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G'Day, Microsoft Foes

THE CUTTING EDGE | HEARD ON THE BEAT / TECHNOLOGY

January 25, 1999|JONATHAN GAW

Toshiba has found itself in the middle of the latest subculture rebellion against Microsoft's domination of the software industry.

On an Australia-based Web site, a man claims he won a months-long battle to receive a $110 refund from Toshiba for returning the unused and unwanted Windows operating system that was packaged with the laptop computer he purchased.

Representatives of Irvine-based Toshiba America Information Systems said they have not been able to confirm the account but that it is the company's policy not to accept returns of software that come bundled on its computers. The company, like most computer companies, does not offer personal computers without Windows.

The account, found at http://www.netcraft.com.au/geoffrey/toshiba.html, has sparked a movement among computer users who favor other operating systems to ask computer manufacturers for refunds for not using Windows when they prefer an alternative software such as Linux or OS/2.

Toshiba representatives likened returning the operating system that comes with the computers to trying to return a laptop's battery pack because the user decided he would just plug the computer into an outlet.

But organizers of Windows Refund Day, whose site can be found at http://www.linuxmall.com/refund, argue that unlike other parts of a computer, the Windows 95 operating system comes with a licensing agreement that dictates how the software can and cannot be used. If the computer user disagrees with the terms of the license, the agreement says that "you should promptly contact manufacturer for instructions on return of the unused product[s] for a refund."

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