Top five PC manufacturers fail naked PC test

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

TOPICS: Hardware

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Dell LatitudeDell 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.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Well done!

    Nice to see this subject being aired. But even if you want an MS OS they invariably bundle it with all sorts of rubbish that runs on startup, just look at he systray! You are better off installing it yourself!
  • You can or used to able to get a naked pc from Dell

    In the past I have ordered pc's with no OS from Dell. It took a little persistence but eventually by threatening to take my order else where they buckled. This was an order for about 30 Optiplex desktops. The reason why I wanted they PC without Windows was the company I worked for had an enterprise agreement with Microsoft so we did not want Windows XP Pro OEM on there.

    If there's a reasonable amount of money on the table you might be surprised what a sales person is willing to do.
  • get an IBM/Lenovo with Linux from an independent seller

    The Linux Emporium in the UK ( sell a wide range of IBM/Lenovo laptops, preinstalled with Ubuntu.
  • You CAN by a naked (OS-less) PC

    You can also buy one with Linux pre-installed.
  • I guess you didnt look hard enough - bad report

    Here is the link for a naked pc.
  • Companies selling no-OS computers
  • Naked PCs from Fujitsu Siemens - go to

    Hi anyone interested in naked PC's or with Linux from Fujitsu Siemens can contact us @
  • Production line diversions could only cheapen the price of a 'naked pc'

    This article sites 'production line diversions' as being a main reason manufacturers wouldn't want to sell a 'naked pc'. This sounds like a fancy way of saying they are giving in to pressure from Microsoft. Honestly though, how could it possibly cost them extra money to *remove* a step in their system-building pipeline (installing the OS)? I built my last 2 PCs myself and I'll tell you that if I didn't bother to install the OS, I would have been done a lot quicker and if I was getting paid per hour to do this for someone, I would certainly charge them less too. I'm rather confused.
  • Dell does Linux as well as nothing

    Dell does ship systems with linux as well as systems with nothing installed.
    Nothing installed
    Linux Preinstalled
  • Microsoft is probably giving them a spiff

    Some choose to pass on the spiff as a rebate. The OS is a piece part to them and they have it factored into their cost, so when they say it costs them more, it could, but it would just be the cost of the rebate process and the amount they make on the OS as a piece part.
  • try

    I've been buying low power usage VIA motherboards from Mini-Itx and they are easy about not shipping Windows with their parts. On the other hand, I actually have to build these things. However, its worth it to get 1,500 Bogus Mips in a 20 watt box 1/10th the volume of a normal pizza box.
  • you need to read the article again

    The story clearly says that Dell do sell Linux desktops but only in the US. Your link is to Dell US. So what's your point?
  • again with the US links

    Richard's story clearly says that Dell sells Linux boxes in the US, your links are to ie. Dell US. So what's your point?
  • No Linux PCs to be found on!

    The website has no links anywhere leading to Linux-pre-installed PC offerings. If I enter the simple search term 'Linux PC' in its search box it again leads to nowhere.

    If somebody wants to offer Linux PCs they should clearly say so on their website and not hide it!
  • Look here
  • Again no Linux systems!

    Thank you for your link. Amon others, the lists which uses as a PC distributor. Now, if I search on Misco for e.g. 'Linspire', it then at first delivers some results. However, as soon as I click on the results, it leads to Windows Vista PCs!

    Hence, it doesn't seem to be true when makes the following claim:

    "The company doesn't count if they advertise Linux, then spam you with MS Windows."

    because I am being spammed with MS Windows offerings.
  • Paying double as a company policy?

    If manufacturers state that they hardly ever sell systems without pre-installed Windows then doesn't that mean that large organizations (including those that are fueled by tax money) have made paying double part of their company policy?

    Meaning, that, given the volume purchased, it is possible to purchase customized configurations. That includes almost anything you want, or not want. So why hasn't anyone come up with the idea to purchase systems without pre-installed Windows? Why waste a default price cut? Because chances are high that the moment the systems are delivered they'll get re-installed with some company image backed up by an Enterprise license. Who needs an OEM license then? Heck, you can even get them pre-installed with your own company image.

    Normally that should mean that the statistics of the manufacturers should show that a large enough percentage of systems in purchased without a pre-installed Windows (the OEM version). Given that most large suppliers have a short list of preferred suppliers that usually includes the Top 5 directly or indirectly. But because manufacturers say that the purchase of naked PC's doesn;t even register that can only mean that plenty of budget has been burned on unused OEM licenses. Or the statistics don't add up. Or prices are artificial.

    Think about this for a while. Estimate the number of systems purchased in large volumes over the years and imagine what kind of impact that might have had on tax money saved and/or jobs saved.
    It does add up.

    Either manufacturer statistics only show their best interest and clearly no longer can be trusted or a lot of large organizations should have a serious talk with whomever negotiates their purchases. Perhaps ask their money back or change preferred supplier.

    In short, it most likely boils down to a self fulfilling prophecy most simply take for granted. And thus pay the price for it.