A freelance programmer has been reimbursed for refusing to install Windows on a laptop he bought from online computer giant Dell.

Dell forced to issue Windows refund

Sheffield man Dave Mitchell has been refunded £55.23 for the copy of Microsoft Windows XP which was preinstalled on his Dell bought laptop, but which he declined to use. Mitchell, an active member of the open source community, ordered the laptop with the intention of instead running it with the Linux open source operating system. Upon starting up the system for the first time he refused the Windows licence agreement by clicking ‘no’ when it asked him to agree to its terms. Mitchell took photographs of every stage of the start-up process in case it would be required as evidence at a later stage.

The agreement itself states that users are entitled to a refund for unused products if they contact the machine’s manufacturer. However, while many desktops are sold with a choice of operating systems installed, Mitchell claims that no laptop manufacturers currently offer the option of anything but Windows. “I had a clear record of what the licence did or did not say. I fully intended to take it as far as the small claims court, just to be bloody minded,” he told the BBC News website.

Following this statement he sent a letter to Dell’s office in Bracknell, explaining the process and requesting reimbursement. He received a phone call from the firm two days later who told him that he would be credited shortly, which was followed by an invoice in the post describing the refund as ‘goodwill unspecified’. He was never required to provide the evidence of the process, which he assumed would come out in the small claims court.

Mitchell said he was ‘gob-smacked’ over how easy the procedure was, judging by the experience of other Linux users who did not enjoy the same degree of success – and is encouraging others to try the same in the hope that Dell might change its policy on which operating systems it offers with laptops.

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