Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Microsoft Launches Authorized Refurbisher Program - Green Reuse of Computers

Microsoft’s new “Authorized Refurbisher Program” (MAR), launched Friday, represents either the company’s determination to help boost reseller businesses while benefiting users and the environment, or the company’s determination to crack down on unauthorized use of its Windows operating system.

In its Friday announcement, Microsoft said MAR was created to help simplify volume licensing for refurbishers, enabling them to grow their businesses by selling used computers that are reformatted and then have the Windows OS re-installed.

In a Q and A on Microsoft’s Web site, Hani Shakeel, senior product manager at the company’s Genuine Windows Product Marketing division, said 2004 research conducted in partnership withGartner showed that 150 million PCs entered secondary market that year, of which about 20 million were refurbished and resold.

“Today we project that this number is closer to 28 million PCs, making refurbished PCs over 10 percent of the worldwide PC market,” Shakeel said in the Q and A.

Shakeel went on to say that Microsoft decided to create MAR after getting requests from refurbishers for genuine software solutions to meet needs of the secondary market—a way to buy licenses in bulk for use with large volumes of computers these companies collect and prepare for resale.

It isn’t always possible, Shakeel explained, for refurbishers to restore used PCs to their original state in terms of software installed, since they don’t always have access to each computer’s recovery disc. Refurbishers can order replacement media from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), but this a tedious process that doesn’t lend itself well to bulk refurbishing operations.

Now, with MAR, refurbishers can purchase new Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional licenses for PCs that have a certificate of authenticity. Licenses are available in English, French and Spanish.

By helping refurbishers prepare computers for resale without violating intellectual property rights, Microsoft said it is also helping to keep used computers out of landfills by encouraging reuse and recycling of technology.

“One of the big concerns in the secondary market is with the proper disposal or recycling of PCs, rather than having them end up in landfills,” Shakeel said in the Q and A on Microsoft’s Web site.

Shakeel continued: “The refurbishers with whom we are launching the MAR program have put in place strict environmental processes to address these concerns. This is a key differentiator for them compared to their competition. The MAR program enables partners to take this further, and differentiate themselves based on how they treat intellectual property and software licensing.”

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