The purchase of a computer entails no obligation (on the part of the purchaser) to accept the preinstalled operating system. This was established by the Italian Supreme Court in a recent judgment when rejecting an appeal by the multinational I.T. corporation Hewlett Packard Italiana.
In confirming both the judgment at first instance and in appeal, the Supreme Court states with decision no. 19161/2014 that “should whoever buys a computer on which a particular operating system has been pre-installed by the manufacturer not accept the terms of the user license displayed when the computer is powered on for the first time, then they have the right to keep the computer and to only return the software related to the non accepted license and to be refunded for the part of the price which specifically regards the license”.
The case had been brought before the Court of Florence by the consumer association ADUC on behalf of a purchaser of a Compaq laptop supplied by HP, who had been refused a refund of the cost of the Windows operating system.
ADUC explained that the complaint originated from clauses in the Windows user license, which state: “should the end user not accept the terms of this agreement, they may not use or duplicate the software and should promptly contact the manufacturer for instructions on the procedure for returning the product or products and on the conditions pertaining to refunds in accordance with the provisions stipulated by the very same manufacturer.”
On confirming the 140 euro refund requested by the Florence user from HP, the Supreme Court described selling the software and the hardware as “a commercial strategy aimed at forced distribution”, “with a domino effect as concerns imposing on the market additional software applications, the distribution of which to end customers would encounter great encouragement and conditioning – if not genuine need – in a more or less acute obligation of compatibility and interoperability (…) with that operating system, which is at least fundamentally monopolistic.”