Methods of acquiring Windows 7 for a low price

I might not enjoy the € 70 I gained with the refund for my Windows license from Acer for very long. On my gaming PC I use the Windows 7 Release Candidate which could be downloaded for free earlier this year by those who wanted to test Windows 7, but which expires on 1 June 2010. Unfortunately I simply need Windows for my gaming PC, it’s a necessary evil because most games require Windows. Of course I’d rather not hand over even a single Euro to Microsoft, but downloading an illegal version would be unethical.

The lowest price I can find for a Windows 7 license for students is € 49,75 but that’s an upgrade license. The bastards at Microsoft don’t sell normal licenses at lower prices for students, they think every PC must come with Windows so their customers can use an upgrade license. Not in my case, I built my own PC without Microsoft tax and used a pirated version of Windows Vista before I started using the Windows 7 Release Candidate. I’m not proud of not paying for a product which is sold for money, I’d prefer ethical conduct and paying for it, but Microsoft is abusing their dominant market position and charges far too much for Windows with their ridiculous profit margins (85% in fact).

Prices for an OEM license of Windows 7 Home Premium start at € 77. Curious, because I received a refund of € 70 for an OEM license of Windows Vista Business. Assuming prices are similar for Windows 7 and Windows Vista, it’s strange to see that the comparable Windows 7 edition, called Windows 7 Professional, starts at € 108 for an OEM license. Acer pays less for  a Windows license than the normal consumer does. You might say that’s common sense because it’s normal to get a discount if you buy in large volumes, but keep in mind that both the OEM license Acer gets and the OEM license you get if you buy it as a consumer are exactly the same, and that the marginal cost to produce software is very close to zero. There should be no reason for OEM licenses sold to large computer manufacturers to be a whopping 35% cheaper than the license you buy as a consumer. In other words, Microsoft deliberately disadvantages you if you don’t buy your Windows together with a computer from a large manufacturer.

I sent an e-mail to Microsoft’s helpdesk to ask if there is a cheap option for students to get Windows 7 if you can’t use an upgrade license. They said there is no such option. The best legal option which I think is left is this: buy the Windows 7 Professional upgrade license for the student price of € 49,75 and then buy a retail or OEM license of Windows 2000 to be able to use the upgrade license. Windows 2000 is old and therefore relatively cheap, I’ve seen it offered for € 12,50. That would put the total price at € 62,25, lower than the refund I received.

On the other hand I could make an single exception in my ethical conduct when it comes to Microsoft. Even if I’d do that, I’d still be morally superior to everyone who pirates movies and music, I’d pay for everything except Windows. If Microsoft is an unethical company towards the world, why should I be ethical towards them? You’ve got to fight fire with fire. I’ll just get a pirated version of Windows 7. To compensate for my sin, I’d donate the money I got with the Windows refund to various free and open source software projects. I’m very tempted to choose for the latter choice.

3 thoughts on “Methods of acquiring Windows 7 for a low price”

  1. I agree with your latter option, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to do the right thing. I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt that I’m going to use unlicensed Windows 7 when I’m buying a new PC for gaming. I can’t find any sensible reason to support unethical corporation, that does not even itself follow the law (all the countless antitrust lawsuits).

    To justify the anti-competitive practice of bundling PC’s with Windows, Microsoft uses the excuse of fighting software piracy. So if Microsoft wants to make me into a pirate, so be it. I don’t consider abrogating an unethical law is unmoral, on the contrary, for example, if a horrid law were put on that told to punch babies every time you see one.

  2. Thanks for your opinion shen. Actually, I intended to get a legal version of Windows 7, but your comment has made the illegal way more attractive for me.

    I agree that Microsoft is unethical and breaks the law itself. This is a difficult dilemma here: is playing for Robin Hood in this case legitimate, or is it illegitimate to use another person breaking the law for breaking the law yourself?

    This also makes me think about Microsoft’s numerous lawsuits. Don’t they seem to get off the hook rather easily with settlements or fines which are peanuts compared to their profits?

    I’ll definitely write another blog post about this.

  3. Pingback: Combating Microsoft’s dominant market position or monopoly « Information Overload

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