Fined For Not Using Windows OS

“Slovak textile importer EURA Slovakia, s.r.o. is facing EUR 5600 in fines because it refused to use the Microsoft Windows operating system to submit its electronic tax reports. Since May 2012, EURA is appealing against the fines in court.”
see Filing taxes without non-free software: Slovak company appeals fines

It’s bad enough that governments don’t clobber M$ for illegally monopolizing trade in desktop operating systems but here’s a case of a government fining a company for not using Windows TM. That’s just wrong. Is M$ entitled to tax citizens? No way! Fortunately, this case has prompted the Slovak government to switch to platform-independent software. Some good comes out of dark clouds.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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39 Responses to Fined For Not Using Windows OS

  1. Ted wrote, “by moving to FOSS, they’d be removing anything that made the computer actually useful?”

    In schools where I installed FLOSS, students and teachers were amazed with how much more they could do for less. e.g. getting twice as many seats for the same money, having an abundance of local web applications and databases, and of course higher performance for the usual things. Few missed any particular feature or application of that other OS.

  2. Ted says:

    Perhaps my sarcasm was a little too subtle. For “somewhat exaggerated”, read “pulled out of his arse”.

    “M$’s applications licences, Adobe’s application licences, educations software licences, pet applications laid on by the school division”

    So by moving to FOSS, they’d be removing anything that made the computer actually useful?

  3. Ted wrote, “I think that number is somewhat exaggerated.”

    It may a bit but capital costs amortised over the life of the PC, OS licence, CAL, share of server licence, M$’s applications licences, Adobe’s application licences, educations software licences, pet applications laid on by the school division, and constant struggling with malware and bootability and software updates adds up to ~$1000 or more for many large organizations. Whereas with Debian GNU/Linux on thin clients or donated PCs, the cost for a school can be very low. Many schools could completely eliminate costs for software and system administration using GNU/Linux. e.g. I have often recommended that students be organized to maintain the system. I never had a school admin open enough to support that… despite the fact that educators stand in loco parens and many parents have the kids fix the PCs.

  4. Ted says:

    “The cost: $200 a seat vs. $1,500 a seat for PCs running Microsoft, he says.”

    Does that $1500 include the hardware, or is each seat also running Windows Server and Exchange?

    I think that number is somewhat exaggerated.

  5. bw, the troll, wrote, “Have you found any such thing yet or are you ready to admit that it is a non-existent issue?”

    Trolls do that all the time, introducing non-existent issues in order to deflect the conversations. The real issue is that thousands of educators and millions of students have experienced GNU/Linux and love it. The brutal behaviour of M$’s salesmen is just a tiny part of that story. There are fifty ways to leave Wintel.

  6. bw says:

    No, they didn’t. Many schools in the US northwest went with GNU/Linux. That extended all the way into Canada where LTSP thrived

    Well, all’s well that ends well in my opinion. Microsoft’s sales have increased over 150% in the time since that faux pas occurred and they have a healthy relationship with educational institutions today.

    All this is just a red herring that you are dragging across the trail to throw off the scent though. The discussion was in regard to there never being any instance of a school or other entity sued by Microsoft or even the BSA for misuse of the connection limit of the client OS versions. Have you found any such thing yet or are you ready to admit that it is a non-existent issue?

  7. bw wrote, “There was no follow up to this and the schools went on their merry way with Microsoft’s apology.”

    No, they didn’t. Many schools in the US northwest went with GNU/Linux. That extended all the way into Canada where LTSP thrived.

    “Microsoft has sent 500 audit notices with accompanying sales brochures to 500 school districts in 30 states. Its corporate clients have been feeling similar heat. Some 6% of 1,400 businesses surveyed last month by Information Technology Intelligence and Sunbelt Software said they had been threatened with an audit if they didn’t sign up for a new licensing program; 26% said Microsoft alluded to the possibility of an audit.

    One option schools have: Call Eric Harrison at the Multnomah Educational Service District in Portland, Ore. Since 1997, Harrison has been developing networks based on the free Linux operating system. His latest project links 40 older PCs to a single set of software applications running on a central Linux server computer. The cost: $200 a seat vs. $1,500 a seat for PCs running Microsoft, he says.

    “My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” he says. “Schools are looking at what Microsoft wants them to do, and it increases their cost significantly.”

    see Microsoft pitches schools new licensing option

    Schools are in the business of enriching students with knowledge, not enriching M$. My use of GNU/Linux in northern Canada was vital but it’s also important for schools everywhere to use FLOSS to save costs, reduce problems and get on with education.

  8. bw says:

    All you are doing here is proving my point. There has never been any such lawsuit to harass a user over having more than 20 stations connected to a Windows Home powered computer. You cite a rather lame article that is 11 years old that didn’t even force an audit. It goes on to say

    “The company quickly backed down on its strict deadlines, and executives now say the whole thing was a misunderstanding.”

    There was no follow up to this and the schools went on their merry way with Microsoft’s apology. Just some over zealous sales person who had some responsibility for educational sales in the Pacific Northwest getting out of line. He was quickly reined in and everyone got back to their business at hand.

  9. bw wrote, “No judge to tell it to, since no case has ever been filed where it was an issue. You create a hypothetical situation and then try to stretch the meaning of words to create some sort of issue. Then you say that by creating such and issue, Microsoft is abusive towards its customers. I am sure that you do not see how silly that is, but I do.”

    M$ has threatened entire school-divisions with audits they could not possibly pass without hiring bodies to be in charge of the damned licences. e.g. see Schools Cry Bully Over Microsoft Licensing Fees

  10. bw says:

    “Tell it to the judge”

    No judge to tell it to, since no case has ever been filed where it was an issue. You create a hypothetical situation and then try to stretch the meaning of words to create some sort of issue. Then you say that by creating such and issue, Microsoft is abusive towards its customers. I am sure that you do not see how silly that is, but I do.

    The whole idea is rather archaic as I said. Printers are not put on a network station to be shared, rather the printer itself is on the network and can be addressed by any other station on the network. I imagine the printer has some sort of embedded Linux in it, which should thrill you.

    Similarly, file storage is on the network and any station can access it. The $99, 2TB NAS is being sold by BestBuy from multiple makers, too. No CALs needed, no limits, no problem. That probably uses Linux internally, too.

    You are moaning about a non-existent scenario.

  11. Ted says:

    Where in the EULA does it forbid more than 20 devices on a LAN, as you claim?

    “It specifically states 20 other devices. It doesn’t say simultaneously. “to use” is vague and technically imprecise.”

    It does not have to say “simultaneously”. What is not expressly forbidden is *allowed*.

    Where does the EULA force someone to buy Windows Server, as you claim?

  12. bw wrote, “Using implies active concurrency, else they are not using if they are inactive. CALs for servers would say “concurrent users”, too. It is just accepted fact.”

    Tell it to the judge, not me. If an icon is displayed on the desktop representing a connection to shared whatever, the connection is in use. Can you guarantee that X number of PCs will not make more than 20 connections, simultaneously or not? No. In fact, the idea of simultaneity is silly considering the data is digital and in packets. Connections can remain open or not without much control by the end user but M$ wants them to be bound by it so that salesmen can twist arms to buy more stuff. Disgusting. Products should be sold on merits, not avoiding bag men.

  13. bw says:

    “The guy with the printer shares the printer…”

    The last printer I bought, a couple of years ago, was wireless and each computer in my house just prints to it when needed. I would think that a smart fellow like yourself could find a way to install a wireless printer in their classroom. It was 89 bucks at Best Buy. You can use it as a scanner and copier and fax, too. HP makes a bunch of models like that.

    “It specifically states 20 other devices. It doesn’t say simultaneously.”

    It doesn’t have to. Using implies active concurrency, else they are not using if they are inactive. CALs for servers would say “concurrent users”, too. It is just accepted fact.

    Plus you are creating a straw man. In all of history there have been zero such prosecutions for these boogey men sort of contrived situations. The BSA is not going to fly out to the boondocks to investigate some Indian school’s use of donated computers anyway. They could never get any blood out of such a turnip and are too smart to bother with such things. They go after companies with money who are cheating on their licenses and who are ratted out by some employee who gets a nice payday for the effort. You are just spreading FUD around to ignorant school administrators in order to scare them into putting Linux into areas where no one would do it otherwise.

  14. bw wrote, “Even your bizarre home setup, with all the old computers connected does not reach the 20 you fret about.”

    Many schools, SMBs and other organizations have no problem reaching 20 devices. A computer lab of classroom-size may have 24-30 and when the lesson comes to file-sharing/printing/browsing/creating web-pages, they become criminals, violating the EULA and thus the licence is invalid and they are guilty of copyright violation with harsh penalties. Schools have a duty to act ethically, having the role of parent while children are present. It is unconscionable for them to break the law in the normal course of operation.

    Then there are a dozen other silly rules like only two cores… “You may use the software on up to two processors on the licensed computer at one time. Unless otherwise provided in these license terms, you may not use the software on any other computer.”. Pity the poor school with a room full of Quad-core machines and no lawyer to save them. It’s a licence for “end users” but no one knows what it means. Why didn’t M$ make it clear they wanted to rob people blind for using the hardware they owned to its maximum capability and that M$ is selling licences to cripple-ware?

  15. Maou Sadao, agreeing with me completely that GNU/Linux solves a lot of problems M$ causes, wrote, “It does NOT limit your freedom as you are free to use other (free) 3rd party software for the same purpose. You’d have a point if Microsoft would prevent such software from running on non-server versions of Windows. But they don’t.”

    Why not go whole-hog and just eliminate the cause of the problem completely, M$’s EULA? Install Debian GNU/Linux and be free of it forever.

  16. dougman wrote, “What a total waste of time, just use Linux and don’t sweat the small stuff, go enjoy your day with a cuppa tea.”

    Amen! The last place I worked no one had records of what PCs existed and what software they ran and the certificates. Of course there was no record of acquisition. M$’s OS is a huge liability. I know one school that checked things out and decided the safest procedure was to buy a whole new set of licences… That was shortly before I arrived. They knew about GNU/Linux, too , but did not even give it a try. Many school divisions have so many PCs and so much software they have to hire extra bodies just to keep track of it. The kids chew on the labels too. I had several machines I converted to GNU/Linux because I just could not read the labels. Eventually I converted most of them and my workload for IT plummeted to almost nothing.

  17. Ted wrote, “The limitation is for clients connecting to each other for File and Printer Sharing, IIS, or ICS, and it’s for twenty simultaneous incoming connections to a single machine’s services, not physical connections.”

    Do you know how many schools where I have worked with no server and 40 PCs sharing everything? The guy with the printer shares the printer… End of the day everyone prints their copies… and violates the EULA. The EULA is not specific about connections. It’s PCs using services, vague and ill-defined. A lawyer could well recommend a server licence and CALs just to cover his butt.
    “You may allow up to 20 other devices to access software installed on the
    licensed computer to use only File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services and
    Internet Connection Sharing and Telephony Services.”

    It specifically states 20 other devices. It doesn’t say simultaneously. “to use” is vague and technically imprecise. If one machine is used as the router, the Internet connections alone would blow that. There’s a reason for that. M$ wants to sell server licences and CALs, otherwise there’s no technical reason to limit using devices unless the OS just can’t hack it … GNU/Linux can handle hundreds or thousands depending on the hardware in use. Largo routinely has hundreds connecting to a single machine for application-serving.

  18. oiaohm says:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4945
    Ted as well out box OS X server and clients don’t include a Windows Domain server at all, Build from source is not particularly friendly.

    LInux, BSD and Unix based stuff you may get a graphical interface.

  19. oiaohm says:

    Ted running in workgroup/homegroup mode those 20 connections can be consumed very quickly. Also why should a home user have to run a server just because they have lots of devices?

    Its extra power consumption. In fact running NAS servers in workgroup mode don’t help you with the 20 interfacing machine limit.

    To go past the 20 machine limit you have to run a Domain with Windows machines. This is major overkill. The fact that a person can go out and setup a Linux box is a hack.

    Ted you claim Linux is insecure so why are suggesting it as a work around. It cannot be good enough one min and bad the next.

    Most NAS are based on Samba 3 so can only run a old NT 4 style domain. OS X can only do NT 4 as well.

    Nasty point is that Windows does not display a message tell you that it dropping connections due to the fact 20 has been hit. Windows drops the connections silently.

  20. Ted says:

    You seem to claim that the EULA forbids you from having more than 20 machines on a LAN without a Windows Server. It says no such thing.

    The limitation is for clients connecting to each other for File and Printer Sharing, IIS, or ICS, and it’s for twenty simultaneous incoming connections to a single machine’s services, not physical connections. You could have as many machines on your LAN as your network kit can handle, and there’s a not a thing Microsoft can do about it. You can also run other servers (Mac, Unix, and Linux) or NAS devices, and again, there’s nothing Microsoft can do about it. So how is anyone forced into buying WIndows Server?

  21. dougman says:

    The only legal document the BSA will accept during a software audit, is the following:

    1. Invoice from the seller that sold you the software.

    2. Stating exactly the software details that was sold.

    3. With the exact company name on the invoice.

    http://www.bsadefense.com/resources/article_keep_accurate_invoices.asp

    What a total waste of time, just use Linux and don’t sweat the small stuff, go enjoy your day with a cuppa tea.

  22. Maou Sadao says:

    Why are you parading around the EULA, Mr. Pogson? This limitation obviously only applies if you peruse Microsoft’s own services for file sharing, printer sharing etc. It does NOT limit your freedom as you are free to use other (free) 3rd party software for the same purpose. You’d have a point if Microsoft would prevent such software from running on non-server versions of Windows. But they don’t.

  23. bw says:

    “There’s nothing in copyright law entitling M$ to insist on a consumer taking on a server licence that is not needed to get the job done”

    There’s nothing in copyright law preventing Microsoft from insisting getting a server license for extended use either. Who cares anyway? Even your bizarre home setup, with all the old computers connected does not reach the 20 you fret about. I doubt that your wife would allow all that junk in the house running simultaneously. Do you even know 20 people who might want to do that at the same time?

    All that copyright law says is that an author has the right to control the use of their work and what limits are set in what circumstances is up to the contract that conveys the license rights to a licensee. Nothing at all abusive in that. Windows Home covers a specific range of expected use and if your usage requirement go beyond that, the Home product is not for you. You can install Linux or buy a Windows Server license that matches your needs.

  24. Ted wrote, “The EULA forbids more than 20 Windows clients on a LAN without a Windows Server? Really?

    Can you give me chapter and verse on that particular part of the EULA?”


    MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS
    WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM

    3. ADDITIONAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND/OR USE RIGHTS

    e. Device Connections. You may allow up to 20 other devices to access software installed on the licensed computer to use only File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services and Internet Connection Sharing and Telephony Services.”

  25. Ted says:

    “Are you expecting to be able to run 21 or more computers on your LAN without worrying about violating the EULA for a desktop OS?”

    The EULA forbids more than 20 Windows clients on a LAN without a Windows Server? Really?

    Can you give me chapter and verse on that particular part of the EULA?

  26. bw wrote, “Certainly it is and servers are more valuable to some people…
    There is nothing abusive about that.”

    There’s nothing in copyright law entitling M$ to insist on a consumer taking on a server licence that is not needed to get the job done. That’s an unfair trade practice called “tied selling”.

  27. bw says:

    “That’s in there to sell server licences.”

    Certainly it is and servers are more valuable to some people and those people are willing to pay more for the beneficial use of the server software. Just like being able to show a motion picture and charge admission is more valuable to a theater owner who has to pay a lot more to rent the same data file as comes with a DVD from Wal-Mart. There is nothing abusive about that.

    It is a value proposition controlled by the copyright laws. If you want to show a movie for profit, you have to pay more. If you want to run a commercial server, you have to pay more. If you want to modify some FLOSS you have to give your changes to everyone for free. If you want to hear Barry Manilow sing in person, you have to pay for a ticket to the concert. If you want to be up close you have to pay more than those people in the back rows. Nothing abusive about that.

    People are paying for the convenience and whatever other benefits they sense in their purchases. Certainly it is possible to get a free copy of Linux and install it yourself and configure it yourself and use it effectively if you know how to do that and whatever the server is doing is supported by the software available. However, that does require knowledge and understanding at some level.

    Maybe you can find some kind hearted person to do that work for free, too, or maybe you have to hire some Dilbert like Dougman to do it for you. Just maybe the automatic install and configuration tools and help that comes with Windows Server editions allow you to do it yourself with less knowledge of the inner workings. All of those things have value to people and that value varies with the individual. There is nothing abusive about that.

  28. bw wrote, “There is nothing abusive that I can see, but then I am not expecting something for nothing.”

    Are you expecting to be able to run 21 or more computers on your LAN without worrying about violating the EULA for a desktop OS? That’s in there to sell server licences. Why should server licences be rolled out as a quota of clients? That’s extending copyright. Book sellers don’t require you to buy “War and Pieces” when you buy “Bible According to Me” because there are more than two in your family.

  29. bw says:

    ” What, in that document, suggests M$ is a benevolent provider of software?”

    What in that document suggests that they are not? There are a number of EULAs, with some different terms and conditions that depend on the usage limits contractually imposed by the license terms. There is nothing abusive that I can see, but then I am not expecting something for nothing.

    You seem to know a lot about lawn mowers, but you are not so versed in intellectual property, copyrights, and patents. A computer program is not a lawn mower and analogies between the two are not pertinent.

    Copyrights are comparable, though, and consider what your rights might be to a DVD copy of a motion picture or a CD of a music album. You are allowed to use them for personal use, limited by the fine print that comes with them. You cannot put on a show for an audience, at a charge or even gratis. You cannot use an MP3 track with additional mixes and create a work that you own, you cannot rent it out to others, and so on. Just like copyrighted software in general.

  30. bw wrote, “If you cannot sell anyone on using Linux and similar products without telling these lies and attempting to scare innocent people into fearing for their personal safety, you should go back to whatever it might be that you can do legitimately.” as if he had never read M$’s EULA. What, in that document, suggests M$ is a benevolent provider of software? Why does M$ insist on restricting freedom beyond copyright control if it is just an ordinary business and not an evil tyrant? An ordinary business provides customers what the customer wants not what a supplier wants. e.g. Home Depot offered us many choices of brand/style/capability in mower. They did nothing to exclude us from using our new purchase to greatest advantage. M$ is evil.

  31. Maou Sadao says:

    One wonders if dougman properly licenses the Hitman Pro he sells his customers, or if he pockets the money himself.

  32. bw says:

    if that was not the case then the BSA would not exist to rake small and medium sized companies over the coals

    Dumb schmuck like yourself, Doug, tell these tales to one another, but you yourself have never experienced anything even remotely like what was being portrayed in the video here. You should be ashamed of yourself for participating in these kinds of FUD campaigns. If you cannot sell anyone on using Linux and similar products without telling these lies and attempting to scare innocent people into fearing for their personal safety, you should go back to whatever it might be that you can do legitimately.

  33. Maou Sadao says:

    The BSA exists because many companies have a very lenient stance towards license management. Also: the BSA only acts if they get hints. And these hints in 99% of all cases come from disgruntled (ex-)employees.

  34. dougman says:

    Yes using M$ Windows gets you subject to fines, if that was not the case then the BSA would not exist to rake small and medium sized companies over the coals.

    http://youtu.be/lxm1FUEQXAk

  35. oiaohm says:

    Maou Sadao the claim of zero todo with Microsoft is not 100 percent true. BIll Gates was documented recommending Governments going with supporting Windows only as this would be cheaper and more effective.

    Push back is required. Visual Studio also make it insanely hard to develop cross platform. Yes there are questions for Microsoft to answer. Maou Sadao

  36. Maou Sadao says:

    @d.

    Huh? Look, I’ve told Mr. Pogson that his site looks too much like Windows 8 and I told him that his CSS is screwed up (for which I have delivered proof). Very constructive stuff.

    As for my musings which you call “trolling”: many of Mr. Pogson’s articles simply don’t have enough substance to take them seriously. THIS very article is spun by Mr. Pogson to suggest something sinister: that you can be fined for NOT using Windows. That is complete BS. The company in question was fined for not filing taxes electronically. The software for filing taxes only being available for Windows is a limitation imposed by the Slovakian state. It has to do zero with Microsoft. And this company can use Linux to its heart’s content. Just not for filing taxes. But that is, as I wrote, not Microsoft’s fault, even though Mr. Pogson wants to suggest this.

  37. dougman says:

    Maou Sadao sounds like a very happy and successful person, he has so much free time from being an awesome person, he enjoys composing colorful responses on Roberts blog espousing the virtues of Linux.

  38. d. says:

    Rob, just a suggestion, but I think it’s time to get rid of this troll… he/she is not contributing anything and is getting annoying

  39. Maou Sadao says:

    Fines for using inferior free software are perfectly fine. It’s too taxing for any economy.

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