Microsoft Windows Refund Day

Windows Refund Day is a protest where users of alternative operating systems - mainly Linux, but also BeOS, FreeBSD, OS/2 and so on - can attempt to get their money back for the copy or copies of Windows&tm; they don't use.

The Irvine protest was organized by Deirdre, and you can read her report by clicking on the link. Here's the OC Register Article on Refund Day.

;To start, I created a web page of evidence to show that I was using Linux on my HP Pavilion. I then headed down to Orange County to visit the rally.

As we gathered at the entrance of the building, we were greeted by a gentleman with the demeanour of an ambassador. He welcomed us to the building with surprising geniality, saying that the only request of the owner was that no pictures be taken.

Yes, the owner -- not Microsoft. Donald Bren of The Irvine Company, owner of most of Orange County, and an individual I greatly admire. His properties are all gorgeous, slickly designed and beautifully maintained - and the one we were standing in front of was no exception. Yes, said the Ambassador, you would think he'd like seeing his always-immaculate properties shown off to the world - but actually, the reclusive billionaire is shy and publicity wary. So, no outside pictures.

Understandably, this was not good news for me. I wouldn't have anticipated a problem; after all, I already have pictures of Donald Bren's Koi Carp in his Fashion Island shopping centre. No problems there. Fortunately, we still have a couple of pictures of the building before this strange request was made.

However, the ambassador continued, there was no reason why I couldn't take pictures inside the building, if I got permission. So we gathered up our stuff and such and went in.

The sign pictured to the left welcomes us to the building and points out that we should turn left to go to our room. It's interesting that none of us got it - virtually all of us tried going ahead to the reception area before we were stopped. I guess we alternate OS types aren't used to following icons!

The event was low key, almost to the point of invisibility. You can see our hosts on the right. Unlike previous MS PR folks, they didn't seem that friendly.

One of them gave me permission to take pictures at the event. I'd thought that was the end of the matter. However, one of them (the middle one in the picture, I believe) approached me. He asked if I had a press pass. When I admitted I didn't, he asked that I not take pictures. I was quite surprised, since I'd noticed that the other events had oodles of pictures in hand from non-press photographers.

Nonetheless, they were there to listen to our concerns, and they did. To most people, I'd say they were almost vanishingly neutral - neither particularly friendly nor frightfully hostile. They were just there. I guess what I'm trying to say is that they were low-key to the point of invisibility, and didn't seem to be encouraging conversation.

They said at one point that we were not involved at all, since the end user license agreement was between them and the OEM. I asked them if this meant that I was not bound by its provisions, and therefore could pirate Windows all over the place. He told me he was not a lawyer and had no idea. I was quite amused.

Of course the truth is that the decision had already been made, and we were given a handout (reproduced in the URL) that told us pretty much everything Microsoft wanted us to know.

Naturally, when they asked me not to take pictures, I didn't want to give up. Although my Canon XL1 MiniDV camcorder is not the most inconspicuous product ever made, I figured it was worth a shot (pun intended) to get a few covert images. Unfortunately, most of them looked a lot like the one on the left. A Microsoft guy finally figured out what was happening and insisted that I switch off my camera. Like I said: Not very friendly folks. They certainly acted like they had something to hide.

They told us they had to leave at 1:00, and they closed the room at around 1:30. At that time, we departed and reassembled at El Torito, where I could get some pictures of the event's attendees.


How this page was made

The pictures were taken with my Canon XL1 MiniDV Camcorder and imported into my Apple Macintosh G3 using Radius EditDV/MotoDV. The movie was then viewed by the Apple Quicktime viewer and selected frames were cut and pasted into Adobe Photoshop on the Mac.

Text was written using XEMACS on a HP Pavilion 6350 running a bastardized combination of Caldera, SuSE and Red Hat Linux. After checking out all three, I'd have to say SuSE is my favourite; I would have stuck with it if it had supported the new Libc at the time. I'll probably switch back to it when I have some time to fool around with it.

As you can see, no Microsoft products were used in the creation of this page.


The tale of the boy: How a boy, a Microsoft game and Linux came together. Coming soon.

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