From the sound of his most recent blog, Chad Dickerson ended up in a wrestling match with a new Dell system and lost. That's bad news because Chad, who used to be the CIO at InfoWorld (now, he's at Yahoo), is one of the most technical people I know. Apparently, his neighbor bought a new Dell that came with a serious case of marketingware syndrome and asked Chad if he could rid the box of all that illed it. Wrote Chad:
I’ve been helping my friends across the street from me set up their new Dell PC and though it booted up out-of-the-box, it has been ridiculously tedious and frustrating to clean all the trialware and marketing crud off the thing. (Of course, this isn’t news to anyone who has bought a PC recently, but I haven’t bought a new PC in years since I’ve either been using a Mac or a work PC). After tangling with the PC for a few hours, it felt less like a useful tool and more like a child screaming for unneeded candy in the grocery store, except this time the PC was screaming for various online services, anti-virus software suites, printer supplies (hey, the printer is NEW, why do I need toner?!), and online banking services. Click here to sign-up for AOL! Click here to sign up for Earthlink! When I setup their printer, I got the same marketing message in three different contexts at the same time: an icon was placed on the desktop that said “click here for Dell printer supplies,” the small LCD screen on the printer itself displayed the URL for Dell printer supplies (which I won’t dignify with a link here, nofollow or otherwise), and the first test page printed had the same URL for printer supplies. At that point, I expected a Dell representative to kick their front door down and scream the URL in my ear for good measure.
Chad knows what any self-respecting techie knows -- the best way to fix the problem is to re-load Windows and pray that the OEM system disc doesn't come pre-programmed to install all the unnecessary accoutrements as well. Only there's one problem. The new Dell came without an original system disk. This is apparently the new MO of system makers. For example, an Acer Ferrari that I recently purchased for Vista testing didn't come with a system disk either. Instead, it has a backup recovery disk which restores the system to the exact same state the system was in when I unboxed it. It's not an XP installation disk though.
Michael Arrington of TechCrunch ran into the same problem recently and I suggested he use an actual OEM CD for Windows XP from another system (some of the older systems have them). When the installations asks for a license key, just use the one off the Windows license key that's affixed to the system. Being able to install Windows from any XP CD was one reason (according to Microsoft) that it started getting system manufacturers to affix the those labels to their systems back in 2001.
Anyway, I agree with Chad. PCs are too mature for him or any other user for that matter to be ending up in a wrestling match with them.