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Dell customer gets Windows refund

Thanks to Dell, one UK Linux user has succeeded in the perennial quest to buy and use a laptop without paying for an unused bundled OS.

By , LinuxWorld.com
November 07, 2006 12:33 PM ET

LinuxWorld.com - Dell today gave freelance programmer and sysadmin Dave Mitchell, of Sheffield, UK, a refund of 47 pounds ($89) for the unused copy of Microsoft Windows XP Home SP2 bundled with his new Dell Inspiron 640m laptop, Mitchell says. Dell also refunded the tax, for a total of £55.23 ($105).

See follow-up story: Dell: Windows refund yes, Windows refund policy no

With few laptops available without the so-called "Microsoft tax", Windows refund requests have long been a slow movement among Linux community organizers. A few Linux users have reported success, but most laptop vendors have refused to honor the refund clause in Microsoft's End User License Agreement (EULA) unless the user returns the entire laptop. A Dell spokesperson was not aware of any policy change.

The online version of the Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition EULA states, "You agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA by installing, copying, or otherwise using the software. If you do not agree, do not install, copy, or use the software; you may return it to your place of purchase for a full refund, if applicable."

The language in the version that Mitchell received was slightly different. It read, "If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, you may not use or copy the software, and should promptly contact manufacturer for instructions on return of the unused product(s) for a refund in accordance with manufacturer's return policies."

Mitchell ordered his Dell laptop on Oct. 21, and it arrived on Oct. 27. He sent a postal letter requesting a refund to Dell's Bracknell, UK office on Nov. 1, received a phone call two days later, and his refund today, he says.

Dell has not yet requested that Mitchell return his Microsoft hologram sticker or any other materials bundled with the system. The laptop did not come with a Windows CD.

Mitchell was careful to document that he did not run the Microsoft product or accept the EULA. "I booted the laptop, then photographed every step of the boot process up to and including clicking on the XP 'no I don't accept' button. I also scrolled through each page of the EULA, taking a photo of each page," he wrote in an e-mail interview.

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