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Dell To Offer Windows-Less PCs

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the backdoor-in-the-fine-print dept.

Microsoft 588

An anonymous reader submits: "As a follow-up to the Slashdot story Dell No Longer Selling Systems w/o Microsoft OS, News.com is reporting that Dell will sell systems without Windows. Microsoft's new licensing terms stipulate they can't sell PC's without an OS (hence the removal of the NoOS option), so Dell will be offering FreeDOS as an option for some computers. It will come with the computer, but not installed, so that users may install any other OS that they wish. It's a very creative interpretation of Microsoft's licensing terms, and one I imagine Microsoft didn't have in mind."

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first reply (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069288)

"Me, too!"

The obvious move (4, Insightful)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069295)

Who else could n't see this comming? Having said that I was expecting it to be some kind of Linux distro.

Re:The obvious move (1)

mariube (600067) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069350)

well, although I din't guess the right OS, I did see it coming: here [slashdot.org] so there :P

Re:The obvious move (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069462)

Sorry my, friend my comment [slashdot.org] was posted a good 5 hours before yours ;-)

Re:The obvious move (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069482)

and your UID is 314 lower than his!!!

Re:The obvious move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069475)

With a complex OS like Linux they would run into support problems (i.e. people actually wanting Dell to support Linux). With a nice simple OS like FreeDOS, they won't get many people ringing for OS support as most will simply overwrite it with their own Linux distro of choice.

Paul.

Re:The obvious move (5, Insightful)

joib (70841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069476)

I guess they wanna charge you a few bucks extra for installing linux. As is said in the article, this is mainly aimed at big corporations who install their own stuff anyway, so they don't want to pay extra for a linux installation they probably won't use anyway.
As to why use freedos instead of some 1-floppy linux distro, who knows?
Maybe they don't wanna tarnish Linux reputation (which perhaps would hurt their server biz) as "that toy crappy thing which is included with every pc to circumwent MS contracts and everybody throws away anyway".

Wonder how many Lawyers it took (2, Funny)

Trichrome (599604) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069298)

How many lawyers does it take to find a loophole like that?

Re:Wonder how many Lawyers it took (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069328)

None, it's an obvious solution however Dell giving away a practically useless OS (for most users anyway) is a sly move because I suspect that if it was some kind of Linux distro it would have seriously piss MS off.

Dude.. (1)

prisen (578061) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069301)

I'll definitely be getting a Windows-free Dell!

Re:Dude.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069331)

No way:

N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

What's the point then?

Re:Dude.. not really.. (2)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069451)

unless you're working for a nice large company who deals w/ dell, and will let you in on their contract. besides, you're still paying for it, you're just not getting it.

N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

they're not even avoiding the "tax"! the article also states that these are only available for LARGE corporate accounts, you and i won't be able to order them through dell.com. nice pr move dell, but you've still gotta let us order a pc w/o the M$ OS. I don't want it, and I don't need it!

Windowless PCs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069305)

Weeeeeeeeeee. Bust out the Lindows!

Congratulations to Dell (1, Troll)

Jonsey (593310) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069309)

Hooah for Dell.

I use M$ products, I'm gaining their certifications, but I don't like how they do a lot of their business, and I think Dell's doing something great here by not just bending to each one of the big corporation's wishes.

Kudos Dell!

- Jones

Re:Congratulations to Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069318)

I'm glad some giant corporations aren't willing to take it in the a$$ from Little Bills limp willie.

how they do business?l (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069473)

How much do you not like "how they do business?" Apparently you don't care enough to refrain from propping up their empire by attaining their certifications and giving them your money to promote their stuff with your certified title.

Being pragmatic and making money off of helping people with what they choose to use is one thing, but supporting a business entity that you claim not to like is unprincipled, IMHO.

Free market wins again... (1)

hanenkamp (459447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069314)

I was hoping Dell would be creative enough to do something like this. When I read the first story, I turned to my wife and predicted they would do this. It's probably the first prediction I've ever made that was right. ;)

Re:Free market wins again... (1)

soapvox (573037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069437)

I admit I thought that Dell was going to bend over and just take it, I am glad to see they were inventive and found a way to get around a truly unfair business practice. Good Job Dell!!!

I hope more companies that get bullied (and I mean even if this wasn't slashdot I think most people would agree that this was bullying) by MS will come up with different ways to follow thier stupid restrictions and still give it to MS. Again good goin Dell!

Why not Linux then? (2, Insightful)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069315)

If they're going to offer the software, without it being installed, why FreeDOS and not Linux? Is anyone actually going to use FreeDOS?

Re:Why not Linux then? (1)

msoya (599813) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069332)

FreeDOS sounds more Microsofty, so it would have a bigger range of potential customers. If, of course, Dell hadn't forgotten that most people who don't want a Windows machine know something about OSes anyway. Well done, Dell.

Re:Why not Linux then? (1)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069386)

Sounds more "Microsofty" - maybe - but let us consider how many people will actually be able to use FreeDOS and how many will be able to use Linux. I haven't touched a DOS prompt in a long time, although I'd have no problem getting around. Your average geek will know both DOS and Linux, but I'm guessing the number of people out there that know just DOS, and want just DOS on a new Dell, is pretty slim.

Re:Why not Linux then? (1)

TheShalafi (593087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069387)

"Is anyone actually going to use FreeDOS?" No, and I think that's the whole point. I think that Dell is just trying to MS a big thumb to the nose, without overantagonizing them (thus no Linux), and by offering a copy of FreeDOS, it circumvents the No-OS restriction. I wouldn't be surprised to see Lindows in the future.

Re:Why not Linux then? (5, Insightful)

Dalroth (85450) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069388)

If they're going to offer the software, without it being installed, why FreeDOS and not Linux? Is anyone actually going to use FreeDOS?


No, and that's the point. They don't have to support it. Linux is big, complicated, sometimes quite painfull to use. Dell most likely does not have the expertise in their call center to handle the influx of support calls a linux installation would cause, so I think this is a very smart move.


They could, however, partner with a company like Mandrake or Red Hat in the future. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Problem is, even with the party line "call Red Hat for help", they'll still be getting a large volume of Linux calls that they probably don't want right now. Maybe when the economy gets a little better.

Re:Why not Linux then? (2)

Jondor (55589) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069423)

of course not.. But imagine the discussion when they actualy made a choise for xxx-linux.. Freedos is one of a kind. With linux there are way to many ego's who would start whining about the "wrong" distro being chosen.

Re:Why not Linux then? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069466)

Simple.
No one uses freedos. Okay a few people use freedos. but it is just a way to sell naked computers.
If they sold Linux some people might actually buy the Linux system because the have heard the name Linux.
This way only people that know what they are doing will buy them.

Re:Why not Linux then? (3, Informative)

SuperCal (549671) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069469)

They do offer a dist. I think it is Red Hat. Dell had three options to fill different needs. The first is Windows, which is the most expensive option for people who want all the hard stuff done for them. Second is RedHat which is less costly, but required some work to learn. To make it easier they had linux tech support though RedHat. Finally Dell offered a No OS computer do customers who wants to the least expensive option at the expense of being required to do all the work in both installing and supporting the Free OS of their choice.
It was this final option that MS's new policy removed. Dell now simply uses FreeDOS as a loophole to replace the third option.

Haiku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069316)

It is not windows
It is not not Micro$oft
What the fuck is it?

What we'll be hearing... (1, Funny)

x311 (600406) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069319)

"You can take my life, but you can never.....take.....my......FreeDOS!"

On everyone's mind... (2)

Skweetis (46377) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069322)

Of all the free OS's out there, why FreeDOS of all things? (Not that there is anything wrong with FreeDOS, it just wouldn't be my first choice for a modern workstation OS).

Re:On everyone's mind... (1)

cioxx (456323) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069351)

I believe they are going for "You can format it real quick and install your freaky OS" option

Re:On everyone's mind... (2)

Storm Damage (133732) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069453)

I think the logic is probably something like, if they preinstall a modern Free OS like Linux, they'd have to face a wave of customers (slashdotters, likely) who would (reasonably) expect them to back up such an offering with support as well.

On the other hand, who still has software for DOS? Who'd use it? Hell, does it even run on the hardware (although I hear the FreeDOS team is actually working out a 32-bit DOS with some fairly modern features, so who knows what will come of this).

The point is, no one in their right mind is probably going to call tech support complaining they can't get Evolution to connect to their Exchange Server, or why doesn't this modem work? It's basically a bone to throw at big customers site-licensed for Windows who want to buy bare-pc's and run their custom scripted installs for the standard software suite anyway (You know, I work for a site-licensed corp, and I've ordered Dells, and I didn't even know bare systems were an option until this whole story broke...their web-site isn't very forthcoming about this kind of thing, and probably will continue to not be)

What a heap of crap? (1, Redundant)

popeydotcom (114724) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069326)

Why put freedos on it? Why not Linux?

Re:What a heap of crap? (4, Interesting)

rknop (240417) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069380)

Why not FreeDOS? It doesn't matter. It's just a token.

How much space does FreeDOS take? Perhaps only one CD, or less?

It's pretty clear that Dell does not expect anybody (or much of anybody) to actuall install the included FreeDOS. The FreeDOS is just a maneuver to get around a loophole in Microsoft's licencing agreement. Now they can say, hey, we included an OS, we're abiding by their terms. What they're really doing is selling an OS-less PC, plus an extra CD that adds very little to their costs and might even be useful to a tiny fraction of their customers.

(Heck, I'd rather get a FreeDOS PC than the useless Windows driver disks I get with every piece of hardware I buy. Even when I've installed the drivers on my wife's Windows box so that she can use the printers over the network, I discover they're broken and I have to get updated drivers from the web anyway.)

-Rob

Re:What a heap of crap? (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069407)

How much space does FreeDOS take? Perhaps only one CD, or less?
About 3 floppies last time I used it.
The FreeDOS is just a maneuver to get around a loophole in Microsoft's licencing agreement
Yup. And I'd imagine some highly paid contract lawyer is getting carpetted over leaving such a dumbass loophole in it right now...

Re:What a heap of crap? (3, Insightful)

popeydotcom (114724) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069417)

What they're really doing is selling an OS-less PC, plus an extra CD that adds very little to their costs and might even be useful to a tiny fraction of their customers.

..as opposed to a couple of CDs (Linux) which would be very useful to a lot of users?

Re:What a heap of crap? (2)

rknop (240417) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069480)

..as opposed to a couple of CDs (Linux) which would be very useful to a lot of users?

Would it? I'm not so sure. I suspect that the bulk of their customers will be people who really want OS-less PCs. Even if they're installing Linux, they will install it themselves. Indeed, probably most of the units sold will be going to people building clusters and such, where they have some uniform method of installing the OS everywhere. Anything included with the computer is just useless.

Mind you, it would be nice if Dell started selling desktop Linux systems, with Linux preinstalled and working for the home user. But that's not what this is. Dell has customers who want to be many OSless PCs, and Microsoft was trying to tell Dell that they had to sell Windows to all those customers even though the customers wanted nothing. This is Dell's way of getting around Microsofts terms while still being technically in complaince with the Law of Microsoft.

-Rob

Re:What a heap of crap? (1)

joshki (152061) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069411)

Probably because the licensing terms specify no Linux. Just a guess, but it would make sense, right? Nice way to slip one under the wire.

Go Dell! (5, Insightful)

rknop (240417) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069329)

I'm heartened to see them doing the right thing-- continuing to be willing to sell customers completely legal things that they want to buy even if that is what another very powerful company doesn't want.

On the other hand, it's utterly ridiculous that Dell would even have to perform this end-run around Microsoft's licensing terms in the first place.

Anybody want to place bets on how long it will be before Microsoft changes their licencing terms again to prevent Dell from what they're doing now? (Or perhaps M$ will just tell Dell that they've decided not to licence Windows to them at all; they've used those sorts of threats in the past.)

(Who appointed Microsoft as the regulatory agency for the computer industry anyway?)

-Rob

Re:Go Dell! (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069385)

On the other hand, it's utterly ridiculous that Dell would even have to perform this end-run around Microsoft's licensing terms in the first place

I think a lot of people are just amazed that M$ has the clout to force another company into things like this. Problem is, even with the media doin something, not many people understand much about the situation after just reading a blurb article in their newspaper.

No way. (2)

Latent IT (121513) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069335)

Tell me I'm being cynical, maybe, but have you ever read even a Microsoft EULA? I mean, they don't just say 'Do not make illegal copies of this disc.' They say things like, 'You may not use this software on more than one computer. Even if the other computer is in a Jaccuzzi. Even on Sundays. Especially if there's a full moon.'

Er, what I mean to say is, why would Microsoft stipulate no OS, but *not* stipulate no Linux, and if they did, why did Dell only figure this out now?

Say Wha?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069338)

You mean, a PC an run without a Microsoft product installed?

Why not Linux? (1)

kawika (87069) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069343)

If the MS contract just says they can't ship the system bare, why not install Linux?

Also, does this mean that Microsoft's contract clause will go unchallenged? Who the heck is Microsoft to say whether Dell ships their hardware with or without an OS on it?

Re:Why not Linux? (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069458)

Probably because, technically speaking, Linux is just a kernel and not a full-fledged OS.

I'd imagine that most Linux users will want to pick their favorite distro, too. A few might want to custom compile their own kernel.

FreeDOS gives the user just enough power to connect to a site where they can download the most recent ISO of their choice.

Re:Why not Linux? (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069459)

If the MS contract just says they can't ship the system bare, why not install Linux?
Presumably, the contract prohibits the installation of Linux and/or BSD.

My suggestion to Judge Jackson was that Microsoft be required to publish the terms of all OEM contracts three years after they take effect. Too bad he didn't listen ;-(

sph

Dell should take the moral high ground here. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069347)

Instead of doing what Microsoft does, and interpreting every contract to the letter, Dell should have gone with the SPIRIT of the contract, not the letter. If everyone started to do this, the world would be a much better place.


This interpretation of their license agreement can only lead to more money for the lawyers!

Very clever but how useful? (2, Interesting)

lar3ry (10905) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069348)

Maybe putting (but not installing) Mac OSX would be an even more interesting idea. Even though OSX won't run on PC hardware, it would still be an operating system...!

Re:Very clever but how useful? (2, Insightful)

IncohereD (513627) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069392)

Because Mac OSX licenses would cost them money, and add no value to the customer. FreeDOS is (I'm assuming), free, and only costs them the price of the media to ship it on it (i.e. essentially nothing). That's probably the real reason it doesn't ship with Linux, Linux would take more discs/space. I bet they cram FreeDOS on their driver disc or something.

Re:Very clever but how useful? (1)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069403)

And then the price goes up by $100. FreeDOS is, well, Free, and doesn't cost the consumer a dime.

Two key points from the article (5, Informative)

klieber (124032) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069352)

1. The systems will cost just as much as if you'd ordered them with Windows in the first place.

2. They're aimed primarily at large companies and won't, for the most part, be available to consumers via Dell's web site. (their workstations will, but not the generic line of optiplexes.

Given point 1, I fail to see how this is a Big Deal, other than the obvious snub at Microsoft.

--kurt

Re:Two key points from the article (2)

rknop (240417) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069441)

1. The systems will cost just as much as if you'd ordered them with Windows in the first place.

Given point 1, I fail to see how this is a Big Deal, other than the obvious snub at Microsoft.

It is a pity that you don't get a price break for not having to pay for Windows. On the other hand, I'd be just as happy to know that Microsoft wasn't getting paid a tax out of my money for purchasing a computer.

I may buy a new laptop sometime, on which I'll run some form of Linux. Unfortunatley, it looks like I may have to pay a premium to not buy Windows. All of the best deals on laptops come with Windows preinstalled! You pay more to not have Windows! It's ridiculous. I will have to decide (a) how much money I'm willing to spend to avoid patronizing Microsoft, (b) if there is any real chance of the whole "refund" thing working, or (c) if I should just sell out and bite the bullet and send off the Microsoft tax even though I don't want to buy or use their operating system.

(If anybody can point me to somewhere where you can buy a reaonably priced and reasonably powerful laptop that doesn't have M$ on it (other than Mac-- I'm aware of and considering that option), please let me know.)

I should note that at least a couple of months ago, CompUSA locally was selling OSless PCs. Their advertisement had the added costs for purchasing an OS to go along with it, and Windows did cost more than Red Hat Linux there. Hooray for some actual real costs somehwere. Of course, I suspect the good folks from the computer regulatory government (i.e. Microsoft) will shortly be coming along to stop CompUSA from this dangerous and borderline illegal behavior.

-Rob

Re:Two key points from the article (2, Funny)

unoengborg (209251) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069485)

As the systems costs the same with or without windows,
it's easy to figure out the real value of windows

Score one for the lawyers... (1, Redundant)

mshiltonj (220311) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069356)

.. for weaseling their way around the MS license agreement.

However, I doubt this will be long lived. MS will close that hole soon. They have more lawyers than Dell.

Nice try, though.

Hey, NEC is also doing that! (4, Interesting)

chip_hk (141132) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069362)

I have get a few new NEC PCs that are having FreeDOS installed, too.

That just happened a month ago.

Until Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069363)

modify it's licensing, and force them to agree. Otherwise they won't be able to sell pc's with Winblows...

Like any EULA...

So? (1)

Wiseazz (267052) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069364)

I'm sorry, but I just don't see Dell as a quality "canned" pc anymore. They do have some good packages (w/monitor/printer/etc.), but I don't think I would buy one... with or without an OS.

It is nice to know they didn't completely cave in to M$ pressure, though.

Thank God (5, Insightful)

brennan73 (94035) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069367)

Considering that most vendors won't sell you a PC without a Windows license, I was beginning to wonder just what the hell the point of the Microsoft Select licenses was. I mean, wasn't it supposed to be that by buying them in volume, we'd get a discount? Wasn't this discount kind of, erm, compromised by the second license MS wants you to buy with new hardware?

This should have been a provision of any settlement the govt. accespted in the first place, but at least someone is doing it on their own. If Dell makes this stick, hopefully others will follow.

-brennan

Re:Thank God (1)

CounterZer0 (199086) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069464)

If you have a Select Agreement, as we do, you can purchase your WinXP or whatever FROM Dell on your Select Agreement schedule of prices - so you get a PC with windows preinstalled, and a pretty significant discount on the windows installation of your new PC.

This is what the original letter said (1)

EMIce (30092) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069368)

This is what the original letter quoted in the original \. article said. Re-read it. I'm beginning to think the editors here don't quite care enough anymore to be thorough.

It will be interesting to see Microsoft's reaction (2)

mizhi (186984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069369)

We all know why microsoft has that stipulation in their license... basically to force computer manufactures to put out machines with Windows if they wish to put out machines with Windows at all. So, if they wish to continue trying this, then they will have to be more explicit in what operating system they mean. Probably to the point that they say "Sell only PCs with Windows on them." I don't see this happeneing on Microsoft's part because they're not that stupid.

<random flame>
Such a monopoly. I know that justice is supposed to be blind, but I didn't realize that the DoJ was blind, deaf, and dumb all at the same time.
</random flame>

Re:It will be interesting to see Microsoft's react (1)

kyrre (197103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069442)

Which is when Dell introduce windows [thinkgeek.com] on all their pcs. That would be kinda cool.

Dude, you.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069370)

Dude, you got stuck with a Dell.

I am blessed with a Dell here at work.

It reminds me of an Acer pile of crap I used back in '90.

Oh well.

schizophrenia (0)

Chexsum (583832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069371)

n : any of several psychotic disorders characterized by distortions of reality and disturbances of thought... Dict.org

To ship linux would have been to much of a "pthhr" (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069381)

They probably didnt dare to ship linux as it would have been to thumb their noses at Microsoft a little to obvious. Freedos is a pretty useless OS today on the desktop if your not into DigDug or KingsQuest 2. I would imagine they choose it because it wont compete head to head with windows like linux would have done.

I can't believe they'd spin it this way. (5, Insightful)

Latent IT (121513) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069383)

Here's a line of crap from the article:

The new policy exists to prevent piracy and to better track OS shipments.

My ass. It exists to sell MORE MICROSOFT PRODUCTS. I'm not even normally a MSFT basher, but even someone completely asleep at the switch should see something wrong with that line.

Shouldn't n-Series Computers Cost Less? (1)

xen0phon (591055) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069390)

from the article: "N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said."

How is this possible?

Re:Shouldn't n-Series Computers Cost Less? (5, Interesting)

friedmud (512466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069425)

The reason they dont cost less is you are STILL PAYING for windows - and Dell still pays microsoft for that computer!

I kid you not! This is just Dell trying to get back into our good graces. It is all a PR stunt - "Look we don't like M$ either!!!!" as they hand MS money under the table.

Don't take this as a win for all of us alternative OS people. M$ is still getting their cash in spite of being found a monopoly.

Derek

Quoting the Article... (5, Insightful)

Contact (109819) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069395)

N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

Forgive me for missing something here, but why? What's the incentive here, as opposed to just buying a normal machine and wiping the disc?

Same price for both systems? (5, Interesting)

jlower (174474) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069396)

If they're charging the same price for both with and without Windows, I'll bet they're paying MS a license fee for that Windows-less PC anyway (to keep MS off their backs). This could be nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

In the Msft world (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069399)

The 'customer' definitely is NOT king, at least not on the retail level - they might have usability focus group studies and call the results 'customer choice', then do everything possible to force it on PC users.

They cost the same? (2, Interesting)

Roached (84015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069400)

How can a computer with a free operating system cost the same price as that same computer with Windows? Am I missing something here?

A small step... (1)

NewbieSpaz (172080) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069415)

From the article: " The company will not promote the new models heavily, let alone make them easy to purchase. Optiplex n-Series desktops will be available only to customers who buy the desktops in large numbers through Dell's Custom Factory Installation program. Individuals will be able to purchase n-Series Precision workstations, but not Optiplex PCs, via Dell's Web site."
So the little guy still has to get XP, unfortunately, if he wants a shiny new Dell...

I salute Dell for this one! (2)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069421)

Way to go Dell, doing your best to create choice for your customers despite Microsoft's illegal and immoral practices.

Now if only Apple would learn this and not screw over their customers by attacking [macslash.org]people such as OWC [macsales.com] for providing 3rd party solutions to Apple's own shortcomings.

And no, this isn't an anti-mac troll, for I am I Mac user! I'm just floored that Jobs would repress while Dell goes around nasty M$ restrictions fro their customers. Apple has something to learn here, I hope they learn it!

Hmm... Me, a Mac fan praising Dell. Satan must be skating to work this morning.

Why it is not Linux (4, Insightful)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069424)

People are asking, so I'ill contribute. Dell is an extremely loyal company for various reasons, for example they have never shipped an AMD system and (from what I read) where given priority for Intel chips when availability was tight. As a result of the above Dell dont want to rock the boat completely with MS, they just want to get round this new rule while causing minimal damage to their relationship with MS. Giving away FreeDOS practically guarrenties that you are n't going to get support calls because who's going to be running a DOS system in 2002?

FreeDOS (2, Interesting)

kaden (535652) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069427)

FreeDOS is a great choice because it's basically gets Dell out of having to 'support' any OS other M$ ones. If Dell shipped, say Redhat, they'd get quite a few people who'd decided to try/learn Linux, and understandably these people might have quite a few problems they'd bog down tech support with. However, FreeDOS is a unique option because there are very few people who'd want to use it as a primary OS, and those who do almost by definition know exactly what they're doing.

So in essence, Dell is selling a machine with an OS in name only, so they won't have to waste much or any time supporting the OS, but will still not lose customers who only want an Non-MS machine. It's a great idea, really.

Kudos to Dell! (1)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069428)

Nice job Dell! It's nice to see a vendor that keeps the interests of their customers in mind regardless of what MS tries to cram down their throats. I'll certainly consider Dell machines in the future, regardless of whether I'm looking for a machine with or without a MS OS.

Why FreeDOS and not Linux (2, Insightful)

killraven (135919) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069429)

For all of you asking why freedos and not Linux, here is the simple reason. To choose and install a useable linux would be very expensive for Dell both in terms of testing, support and keeping the OS up to date. Dell doesn't expect anyone to use FreeDOS, hell they probably haven't even tested to see if it will work. FreeDOS is simply the cheapest and easiest way to get around the licensing restrictions. Dell fully expects you to buy the machine throw away the freeDOS CD and install the OS of your choice.

Cost the same as win* preinstalled (1, Redundant)

InodoroPereyra (514794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069431)

From the article at news.com:


N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.


So, are you still paying M$ tax when buying these PCs ?. What motivation would anyone have to buy one of these PCs ?. This must be some sort of joke. Later on they will drop these PCs for "lack of interest", as they did with Linux preinstalled in Laptops and Desktops ...

A useful precedent? (4, Interesting)

altgrr (593057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069433)

The significance of Dell's move is not that they're shipping FreeDOS; it's not that they're not shipping Linux; it's the fact that they are trying to set a precedent - the precedent that allows users to choose which OS they install on their PC.

For the sake of convenience, this is a good thing - I know of a case where the company I work for ordered a large number of PCs, removed Windows 2000, and installed Windows 98 (then the standard across the company).

Businesses only? (1)

LRNG_LNX (152143) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069435)

Did I catch the article correctly? This option would be available for businesses. I don't see mention of this option for personal purchase. I am personally not a Dell user, but what about those of us at home?

You pay microsoft tax anyway (0, Redundant)

Spacelord (27899) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069436)

Only problem with this plan is they plan to charge you just as much whether you buy one with windows or not.

Untrue! No OS Required! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069447)

It was time to upgrade my web server about 6 weeks ago. I found a great deal on Dell's site for a loaded 500sc server for under $500. Added some moemory, upped the processor and ordered the box with no OS from Dell for $699. The same box with RHLinux pre-installed was $100 more. Win2K adds $800.

I'm glad Dell offers RH pre-installed, but I prefer to install myself. So - thats what I did. Was Dell doing something illegal last month when they sold me the box?

How to make an impact (5, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069448)

Sure many of us here probably build our own machines, but if you do plan on buying one of these, do it on the phone. Ask the salesperson if they can ship it with Linux (or your favorite OSOS).

If they say no, then tell them you want to place a customer request that they offer that because that is what you are going to install anyway and then order it.

If they get enough requests for it, then maybe they will warm back up to the OSS desktop market.

Of course, this may have no effect but it doesn't hurt to try.

Why FreeDOS? (1, Redundant)

Kraegar (565221) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069449)

Perhaps because putting linux on would have been putting in a competing OS. FreeDOS is certainly no competitor to Windows. Sounds to me like Dell wanted to keep the option open, but not step into the grounds of overtly opposing Microsoft. Sort of taking the middle ground.

As for the price being about the same, and only being available to corporate customers (or at least more readily available to them) it all begins to sound like Dell isn't so much offering an alternative to Microsoft as offering a way to avoid having duplicate (and useless) Microsoft software licenses lying around.

Bravo Dell? I think not. (1)

really? (199452) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069455)

Fromn the article "N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said."

Dell should make them at least somewhat less expensive than the ones sold with Windows. At least the labor they save on not having to slap the HD in the duplicator and then in the case.

And, as no doubt others will point out, why not load a useful OS on there.

Free Marketing (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069461)

Two articles on slashdot, the last one incredibly positive is more marketing then the "dude you got a dell" guy can do in a year. :)

Why they didn't just use Linux? - easy. (1)

TheRealDamion (209415) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069465)

Supplying FreeDOS with an OS-less machine was just a token gesture to use the loophole in the licence MS has with them. It's small and basic, and to coin a phrase used in the UK "It does exactly what it says on the tin". It's unlikely to be installed by anyone getting one of these PCs, they are going to know a fair amount about OSes anyway or possibly already have a windows version ready to pirate on to the box. Had Dell provided Linux as the token OS offering, they would have no doubt received countless support calls and possibly constant complaints for the most basic of things like getting online or installing new software. Also which distribution? What about a *BSD? They would have had every linux vendor begging to be a partner causing them hastle possibly expecting some money too (unless they shipped with the honest-it-is-easy-to-install debian, but I won't go there). FreeDOS is clearly the best way to go, Linux would have opened a very large can of worms.

Jeez... (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069470)

...and I was hoping Dell would cave-in to MS, but revolt by slipping razor blades into the Windows CD sleeve.

"Ouch! What the-? Razor blades?! I'll never use Windows again!"

You think they didn't consult (2)

prisoner (133137) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069477)

MS first? Please. MS is a giant of a company with lots of $$$ but keeping a reseller like Dell happy has got to be pretty high on their list. And, for all you conspiracy types, it's probably just another piece of MS's grand strategy to beat the anti-trust lawsuit...:)

Dell will profit -- or not? (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069479)

Excerpt:

> The company will not promote the new models
> heavily, let alone make them easy to purchase. ...
> N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that
> ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

So on one hand Dell will get more margin, but they don't want to sell more of them? They could just pay Microsoft for Windows, and not put it in the box :-)

Opportunity for FreeDOS? (1)

goodEvans (112958) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069481)

Since Dell is making a fair bit of extra profit on each machine (the computers will cost the same as one with Windows preinstalled), I wonder would Dell make a small contribution to the FreeDOS project for each PC sold? I mean, even a couple of bucks at the volumes these Dells will probably sell at could mount up fairly quickly...

./ fooled by a marketing scam (4, Insightful)

NexusTw1n (580394) | more than 11 years ago | (#4069483)

From the article
The company will not promote the new models heavily, let alone make them easy to purchase. Optiplex n-Series desktops will be available only to customers who buy the desktops in large numbers through Dell's Custom Factory Installation program. Individuals will be able to purchase n-Series Precision workstations, but not Optiplex PCs, via Dell's Web site. The Custom Factory Installation Program allows customers to specify an operating system or have Dell install a customized bundle of software, such as Windows or Red Hat
If you buy enough boxes from Dell, they'll put any O/S you ask for on it, Linux has been available for quite some time to big customers.

This "new" PC system, is again only available to big buyers, you won't be able to order single Optiplexes sans Windows from their website.

Basically this is an old news rehashed as new news marketing droid PR stunt.

If you want a PC without Windows on it, your best bet is still Walmart.

Shipping Linux on Dell??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4069486)

Linux users are a picky bunch anyways (i know i am), some of them want Debian, others are Slackware users, while others want Mandrake or Redhat, so why bother having all these different distros on CDrom in shop to be included with a shipping computer at a moments notice, when an experienced Linux user will have their own prefered Linux distro to install allready...
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