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Windows Operating Systems Software The Almighty Buck

Amazon US Refunds Windows License Fee, Too 284

Posted by kdawson
from the sound-of-a-crumbling-business-model dept.
rrohbeck writes "Today Amazon credited my card with $65.45. After ordering an Eee PC 1005 HA from amazon.com, I asked them for a refund for the cost of Windows XP via the 'Contact us' form. At first they told me to cancel any items on my order that I wanted a refund for, but after I explained that XP was pre-installed on the machine they got it. They asked what the cost of the OS was, and I answered that I had no idea but that Amazon UK refunded £40.00. Within a few hours I got a response saying 'I've requested a refund of $65.45 to your Visa card.' Somehow I doubt that Amazon will charge Asus or even Microsoft, but maybe they will one day if more people do this. Oh, and peeling off the 'Designed for Microsoft Windows XP' sticker is easy, too."
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Amazon US Refunds Windows License Fee, Too

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  • Keep the sticker (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalifaxRage (640242) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:34AM (#28895223) Journal
    They may require you to send it back along with any manuals or repair disks.
  • by madman101 (571954) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:36AM (#28895261)
    they will just raise the price for everyone else.
  • by guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:39AM (#28895297) Homepage

    they will just raise the price for everyone else.

    You are correct. It should increase everyone elses price. If its not something he is going to use, why should he subsidize others?

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:39AM (#28895299)

    They sure as hell won't be refunding $65 to everyone, when the OEM probably only paid $15 dollars for it or less.

  • by AlexBirch (1137019) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:39AM (#28895313) Homepage
    This would be a good thing because then the netbooks with Chrome OS or linux on them would be significantly cheaper.
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:49AM (#28895425)
    it's no skin off your ass to keep the OS.

    It may be no skin, but it is apparently $65.

    He did what is right for him. As others have pointed out more generically, why should he subsidize your Windows use?

    Did he tell you to refuse the MS license and to reclaim your fee? I didn't see it.
  • Not very scalable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:52AM (#28895465) Homepage

    First off, if 10 people do this, Amazon is going to find out what it really costs, and it isn't $65 or anything close to that.

    Secondly, they are't going to do this without some kind of verification. It sounds like someone asked for money and they gave it to them. Great customer service but hardly something they can operate a business on. So unless there is a verifiable way to determine that XP has been irrevocably uninstalled I don't see this happening too much more.

  • Dell's pricing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dbet (1607261) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:53AM (#28895473)
    What's interesting is I recently picked up a Dell mini (10v) with Ubuntu pre-installed, and the price was the exact same as the one that came with XP pre-installed. In retrospect I probably should have just gotten the XP version, in case I ever need XP, since I put a fresh copy of Ubuntu on it anyway, that doesn't have all the Dell bundled nonsense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:53AM (#28895485)

    but it'll activate on another computer and won't ever fail WGA.

    Maybe, maybe not. It could be a manufacturer specific key. [iexbeta.com]

  • by jonnyj (1011131) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:08AM (#28895651)

    Or do you get the refund and the option to continue to use the OS? Surely Amazon isn't tied all the way back through ASUS to Microsoft's licensing servers.

    That's fine if you have no personal integrity. The rest of us might have a problem.

  • Still not progress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:21AM (#28895815)

    Amazon is just the retailer, but as long as the OEM is still cashing in from the license sale, it's no real progress. It doesn't make a difference if the retailer is giving you the refund, the money is still going to the OEM and as a result, Microsoft. And as long as this happens, they'll still enter corrupt bargaining deals and shut out Linux from mainstream offerings. We need OEMs to give the refund, not the retailer.

    So maybe eventually, Amazon will ask the OEMs for a refund for the license. What will the OEMs say? Probably no. Then what will happen? Amazon will probably start refusing the refund as well too. Back at square one, going back to buy my computers from system76, itwasfunwhileitlasted, etc.

    In any case, if I were Microsoft, I'd change the wording of the EULA to something like "By purchasing this computer, you consent to pay for all software preinstalled, whatever" to bar these refunds. I don't think it's unenforceable.

  • by xgr3gx (1068984) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:21AM (#28895817) Homepage Journal

    Maybe it'll prompt them to start offering 'blank' EEE versions.

    That would be nice, if you don't want a bundled OS, you should be able to buy the hardware that way minus the OS license cost.

  • by King InuYasha (1159129) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:42AM (#28896081) Homepage
    Actually, that might be unenforceable... I think there was a court case a few years ago that decided that "shrinkwrap" licenses like that were technically invalid, since the user never explicitly agreed to it. And to remove the ability to refund if you don't want to agree to it would make people really angry.
  • by theskipper (461997) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:51AM (#28896193)

    WD-40 works very well for removing sticker glue.

  • really makes you want to just delete slashdot cookies, use a proxy, and say screw these posting limits.

    Is Slashdot really that important to you that you'd go to all that trouble? Your really ought to get out more.

  • Re:Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:57AM (#28896307)

    OEMs get volume discounts. I'm sure if you were willing to buy 1000s of copies, you might get a discount too.

  • Re:Dell's pricing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrjohnson (538567) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:58AM (#28896317) Homepage
    Bah, then they should charge more for the Linux support. Simple. I would never call it, but I sure wouldn't mind if their prices were a bit higher to cover the unavoidable cost of supporting another OS. Or not offer software support at all, whatever.

    The reason people smell conspiracy is the sudden drop of all Linux, anywhere, as soon as Microsoft reacted to the growing Linux use. They didn't take the netbook market seriously at first, but then overnight you couldn't buy a Linux netbook at a brick and mortar store if you wanted to. That's the conspiracy.

    You can't tell me it's economics. There are plenty of ways they could have made money hands over fist. Instead, they let Microsoft kill the whole category.
  • by mrjohnson (538567) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:01AM (#28896361) Homepage
    What about, "I've paid for OEM Windows, but it's not installed on any of my 12 boxen. And now they want me to buy a full version just so I can run it in virtualbox."
  • by Denagoth (582705) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:04AM (#28896411)
    "Oh, and peeling off the 'Designed for Microsoft Windows XP' sticker is easy, too." Not to mention VERY satisfying. ;)
  • Not sure why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:08AM (#28896477)

    Not that I don't appreciate that Amazon will let customers sell them back the Microsoft Windows software, but I'm sort of wondering why. (Here comes the car analogy.) If I buy a Subaru WRX with a normal shifter but plan on putting in a short-throw shifter after-market, Subaru isn't going to buy back my normal shifter. They sell me what they have on the lot. In terms of Amazon, I'm buying what they're offering: a laptop running Windows. If I want a laptop running a different OS, I'd buy it somewhere else. If there are no vendors selling that laptop without Windows, then I eat the cost, or try to recoup my costs by reselling the license (which I don't think is transferable but in this case one could probably make an exception).

  • Re:OK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by richy freeway (623503) * on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:10AM (#28896517)
    Or just use the license anyway, it's not like they'll cancel it and prevent it activating.
  • by krelian (525362) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:11AM (#28896525)

    A lot depends on how many more people ask Amazon for a refund for an unwanted Windows license!!

    The moment people will find out that they can both keep the license and get a refund.

  • by Subm (79417) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:19AM (#28896651)

    First off, if 10 people do this, Amazon is going to find out what it really costs, and it isn't $65 or anything close to that.

    Secondly, they are't going to do this without some kind of verification. ... So unless there is a verifiable way to determine that XP has been irrevocably uninstalled I don't see this happening too much more.

    Arlo Guthrie said something relevant on the matter:

    And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation,

    or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are,

    just walk in say "Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out.

    You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.

    And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:25AM (#28896733) Journal

    Because there is a BIG difference between not having an Operating System and not being tied to a network? I'd love to see how well YOU would fare if they just handed you a cell phone with no OS and a "good luck buddy!" because that is just about as hard as Joe Average would find installing a new OS on a blank PC.

    And please don't say "Linux live CDs make it easy!" because that is as much bullshit as MSFT with their "get the facts" crap. Sure, if you research your living ass off and check on every single component of that brand new PC and get lucky that they haven't changed something between rev-1 and rev-2 then it'll work without a hitch, maybe. More likely there is gonna be at least one major PITA piece of hardware that won't have a driver at all, or has a driver that you have to jump through CLI and never will get to work 100% (thanks Broadcom!) or some other royal PITA.

    That is why I still sell Windows machines even though I could make more profit with Linux. The odds that my customers will find anything on sale at Walmart, Best Buy, Staples without XP support? About 0%. The odds that they will find something that doesn't work in Linux at the above stores? About 80%, sometimes higher. Installing an OS can be a royal PITA. It is even worse if there isn't a driver for a piece of hardware. The guy who wrote TFA is lucky that ASUS EEEs are well documented and have Linux drivers right there on site. I bet the odds wouldn't be nearly as good if he picked up some Compaq at Walmart. Most Windows users have trouble finding anything in Control Panel. CLI? BWA HA HA HA HA! They'd have a better chance of solving cold fusion than getting anything they do in CLI to work.

  • by NReitzel (77941) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:37AM (#28896911) Homepage

    I discovered that those colurful "Designed for Windows" stickers look positively marvelous on the white porcelain just above the flush lever on my toilet.

  • Re:Not sure why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by novalis112 (1216168) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:44AM (#28897013)
    You are absolutely correct. Subaru will not buy back your original shifter. The dealer, however, may very well do so in order to keep your business.
  • refunds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rpillala (583965) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:44AM (#28897027)

    A number of people have pointed out that a few refunds for XP is not a sign that anything is changing. I believe these refunds only show that Amazon has not formed any kind of official policy for this situation. They are simply erring on the side of not pissing people off, because technical people are going to buy more computer products, either from Amazon or someone else who treats them better. I'm sure they are aware of the press.

    Sometime soon, I think we will see a more permanent resolution to this customer service issue. I can't say whether it will be progress or not.

  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:49AM (#28897077)

    So... The Man done you wrong, therefore you can break the law.

    Did you ever try to get a refund on those copies of Windows you didn't want or use? Did you try to sell them? Or are you just complaining?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:51AM (#28897097)

    Well, if you're installing Linux on the machine, I would hope you'd get rid of the WinXP backup partition; otherwise you're wasting some amount of space (100 MB? 200 MB? 650 MB?) that could be put to better use.

    The step-by-step installers that come with most Linux distributions blank the partition table on the drive anyway, so you'd have to reparition it manually to even have the option of wasting space on your drive.

    I seriously doubt anybody would be interested in doing that.

  • by IgnitusBoyone (840214) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:29PM (#28898583)
    It has always puzzled me why others in this community do not think of installing Linux as an after market modification. I can give plenty of examples of devices that I have modified as soon as I opened them and I don't think I have ever asked for refunds on paint or artwork or bad quality parts. If you buy a cell phone and you put android on it no one expects Samsung to refund you for their OS. I can think remember friends calling Dell and Gateway in the 90s arguing they should get refunds for 98 because they would never use it. In my opinion these companies should just state that they give the OS to you as a gift for buying the system weather they have to pay for it or not its itemized out to zero.

    You can argue all the principles you want. But if you order a Penutbutter and Jelly sandwitch and ask for the Jelly to be held you do not normally get a discount for the missing product. This is nothing more then a large company turning a very small population of people in to disciples of advertising. Amazon refunds the windows license...buy all you computers from them instead of the competition even if you don't get the refund.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @02:37PM (#28899677)

    Here's a possibility:
    Given the speed with which pre-installed Linux disappeared on netbooks, it it possible that the COGS for Windows XP to the laptop manufacturer is now negative?
    The marginal cost to Microsoft for XP is extremely low, since it's supposedly at EOL for OEMs anyway. And there's a direct benefit to Microsoft for any copies on netbooks which displace Linux, so I think the question is not how much the manufacturer pays Microsoft, but vice versa. If that's the sign of the payment, then netbook prices are (like smart phones) being subsidized, and that's why you can't get a Linux version or ask for a refund: it would cost more.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday July 31, 2009 @02:43PM (#28899761) Homepage Journal

    I'd rather have a computer that is designed to work securely.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@bea u . org> on Friday July 31, 2009 @02:59PM (#28900001)

    > Did you ever try to get a refund on those copies of Windows you didn't want or use?
    > Did you try to sell them? Or are you just complaining?

    Way to miss the point of this whole topic dude. [Whoosh!]

    The whole point is somebody actually found a way to get the money back on a product they didn't want but were forced to buy anyway. And no you can't sell them. The sticker isn't physically removable without destroying it and it isn't legal (at least it isn't EULA legal, certainly it is morally right and probably actually legal) to sell an OEM license once it has been 'paired' with a piece of hardware.

    However, don't get too big a woody folks, especially on netbooks. Word around the campfire is Microsoft is down to about $15 per license these days trying to stay competitive with the penguin. Gonna be real fun watching how they push Win7 out in the teeth of the fierce price competition they will face.... from XP.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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