back to article Italians threaten suit over Windows pre-install

An Italian consumer rights group plans to slap Microsoft with a class-action lawsuit this week seeking compensation on behalf of people forced to buy Windows pre-installed on new computers. The ADUC, which specializes in public interests related to TV, internet, and telephone, said it would file the lawsuit at a court in …


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  1. Kevin 6


    Wouldn't they have to sue the companies selling the computers with windows pre-installed and not Microsoft? Last I checked Microsoft doesn't make any PC's period and the companies that sell the PC's install the OS. But when would facts ever get in the way of a guilty verdict in Italian court.

    If I was in charge of MS I'd strip out the Italian language and make it illegal to sell there to be an ass.

  2. J.Wild Silver badge
    Big Brother

    At last!

    Why don't our government do the same?

    Because they only want to control us, not be our servants

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Oh great

    Another group wanting to hit the limelight for bringing MS to court over their inability to see that mass consumerism needs a product that works off the shelf, and like every microwave, tv and dvd player that these people will buy, they expect a PC to work the same way. What MS should do is turn around and say "right, every Italian purchaser of a PC must install the OS, all the drivers, all the gunk the manufacturer provides and every service, system and process they need to make the hardware work, plus update all the drivers from the boxed stuff to the latest build", and fuck the lot of them.

    Fine for linux users, who recently surpassed 1% of installed users (ref :, not fine for the 98.x% of the rest of people.

    Their own website claims "hundreds of reports of users the impossibility of obtaining this refund", perhaps they need to sort out their consumer rights issues rather than raising a self advertising campaign doomed to fail, and cost the consumer a fortune.

    1. Marcelo Rodrigues

      They have good cause to sue Microsoft

      Last time I checked, Microsoft would not allow an OEM (that's right: would not ALLOW) to sell a computer without OS. They say this is to block piracy.

      That's why DELL sells computers (or, at least, used to sell) with Dr. DOS. They don't sell a computer without an OS - if they did, Microsoft would up the Windows price to a point they would be out of business.

      No, i'm not making it up. Look the famous anti truste case. One of the points was just it: Microsoft forcing OEMs to sell computers with an OS.

      At given point it would even charge one Windows license for each machine sold - even with Linux installed.

      So, I say: good news. It's high time the consumer should have the chance to buy a machine without OS.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Microsoft chose this

      There is nothing to prevent Microsoft distributing a free version of broken Windows that people can pay Microsoft to upgrade over the internet. This does not require lengthy downloads - downloading a small activation key would do the job. Some retailers charge a fee to remove pre-installed crapware to make a new PC usable, so to a large extent, Windows users would not notice the difference.


      Berkeleylug reported stats from NetApplications’ This is a popular source for small numbers of Linux users. It measures the OS reported by web browsers. Many Linux users set this to Windows because some web sites refuse to talk to other browser settings. The figures you get from page hits depend on the content. A Debian technical support site will show far more Linux users than a site the requires silverlight. NetApplications have been accused of selecting sites that favour their sponsors.


      I did a quick hunt for the number of unique IP addresses updating a Linux client distributions, and filled in the missing numbers for unknown distributions by scaling the page hits figures on distrowatch. The result is about 5% of IP addresses are used to update Linux clients. (Multiple clients hidden behind NAT out weigh multiple reports of a single client with a dynamic IP address).


      Try including super computers, server farms, satnavs and routers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      shut up, coward

      why do u insist on talking crap whereever you post? i only have 4-letter words for you. i think u should change your name to anonymous brainless coward

      1. John Dougald McCallum

        AC @ 10:03 6th

        This would make sense if you showed your ID as it is STFU.Oh and learn to spell you is not spelled U

    4. stizzleswick

      The manufacturers...

      ...are rarely to blame. Microsoft, back in the early 1990s, famously managed to browbeat many of them into a contract allowing them to sell Windows pre-installed rather "cheaply" per copy... only the contract states that they have to pay Microsoft per sold example, whether Windows is installed on the machine sold or not. Only few companies have since managed to untangle themselves form these terms (Dell, Lenovo). A similar lawsuit by an individual in France, btw, has been successful; Microsoft had to refund the person the full cost of an XP license after the user had refused to agree to the EULA upon first use of the computer.

    5. Roger Greenwood
      Thumb Up

      the problem is . . .

      MS force the sellers to bundle an OS, but it is currently also in the sellers interest anyway. Unbundling would mean transparency, honesty and flexibility for users, which MS certainly don't want.

      Good luck to the lawyers, because they will be the winners here.

    6. Daniel Garcia 2


      you are a troll and i request my 5 pounds.

    7. Greg J Preece

      Well, yes, but...

      ...go ahead and try machines with Windows as an option, rather than the default. See if MS will sell you any licences.

    8. Richard Drinkwater

      It is possible in the UK

      I know here in the UK it is possible to get a refund for a Windows licence from a PC manufacturer. I purchased a laptop and phoned up the manufacturer saying I didn't agree to the EULA. After they went off to find out what to do, they said I was able to get a refund on the Windows licence. The downside was to get the £30-something refund, I would have to send off the laptop and have them remove it for £40-something.

    9. /dev/me

      Oh no not that discussion again

      The OEM-EULA clearly states that if you do not accept the license, you are entitled to a refund.

      Do this, as I have done. In a store, point to a laptop and say you want it sans OS. They'll say it's impossible to buy it without an OS. Yet, the OEM-EULA clearly states that you are entitled to a refund if you do not accept the terms*). The salesperson will then point to the manufacturer.

      Contact the manufacturer about their OS refund policy. I've done this with most manufacturers once when I was in a bad mood ;-) Most manufacturers have no such policy. They point their finger straight to Redmond. Some however do have such policy, Acer comes to mind, but they ask money to remove the OS, you have to deliver the machine to the workshop and pick it up again too.

      Which, technically, is all not necessary as you can overwrite the OS if you don't accept the EULA. Remember, you do not pay for the bits that are together knows as Windows. You pay for a license to use the software.

      So the point is not that they should offer PC's and laptops without an OS, which would require separate manufacturing and distribution channels, but just a clear method of refusing the EULA and get your refund. And as it's Redmonds software, and Redmonds licenses and Redmonds policies, the right company to take to court is Microsoft.

      What's more, by buying the laptop (money exchanging hands and all that) you implicitly agree with the terms of the purchase. But after powering the laptop on for the first time, you are greeted with the OEM-EULA, and the question of whether you accept the Windows license terms or not ((Note it defaults to 'no')). This means you have the option to refuse the license, after the purchase of the machine. And, are per terms entitled to a refund.


      *) Musing a little further on this. A popular adage of many people is 'I believe it when I see it'.

      Why then, can people not understand the 'refund section' in the OEM-EULA? They don't believe it even though they can see it. Is there not a student of Psychology that can research this fallacy?

    10. Steve in Hungary

      PC Use

      Hmmm. Do you know, when I were a lad I had to take TWO driving tests. I had to take one before I were allowed on t' road on a motorbike without 'L' plates, and bugger me if I didn't have to go through the whole bloody stitherum again before they would let me do t' same in a car.

      Now, considering as 'ow 99.9% of botnet computers are belongin to feckin clueless Micro$oft Windose users, dosna tha all reckon that it might be time for ALL PC users to pass some sort of test BEFORE they are allowed on the Internet??

      Tha' knows!

      Mine's the one wi t' pit pony tied to it, tha' knows

    11. lee7

      All the AC's are out supporting MS today

      How many PCs are there around? Lots - I have quite a few myself. I'm too damn lazy to fight for my refunds, so instead I feel no qualms whatsoever if I feel the need to copy some MS crap software because some dipstick has sent me something in a proprietary format.

      1% of a lot of machines is a lot of money in windows licenses.

  4. NightFox
    Thumb Down

    Why Stop at the OS?

    ...and then sue because they're forced to accept the installed graphics card, and then the memory manufacturer, and forced to have a DVD drive, and forced to have a certain model of motherboard.

    If people want options, they should build their own or have a custom PC built for them. Buy off the shelf and you're limited to what's on offer - it's not as if there's no alternative.

  5. Colin Wilson

    Shame it'll never happen...

    If a user already owned a legit copy of an M$ OS and was simply replacing / breaking the old machine for spares, they should be allowed to use the "old" OS for free irrespective of OEM bundling - so should therefore get a refund of the cost of the unwanted "new" one.

  6. Sean Bailey
    Thumb Down

    non consentual?

    I would have thought that unless people are buying pc's totally blind without knowing anything about the system they consented to windows being on it when they decided to purchase it?

  7. Peter Rasmussen

    Will top-tier PC producers pull out of Italy?

    Or does this mean that after a hopefully successful suit, I will be able to buy any PC sold in Italy without the usually pre-installed Windows OS?

    That would be nice, as naked PCs or those pre-installed with something else aren't usually really interesting. Sorry not counting Macs in here.

  8. ScottK

    Read the specification

    Presumably, before they bought the PCs in question, the people behind this suit must have read the specification of what they were buying. In this specification would have been listed the operating system installed on there. They then chose to buy the PC anyway. What next? Sue NVidia for "forcing" their video chipsets on them?

    There are PCs out there with no OS or a different OS installed they could have bought instead.

    1. wiedzmin


      Why stop there! Sue Asus for making motherboards that only accept single type of RAM and make them include slots for all available memory types to date... How dare they limit our choices!

      P.S. I'd pay to see a mobo with DIMM, MicroDIMM, SODIMM, RAMBUS, SD, DDR, DDR2, DDR3 slots, 4 of each :D

    2. Bill Neal

      Tiers are for...

      If you actually shop online for a computer based on hardware (such as amd) you'll find plenty of high-end boxes can be shipped simply with ms-dos or other options which allow you to install anything you want. At least in the US. I'm not sure about Europe, but there must be other options.

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Choice exists in desktops, not laptops

      >"If people want options, they should build their own or have a custom PC built for them. Buy off the shelf and you're limited to what's on offer - it's not as if there's no alternative."

      A valid point for desktop PC:s (I have always done so for the machines I buy, the latest is based on an Asus barebone), but not laptops, where it is impossible, not just hard, to buy a good laptop (not netbook) without paying the Windows tax.

      1. Stratman


        " it is impossible, not just hard, to buy a good laptop (not netbook) without paying the Windows tax."

        Not so. The laptop on which I'm typing this was purchased from PC Specialist, who offer bespoke machines without an OS. I happened to choose Win7 as a cost option, but I did have the choice.

    4. Andy ORourke

      Maybe you should count Mac's?

      OK, look, we get it (almost) everyone on here hates Microsoft (even though without them most people on here wouldnt have jobs supporting the Lusers) but as has already been stated, Microsoft have NEVER sold a PC with Windows pre-installed have they?

      Many, many computer manufacturers have sold PC's with windows pre-installed, some have given refunds if people have applied for them, some havent but that isn't Microsoft's fault is it? (unless you are in full tinfoil hat mode)

      As for the mac, I dont think you would have ANY chance of buying a Mac and asking for a refund of the cost of the OS (OK, Apple arent a convicted monopoly etc, etc)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It does pose the question

      Why are they not trying to sue Apple for only giving the option of OS X?

    6. MattCasters

      Not in Europe

      Dell, Lenovo, Asus etc might have a small Linux offering in the US, but not in Europe.

      In Europe, all you can do at best is build yourself or have a local store build it for you.

      These "white" boxes are your only option.

      That option doesn't exist at all for laptops. Even in the netbook range, there are hardly any Linux versions to be found.

      The fact is that true competition like the competition taking place among the CPU, Video and RAM producers can not even take since Microsoft is forcing vendors to ship with Windows.

      There are plenty of choices among vendors with respect to any hardware aspect. With the operating system, your have no choice but to pick Microsoft.

      What you are left with is a clear case of a monopoly and I say it's about time someone tried to do something about it. It hurts competition and it's bad for Linux and Windows users alike. I mean €199,99 for a Windows 7 Home Premium license? Give me a break! That would never fly if there was any real competition going on.

      1. Paul 4


        "Dell, Lenovo, Asus etc might have a small Linux offering in the US, but not in Europe."

        Yes they do. Dell and Asus do at least, Lenovo might, but im not 100% sure.

        1. MattCasters

          Not even Dell UK

          I actually tried the link you provided and couldn't find any Linux computers.

          The link "Shop for Ubuntu laptops" shows Microsoft operating systems ONLY!!

          Perhaps there are indeed Linux systems on Dell UK, but it almost seems like Dell is ashamed of Linux or something.

          It's not really relevant since the topic was a lawsuit in Italy, but I think it's a clear sign of a Microsoft monopoly.

          Besides, it's not like the UK is representative for the situation in the "real" Europe. These crazy islanders don't even use the Euro to pay for things! Go figure!

      2. Al Jones


        "Microsoft is forcing vendors to ship with Windows."

        Customers are "forcing" vendors to ship with Windows. The reason that you can't buy Linux based netbooks any more is because customers wouldn't buy enough of them to make it worthwhile making them.

  9. Ryan 7
    Jobs Horns

    Even IF every pre-built box was available without Windows...

    they wouldn't sell more than a few anyway!

    It's Apple that are anti-competitive, with their iPod/iTunes lock-in, and their restriction on being able to run OS X on anything other than their hardware. Start with them!

    Also, "Microsoft was not immediately available to comment on the threatened class-action lawsuit." - would they really say anything but "We can't comment on an ongoing case" anyway?

  10. h 6


    "non-consensual installation of Windows"

    What, even among consenting adults?

  11. Anonymous Coward


    That is all. I have an MSDN subscription and I am sick of paying twice.

  12. da_fish27

    Go go go!!

    the title says it all.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @AC : 6th January 2010 01:34 GMT

    The number of linux users is of absolutely no importance, as you fail to see.

    Their point is that they are forced to buy windows, or more precisely, keep it. A company shouldn't be able to do this. Even if there was 1 linux user. By the way, for all those claiming that they could have known Windows is preinstalled : of course they knew, however, if you deny the EULA when you install, Microsoft HAS TO give you a refund.

    Therefore, anyone can safely assume that they will be able to get the money back later.

    Here is some more info :

  14. wiedzmin


    Microsoft doesn't force manufacturers to install Windows, hence Ubuntu Dell laptops... Now try to buy a Macbook without OS X... If anybody should be sued over such ridiculous claims, it should be Apple.

  15. raving angry loony

    pre-built without Microsoft?

    Kevin6 and others: I wonder if it's more a case of Microsoft refusing to refund the cost of MS O/S when the people refuse the license? Given the "standard" of reporting that could be the case here.

    The hardware should not be tied to the operating system, just as the operating system shouldn't be tied to the browser. But Microsoft seems to have a hard time determining that their continuing actions are illegal under the laws of many countries, since they've found it so profitable in the past.

    Good for these guys though. I hope they win, and force a change in the "if you want a pre-built system you have to get it with Microsoft" attitude.

    1. MattCasters

      Not in Italy

      You can't buy that Ubuntu Dell laptop in Italy nor in most parts of Europe (UK might be an exception).

  16. alien anthropologist

    Missing the point (fricken completely)...

    Microsoft awards and penalises manufacturers for bundling/not bundling their o/s on that manufacturer PC platforms. Intel has also been doing it for many years (to such a good effect that AMD could not even give away free CPUs to manufacturers for use).

    The real question (from a consumer perspective) is whether or not you can buy that exact same PC model without Windows for cheaper (less the cost of the o/s). In most cases, that is no. As the cost of the o/s is factored into the so-called manufacturing cost of the PC. So yeah - they could give it to you without Windows (format drives and do not provide Windows installation media and license). But it will still cost you the exact same price, with or without Windows.

    And this is a definite case of being forced to buy Windows. You pay for it irrespective. Kind of like tax. That goes to Microsoft.

    So a FAIL to the asses that want to compare this to being forced to use specific h/w too. Please extract head from anus.

  17. Shane Sturrock

    The problem isn't MS exactly

    Although the first time you boot the computer it brings up a license agreement (at least the last time I started a new PC it did) and if you click 'No' it says you should claim the cost of the license back from the manufacturer, but few are ever successful. Whether this is because the likes of Dell just don't want to support non-Windows machines (try getting support for a PC with Linux installed, I've had to put Windows back just to get them to accept a broken keyboard) or they don't want to reveal what the license actually costs them (very little indeed compared with the retail cost of Windows) I can't say. It may well be to do with the contracts with MS since that wouldn't be the first time.

    It should be easier to buy a PC without Windows pre-installed but MS has been pushing the idea that so called 'Naked PCs' are just going to have pirated copies of Windows installed totally ignoring the Linux angle. At the end of the day I gave up buying PCs and putting Linux on and went with Apple where I don't feel the need to wipe the OS to get something more powerful as I do every time I use a Windows box.

  18. Lars Silver badge

    The famous Microsoft tax

    Should go as far as I am concerned. I should be possible to bye a PC in such a way that Windows is not included or deleted when you bye it and the difference in price is the price of Windows.

    This is, however, something Microsoft has been able to stop the OEMs from doing.

  19. DAN*tastik

    Refund is for those who didn't accept the EULA

    I escaped from that country 7 years ago, but still read news from the local online papers...

    The refund would only apply to those who don't want Windows, it's not a generic free for all.

    Those of you who claim that it's possible to buy PCs without O.S. down there could try and finding some maybe? Apart from the super cheapo ones on ebay.

    Not that it's easy to find them in the UK either anyway.

    A solution could be giving people a trial version of Windows, same as with the antivirus or what have you, which expires after say 30 days if not purchased

  20. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Choice ? What choice

    Well the last time I went to a computer store there was only a choice between mega buck Apples and PeeCees with Windows pre-installed.

    Why is Windows pre-installed and nothing else, well because MS make it nearly impossible to manufacture a PC without the manufacturer pay the M$tax. When HP first sold some Linux workstations they were not allowed by their contract with MS to have an option to buy a model XYZ workstation with Windows or without Windows.

    By forcing ALL manufactures to pre-install Windows they have created a near monopoly position.

    If customers could go to the shop and see the same PC with two options next to each other where one had Windows pre-installed and the other had some flavour of free OS plus Open Office and that second machine was the price of the first minus the cost of a Windows license then there MIGHT (not the same as will be) be a market for PCs without Windows. At the moment this does not happen so there is NO choice.

    PS making end users install Windows and all the drivers and services might force MS to make it a viable prospect. As it stands they would have less chance than if their car arrived in kit form.

    1. /dev/me

      Oh it's possible

      I've found several bare bones laptop makers offering a choice of OS's as option, and high end business laptops often can be bought without OS as most businesses will have volume licensing deals and their IT department install complete images anyway.

      So, we're talking high-end section, not the electronics store around the corner. And certainly not el cheapo systems bought during the holiday seasons sale.

  21. Iggle Piggle

    I'm taking Tesco to court

    for perpetually insisting on their milk cartons containing milk. I have a perfectly good cow of my own and I wish to install er fill the carton from my own cow. Yes I know I could always go to another shop and buy another container but I'm bloody minded and tend to throw a tantrum when I don't get my own way.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bold idea, possibly wrong target

    Most people acknowledge MS have a cosy and difficult to break arrangement with kit suppliers to pre bundle their OS when they supply kit. This has become a benefit to most consumers because of the marketing power exercised by MS at the cost of technical innovation and diversity in some respects. What exists is the MSOS Tax. Maybe making this more obvious and identifying the true costs to 'Joe/Jane Average' consumers is what the suit is all about.

    For the technically competent (Most El Regreaders) loading an alternative OS is a (relatively) easy task. Indeed, loading an OS such as Ubuntu onto a bare machine and getting it up running and working nicely is readily achievable by most users.However, most users will be familiar with the MS 'look and feel' which may not be the same as a competitive OS. Thus, it rarely happens. Users are made to feel there are few overwhelming benefits when set against the moderate cash refund - if you can get it.

    If the law suit is about leveling a playing field then there may be merit but I doubt success.

    If it is about advertising the lawyers presence and capability to use the new law then 'Goal achieved'!

    1. Peter Stocker

      digital analogy

      If it were the case that producers of milk were forcing Tesco to fill all their containers with milk, up to the point that if you wanted to buy a bottle in which to transport your orange juice you had no option but to buy one full of milk, pour it down the drain (or apply for a milk refund) and then fill it with your beverage of choice, and you suggested suing the milk producers rather than Tesco, then your analogy would be valid.

      1. Iggle Piggle

        you ar right

        My wrath should be at the milk producers/packagers not the supermarket. The complete lack of available empty milk cartons is entirely their fault.

        But yes that was actually my point, if you had to buy a full carton of milk to be able to fill it with your own sourced milk, or other liquid of choice, then you would probably have to be mad to shop in that fashion.

        But nobody is forcing you to go and buy an HP machine (for example) and the lack of such a machine without Windows would perhaps be reason enough not to buy one. I actually agree that it is a little bonkers that every single PC manufacturer has agreed to the Micr$oft restriction that it must be Windows on all the machines or nothing. Perhaps it would be nice if they all got together and said "Enough is enough" but apparently there are just not enough non Windows fans to make that worth doing.

        But let's suppose that this gets to court and they win. Are we really saying that shops should be forced to provide a specific product. That is to say that if I wish to sell a computer with Windows then I will be forced to sell the same computer without. Most retailers have absolutely nothing to do with the installation of Windows on the machines they sell. They just buy a box from a supplier and the customer opens the box and completes the installation. So the box with the machine and Windows is the product. Even if there were a huge demand for empty cartons should we be using the law to force Tesco to sell them?

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Iggle Piggle

          "The complete lack of available empty milk cartons is entirely their fault."

          The analogy doesn't work.

          First of all, you CAN purchase empty milk cartons. You can also get them pre-printed to suit yourself, and you can fill them with damn near anything. I sell my fresh, un-pasturized grape juice to tourists in them during crush, the winery's name, logo & WWW site prominent.

          You can also buy them filled with damn near anything. Off the top of my head, I've seen all kinds of juice, crackers (Goldfish[tm] and oyster), marbles, those little clear lumps of colo(u)red glass that some (strange) people seem to think are decorative when piled in clear glass jars, all kinds of salty snacks, and etc. in common or garden, clay-coated cardboard, "milk" cartons ...

          On top of that, the actual milk in milk cartons comes from many different dairies, and is sold under many different lables ... as anybody who has actually purchased a carton of milk would know.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Who's this?

      It's Iggle Piggle! What's that, Iggle Piggle? You want to have fun with analogies today? Iggle Piggle is like a car with no brakes: blue.


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