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Fighting OEMLawlessness

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Greetings hubbies, here is a post that helped me get an invoice.

What happens

Historically, Microsoft has been in the field of workstation operating systems (for the x86 platform, where there is also the equally awful oligopoly of Intel and AMD) has a leading monopoly position worldwide, and since the need for OS availability is now undeniable, the profits in this industry are simply colossal (according to analysts Gartner Research is now about 1 billion computers on earth, and by 2014 that number will double ).

Who’s to blame

Microsoft maintains its monopoly position by a variety of means, not always legal and certainly not fair to potential competitors.One of such means is to impose its OS by all conceivable and unthinkable means before the computer is even sold to the consumer. OEM version of Windows and a complex series of contracts that tie the hands of everyone involved in the PC manufacturing scheme, from hardware manufacturers and end-system assemblers to retailers. Often such contracts come with a non-disclosure clause, but information sometimes slips through the Internet.
So, for example, on forums ( LOR-e , LOR-E ) there were reports that large computer suppliers like Asustek, Acer, Dell, … are offered to supply this operating system on very favorable terms ( tenfold discounts), but with restrictions or a complete ban on the use of competitors’ products (e.g. restrictions on price, processor power, screen size and built-in memory) and a minimum sales requirement (millions of units of equipment). Similar principles are used by other monopolists – the same Intel restricts the use of processors of a certain lineup for netbooks (unfortunately I couldn’t find the references on the spot, but there are discussion on ixbt , by the way it also mentions the limitations of using windows xp on netbooks). Also, for example, starting with Vista there is a ban on installing unsigned drivers, which gives Microsoft the means to influence the manufacturers of hardware, drivers and possibly software. Maybe this is why many modern devices only have drivers for Vista and not for Windows XP/2k or, God forbid, for Linux/FreeBSD/…
Additionally, the OEM version of Windows allows to bind a specific installation to the hardware, forcing the purchase/upgrade of new equipment to re-purchase the same OS. Those who are safely living on the former boxed versions of the OS (Windows XP/2k), can be forced to make another purchase, stopping their support and release of drivers (pressure on manufacturers of components). And in the future, it may be practiced renting out computers and software in parts Probably to finally prevent the possibility of only one-time purchase of software (MSDN subscriptions of various kinds are practiced now, starting with the MSDN AA, which by the way can only teach, but do not build the infrastructure for this training, for example teachers can not create tutorials on this software).
And of course all of the above is true for many other Microsoft products as well.

What to do

I hope nobody needs to explain what disadvantages such a planetary monopoly has for society and future in general. Especially if the activity of the monopolist is not really limited by almost anything (don’t say anything about antimonopoly laws, huge fines of EU, etc., but Microsoft has more possibilities to influence what they successfully use), and the goals, as of any company, are far from universal happiness.
An interesting situation has developed since the fight against piracy began in Russia. The all-too-famous show trial on Ponosov case looks like it will arouse Microsoft for a long time to come, as Alexander Mikhailovich has seriously engaged in FOS propaganda and created, in conjunction with Victor Alksnis. public organization " Center for Free Technologies ", one of the most interesting projects of which, at the moment, is " Action to combat the imposition of pre-installed OEM software ".
The first step in the attack was to point out the systematic and gross violations of the laws of the Russian Federation by manufacturers and sellers of almost all laptops and less often finished computers (for example – the requirements of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 16 of the RF Law "On Protection of Consumer Rights", prohibiting the contract include conditions that infringe consumers’ rights, as well as conditioning the purchase of some goods by the compulsory acquisition of other goods). The information on the links above is more than enough, in short I can say that the action is very competently organized. Applications from citizens have been collected, and with the collective support of the community the appropriate applications to the FAS (which incidentally coincided with his own investigation) and the OZPP. Active PR on forums on the Internet is conducted, which actively contributes to Leonid Krivoshein Leonid Krivoshein , a CEST expert who registers under the nickname klark973on the forums and whose activity on various forums is simply amazing. Conducted by press conferences , hearings on the case ( initiated by the FAS supported by CEST), filed ‘ statement of claim in defense of an indefinite number of persons in court, against the manufacturers of laptops and personal computers’.
At the moment the fight against OEM lawlessness has just begun, but there are already some results. FAS will bring in Microsoft to the list of monopolists. Leading notebook manufacturers have started to move, began to make loud and not always reasonable statements, and certainly at the hearing on the FAS case and silly things were said, unfortunately details are scarce and they are smeared on the blog klark973, the hearing that was closed. For example according to the head of the Russian representative office of Acer, Gleb Mishin Acer threatens to raise prices , comments at klark973 Or another example, on behalf of the President of RoverComputers Sergey Shunyaev, the technical support service suddenly, after more than five months, changed its mind and decided to reimburse the user for the cost of the unwanted OEM Windows Vista, previously the answer was no. This incident alone gave no reason not to put RoverComputers on the list of companies involved in the pre-installed software refund case. And then there’s a bit more. comments to the article Returned Windows

Why and who needs it

In general, the goal of the work can be described as follows – when buying a computer or laptop, you need to provide an opportunity to choose the operating system or even give an opportunity to refuse to buy an OS in this store, ie to buy a computer without pre-installed OS, for example the way, legally offered in the OEM Windows license – a refund for an unnecessary software product.
The attitude of Russian citizens to this action is ambiguous. Here is a list of the main arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’, which can be found among a huge number of discussions on various forums (and a little bit from myself).

Pros : It is very profitable not to pay for an unnecessary operating system or even refund money for previously purchased laptops. In addition, the customer may already have an operating system (e.g. previously purchased boxed version, or MSDN subscription, or Linux/FreeBSD) or just not happy with this particular version/build.

The amounts appear in the discussions vary, and are a separate cause for serious discussion, from $20 for the cheapest version of Vista to $70 for Ultimate, that’s at least. But, since the same OEM versions are now on the shelves and at much higher prices – $200 for Ultimate, this could be another opportunity to be attacked already by the IRS.

Opposite : The laptop and the operating system provide an inseparable hardware and software package.

Proponents of such arguments cite Apple with its computers and operating system as an example. They also cite degenerate examples such as the BIOS of a computer, cell phones and smartphones as analogies.

Pros : If the computer and the operating system are one system, it means that this complex is also covered by the warranty, i.e. fix the OS killed by viruses, as well as holes and bugs in the software.

By the way this argument can be made as a counterargument to Apple’s operating system, there the support is for the entire complex as a whole. Unfortunately the only practiced way at the moment (free, under warranty) to fix problems with windows (as well as software in cell phones and smartphones) is a complete deletion of user data with restoration from the original image. If you think this is an acceptable level of support then I feel sorry for you, personally I think it is unacceptable.

Opposite : A lot of problems for the seller each return, even if it is a small amount.

For starters, even if Microsoft does set up a ready and convenient refund scheme for their suppliers, there are a huge number of products in stock and counters that are subject to previous agreements that may not involve such procedures, which means the repayment of the loss, at least at first, will be at the expense of the store, i.e. the price increase on laptops, and therefore at the expense of the buyer. I think that if the scheme is successful in the beginning, so it will remain. Secondly – it is a problem with the taxes that have already been paid for the OS received. The correct solution, in my opinion, would be to completely separate the software from the hardware during its assembly, and the licensing and ‘out of the box’ problems are solved by a 30 day trial period that only takes into account the days of the computer.

Pros : The market is very flexible, serious changes will not lead to prolonged and significant distortions and markups ‘out of thin air’.

Most likely Microsoft will change contractual relations with manufacturers taking into account current situation, after all OEM supplies are not the only and not so effective mechanism of imposing windows to cling to it so much. Ideally the price of OEM versions will go down to a certain minimum. And for local retailers (especially for small specialty stores, they are more flexible and faster, and react more easily to such changes in the market) this situation is very beneficial in that the separation of the OS from the hardware will push the development of the computer customization services market harder.

Oppose : The customer needs a working system ‘out of the box’ and does not want to install and configure the OS after the purchase.

It is especially unpleasant when the ‘dummies’ have to pay someone else for it (and they really have to) or look for someone they know.

Pros : A computer is a complex and versatile device whose main purpose is to solve various tasks. It still needs to be set up anyway, and installing the OS is one of the easiest processes right now, the rest is much more complicated.

The windows operating system in its basic (even maximum) configuration is so small that you have to customize it in almost all cases after you buy the hardware. The consequences of Microsoft’s introduction of the Vista operating system are such that most users in one way or another fine-tune or reinstall the imposed operating system in most cases (my experience in solving problems with acquaintances, as well as the 90% dissatisfaction statistics of Vista according to CEST, for example, speaks to this).

Oppose : This will spur the development of piracy even more, they will buy a laptop, pay back the money for the OS and install a pirate.

Pros : Piracy and the imposition of the OS have almost nothing to do with it.If one is willing and able to break the law, one will do so, it’s too expensive to be a legal user now, a valid argument for most.

The piracy argument looks hypocritical. It is incredibly beneficial for Microsoft to have piracy, it ‘ties’ users who don’t want to change anything to their products, it also increases the number of real users, windows software developers for those users, which in turn again increases the user’s attachment to that platform. It’s not for nothing that Steve Ballmer was jumping around the stage, shouting out Developers Developers it’s already clear that developers determine the popularity of the platform. Besides, if Microsoft wanted to deal with pirates, it would have happened long ago, there are enough patches in windows (there was a scandal when all computers with Windows XP in the world simultaneously, even with disabled service auto-updates, upgraded several files, unfortunately I could not find links).

Pros : Also, pre-installed versions of the OS often do not come with the fullest functionality.

When some Vista version didn’t have tracert and pathping utilities, personally I was a bit surprised. And that set of anti-virus and other software, that manufacturers usually add to the package, creates a lot of problems, especially with their replacement and removal, not to mention the fact that it is a clear violation of antitrust laws. And what future obstacles Microsoft comes up with, look at that. Microsoft removes limit on number of concurrently running apps in Windows 7 Starter Edition

Pros : Having a choice at least a little bit, but it will loosen the hands of the few competitors to Microsoft Windows.

No matter how much Linux is criticized, OpenSource is often a good alternative and sometimes even the best.

Additional references

* Articles at www.netadvocate.org – A detailed sequence of steps for those who already want a refund for unwanted OEM windows.

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