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 support.dell.com/pcrt 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…