Linux users, get your Windows refund today

Linux users, get your Windows refund today

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Open Source

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.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    But now that there are no CD's to return, how is a refund to be managed? Trust that Windows will not be used and the recovery partition removed. I don't think so!

    Exchange the hard drive for a blank formatted drive. Too expensive.

    The only option is the sale of computers/laptops without an operating system, at a discount, since Dell (by way of example) sell 'different' models at higher prices with Linux installed.
    The Former Moley
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    @Moley, I know for sure Dell still ships CDs with all of their systems, including a standalone copy of the Windows installation CD/DVD. Not sure about some of the other vendors, like HP, Lenovo, Acer. I am guessing some of them ship the "recovery CD" which isn't a full blown copy of Windows. It would be nice if they would simply NOT tie the Windows license to the machine, but tie it to the media itself. Leave the sticker off and put it on the CD/DVD envelope itself. That way the license and/or CD could be returned all at once.

    Yes, selling the PCs without an OS or with Linux at a cheaper price would be the ultimate solution. Seems that they aren't catching on to that yet.
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    The last two HP laptop/netbook systems that I purchased did not come with recovery media, only with the recovery partition and instructions on how to use the Recovery Manager to create your own recovery DVDs if you wanted to. (Amusing aside: one of them even told me I could create CDs if I wanted - and I would need 60 of them!) My ASUS N10J came with Vista preloaded and no recovery media, only the partition, but also included XP Pro media for the "downgrade" option. Not sure how to classify that one...

    In the end I think it is going to come down to Microsoft "trusting" or "believing" that a user will in fact wipe Windows, including any recovery partition, because there is no practical way for them to verify it, and not offering a refund at all would not be possible in some legal jurisdictions.

  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    In Brazil, if you ask Dell to not get Windows with your laptop, you will pay more money. Can you believe it? Microsoft is paying people to use their OS.
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    That seems to be Microsoft's strategy, pay people to use their software. For instance (not related to this), they pay people to use Bing and offer it in the form of cashback. Seems to be working, share in the U.S. is growing. Although global share worldwide for Bing is decreasing. Interesting point.
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    2lehphyro & apexwm unfortunately it doesn't work this way (ms paying you to use their sw). what usually happens is this: ms contacts local vendor's office and distributors to negotiate either "correct" pricing or favourable rate of windows-preloaded vs bare systems, while proposing advertising support & funding in exchange. so
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    Unfortunately, we _still_ end up paying the Windows tax in various ways.

    We pay when one of the 'features' of the computer is not properly supported by GNU/Linux driver software, and we pay because there is usually little (or no) support for your computer hardware if it cannot be proved that it is the hardware and not the software which is the problem.
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    What a bloody disgrace! Time for action by the EU. In UK, I'm sure, many laws are broken, bribery (however dressed up) and inducements, price fixing, cartel behaviour, extortion and anti competitive behaviour, and etc.

    Time for a class action, but it'll never happen in the US since price differentials with the rest of the world suggest cross subsidising benefits US customers.

    When it's all laid out, as it is in this blog stream, it just looks criminal. In particular, that a bare computer costs more than one with winbloes installed at - microshaft's behest. In other words, the 'tax' is higher if you don't buy their product. Seems that this, together with 2cwsnyder's points, is great way of inhibiting the adoption of Linux and other alternative operating systems. Apple have been a bit smarter by taking the hardware 'in house'.
    The Former Moley
  • Linux users, get your Windows refund today

    It seems that Microsoft has always been able to work out clever deals with vendors and partners to weed out the competition. Unfortunately though, it often times hurts the consumers, but helps Microsoft. I am hoping that the PC vendors eventually step up and offer systems at the same pricing level. Unfortunately though I don't think this will happen as Microsoft has a tight grip on them. Microsoft could (in theory) increase their pricing which would in turn force the vendors to pass the price increase to the consumers, which could decrease sales. And since Windows still controls the PC market, it would seriously hurt the vendor. The Linux PC sales just aren't there (yet). Time will tell if a solution to the Windows tax problem can be found. In the meantime, the Windows refund is about the only way for the consumer to avoid paying the tax, when going to one of the mainstream PC vendors.
  • Bad news for all of us

    I just called Dell to confirm if this was still possible. I spoke with both Sales and Customer Support. Unfortunately, according to all of them, it is definitely "not possible" to get a rebate for Windows from Dell.