I asked a company if they could sell me a PC without an installed Operating System, as I plan to install my own. Their response was that "We have to legally include a OS with all of our systems. So we include Windows 10." It surprised me that this would be a legal issue rather than a company policy.

The company is based in Utah. Is this an actual legal requirement by law? Why? Could it be to protect consumers? Would it protect the company from liability? Is it likely part of a contract they are in? Or is this a misunderstanding by customer service?

I didn't find anything with a cursory web search. (I am a new poster, so any critiques of my question are welcome.)

2 Answers 2



AFAIK there is no such legal requirement.

Why this company told you there was I can’t speculate. But I will.

There may be under contract with MicroSoft to put their OS on every box they sell - that would be a legal requirement. Or the just don’t sell boxes without this and they employee told you it was a legal obligation to get out of the conversation.

  • 4
    Some more background (possibly rather out of date): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundling_of_Microsoft_Windows Commented May 14, 2020 at 22:31
  • 2
    It's not clear whether this is the retailer or manufacturer, on the retail side they probably contractually have to sell the boxed computer as they receive it, and the manufacturer probably has licensing deals with Microsoft that include exclusivity, at least for specific models. Commented May 15, 2020 at 17:59
  • ...Didn't the courts rule at some point that it's illegal to require an OEM to put your company's OS on it?
    – Vikki
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 1:41
  • It would be contractually required to get a discounted price on the OS. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 16:35
  • 1
    @gnasher729 If that was true, that would require every desktop computer to come bundled with a monitor.
    – user71659
    Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 22:10

I am not aware of any legal requirement to include software with hardware. If they insist on providing an operating system, tell them to include Linux, as this costs $0 so you do not need to pay for the Windows license.

As Dale M says, if they have a contract with a provider to force certain software onto their customers, that does mean that they specifically have a contractual obligation to give you that bloatware. Then again, you have no legal obligation to purchase from them.

  • 1
    "tell them to include Ubuntu Linux, as this costs $0" No, Ubuntu charges OEMs a fee: "There are no royalties, only a per unit service fee covering the engineering certification, maintenance, quality assurance, third-party licensing fees and Canonical consulting costs." Additionally, the hardware has to be certified for Ubuntu. The free option is usually FreeDOS.
    – user71659
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 3:28
  • OK fair enough, bad specific example, however, my main point still stands - there are $0 alternatives to Windows that remove the need to pay for a Windows licence. Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 21:28

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