Bundled selling of software with computers: a first step towards ending this problem for consumers

Paris, June 25th 2008. Press Release.

April is pleased by the conviction of the Darty chain of electronics stores for not complying with French consumer protection regulations. This conviction is a major milestone for consumers, and also for competition in the market of software for the general public. The next step ought to be the display of the terms of use for the various software packages installed on new computers, and making installation optional.

As a result of it being sued by the French consumer-defence association UFC-Que Choisir, the Darty chain of stores was found guilty on June 24th 2008 by the Court of Serious Claims [Tribunal de Grande Instance] of Paris and is required to display the price of the software installed on computers for sale, mainly Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

This good news regarding the problem of software being bundled with computers is particularly welcome as it comes only a few days before a conciliation meeting organised by the French 'Competition, Consumption & Fraud Repression' regulator, the DGCCRF.

'The display of the prices is part of a seller's obligations. Yet when it comes to computers, we are never told the price of the software. Most consumers tend to think that the Microsoft Windows operating system they are forced to buy with every new computer is free. In fact, the cheapest version of it costs a hundred euros! This judgement is therefore an important milestone towards the display of the terms of use for the various software installed on new computers; the final step being making such installation optional, which would allow consumers to purchase only the elements they wish to buy', stated Frédéric Couchet, April's general delegate.

'This is a historic decision, that happens to be unveiled only a few days before the conciliation meeting organised on July 3rd by the French 'Competition, Consumption & Fraud Repression' regulator DGCCRF on the topic of software bundling. Providing information for the public on the price of each element of a computer, both hardware and software, is a crucial point in our approach. With this judgment, we hope that the conciliation meeting will adopt our proposals, namely guaranteeing information for consumers and the optionnality of the installation of software', declared Jérémy Monnet, one of April's administrators.

Alix Cazenave, April's public affairs manager, added that 'by making compulsory a detailed display of the prices, the judges acknowledged a problem of bundled selling. It's a huge step as far as consumers are concerned. It is also a major improvement for competition in the market of software for the general public. This decision should also prompt the French Secretary of State for Consumer affairs and Industry, Luc Chatel, to reconsider his recent statements regarding the matter and come back to his previous views as a member of parliament [1].'

The solutions advocated both by April and AFUL through the working group 'Racketeering-ware' (Racketiciels) are very simple, quite common and they respect the business model of the vendors. These associations invite all vendors to make use of either:

  • pre-installed software in evaluation mode, so that the consumer has only to pay for the software after buying the computer and only for the elements of software that he wishes to keep; or
  • activation codes for the pre-installed software, so that the buyer can choose easily which software he wishes to buy while buying a computer. In that case, the activation codes would be provided in an envelope separated from the computer itself, thus making it easy for the seller to provide only the codes for the elements of software which the buyer wishes to purchase.


[1] - 'Bundled sales - the opportunistic Mr Chatel' (« Vente liée : Chatel l'opportuniste » - document in French), http://www.april.org/articles/communiques/pr-20080616.html

About April

Pioneer of Free Software in France, April is since 1996 a major player in the field of Free Software. Its aim: making Free Software more accessible for the general public, professionals and institutions, and thus more widespread. It also acts as a watchdog on digital freedoms, warning the public about the dangers of private interests keeping an exclusive stranglehold on information and knowledge.

The association can count on over 2200 members, users and producers of Free Software, amongst which a hundred companies, seventy associations and two local governments.

For more information, you can go to our website at this address:http://www.april.org/, contact us by phone at +33 146 492 515 or by email contactez nous.

Press contacts :

Frédéric Couchet, general delegate, fcouchet@april.org +33 660 688 931

Alix Cazenave, public affairs manager, acazenave@april.org +33 663 517 788

Jeremy Monnet, administrator, jmonnet@april.org +33 624 872 919