Let's say I purchase an Operating System (let's call it, Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition) from an online retailer. It turns out this is an OEM license, so perhaps not entirely as legitimate as it should be.

I purchased this OS on the basis that the software I wanted to use (from the same vendor) suggested that it would meet the requirements (Microsoft Visual Studio)

It then transpires, due to incorrectly published requirements - that the features I particularly wanted to make use of, are not in fact supported on that platform.

Through no fault of my own, or of the retailers - I have purchased an operating system that does not meet the actual requirements of the software I intend to run. I should have purchased the 'Professional Edition'.

Now, the retailer refuses to refund or replace the product. And the software vendor refuses to admit liability, telling me it's up to the retailer.

As a consumer, what rights do I have? Does the operating system fall under the 'Not fit for purpose' clause of the consumer act, despite it actually functioning as designed?

Do I have a case against Microsoft, and is it ultimately their responsibility to make me whole - or to at least provide a solution?

Or do I go back to the retailer and make noise, despite this being outside of their control?

Advice much appreciated

  • Who said it would meet the requirements? Did the vendor say that, or did Microsoft?
    – cpast
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:50
  • Microsoft made the OS, and the software I intend to run - and advertised them as being ok to run.
    – Tim Kane
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:51
  • Just to clarify: 1) you purchased an OS from a retailer that you purchased software from, on the basis that the OS would be able to run the software as a result of the information provided to you by the retailer? 2) To what extent is the software usable, and 3) would you have made these purchases if you had known the unavailable features would in fact be unavailable? 4) Did the description of the goods make clear that certain features had additional system requirements?
    – jimsug
    Aug 11, 2015 at 2:29
  • 1. I purchased the OS from an online retailer. The software I intend to run is free, and provided by Microsoft. Microsoft published the requirements that are invalid. 2. I purchased the software to build Android application software. A fundamental part of this is to run the Android Emulator as part of the Visual Studio product. This feature is not available on Windows Home, but this is not mentioned anywere. 3. No. I would have instead purchased Windows 10 Professional Edition. I am willing to pay the difference, and have told the retail this. They refused. 4. No. It did not.
    – Tim Kane
    Aug 11, 2015 at 5:11
  • Can you go into the system control panel to see if there's a link to upgrade to professional? you could do that in 8.
    – Andy
    Aug 31, 2015 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


As there is no defect with the operating system and it is suitable for the purposes for which it is advertised, and you did not contact the retailer to ask if it was suitable for any other purposes, it seems that the Sale of Goods Act and other consumer protections would not apply to that purchase.

However, due to an error on Microsoft's part (misdescribing the requirements for Visual Studio) it seems like you have a case against them for incidental losses. There is likely something in the EULA that attempts to absolve them from all that, but it's irrelevant if the requirements were published elsewhere (e.g. their web site).

Thus you may be able to take Microsoft to Small Claims Court to recover the cost of the Windows licence, assuming it has no other value to you. If you have not used the key then you may be able to resell it to recover some of the cost, in which case you could claim the difference between the resale value and the purchase price, plus court fees.

  • 1
    Funnily enough, Microsoft did suggest that I could onsell the product.. I reminded them that it was an OEM purchase and that would be in breach of their terms. I had used the key at that point, as I acted in good faith that the software I was trying to use would work based on the published requirements. After a significant amount of unrelenting effort, Microsoft did make good on an upgrade to Professional Edition (at no additional cost other than by time to call them out on it). They have since updated the requirements to correctly reflect the reality. Thx for the detailed response.
    – Tim Kane
    Aug 23, 2017 at 18:58

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