There will absolutely be no refunds on offer to a participants in next Monday's Microsoft Windows Refund day, says a Microsoft spokesman.
But the event's co-ordinator, Dr Anand Venkataraman, says the event will go ahead and that "there is a perfectly legal plan B and plan C that I intend to pursue if Microsoft refuses to co-operate."
A group drawn from the local open source software community is inviting users of Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, or other free open source OSes, along with Windows users who received unused and unwanted Microsoft products bundled with their PCs, to bring the disks and manuals in for collection at Victoria University's Cotton Club.
After wine and cheese have been taken in moderation, the unwanted products will "be collated and submitted to the Microsoft office on Hunter Street [Wellington] for a refund. Says the group's Website. Users of Microsoft Windows/NT, who were sold their computers preloaded with Windows 95 or 98 which they never intend to use are also welcome."
The Windows Refund Movement was founded in the US last month, but traces its history back to the 1995 consent decree that banned Microsoft from signing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to the per-CPU licensing used previously, as being a restraint of trade. Several successful refunds from PC companies are claimed along the way.
The local group's FAQ says participants on Monday will be "doing exactly what the End User Licensing Agreement says: Those who don't want the bundled product, haven't used it, and don't accept its license terms were told explicitly by Microsoft in the EULA that Microsoft is 'unwilling to license the software product' to them, and to return it for a refund. That is what we're doing."
But Microsoft New Zealand's manager for Windows marketing Guy Haycock says, the such a view is misguided.
"There will be no refund because the contract is between the OEM and the end user," says Haycock. "It's between the OEM and you - and if for some reason you don't like the software, contact your OEM.
"All of this is about OEMs' choices on their products. OEMS are free to release a Linux model of their PCs, and Compaq has already done so. One reason most companies still ship maqchine within Windows is that lots of customers like it.
"Some people might prefer that PCs were shipped without operating systems, but that's not very good for mom 'n' pop."
The group is requesting that participants "act politely towards any Microsoft employees and the media that may be present" on Monday and is warning that it strongly opposes software piracy.
"Bring your computer if you can schlep it," the Website advises, "but if you choose not to bring the computer, please try to bring a copy of your non-Microsoft OS, a printout of your partition table, name tag or raffle ticket from a free OS event, or something else to substantiate that you aren't just a random copyright violator looking for a handout."
Haycock is also promising that when representatives bring in the software, "we'll have a very polite and pleasant chat with them."
But no refund.
Further details and extensive background on Windows Refund are at http://www.uniforum.org.nz/windowsrefund/