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It is a universally acknowledged truth that Linux users are not Microsoft fans. At no time was this more apparent than on Feb. 15, 1999, when approximately 100 Linux users stormed Microsoft’s Silicon Valley offices in Foster City, California to demand a refund for the Windows software that had been packaged with their PCs.

In truth, “stormed” might be an overstatement for Windows Refund Day, though the event is still fondly remembered in the Linux community. Linux users were inspired by Geoff Bennett, an Australian who persuaded Toshiba to give him a refund for unused and unwanted Windows software. Like Bennett, the refund-seekers first approached their original equipment manufacturers, but the OEMs pointed them to Microsoft (which pointed them back to the OEMs).

Protesters take action

The protesters  decided to protest on Feb. 15, they gathered at a local Denny’s to begin their march to Microsoft. Wearing custom T-shirts featuring Tux, the Linux penguin, and carrying poster board signs, they arrived at Microsoft to find a mostly abandoned office. The office may have been abandoned because the tech giant knew the protesters were arriving and had locked down as a security measure, or perhaps because it was President’s Day.

Either way, Microsoft was ready and waiting for the Linux gang. Protestors were directed to the top of a parking garage, where Microsoft served free lemonade and soft drinks. News crews were present, too.

Microsoft representative Rob Bennett addressed the protestors, pointing out that while Microsoft couldn’t stop OEMs from giving anyone refunds, most of them wouldn’t qualify for refunds anyway. Bennett told IT Pro Today: “It’s funny. These customers have bought Windows PCs and it’s almost like being surprised that the cherry pie you bought has cherries in it.”

Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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