First official reply from the European Commission ref. complaint on

Ben Finney ben at
Thu Jan 31 22:32:47 UTC 2008

On 21-Nov-2007, Laetitia Chaniol wrote:
> ----
> Dear Mr. Ferguson,
> [...]
> As regards the possibility of purchasing a PC without an operating 
> system, I understand that Microsoft's licensing agreements with PC 
> manufacturers encourage (through the grant of rebates) the 
> pre-installation of operating systems on PCs. However, this does not 
> have to be a Microsoft operating system.
> The Commission is not aware of any obligation either contractual or 
> financial, obliging the PC OEMs to sell their PCs with Windows 
> operating systems in particular.

That's not what is claimed (I hope). Instead, the claim is that the 
condition Microsoft imposes on the manufacturers for having *any* 
license to pre-install Windows, is that they must pay Microsoft for 
*every machine sold* whether or not Windows is installed.

Thus, the manufacturer has the choice *not* to pre-install Windows on 
any given machine; but they've paid for it, and will need to recoup 
that expense, most likely from the customer for that machine.

This is the "Windows Tax", levied by Microsoft onto the manufacturer 
if every machine sold, whether Windows is installed or not.

 \      "It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."  -- |
  `\                                    Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney <ben at>
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