Now this is highly unusual. Microsoft has just reported it's taking legal action against Comet, one of the two big high street tech retailers in the UK, for "creating and selling more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs." Those were then allegedly sold to customers buying laptops and PCs with Windows on board. The complaint identifies a factory in Hampshire where Comet is said to have produced the unauthorized recovery discs before selling them on to its customers.
Update: Comet has responded to Microsoft's suit with the following statement:
"We note that proceedings have been issued by Microsoft Corporation against Comet relating to the creation of recovery discs by Comet on behalf of its customers.
"Comet has sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.
"Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers. It believes its customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer. Accordingly Comet is satisfied that it has a good defence to the claim and will defend its position vigorously."
The two companies are, therefore, both claiming to be acting in the proper interest of their customers. Microsoft is surely unhappy that Comet has produced the recovery discs without paying licensing fees, whereas Comet believes it's doing the right thing by supplying PC buyers with their OS on disc. Comet's response does also make it sound like the company was throwing in the Windows copy as a courtesy to its customers, as opposed to trying to sell it as a retail piece of software. In that case, Comet's correct to say that it wasn't really selling the Windows recovery discs so much as it was bundling them in, but then Microsoft is also correct in saying that Comet was selling a package that included an unauthorized copy of Windows.
The full details are still not known, and Comet's response to our followup for more information wasn't conclusive, either:
"The discs were sold alongside new PCs. Each set of recovery discs were specific to the customer’s new laptop and were sent after purchase directly to each customer."