Top five PC manufacturers fail naked PC test

Summary:A ZDNet special investigation into buying PCs without an operating system from the top five PC vendors uncovered a litany of conflicting advice and confused instructions

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Dell Latitude
Dell told ZDNet UK: "The Dell n Series solution for notebook and desktop PCs is designed for those customers who do not want to be burdened with the cost of an installed OS, and would prefer either to load Linux or their own licensed software. Dell's Latitude notebooks, OptiPlex desktops and Precision workstations offer the n Series solution on all of their systems in EMEA. n Series has been available in the UK for UK customers for over four years."

The company said customers should call its sales call centre to order a naked PC, and that it was impossible to do it online.

Dell told us that if a customer purchased a PC with Windows and subsequently did not use the software, no refund would be made. "It is not Dell policy to issue refunds," a Dell spokeswoman told us.

Our reporter found a completely contradictory response from Dell's customer call centre. The conversation was as follows:
ZDNet: I'm looking at buying a notebook. I just wondered whether you can supply a notebook without Windows. Can you do a Latitude or something like that without Windows?

Dell: What type of laptop is that?

A Latitude looks good.

Just a moment, sir. Which model of Latitude is that?

I just wondered whether I can get a Latitude without Windows on it?

Yeah, I mean which model is that in the Latitude?

I don't know. I was hoping you would be able to tell me.

Neither of the laptops on Dell doesn't come with any Linux on it.

OK, but I can install Linux myself. Would you just be able to ship it without Windows?

We'll send XP Pro in that. You just need to uninstall that.

I don't want Windows at all. Can you send it without Windows?

Without Windows. Just a moment sir... I've spoken to my manager regarding this. I'm sorry, sir, every computer from Dell does have an operating system in there.

So there's no way of getting it...?

You can uninstall it, sir. If you want, I can give you a discount of operating system price on the computer and give it to you.

On the grounds I don't use XP?

All you need to do is after it's been rescheduled, just format the computer and everything has been lost sir, that's it. If you do that, I won't charge you anything for operating system.

OK. That's cool. What have you got then?

[We discuss the precise specifications.]

The operating system is XP Pro. I'll give you a £50 discount.

OK, so I don't have to pay that £50 in the first place. You'll just knock that off, will you?

£50 is not required. One more thing, sir. Microsoft Office. Did you get any information about the latest ones, Microsoft Office.  

No, I'm going to run OpenOffice, so I don't need Microsoft Office.

So the price of this computer — which is a Latutide D520, we call it — £499, which is excluding VAT, sir.

£499 ex VAT. Do I have to pay for delivery on top of that?

I'll give you a free delivery charge. Delivery is £50 pounds extra and I'm getting rid of that for that [lack of] XP Pro option. I'm adding XP Pro but I'm giving you the free shipping offer on that XP Pro, which is £50 exactly. The total price comes to £587.

I'm just wary that I'm not infringing anything from Microsoft in getting the XP. So if I uninstall it, it's fine is it?

That's it, sir. You don't need to do anything until you get the computer. You just need to uninstall the computer specifications. You have an option in the control panel that you can format the computer and then you can download Linux if you want.

Topics: Hardware

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