jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

I Want a Computer but I don't Want Windows...

"I want a computer but I don't want Windows."

This is a nice phrase to startle computer sellers in most stores. Why is it that most computers come with Windows preloaded? To satisfy the users?? I guess that the price reductions on Windows licenses for OEMs --and price increases if they dare to sell equipment without Windows preloaded--have nothing to do with it. Nor does Microsoft's interest in fair competition and fair play.

So...if Windows comes with the computer, does that mean that Windows is part of the computer?

Clearly not. Microsoft licenses mean that the software is neither part of the computer nor yours. For the vendors, the licenses mean they have the permission to install it. What is yours is the permission to use it in your system. Do you own a copy of Windows? No, you don't. All of them belong to Microsoft, but they give you the privilege of using it--for a *small* price, of course! This resembles communism so much if you ask me. The differences are the entity that owns the goods and how people are granted the permission to use them. And still some say that Open Source equals communism??!!

Now, back to the computers with windows preloaded...if I buy the computer, then the computer is mine, right? I bought it already!

What happens if I decide I don't want to accept Windows EULA when I first start my new computer? It is my computer, right? But the OS is not mine. Common logic dictates that I have the right to return the product I don't want to keep and get a refund for it. After all, I bought a computer, not the software (I cannot buy that one anyway).

Well, in the past you could return the software and get a refund...after a titanic struggle. If someone wants to try it, here is how.

This is the beauty of democracy and freedom. Even after a battle like that, you can get others to respect your rights...

But Microsoft couldn't possibly care less about your rights. Look at the corrected version of the EULA for Windows 7:

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 its return policy. You must comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed. ("Microsoft Software License Terms: Windows 7 Professional")

So, I MUST comply with the EULA even if I intend to get rid of the Win7 Starter pest?

Then, if I reject the EULA, I MUST comply with the policies of the vendors...and smile if Big Brother's sidekicks ask me to return MY computer. Wow! That's a nice way to put it: "might limit your rights." If the state does it, you call it communism. If a company does it, you call it...what? Not democracy, for sure!

Now, why is it that my rights have to be limited and not Microsoft's? First, I am denied the right to choose a computer with another OS or without any OS. Then, I am denied the right to keep the computer I bought unless I accept something I don't want to. I am buying a computer, period. I am not buying Microsoft's products.

The vendors might say to you "But you bought a bundle product." Does that, therefore, mean the software is actually mine, too? I bought the computer, remember? If they are bundle, the software is mine for reverse engineering it or do what I want with it as I would do with the hardware. It is a bundle product and I bought it!

Oh, but then they will say I can't. The bundle product is not like that. I can trash the hardware if I want, but I am not entitled to mess with the software because it is not mine. What did I buy, then?

How come people accept this? And then they criticize other countries because they "deny the rights of their citizens"!

I, for one, will only buy where they respect my rights as a customer and as an individual. If the others want to extend their arms so that Microsoft and its allies put nice chains on them, good for those people. They deserve it anyway!

21 comentarios:

  1. Hey, did you hear that Microsoft has always wanted to sell hardware? If they do, and they work hard to improve security, two nice products will hit the market pretty soon. Those nice pieces of Microsoft patented hardware will be bundled to their software and you will have to start using them as soon as you accept their ridiculous EULAs. Their names?
    Microsoft PowerFetters and Microsoft Live-Shackles!

  2. Believe me...if Microsoft did that, they may bury themselves as well. That strategy works for Apple but I truly doubt Microsoft will achieve the same effect. Once Microsoft starts selling its own hardware, HP, Toshiba, Dell, and other hardware makers will start producing their own software (that's the direction HP's new CEO wants to take, actually). What's easier? For Hardware makers to produce software (especially with the aid of Open Source) or for software makers to produce hardware?

  3. Some of the solutions are here:
    http://mcelrath.org/laptops.html. Dell is also offering Linux-based laptops (though they are not the greatest). Walmart was too, at some point. If we all keep pestering the resellers, they will give in eventually. Meanwhile, you can almost double your present computer's life with Linux.

  4. There is one other interesting scenario. The computer you bought with Windows is damaged by accident and you need to replace the hardware. Can you buy replacement hardware without paying for the same Windows license a second time? No! Why are people not incensed by this, basically a MS tax on all computer systems sold?

  5. Well-known Micro$oft's way of doing business. Screw them. And thank you for interesting article. :)

  6. how about just building your own computer? Its not really that hard and you can get bare bones kits online cheaper than HP or Dell boxes.

  7. @ Sassinak,
    Thanks a lot for the link! That is helpful indeed.

    @ Andy,
    Yes...I hadn't thought of that. It makes things even more depressing! It's true: you damage your HD, you MUST buy another license because the one you had is void.

    @ z-vet,
    Thanks. I just want to let some people understand the abuses they are victims of. Customer rights are no different from any other rights individuals have.

    @ Brian,
    Good solution too! Even though my knowledge of building computers equals zero, I am also willing to try that solution eventually. Well, at least when my desktop box dies on me. For laptops or netbooks, I'll buy one from a REAL vendor, i.e., one that actually cares to make customers happy, not one of Microsoft's puppets that only want to push Window$ abusive junk on customers against their will.

  8. I don't know where you're located, but in the U.S. you can buy Linux laptops from several different small or mid-sized vendors. System76 and ZAReason are two that are growing pretty rapidly. They consistently get good reviews for their products and customer service. I'd say that the odds are good that if you're in any sort of larger country, there's probably a local company or two doing the same thing.

  9. @Megatotoro

    As Brian mentioned, many computer shops have "bare bones" kits that allow you to build your own.

    What he did not mention and from your comment was misunderstood was that they will usually build the PC for you with no OS and all you have to do is take it home and install Linux!

    So even if you have no experience in building a PC these options are available. It is up to you to choose how much (or how little) you want to be involved in the building of your PC. You really only have to look around and ask your local computer repair shops what they offer. Check each for better deals and for options that best fit your needs.

    A barebones can be as little as $299.00 and even cheaper in some cases.

  10. @ David,

    Well, realities differ.
    In a "developing country" (haha, such an euphemism!) like Megatotoro's, the price of barebones goes up to $580~ Yes! We have heavy taxes for electronics here...

    ZaReason and System76 might be good choices, except that, when they tax the system in customs, the price also goes up. Say you buy the $400 Breeze pro 4220 from ZaReason. You end up paying almost double the price to get it here!

    Therefore, if you want Linux pre-installed or a no-OS box, you must be ready to pay more...which justifies Megatotoro's complaint; thanks to Microsoft, there are no reasonable options for someone who wants to say no to Windows here.

  11. I tried to contact Comet UK Customer Service and this is what I got from them:

    Dear /name edited/,

    Thank you for your e-mail

    All the products we sell have the Windows 7 operating system already installed and we would not refund any value off the product if you do not wish to use that operating system.

    If you require any further assistance, please contact me using the Ask a Question facility on the website http://comet.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/comet.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php


    /name edited/
    Comet Customer Services

  12. @ sgfrock,
    Unfortunately, I'm in a little country full of sellers with little minds, too.

    @ David,
    Thanks for the clarification. I'll look around and see if I can get any good deal. If not, I might try to build a computer myself. I've always wanted to do it, anyway.

    @ Filip,
    They would not refund any value off, but will charge you for it even if you don't want it. A win-win situation for them and for Microsoft...only the customer loses. I wouldn't mind if we had lots of other options, but we simply don't. Fair business! I wish more people opened their eyes and stopped this abusive business model.

  13. If you don't accept their EULA then you don't accept it as a whole. They can't argue that you have accepted something by not accepting the whole agreement that contains it, it's just not valid.

    On the other hand, if you signed some agreement with the seller that corresponds to that section in MS's EULA - that's a different thing.
    And that's basically like signing the EULA.

  14. @ lightpriest

    Before you sign a contract, you must read it. The EULA establishes a contract. However, you pay for the computer and read the conditions of the EULA after you are home and you turn the system on.

    What if you decide you don't want to accept those conditions? Well, there's this clause in the EULA that says that "by using the system" you have agreed. You must use the system to read the EULA. Therefore, you simply cannot say no.

    That is not a fair business practice.

  15. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.

  16. I am also from a developing country and here, many people don’t know that there are other operating systems; some of them even ask you what Windows version you have as if that was the equivalent of asking what kind of computer (hardware) you own. Moreover, as it happened to me, if you ask the vendors about other OS they offer, the answer would be Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 7 Starter. Costumers are denied to have other options of OS even by selecting among the different Windows versions that exist; they can’t decide to have XP rather than 7 Starter with all its limitations because the computer has already installed the OS. The ones who know that there are other options like the free software should inform the ones who lack of that knowledge. Not being able to select the OS keeps being like that mostly because we, as costumers, don’t push vendors to offer other options. In the end, companies sell what people buy.

  17. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.

  18. It would be fairly useful if we as costumers had the option to choose the computer brand and the operational system that best suits our interests. If I had that chance, I would be able to know more about Linux and the marvelous features I have been reading in this posts. My pc has always gotten infected, even though I always update my antivirus and am very careful with the usb devices that I introduce in it. Everytime I have gone to ask for a computer at a computer store, the salesperson only offers the computer with a Windows operational system, which gives no chance for costumers to know about other operational systems or to buy them. It is a shame to see how Windows creators have monopolized the market of operational systems at regular computer stores. Robles, M.

  19. Computers are great tools whenever the OS´s work properly for the users´ needs. Whenever people look for a product, they have several options to choose from. Their own needs will characterize what type of item they need. With computers, the story should be similar. Unfortunately, big companies create their own ¨prestige¨. First, they care about customers’ satisfaction but then, they just forget it. New OS´s are available for people, but it seems harder to get into them because manufacturers most of time, if not always, offer the same; of course, new versions names but quality is the same. In the era, through globalization process, we must demand our rights as costumers to improve the service we receive. Torres, Y

  20. It is depressing to notice that many times most of the people simply accept their computers with whatever software it has installed. They do not consider which software works better for them; as soon as they read “Microsoft” they think that it is the “right” one. I find so irritating the fact that just because you do not want Microsoft in your computer, then you have to be ok with losing “some of your rights”. But as usual, people just sit in front of their brand new computer and enjoy it until they find themselves complaining about the software and its disadvantages. The truth is that if they would have considered this before, they could have safe some time and money. However, as long as people leave the “software selection” to others, this situation will continue. It is not just about which software is easier or nicer, but about which one provides you more security and benefits, and more importantly, the right to chose.