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Snippet: Microsoft Kind of Sucks ☇

Shared on April 28, 2018

Dieter Bohn for The Verge explains the continuing legal issues facing Eric Lundgren, a man who was handed a 15-month jail sentence for creating and selling Microsoft Windows recovery discs:

One of the core issues of the case was the value of the software Lundgren was attempting to distribute. Lundgren and an expert witness contend that the value was essentially zero. That’s because, they argue, the actual value of the software should have been in the license to use the software, not in the restore software itself — which can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s own website.

Here’s how Lundgren characterized the issue:

They were comparing it to a new license. You don’t get a license with the restore CD. The government treated the infringed item as if it was a licensed product, the license itself, what Microsoft sells, and it’s not. … I got in the way of Microsoft’s multi- multi- multi-million dollar business model of recharging people for computers that already have an operating system

I remember friends who bought PCs in the past that didn’t include any recovery media. You’d have to make it yourself so the manufacturers could save a few dollars on every computer. Most people didn’t make it and then if something went horribly wrong, would just replace them with another cheap PC. As Microsoft’s licensing for Windows tends to follow the guilty-until-proven-innocent model, I’m not surprised this was the outcome, even though most of the licenses themselves are tied to the computers and not the methods for the physical recovery media. It sounds like Lundgren was basically charging labor and materials costs to do something you or I could do at home.

While the Windows model is different from Apple, as Microsoft has to make money for every Windows license sold, the distribution model feels much more disconnected, and say, getting a used Dell without an operating system on it is much more catastrophic than a Mac without an operating system on it. Even though that Dell was sold with a Windows license when new, it requires a lot of work to get it back up and running if you don’t have the media handy.

Furthermore, Microsoft charges $25 to refurbishers for a new copy of Windows, in case you lost the old one or the license sticker is missing.

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