitly permits a user to refuse to accept the terms and receive a full refund.
Meanwhile we learn about some new actions in Portugal, where Microsoft wants government policies to help stifle Free software (in France, the lawmakers recently had created Apple/Android tax, which is based on copyright). Microsoft is going down, but not without a fight. █