Monday, September 1, 2008

Lenovo won't refund the Windows tax without an NDA

Linux users have always vocally encouraged major hardware vendors to
unbundle the Windows operating system or offer Linux preinstallation.
Although several prominent vendors are beginning to embrace
this concept, they only support it on a limited subset of their
hardware offerings. This means that Linux users often pay for a Windows
license that they never use, and it also means that Linux users are
forever attempting to recoup the "Windows tax."

The cost of the Windows license bundled with OEM computers has long
been a source of ire for Linux enthusiasts who erase unused Windows
installations. The controversy surrounding the so-called Windows tax
flared up again this week following a report that Lenovo has agreed to
reimburse a buyer for an unused Windows preinstallation license, but
only if the individual would sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Czech open source site has published the story
of Kamil Paral, a Lenovo customer who attempted to obtain a
reimbursement for the unused Windows Vista Business license on his new

A clause in the Windows end user license agreement (EULA) says that
consumers who do not accept all the terms of the license can return the
software for a full refund. When Paral brought this aspect of the
license to the attention of Lenovo, the company agreed to pay him
roughly $130 for terminating the license.

In order to complete the agreement, however, Lenovo insisted that Paral
sign a nondisclosure agreement that would effectively bar him from
talking about the deal. Paral refused, then took the story to, which gave him an equivalent amount of money for telling
his story to the world.

Although this case may not be particularly unique, it reflects the
challenges that consumers face when they attempt to terminate an unused
Windows license with the intention of obtaining a refund.

Further reading

  • Found via Slashdot