Letter to Which? magazine regarding purchase of laptop without Windows copy

Sent 03/03/2015

Dear Editor, Your article in the March issue of Which? about the windows 10 update being free and how awful windows 8 is opens up a much deeper question regarding operating systems. If you bought a new car called car8 from a company called Microcar and it turned out be the turkey windows 8 is, you would probably not buy another car from Microcar.

Last year I wanted to buy a new laptop. I'm not a windows user, I don't agree with Microsoft's licencing, business practices or indeed ethics and I don't like windows interface or design and I don't trust it to keep my data secure and information private. Unsurprisingly I was not willing to pay for an unwanted licence.

I wrote up some of my experiences of trying to get a laptop either with a pre install of linux of some sort or with a blank disk on my website:-

http://www.rainsbrook.co.uk/wiki/doku.php/corr/corrindex#computer_related

What draws this into focus is the tv adverts running at the time, I made some comments here:-

http://www.rainsbrook.co.uk/wiki/doku.php/rb/whywin7isrubbish?&#the_most_ironic_advert_ever

Clearly this is an enforced monopoly. UEFI and secure boot locking users into a boot loader signed by Microsoft just confirms the intention to enforce this monopoly. Don't get me wrong, secure boot is a good idea, but it should not be supplied set up to enforce booting only an OS loader microsoft has signed, it should be up to the user to enable or change the settings.

If it just happened that almost all people ticked the “I want windows” box on a computer order and it was easy to request a computer with a real alternative to windows or no OS at all, then it wouldn't be a monopoly and I would be content with that.

As my correspondence shows, this is not the case and users are forced to pay for software which they may not want. Licence changes to w7 passes the onus of a refund to the manufacturer not microsoft, making it more difficult to reject the licence and apply for the refund. More insidious is that when you talk to computer users, many don't even realise there is a choice. My wife is a case in point, when we first met, she was not aware that computers *could* even run anything other than windows. She is a mac user primarily now, but is quite familiar with using my linux laptop too.

Which? should start running an investigation into this. The test is this:- If the word computer were substituted for toaster and all toasters were prevented from toasting anything other than brand X bread, there would be an enforced monopoly. It's no different with computers.

Regards, Andrew Stringer,

No reply received as yet.


corr/which-ms-licence1.txt · Last modified: 09/03/2015 13:22 by andrew