Microsoft Sued Over Windows 7 Pre-Bundling

Dennis Faas's picture

An Italian consumer agency is suing Microsoft because it experienced difficulty getting a refund for an "unwanted" copy of Windows 7 which came pre-bundled with a new PC. If it gets as far as a verdict, it could set a legal precedent.

The case involves Vincenzo Donvito, a man which resides in Florence, Italy. He bought an ASUS Eee PC netbook that came pre-bundled with the starter edition of Windows 7 already installed. Donvito later decided he did not want to use Windows 7 Starter and instead wanted to replace it with an alternative operating system (OS) for his Eee PC. (Source:

EULA Clearly States Refund is Applicable

Upon starting the computer for the first time, Donvito read a clause in the End User Licensing Agreement that users must click to agree the first time they run Windows.

In English, the EULA reads along the lines of "If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, you may not use or copy the SOFTWARE, and you should promptly contact Manufacturer for instructions on return of the unused product(s) for a refund in accordance with Manufacturer's return policies."

Donvito asked Asus for a refund for the relevant portion of the purchase price and received no reply. He then turned to Microsoft and again had no response.

Is Microsoft Responsible for Refund?

According to ADUC, the Italian body responsible for upholding consumer rights, because the buyer must comply with the licensing agreement to be able to use the computer as supplied, it effectively forms part of the contract for the purchase of the computer, and thus binds the retailer to give a refund.

However, the ADUC also believes that if the retailer fails to do this, Microsoft itself takes on some legal responsibility for providing a refund. (Source:

There have been a host of similar cases in other countries that have been settled before a court verdict. While a British man got an immediate refund from Amazon for an unwanted bundled copy of Windows, an American man went through a two-month process to get a similar refund from Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Tech Companies Wary of Court Precedent

A similar case in Israel ended when Dell agreed to refund the full retail price of Windows Vista. On that occasion it appeared the out-of-court settlement was an attempt to avoid a court verdict that could be used to determine future cases.

In the situation of the Italian consumer, the backing of the consumer body means there's a good chance this could get as far as a full trial, where a verdict against Microsoft might have implications for other such cases.

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