A French consumer group has filed three lawsuits against Hewlett-Packard and two electronics retailers for selling computer pre-loaded with Windows.

The Union Fédérale des Consommateurs-Que Choisir (UFC) said consumers frequently lack the option of buying "bare" computers without software, and it wants consumers to be able to choose the software for their machine and get reimbursed for purchasing an OS they did not want.

UFC contends that the packaging of both hardware and software together violates a French law that prohibits linking the functionality of a product to another product.

HP disputes the claim however. The company is not in violation of the law because the OS is an integral part of the PC, said Alain Spitzmuller, legal affairs director for HP France. "The PC without an OS is not a product because it doesn't work," Spitzmuller said. "We believe the market is for products that work."

French courts have rejected two civil suits filed by individuals against HP that were founded on the same claim as UFC, Spitzmuller said.

Included in the complaints are retailers Auchan and Darty. Spitzmuller said the judicial process will take months.