The Italian Supreme Court has recently issued a weird judgment that will create headache for OEMs. According to the ruling, OEMs in Italy should refund the associated money to users when they refuse to use Windows OS installed on their PCs. There are several PCs in the market that comes without Windows OS installed, consumers who have no interest in using Windows should opt for those PCs. Instead, Italian Supreme Court suggests that users buying a Windows PC from OEM can refuse to use Windows OS and ask for refund associated with the cost of the OS.
The ruling applies to more than just Windows. The Court states a general principle that applies to any device with software preinstalled: “…who buys a computer on which a given operational software (operating system) was preinstalled by the manufacturer has the right, if he does not agree to the conditions of the license of the software made available to him at first start of the computer, to retain the computer returning only the software covered by the license he did not accept, with refund of the part of the price that specifically relates to it.”
Free Software Foundation claims this practice of pre-installed Windows OS on PCs as ‘Microsoft Tax’.
The focus of the Court’s reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software. Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the “Microsoft tax.”
Do you agree with Italian court’s decision? Let us know in the comments.