The Windows bundling racket gets a jolt in France

Finally a victory!.

A French laptop buyer has won a refund from Lenovo after a four-year legal battle over the cost of a Windows license he didn’t want. The judgment could open the way for PC buyers elsewhere in Europe to obtain refunds for bundled software they don’t want, French campaign group No More Racketware said Monday.

The first sane judgement against the fraud on consumers which has been happening for almost two decades - bundling the Windows OS with all new consumer laptops and desktops. Before others point out, let me emphasise that this doesn’t just affect Linux and other FOSS OSes, it affects Windows users as well.

Several years back, when I bought a laptop for my father, decent laptops were only available with Windows Vista on them - one of the most unusable versions of the Windows line. I wanted a Windows OS on the laptop for my dad, and I wanted it to be Windows XP, but even though Windows XP was being sold on retail at the time by Microsoft, the laptop manufacturers would force me to buy the laptop with Vista. I eventually had to shell out more money to buy a Windows XP licence and install it on the laptop.

This is pure and simple racketeering. Ostensibly, to “prevent piracy” of its OS on new hardware, Microsoft wants its OS to be preloaded on all new hardware. Of course, not any of its OS versions (even though it can be selling multiple versions of its OS at any point in time), but the “latest and greatest” version, whether the customer wants it or not.

How is this different from people paying extortion money to local thugs for their own “protection”?

Sadly, this business practice has been going on for years. While several other activities of Microsoft (and even Intel) have been subjected to anti-trust actions, the Windows OS bundling racket still affects all countries. Hopefully, France will show the way.

Even though, considering how cynical I have become of late, I won’t be holding my breath.

But no matter how small, every victory matters.

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