If you’re in Italy, you will no longer have to pay the “Microsoft tax” while purchasing a new computer. If you don’t wish to have Windows pre-installed on your new computer, your vendor won’t charge for it. Sounds simple enough? Well, it wasn’t so until recently.
Every computer you buy comes with an operating system. To keep this simpler, we are only going to talk about Windows-powered systems. Your computer vendor will typically charge you for both the machine as well as the Windows OS running on it. So whatever amount you ended up paying, be assured that it also covered the Windows operating system that was installed on the computer.
But what if you did’t want Windows OS running on it? (Or maybe didn’t want to pay for it.) Until recently, if you were in Italy, you had to pay for it anyway. But in 2005, a guy named Marco Pieraccioli didn’t buy this idea, and went to court to ask if he should pay for the operating system he wasn’t going to use or had asked for.
Well, the decision has arrived, finally! The Italian Supreme Court sided with Pieraccioli, and found that if a person doesn’t want Windows OS, then they have all the rights in the world to ask for a refund. Simple. More officially put, the court believes that if a person doesn’t want the operating system, then this is clearly a disagreement to the user license agreement. Case solved: every such users get a refund.
Furthermore, the court also found that forcing users to have a specific operating system installed on the computer was wrong in the first place. This is to be considered as violation of freedom of competition among different companies. It also found that OEMs shouldn’t forcefully sell hardware and proprietary software.
The focus of the Court's reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software. Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the "Microsoft tax." said Marco Ciurcina.
Looking at the other side of the pond now, this ruling also affects other operating systems that are sold pre-installed on a machine in Italy. It will be interesting to see how it affects Apple, as the company doesn’t really sell hardware separately without putting its OS X software on it.