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October 26, 2014

The Microsoft Tax is Dead in Italy

Filed under: News — admin @ 7:49 am

You probably don’t remember paying the Microsoft tax because it didn’t show up on your computer’s receipt. It’s not a tax, but rather a per-unit fee all PC owners pay.

Bill Gates was a clever man. Not only did he license DOS to IBM, he included an item in the PC manufacturer’s contract that required all computers to be sold with a DOS (now Windows) license. So every PC that rolled off the line brought in more money for Microsoft.

Yes, that’s how you become a billionaire.

The problem is that not every PC ends up with a copy of a Microsoft Operating system. Some people don’t install DOS or Windows, and instead install Linux or Unix or some other OS. Even though they do that, they pay the Microsoft tax.

A court in Italy recently determined that such a tax is illegal. Their reasoning is brilliant: You buy the PC and enter into an agreement for the hardware. That’s part of the purchase. But when Windows installs, you can choose whether to agree to its use or not. Most people click the I Agree button to accept the terms.

The Italian court ruled that if you don’t click I Agree, or don’t install Windows in the first place, you don’t have to pay for it. That’s logical. May the refunds flow — but for now, only in Italy.

Free Software Foundation

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