Dell no longer ships WinXP CD’s with laptops?

I just pulled out a brand spanking new Dell Inspiron 600m laptop out of the box and to my surprise, I did not find a WinXP CD inside. Instead I found a piece of paper directing me to go to website for details. See the pic to the left. Sorry for such a crappy quality but I did not have a scanner handy :(

Anyway, you get the idea: no cd, and a paper with CD painted on it in the box.

Now, apparently in their infinite knowledge dell has decided that hardware failure is a rare occurrence, and that they can simply rely on some bootable proprietary recovery engine from Symantec to get the machine into working state after windows dies. I always said that having a diagnostic/recovery partition is an excellent idea. But to rely on it as the main OS recovery is asking for trouble. Especially considering how easily dell phone support technicians will agree to replace your hd.

I think I can safely say that for every problem that was not outlined in the phone support case scenarios booklets, and could not be solved in a half an hour troubleshooting session I got either a new mobo or a new hd.

Fortunately dell now bundles an app which will build and burn a complete Dell OEM WinXP cd for you. This was the very first thing I did when I booted that machine – ripped the OS to cd. And I highly recommend that everyone else does the same.

Now imagine this scenario: clueless user #1 buys a laptop, uses it for few weeks and suffers from a catastrophic hd failure. He calls Dell and they send him a new one. Now the user was a dummy so he did not rip that recovery CD so now he has no OS whatsoever. I wonder what will Dell do about this? Will they ship HD’s with preinstalled windows? Will they send Windows CD with the hd? Or maybe they will send a technician equipped with an OEM CD and a set of drivers?

I highly doubt that they would do any of that. These guys would not even send me a their Drivers on a CD. I don’t think they will send an OS. I personally have piles of Dell branded WinXP cd’s lying here at work – so I should be fine. But not everyone works in tech support and has this kind of resources at hand…

Another thing just popped into my mind… Could this change be orchestrated by MS? It almost seems like something they would love to see. This is a great way to tie the OS to the hardware it was shipped with. No CD, means no temptation to install it on your desktop or give it to a friend… Also, lack of OS CD helps to reinforce the notion of OS as something arcane, and mysterious that only tech wizards can possibly know how to install and configure. *shudder*

I hate this…

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11 Responses to Dell no longer ships WinXP CD’s with laptops?

  1. Anonymous UNITED STATES says:

    They will send you a CD if you contact them. It might take a few replies (to get past their automated ‘support’ system), but they’ll eventually send it. I got shipped a Dimension desktop configured without a CD-RW, so I sent an e-mail explaining that it wouldn’t be possible to burn a backup copy. I received the CD the next day. No problem.

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  2. Luke UNITED STATES says:

    Yeah, I think you are right… I had an issue with one of the laptops, and after they told me to reimage it 2 times from the backup partition, and it wouldnt help, they decided to send me the CD’s.

    Still, this is an unnecessary delay. As I told the tech on the phone – this is simply not practical. It will double the time they keep the problem case open, and they will end up paying more for postage.

    On the other hand though, maybe this is a good thing. If you loose or damage your burned CD they might now be more willing to send you a replacement.

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  3. Matt UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    “Fortunately dell now bundles an app which will build and burn a complete Dell OEM WinXP cd for you”

    Which application and where do I find it? I’m not completely ignorant of computer stuff but the more basic you can make the explanation the better ;)

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  4. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I think it is located under Start->All Programs->Dell Utilities or something like that. I don’t remember exactly at the moment.

    It is a one-use only application though. If you can’t find it, call Dell tech support and they will send you a OEM windows CD.

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  5. Matt UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Thanks, found it
    (Start > All Programs > Dell Accessories > Dell OS Recovery CD)

    Im really bad at making backups at everything, sooner or later Im going to get infected with the latest day-spoiling piece of virus crap and itll all come tumbling down :(

    I dont really have anywhere to put a backup though.. I dont have other hard drives or tape drives or anything, maybe I’ll find a free file-storage site or something

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  6. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Buy a secondary hard drive. A decent sized internal piece will cost you under $100. Keep your data on one HD, and the OS/Apps on the other. If shit hits the fan, roll back the OS without touching data.

    If you do have a large HD you can achieve the same thing with partitioning.

    For redundancy I would recomend external USB/Firewire drives. You should have two. Do a weekly backup of your data, and rotate the drives each weak. It would be really a freak accident if 3 of your drives would die on the same day. In worst case (primary data drive dies, and your recent backup goes to shit) you end up with a two week old backup.

    The downside of CD/DVD is that it is really hard to do unattended backups with them.

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  7. Matt UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    yeah, I know I should but Im just really lazy hehe…

    Only problem with getting a second internal is that Im using a laptop, not a lot of options there, an external one would solve the problems

    or maybe putting one in the (ancient) desktop and sharing it over a network to keep the majority of my files on

    Im sort of meaning to get a new desktop as well, maybe build it from scratch (always wanted to do that) so I could get a big-ass hard drive then partition it or put the OS on the old one from the current desktop (only 12 gb but more than enough for windows)

    wow.. lots of brackets in that reply, I guess Im not thinking in straight lines right now :P

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  8. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Yeah, put big HD in the old desktop, and create a share. Mount the share as a network drive on the laptop and then use it as destination drive for ntbackup or whatever you are using.

    Heh, this actually gives me an idea. I could build a backup server for my household. :)

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  9. mike UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    i do not have any sound from my dell dimension e510.i have windows xp home media computer savvy is limited somewhat.any help on this problem would be appreciated.

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  10. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Mike, there might be many reasons for this. I would do the usual troubleshooting:

    – make sure speakers are on and plugged in (yes, unplug them and plug them back in)
    – make sure you didn’t mute it
    – make sure no 3rd party software muted it (some software may
    – make sure that the sound card appears in the device manager
    – uninstall the sound card via device manager and then scan for hardware changes and let the system re-discover and install it
    – download and install the latest sound card drivers from Dell’s website
    – if your sound card is not built into the mobo make sure your card is seated properly
    – if necessary remove it, and re-set it
    – boot the system into the diagnostic partition and run extended tests on the sound system

    If none of that works it might mean your sound card is fried.

    I would highly recommend calling the Dell tech support with this issue. They most likely will walk you through the above steps and perhaps some other ones.

    Btw, if the machine is still on warranty don’t open it and start messing around inside – that’s an easy way to void your warranty. Call them first.

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  11. Anthony UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Step by Step Reinstallation of Windows on a Dell PC

    Step 1: Look at the Windows Product Key sticker on your Dell PC. Write down the version of Windows.

    Step 2: Take your Dell Windows Reinstallation CD/DVD and insert it into the cd/dvdrom drive.

    Step 3: Press F12 during bootup. Choose boot from CD/DVDRom

    Step 4: Follow onscreen instructions and reload windows

    If you dont have a Reinstallation CD/DVD, you can go to: or for a replacement.

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