Serge Wroclawski tells us how to get the Windows tax back that you pay with almost any laptop on the market, whether you want Windows or not. I’m not sure if this strategy only works for the USA, though.
I have a few personal experiences with this problem. I have tried several times to get my money back for unused Windows licenses, and every time I was told it’s impossible. One afternoon, I insisted enough to be put through to Microsoft Switzerland’s licensing person, and he himself told me it’s impossible to get your money back, even though Windows’ very own license agreement says you will get cash back if you don’t need Windows. It’s a horrible situation. They sell you a product you don’t need and then trap you in legalese when you want to exercise your right of returning it for a refund.
Sometimes they claim they don’t even need to stick to their own license because of “differing contractual obligations between Microsoft and the OEM.” But so what? Any ties between OEM and Microsoft are not the customer’s problem. The customer is only bound by the EULA, not by any contracts between MS and the OEM. Did the OEM let itself be bullied by MS’ scare tactics like a spineless jellyfish? So what, that’s not my problem.
A friend of mine and I once spoke to one of the largest IBM resellers in the germanophone part of Europe about this. Their answer? “No, you can’t return your copies of Windows, but if you buy more than 50 laptops we can downgrade the XP Pro that’s included to a cheaper XP Home.” Friendly, but completely useless and against your very own license agreement.
This makes me angry because it’s very clearly in illegal territory, and it’s one of the ways Microsoft makes much of its money. And even though it is illegal, it is tolerated because no one has so far challenged Microsoft in court about it (in Switzerland).
PS: “Just don’t buy a laptop with Windows preinstalled” is not an argument, by the way. Most laptops are not available without Windows. Consumers should not be restricted in their choice of laptops by the Microsoft tax.