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Dell bars Win 7 refunds from Linux lovers

Microsoft Windows 7? 'It's free'

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Dell has told a Linux-loving Reg reader that he can't receive a refund on the copy of Windows 7 that shipped with his new Dell netbook because it was bundled with the machine for "free".

In October, another Reg reader succeeded in gaining a $115 (£70.34) refund from the computer maker after he rejected the licence for Microsoft's OS and installed Linux instead. Microsoft's EULA, you see, provides for such a refund.

"By using the software, you accept these terms," it reads. "If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit."

UK-based school teacher Adam Drake recently tried the same Windows rejection trick. But his effort to secure a refund was in turn rejected by Dell.

According to a company support rep, Drake was not entitled to a refund because his copy of Windows 7 was included with his machine for free. "The one that was charged to you is just for shipping and handling so that means you got the Windows 7 for free," the rep says.

Presumably, the rep is mistaking Drake's copy of Windows 7 - which came preloaded on his system - with the Windows 7 upgrade kit that OEMs provided with Windows XP systems around the time of the new OS's launch last fall. Drake made multiple efforts to convince her that the OS actually costs money and that he was indeed entitled to a refund.

"I hope you understand that this isn't going to go away," he told her. "My plan is to pursue this as long as it takes, and maybe write a book or film script along the way. I'd be played by Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson." But the rep would not back down.

Asked about refunds for rejected copies of Windows 7, Dell tells us that despite the $115 success of Reg reader Graeme Cobbett, the company policy is that it will only accept returns for the entire system. "We consider the OS part of the base config, like and other key components (e.g. processor, memory, etc.)," the company says.

We have pointed out to Dell that Dell handed Cobbett a refund after he rejected Windows 7 in favor of the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint. But the company seems to view this as a mistake. "Would have to look to see if there was any other potential issue in play that contributed to a refund being offered, or else use this as a touchpoint point for training refresh," it tells us.

In any event, Windows 7 is not free. ®

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