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French court says non to pre-loaded Windows on Acer laptop
Could this mean cheaper PCs and Laptops?
BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3462320
 6:59 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

A court in France has awarded a man 311.85 euros as the cost of the pre-loaded software on his new Acer laptop. His case was that he didn't want the software but that he had no choice but to buy it.

Could have implications?

[channelregister.co.uk...]

(312 euros = £220 = $440)

[edited by: BeeDeeDubbleU at 7:42 am (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

 

vincevincevince




msg:3462323
 7:04 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I sincerely hope that this leads to more similar rulings across the EU. Being able to claim back the retail price of bundled software from your hardware purchase would end bundling very very quickly.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3462351
 7:45 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

It would be nice at least to have the option.

I am most surprised at the fact that the software accounted for more than half the original price of the laptop.

People buying systems with no software from eBay take note. ;)

andyll




msg:3462368
 8:20 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not to make fun of the French...but why would they have to discount it by the retail price instead of the cost to the Acer? Do the French not allow volumn discounts in businesses?

In addition... is Acer allowed to modify the level of their standard support contracts (or charge more for them) since, overall, people that would buy computers from them with no OS will have higher support costs to the company?

vincevincevince




msg:3462381
 8:39 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

why would they have to discount it by the retail price instead of the cost to the Acer

I believe that the basis of this is to ensure that a laptop purchased without software for which a user then purchases the software separately is equal in cost to a laptop purchased with bundled software.

If Acer offered Windows at their volume-bundled price as an individual item, then it would be reasonable to apply that price. They don't - instead they sell the software at massively increased prices if you wish to purchase it individually.

To put it another way you cannot say that the software is only worth X because it was purchased cheap by Acer if it is not possible for a customer to purchase the software for X.

I guess that PC manufacturers could counter this by selling Windows at the same price as they add to their hardware costs for a license. That way, if someone decides not to have a Windows OS, the deduction from their laptop cost will only be equal to the license fee. No loss to the company and no misleading the customer by inflating the perception of bundled software value. I suspect they'd need to sue Microsoft first to remove the unfair anticompetitive clauses on their OEM licenses though. Knock on effect is it would be a lot cheaper to upgrade Windows to a new version without purchasing a new PC.

Habtom




msg:3462392
 9:07 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

A court in France has awarded a man 311.85 euros as the cost of the pre-loaded software on his new Acer laptop. His case was that he didn't want the software but that he had no choice but to buy it.

Although I am not in favour of any OS being sold with any PC when it is not really needed by the customer, it doesn't sound the ruling is justifiable to me.

Ms and Acer have come up with a product here. My option is not to buy Microsoft's product or Acer's, but to buy it all in one or leave it.

Am I making any sense?

[edited by: Habtom at 9:14 am (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3462398
 9:15 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

You said it well enough Habtom and I take your point.

I suppose it's a bit like taking a car manufacturer to court because you did not want a particular type of tyres on your new car. I mean the car manufacturers do not manufacture the tyres. They come "bundled" with the vehicle.

Perhaps someone in France should try this on with a car? :)

jbinbpt




msg:3462410
 9:36 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

When I buy a car I insist the dealer put real tires on it before I will buy it, instead of the cheap bundled tires.
Buyers should have the power to choose.

Receptional Andy




msg:3462414
 9:41 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ms and Acer have come up with a product here. My option is not to buy Microsoft's product or Acer's, but to buy it all in one or leave it.

I totally agree - it isn't like the guy couldn't have bought a laptop without a bundle if he looked for one. or is it that this particular model only came pre-bundled?

Habtom




msg:3462416
 9:43 am on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

When I buy a car I insist the dealer put real tires on it before I will buy it, instead of the cheap bundled tires.

I never knew there is a tyre negotiation when you buy a new car. If they do, it is a good lesson learned, I will consider it next time I buy one.

And, Microsoft is not exactly cheap, and the reason why most people use it is simply because it is better or/and easier for many people.

I am yet to see a receptionist in an office using a Linux operating system for her/his daily work activities.

[edited by: Habtom at 9:51 am (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

Angelis




msg:3462556
 12:41 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Some local councils in England use Linux on all their machines.

gibbergibber




msg:3462562
 12:51 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

-- I sincerely hope that this leads to more similar rulings across the EU. Being able to claim back the retail price of bundled software from your hardware purchase would end bundling very very quickly. --

So do I. Most people may not care about the rights and wrongs of bundled OSes, but they would definitely care about the chance to get significant sums of money in compensation. As you say, it would only take a few of these rulings to make the whole bundling thing unattractive to hardware sellers.

--Ms and Acer have come up with a product here. My option is not to buy Microsoft's product or Acer's, but to buy it all in one or leave it.--

Do we know what terms MS offered this bundle at though? For example, if Acer had refused to bundle, would MS have made it more difficult for them to even offer Windows as an option?

draggar




msg:3462614
 1:40 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Isn't this opening up the door for abuse (we all know very well someone will try to abuse this). Also, if I were Acer, I would ensure that the OS and applications were removed form the laptop before they payed it out (I don't think this was part of the ruling) so that the buyer can't just sue but still use.

This has the potential to be huge. What next? Demanding the full price of Access and Powerpoint because you bought Office but were "forced" to buy Access and powerpoint with it if you only want Word, Outlook, and Excel? People wanting a refund because they were forced to buy a specific component that they didn't want?

You buy the product as-is. If you do not like it, you shouldb't buy it. Acer didn't put a gun to his head and say he had to buy the laptop, he CHOSE to buy it. If it's not the way you want it, expect to pay more to have it the way you want it.

Also, say he puts Linux on there and parts of it doesn't work properly, how will he get support? Acer won't because they don't guarantee it w/ Linux.

vincevincevince




msg:3462617
 1:45 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

draggar, your comments are correct for a general product, however Microsoft's OS operations are a legally recognised monopoly within the EU. In addition, the EU has traditionally sided with consumers on issues of choice; and this is clearly an issue of giving the consumer a free choice of hardware and a free choice of software.

europeforvisitors




msg:3462775
 3:31 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

In addition, the EU has traditionally sided with consumers on issues of choice; and this is clearly an issue of giving the consumer a free choice of hardware and a free choice of software.

Of course, the practical effect could be to force end users to buy a whole slew of applications and utilities at full retail, as we used to do in the early 1980s when computers came with bare-bones operating systems and even a memory manager was a third-party add-on.

[edited by: trillianjedi at 7:51 am (utc) on Sep. 28, 2007]

BillyS




msg:3462779
 3:34 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is an absolutely horrific ruling. Let the forces of supply and demand dictate what a manufacturer produces. Should I be able to order a car without an engine because I don't like the engines Ford is installing? If so, should Ford have to deduct my cost to buy and install a different engine (which will be MUCH higher than Fordís cost).

This is government intervention into the private sector. If Acer believes there is a market (or if anyone here believes it strongly) then start selling computers without operating systems. Governments should not be telling manufacturers what they can sell.

vincevincevince




msg:3462785
 3:36 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Of course, the practical effect

You might be right. On the other hand, a consumer presented with a big bill for MS software on top of their hardware price they are going to be a lot more interested in the other options.

Open-source OS, Office Suite and Browser for ten euros with installation, or OS, Office Suite and Browser for a few hundred euros from MS? You choose.

If MS responds by reducing their prices, or increasing their capabilities then I see that only as a big gain for the consumer. In particular, a big cut on retail OS costs will make it much cheaper to upgrade existing hardware to a new OS.

Edge




msg:3462800
 3:42 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

This doesnít make any sense to me. A consumer bought a computer (read commodity) and sues the retailer because they bought something they did not want? Return the product and go buy what you want. Even in the EU one can buy or build a computer without installed software.

Why did they agree to buy the computer in the first place? Acer computers are not that special..

BillyS




msg:3462804
 3:45 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe I should unbundle my trip to Disney because I want to fly on a different airline. I bet I could save hundreds of dollars by getting a refund for a full fare on Continental in exchange for Jet Blue. You can be a MS hater but think beyond operating systems.

[edited by: BillyS at 3:47 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

brakkar




msg:3462808
 3:49 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)


If the guy didn't want windows on his computer, he should have gone in an apple store, or order elswhere a laptop preloaded with linux!

The guy must be SOOOO proud now that the world knows about this it makes me sick.

edit: title of thread is misleading : it was not just about Windows, but about ALL preloaded softwares, including Norton Antivirus, Power Dvd and Works

[edited by: lawman at 4:23 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3462857
 4:28 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Of course, the practical effect could be to force end users to buy a whole slew of applications and utilities at full retail, as we used to do in the early 1980s when computers came with bare-bones operating systems and even a memory manager was a third-party add-on.

Absolutely no chance of that happening. You are talking about when computing was for nerds. It is too commercial now to risk this.

zafile




msg:3462869
 4:41 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

"A French man has won a lawsuit against computer maker Acer over a laptop he bought that came pre-loaded with Microsoft's Windows XP and other applications he didn't want."

The French man was probably an IBM employee or someone paid by IBM to act with such non-rational behaviour.

Don't you guys know that the best opportunity to obtain Microsoft software (I repeat, Microsoft software) at the best price is by purchasing a brand new laptop or PC. Indeed, you get fully licensed software at the best price.

ACER will most likely appeal to educate better the French court.

Dabrowski




msg:3462885
 4:57 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think there's a couple of deeper issues here that people haven't picked up on.

Being able to claim back the retail price of bundled software

The products on the laptop would certainly be OEM, not possible to purchase separately.
Windows XP £50 + Works £7 + PowerDVD £5 + Norton AV £20 = £82.
That amount would certainly be discounted to Acer, hence any discount for buying with no software would be negligable compared to the cost of the laptop itself.

any OS being sold with any PC when it is not really needed by the customer

An operating system is most definately required by the customer.
Customer would then have to purchase operating system at full retail price, around £200.
Customer would doubtful be using a free Linux O/S (see below).

Some local councils in England use Linux on all their machines

...but not him.
He paid E600 (not got a Europe key!).
That's not enough for a high spec machine, but quite high for a budget. It's reasonable to assume he bought it from a high street shop.
I doubt people who buy from high street shop would be techie enough to run a Linux installation, especially due to the awkward drivers needed for laptops, and the lack of Linux support by manufacturers.



In conclusion, software, particularly Windows is much cheaper when pre-installed. To run his laptop legally, this guy would have to spend more on his O/S than he was awarded, excluding court costs. I'd have a pre-installed copy any day.

ok, bring the wrath......

[edited by: Dabrowski at 5:01 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

Marshall




msg:3462889
 5:02 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

To use the "new car purchase" analogy, the car comes with, say, a radio. You can upgrade the radio, but they will not credit you if you do not want it.

The buyer knew that the laptop came with pre-installed OS. As pointed out, you can buy a "build your own" with whatever you want, but off-the-self you get it the way it comes. The court's decision/action makes absolutely no sense.

Marshall

webdoctor




msg:3462903
 5:10 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Even in the EU one can buy or build a computer without installed software.

If this is true why is it that Dell's cheapest home desktop PC (from where I'm standing this is the Inspiron 531 DT) comes bundled with Windows Vista Home Basic and it's impossible to remove Vista from this system? The only options on Dell's "customise" page are to buy an even more expensive version of Vista.

Joe Q. Public who wants a cheap Dell PC is apparently forced to buy a copy of Vista with it. Hardly a choice, is it?

graeme_p




msg:3462912
 5:19 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

A lot of people do not seem to have understood the rationale behind this, and the way in which it fits with competition law in general.

Bundling is generally OK but not when it restricts consumer choice. Suppose an oil company had an agreement with ALL the major car manufacturers that to would supply 10 years worth of petrol to every buyer of every car they produced, and the price would be included in the price of the car.

Can you see the problem there?

The main benefit of this is that it makes it gets rid of the "MS tax". This arises when MS enters to agreements with PC makers to give them a lower price for Windows, providing it is paid on every PC they sell, so buyers pay for Windows whether they want it or not. This makes the competition always more expensive.

The result will be higher PC prices for those who want Windows, and lower PC prices for those who do not. At the moment people who want Windows are subsidised by those who do not. This subsidy will end.

As for all the "let the market decide" arguments. Markets can be rigged, that is why competition law (anti-trust law) exists in the first place.

vincevincevince




msg:3462926
 5:30 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Great point was made here:
Don't you guys know that the best opportunity to obtain Microsoft software (I repeat, Microsoft software) at the best price is by purchasing a brand new laptop or PC. Indeed, you get fully licensed software at the best price.

That is probably the best summary of the problem so far. Microsoft and computer manufacturers have long been engaging in this kind of anti-competitive behaviour.

How much can a PC manufacturer save by bundling or installing another operating system instead of Windows? Very little due to their low volume licensing fees.

Many people have expressed this as a Microsoft or Linux choice. Don't forget that once this kind of anti-competitive practice is abolished there will be money to be made in producing new consumer class operating systems again.

Dabrowski




msg:3462927
 5:30 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Dell's cheapest home desktop PC

Hardly a choice, is it?

If it's the cheapest, why do you care if it comes with software? If you're such a tightarse why not just sell the spare license sticker?

europeforvisitors




msg:3462941
 5:37 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

The result will be higher PC prices for those who want Windows, and lower PC prices for those who do not.

In other words, higher prices for most PC users, because most PC users want a turnkey appliance with a mainstream operating system.

At the moment people who want Windows are subsidised by those who do not. This subsidy will end.

Cheap OEM prices are based on high volume and a standardized product. If eliminating a small "subsidy" results in higher prices for most users, the cost of the solution will exceed the benefits, and the public interest (as opposed to the interests of rival OS vendors) won't be served.

[edited by: trillianjedi at 7:52 am (utc) on Sep. 28, 2007]

hutcheson




msg:3462967
 5:48 pm on Sep 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

>Don't you guys know that the best opportunity to obtain Microsoft software (I repeat, Microsoft software) at the best price is by purchasing a brand new laptop or PC. Indeed, you get fully licensed software at the best price.

Sometimes you don't even have to look, to know who wrote a post.

It's the WW's own Microsoft sock puppet. Say hi to Ballmer for us, and watch out for the chairs!

I work for a rather large software company. (You've heard of us. Even in Outer Mongolia. Our stuff runs only on MS-Windows.) We have tens of thousands of customers who are facing computer upgrades, and they're asking us for recommendations. The official company line is "at all costs, avoid upgrading right now. Vista is a bigger headache than it'll be worth. (In fact, it's a bigger headache than a FUNCTIONAL operating system would be worth.)"

Now, that company is tied to Microsoft. If Windows dies, it has no "Plan B" -- all its software would be worth zilch instantly. Politically, the stuffed shirts HAVE to get along with MS and MS-users.

Now, how bad must Vista be, in order to get THESE stuffed-shirt types to make THIS recommendation?

[edited by: hutcheson at 5:58 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2007]

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