A couple of years ago the topic came up about a few successful attempts at getting a Windows refund with a new PC. In each case, the customer used their favorite version of Linux, and had no desire to run Windows at all. It seems that this topic has resurfaced again recently.
The problem of the "Windows Tax" as some call it, is that PCs are being offered by vendors with Windows, for less than systems that have Linux. Take for example at Dell, systems are offered with Windows or Ubuntu Linux. Granted the selection of PCs with Ubuntu is limited, they almost always seem to be more expensive than identical specs on systems that have Windows bundled with them. This leaves me scratching my head, as each copy of Windows costs money. Each copy of Ubuntu is free. So, shouldn't the PC with Ubuntu be cheaper? In theory the answer should be a definite "yes".
It doesn't seem to be good business as the demand for Linux is continuously increasing. At some point, vendors like Dell and HP will need to step up their marketing plans and offer identical systems offered with either Windows or Linux, with the Linux bundle being cheaper. Or, at least offer a PC with no operating system, and allow the customer to install their own operating system.
The only current option to get around this problem is to either shop at a different vendor, or request a Windows refund. However, a lot of companies get discounts with Dell or HP because of high volume, and Dell for instance offers programs like the Employee Purchase Program where employees get discounts for personal purchases. Sometimes it just makes sense to stay with a certain vendor. When you purchase a new PC with Windows, you will see the instructions come up when you first turn on your computer, stating that you can request a refund for Windows, from the vendor where you purchased the PC. The vendor isn't obligated to grant the refund, but they basically leave us no choice to request it. Why should we pay more for a PC that has the less expensive software that we want?
One good thing I can say about Dell is that they seem to be granting refunds for Windows, but only on new systems (not refurbished). The key to getting the refund is to politely contact them after you have received your new PC, and state that you have read the Windows license agreement on your screen, and are following the instructions and asking for a Windows refund. The last time I attempted this, Dell shipped me a return label to send back the Windows CDs. About 2 weeks after I shipped the CDs back, I received a check in the mail. I have to admit that was a very surprising experience, in a good way. Today I am still happily running Fedora 10 on that machine.