Microsoft Issues Ebook Refunds

As it promised last week, Microsoft has begun issuing refunds to customers who purchased ebooks from its online store.

Based on my personal experience and a few emails from readers, it appears that Microsoft is issuing these refunds over time and not all at once. But if you did purchase ebooks from the company, you can expect to get one email for each ebook, including free books that come with a $0 refund.

“Hi there,” one email from Microsoft jauntily begins. “We have refunded the order you placed on Friday, January 20, 2017. You should see $10.99 credited to your account soon.”

That particular purchase—for Neal Stephenson’s In the Beginning…Was the Command Line—was made so that I could document the process of buying ebooks from the Microsoft Store and using them in the classic Microsoft Edge web browser. But I had always strongly recommended that readers not buy ebooks from Microsoft. This didn’t seem like a content type that the software giant would stick with.

History, of course, has shown that to be true. But at least Microsoft is handling a bad situation with grace. In addition to full refunds—to the original payment method or, should that fail, a credit to your Microsoft account—the firm is also giving $25 Microsoft credits that those hardy few who actually annotated ebooks with their own notes.

With Microsoft now bowing out of the music and ebooks markets, we can cast our eyes, suspiciously, at Microsoft’s Movies & TV service and wonder when it will back away from that market too. After all, both Groove and Edge-based ebooks were at least cross-platform, as they worked on both Android and iOS. But Moves & TV is stuck in Microsoft’s more limited ecosystem. That makes the possibility of a full retreat even more likely.

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