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Italian ADUC sues Microsoft over Windows tax

A consumer rights group in Italy has filed suit against software giant Microsoft, claiming that the company makes it near-impossible to receive a refund for unused copies of Windows supplied pre-installed on computers.

ADUC, the associazione per i diritti degli utenti e consumatori - roughly translated as 'association for the rights of users and consumers' - has filed suit against Microsoft in the Milanese courts, claiming that the company needs to make it easier for those who have received unwanted and unused software to receive refunds.

As in the UK, almost every consumer-grade system sold in Italy comes with a copy of Microsoft Windows. If a consumer wants to install their own operating system, this software goes unused.

It's a surprisingly little-known fact - and one that Microsoft is keen to keep that way - that this unused software has a residual cash value, and can be refunded on application.

ADUC claims that this process of applying for a refund is far too difficult, and Microsoft needs to step in to aid manufacturers in making the process significantly easier for consumers.

The group has already won a case against Hewlett Packard on the same grounds, claiming in 2007 that it failed to refund customers who weren't using their HP-supplied copies of Windows XP. In a statement, the group claimed: "That ruling opened the way for consumers to apply for the refund, so now we turn the Court of Milan directly against Microsoft."

Microsoft has yet to issue a statement on the filing, which can be downloaded in full (PDF) - in Italian.