Back in 1999, there was a Windows Refund Day organized in the bay area to protest against the fact that you couldn't buy a "branded" computer without Microsoft Windows operating system. In 6 years, thing haven't changed. You still can't buy just any "branded" PC without it. Even worse, today you have to buy a photo editing software with your digital camera. And I'm talking about third party software, not about software by the same company. For example, MacOS X with Apple hardware is not really a bundle sale; because they are both Apple products, arguments may fall flat as it sounds unfair to require a competing product.

I went a couple of month back, into requesting to that manufacturer a refund on a software I don't use that they forced me to buy with the camera. They gave me the following arguments about why they should:

  • the software is not made by them, they can't provide a support That explicitly means it is another product, and yes, I can find it for CDN$150 at the electronic store around the corner
  • the software is here to allow the user to familiarize with photo-editing. So I don't need it to use their product. That means again it is not required, so they have NO reason to force you to get it.
  • the software can not open the prorpietary RAW files the camera generate. You can contact the publisher to purchase an upgrade. That means it gives no a single added value for using the camera.

How many of you don't use or need that software, and how many in that case did request a refund? I don't think there is a big number for the second case, while the first one is probably higher than one might think. If you read that and don't use the third party software that comes with you camera, contact the manufacturer and request a refund. I still haven't gotten mine, but as usual, the more one ask, the more we can achieve getting what we want.

Now back to the bundled OS. In February 2002, Be Inc filed a complain for monopoly abuse against Microsoft, because Microsoft bundling agreement forbid to bundle any competiting operating system. So how to do want manufacturer give the choice if they can't? That is the whole purpose. The lawsuit ended with a settlement of over USD$23M. Since the company was already out of business (they sold their assets for a tenth of that settlement), it is obvious that this was the only thing to be expected. This $23M is just pocket money for Microsoft, so it had no effect whatsoever.

Beside a few random refunds in various countries (France and US), nobody get backs its money for the unused software. Even vendors of laptop with Linux preinstalled can't get supplies for laptop without Windows as stated Lincoln Durey in his LJ Editorial. And vendors requires you to accept the software EULA in order to use their hardware, said EULA allowing to refund of the software in case of disagreement. Some like IBM just say: "IBM does not provide refunds or credits for portions of a packaged offering provided at a single price." And IBM claim to support Linux? (I know they sold to Lenovo, but they still say IBM)

They take away the exit for software refund... unless this agreement is void in your jurisdiction. And Microsoft then sue people trying to resell said license and media, because they say it is illegal, even those acquired outside of a bundle sale.

So what can we do ? Fight. Request refund everytime you have to do it. Inaction leads to the worse.