Recently I posted on the subject of the Windows Tax refund from Dell. Clearly there is a problem with Dell's product offering. Purchasing a system with Windows (which costs money per copy of Windows), is cheaper than an equivalent system with the same exact specs that comes with the Linux operating system (which is free).
I came across a bit of new information the past few days on this very same subject. First, it seems that Dell is starting to reject the Windows Tax refunds for Windows 7. Some bloggers and articles have popped up stating that the refund may not be as easy to get now. It seems that Dell is now saying they can't offer the refund, because the Windows 7 operating system is treated as a component of the PC, and therefore can't be subtracted from the order. That's a very clever way of saying "you purchased the PC as-is, and we aren't going to change anything for you". Even though when you boot up the new computer the first time and the screen comes up with the text of the Windows license agreement: "By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine their policy for a refund or credit"; this is still a very gray area. The operating system is simply software installed on the computer. It's not a physical component of the PC, other than the CD that is included with the computer. Why not offer the refund, and allow the customer to simply ship the Windows CD back for a refund? Seems like a very simple option. If Dell could just offer the system with Linux and have the system $60-70 cheaper in the first place, they could avoid all of this up front. There must be something else to this.
Well, it seems that Microsoft has a big part of the say on Dell's product offering. Basically, Microsoft has worked out deals with Dell so that Dell is essentially forced to offer Windows with new computers. And, Microsoft seems to be willing to punish Dell for offering GNU/Linux. Microsoft's Paul Flessner has written about Dell: "We should whack them, we should make sure they understand our value...". Microsoft's Bill Veghte has written "I want them to understand that every day they lead with Linux over Windows in Unix migrations they turn our field against them (take the southeast region mail thread as an example). I want them to think very very carefully about when and which forums they decide to push Linux very, very hard. Today, they do not. When they do, you can bet, behavior will evolve. ". So it is pretty clear that Microsoft is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that more PCs sell with Windows than GNU/Linux. It seems that they are committed to pumping more money into Dell to make sure this happens. While this might be good for Microsoft, it is not good for the consumer and it seems like it would hurt Dell's Linux customers as well. Ah, but this is Microsoft's goal. The consumer is essentially forced to purchase Windows, and is given no choice to choose otherwise.
Thanks to the folks on the BoycottNovell website for this information and more: Antitrust: How Microsoft Schemed to Derail Dell GNU/Linux.
I would be curious to know how HP approaches this. Are they also victim of Microsoft's ways, or are they more willing to offer the Windows Tax refund?