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Microsoft sells Windows twice

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Microsoft has started a new refurbishment programme to help companies breathe life into dusty old computers by providing a copy of Windows – at a cost.

The new Microsoft authorised refurbisher (MAR) programme, which launched last Friday, is aimed at resolving a growing problem among businesses which have defunct kit lying around.

Of course, it's also a nice little money spinner for the software mammoth too.

It said firms interested in signing up to the scheme would be able to buy a special version of Windows XP to put on machines that could then be sold on elsewhere, rather than being dumped in landfill.

But, here's the rub: Although it is possible to resell a refurbished PC using its original copy of Windows, many firms fail to retain the machine's so-called certificate of authenticity (COA) or its restore disks.

Step forward Microsoft with its buy-Windows-again solution.

In a statement released last week, the ubiquitous software giant didn't reveal how much it would charge companies for the privilege of loading computers with a modified version of Windows XP, but it reckoned the price would be cheaper than that paid by a computer maker installing Windows on a new machine.

Up to now Microsoft had offered refurbishment programmes to businesses wanting to effectively recycle kit through charities and educational organisations, but this new initiative opens up a market for firms to resell their unwanted kit for general use.

However, as we revealed in June this year, Microsoft decided to abruptly ditch Office from its global MAR programme citing legal reasons for its sudden withdrawal.

With the latest programme, Microsoft reckoned it has tapped into a growing business. It predicted that some 28 million PCs (10 per cent of the total PC market), were now being refurbished and sold worldwide.

No mention among those figures of how many resellers were punting free, open source software on refurbished kit, mind you.

Microsoft senior product manager Hani Shakeel said the programme was open to all major OEM partners worldwide and to other resellers in North America.

He said: "Over time, we hope the MAR programme will grow into a worldwide programme, at which point Microsoft will have two worldwide programmes working in parallel: the MAR programme to serve the commercial market and the Community MAR programme to serve the needs of the charity non-profit education market." ®

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