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Dell Ships Gaming Systems Sans Bloat 94

An anonymous reader writes "Dell has followed up and put their money where their mouth is after HardOCP panned them last year for selling 'gaming systems' that you could not even install some popular 3D games on due to the bloatware on the system. You can now get clean installs on some XPS Dell systems. Dell is running a 'You Spoke, We Listened,' header on their site." From the article: "It seems that Dell has taken our criticism (and our readers as well) to heart and has made the much sought after move to offer select XPS systems with "limited" pre-installed software. We phoned a Dell sales representative late Monday, and he confirmed that the installation is completely clean, except for the included anti-virus program. As explained to us by Dell, There is no AOL installation, no "media jukebox", and no ISP offers to weigh the supplied operating system down."
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Dell Ships Gaming Systems Sans Bloat

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  • There bloatware is one of the reasons I hate to recommend dell to people.
    • Most people need the bloat. Gamers tend to also be computer nerds, and therefor can handle setting up their machine themselves. But average folks don't want to and most likely can't get their machine set up with all the software they need. How many computer users would know they even had a DVD burner unless the software was waiting for them on their desktop when they turned it on for the first time? How would people buying their first computer get online if ISPs weren't preinstalled? This is obviously a goo
      • You give someone a choice between 5 ISPs and they then ask their current ISP, "What do I do now?" Where I live, AOL and the other major national ISPs don't provide local access numbers - so local ISPs like where I work, foot all the questions on a daily basis. Same goes for offering more than one media player, or whatever on a PC. Offer one - any more than that confuses the man on the street too much. Trust me on that one.
      • I've really got to disagree with this. I can't imagine anything more confusing than the typical out-of-box experience with a new Dell. The last machine I installed for someone spent about half an hour trying to sell me stuff on the way to "starting up." This is crazy and confusing. There's nothing wrong with including CD/DVD burning software on a machine - in fact it should be there. But there is something wrong when that software insists I need to go online and pay more money for some sort of upgrade, or
  • How much more? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @10:48AM (#15220807)
    And how much more do the systems cost to get Dell to not include that crapware?
    • At the point where it's more profitable for Dell to not include the crapware (either because of higher prices or increased volume) and forgo the revenue from including it -- that's what it'll cost.
      • Re:How much more? (Score:3, Interesting)

        Actually, looking at Dell's page they indicate that it's for "select XPS systems." Without going through and custom-configuring a few machines, I'm going to guess that they only offer this option on their higher end (and hence higher revenue) models.
        • I did a little poking around on Dell's site and I noticed a couple things. First, all the XPS systems come with Media center. Only the top 2 models say "with re-installation CD." That in itself is a little strange.
          Then I went through customizing a system and the only thing I saw as options that related to pre installed software were the options for which "security suite" (I hate that term), which photo crap software selection, and which CD burning software. The last 2 were defaulted to none. So, all I
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28, 2006 @11:16AM (#15221119)
      You're not paying the Windows tax - the spyware & adware & crippleware companies that Dell bundles are subsidizing the Dell to a far greater extent than Microsoft taxes it. I should know - I worked for a crippleware vendor who kicked back 20 - 50% of our upgrade revenue (depedning on the OEM) to the OEMs who let us install our crap.

      With these gamer systems, Dell's margin's are high enough tha they don't need this subsidy; but for the most part, noone in their right mind (even Dell) would be paying Redmond taxes if someone else weren't paying them to do so.

      That's the real reason Windows can never get serious about combatting spyware -- OEM support for windows depends entirely on the ability to hide deceptive spyware on the systems.

    • One would imagine it would add a similar amount to how much those companies paid Dell to put the 'crapware' on the system. What, did you think someone would do your research for you?

      I'm still happy building my own machines, seeing as they seem to invariably outperform any similar specification Dell for a significant amount less cash. It doesn't take a degree in computer science seeing as everything is practically colour-coded nowadays.
    • Hmmm. I've been modded "flamebait" twice now for asking a perfectly valid question. It seems that some people don't like facing the reality of the situation (not that that comes as any surprise).
    • A buddy of mine recently got a Dell XPS system via QVC (around $1400), and, speaking as someone who builds his own systems, I'm fairly impressed. The system was snappy as hell, played (and loaded) games very fast, and was not loaded down with a ton of junk.

      Granted, I could build a similar system for less, but for that kind of cash, it's awful tempting...

  • Still I ask (Score:3, Interesting)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @10:50AM (#15220829)
    Can I buy a system without paying the $100 XP tax, considering I already own a legitimate copy of windows?
    • No, because the expectation is that the copy of windows you had went out with your old whitebox computer.

      When you get a computer with windows on it, that version is tied to that computer. Technically you are supposed to destroy your copy(s) of that Windows along with the key. Or transfer it if you are giving it to someone.

      How many idiots do you think would take windows off to save extra money, and get pissed when their brand new computer won't boot? Then they find out they need windows and go to a store, on
      • Actualy, according to the EULA, if you uninstall windows from the old machine and/or the old machine is no longer functional, it's perfectly valid and legal to install the copy of window from the old machine onto the new one.

        No one would say all machines should come without a pre-installed OS, but it should be an option. Then again it may not be worth it, as most people who would be in a position to transfer Windows in the manner described above would be perfectly capable of building their own machine a

        • Actually, according to the EULA...

          My understanding is an OEM copy of Windows is not transferrable to another machine. Nor are you eliglble for the upgrade price of a newer version of Windows.

          Although not straight from the horses mouth per se, this article has some interesting Q and A's on this...
          www.michaelstevenstech.com/oemeula.htm [michaelstevenstech.com]

          If you buy the full retail version then I believe you are correct, the license is transferrable, if limited to one machine.

          My favorite work around is to get these guys [ubuntu.com] to send m
        • It depends on the version you get. If it's a retail box, yes, you can move it. If it is an OEM copy, it is tied to the hardware. If you read through the OEM EULA, you will notice that you are supposed to affix the license key sticker to the computer which that copy is tied to. Most people end up getting an OEM copy, this is what you get with a Dell PC. Also, the OEM version is cheaper, ostensibly because it is tied to the hardware, still a lot of people will buy an OEM copy from a web site retailer (wh
          • It appears I was mistaken about moving an OEM copy. But this does raise an interesting side issue: So what if I have a machine with an OEM copy installed, and the sticker on the case. I then replace every component of said machine, except the case to which the sticker is attached. Is this the same machine as far as the EULA is concerned?

            If not, what is the critical component? Surely I could replace any single component and not have to rebuy Windows.

      • Re:Still I ask (Score:3, Informative)

        by WasteOfAmmo ( 526018 )
        When you get a computer with windows on it, that version is tied to that computer. Technically you are supposed to destroy your copy(s) of that Windows along with the key. Or transfer it if you are giving it to someone.

        Sorry but not quite. When you purchase a copy of windows, whether with a new computer or separately, the activation process ties that copy to the hardware it is installed on. This does not [microsoft.com] stop that copy of windows from being moved to another machine.

        If you significantly change your har

    • Re:Still I ask (Score:2, Interesting)

      by crerwin ( 971247 )
      Where I work we purchase about 500 Dells every year, and the first thing we do is image them with our software. These computers all come with XP pre-installed. We could get them without XP, but there would be no price difference (we did ask). It's easier for Dell to just push them all through with XP than to worry about what gets what.

      On a slightly related note, the USPS pays EXTRA to get vehicles without air conditioning and radios. I guess this improves gas mileage.
      • On a slightly related note, the USPS pays EXTRA to get vehicles without air conditioning and radios. I guess this improves gas mileage.

        Removing the AC sure does. 10% better mileage on the outside.

        Removing the radio, well. That supposedly cuts down on accidents. Don't want a PS employee running over some schoolkid because he had Pantera at '11'. At least that's the excuse I've heard from every company I've worked for that ran delivery or job-site vehicles, and I'm inclined to believe it.
        • Removing the AC sure does. 10% better mileage on the outside.

          You'll piss away that 10% a savings when the employees drive with the windows open on that AC-less car. Rolling down the windows at highway speeds can easily increase gas usage by 20% or more.
          • by jpmkm ( 160526 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:25PM (#15221762) Homepage
            If the USPS is delivering mail at highway speeds then I think a 20% increase in fuel usage is the least of their problems.
            • If the USPS is delivering mail at highway speeds then I think a 20% increase in fuel usage is the least of their problems.

              Funny, but USPS does have 18-wheeler trucks that go between cities on the interstate, and rural deliveries often involve driving on highways to get to the destination - at highway speeds.

              Depending on the vehicle, it's usually more efficient to use the AC at 45 mph and over rather than rolling down windows.

      • Re:Still I ask (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:24PM (#15222638) Journal
        At my office we get a set of 15-20 Dell laptops twice a year (we're a school). I open one box, uninstall all of the crapware, install all of the software the students will need, including putting our own anti-virus on them. Run sysprep, and then image that laptop. The rest of the laptops are then hooked up to a dedicated switch and the image multicasted out to them. Each laptop is then powered up, given a unique name and put in the domain.
        One thing to look into if you are pushing that many systems through, Dell offers a service where they will load a custom image on new systems for you. They will only do it if your volume is high enough, and your's probably is. You simply setup an image, send it to them and all new systems come pre-loaded to your configuration.

    • If you search for "n-series" on Dell's site, you can indeed buy systems without Windows. However, they usually aren't $100 cheaper ... It's highly unlikely that Dell pays $100 for Windows, and all that crapware represents revenue for Dell.
  • I gotta say. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwven ( 663186 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @10:52AM (#15220853)
    My number one grip with buying a prebuilt system versus building my own (cost aside) is that they come with so much crap on them. When i bought my gateway laptop, it took in between 3 and 5 minutes to boot up when it was new. After i cleaned all the misc crap off of it that i'll never use, it took about 45 seconds or less. I vote that pc manufacturers give you the very basic installation and then give you a DVD that has everything else on it. You stick it in and it gives you a nice menued list of things you may want to install.

    A person who just spent 1500 bucks on a new laptop isn't going to be wowed when their new laptop is taking longer to boot than their old one...
    • Re:I gotta say. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by crerwin ( 971247 )
      I have the feeling that AOL or NetZero or whoever has pre-installed software on the computer is paying Gateway money per unit for the 'advertising.' If the software was on a DVD that everyone will just ignore, the cost of the computer may be more.
    • Re:I gotta say. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Telvin_3d ( 855514 )
      Yeah, but the flip side of that is that if all those ISPs and bloatware companies hadn't paid to have their stuff on there (which they would not if it came on a DVD instead of pre-installed), that $1500 would have cost you $1600 or more.
    • I certainly won't argue that the "bloat" is a good thing, but seriously, how hard is it to uninstall a few unwanted programs? We're not talking about malicious spyware or anything - Add/Remove Programs should do the trick. Also, reinstalling the OS and drivers can be done in 15 minutes on any new PC - especially those with SATA 3 Gb/S hard drives and DDR2-667 Dual Channel SDRAM. The fact is that buying a Dell nets HUGE savings versus putting together a PC yourself. While Dell's proprietary parts often l
      • It took me four hours of work to uninstall everything from my aforementioned gateway laptop.... Yes...there was that much crap...

        Someone want to explain to me why they bundle three different antivirus trials with an OS? Give me a break people...
      • I don't have recent experiences with Dell, but last time I had one the only data you had for reinstallation was an image of the drive as it shipped to you in the first place. So the average consumer has no way to start with a clean install of Windows without the bloat, since the only image they have includes the bloat.
      • Woah... wait... savings versus putting it together yourself? Not last time I checked. Especially not if you're going with a higher end system. When they run some "free upgrade" deals with more memory or free LCD monitors with some of their lowest end systems, yeah it's cheaper to get a Dell. But in general, without a random special offer for a free monitor or something, I can buy parts and put together a similar computer to a Dell for less. I've done it. About two years ago I put together a Celeron D
    • When I bought my Gateway laptop from a Gateway store a few years back I told the sales guy I only wanted Window 2000 Professional on it, and all the drivers for the hardware, nothing else installed, and that's what I got. It also only came with a restoration CD and a CD with the drivers. I'm sure if you ask then they won't preload all that stuff, but it's different buying a laptop from somewhere like Best Buy or CompUSA where the laptop is sitting in a box in the back and not being built at the time you o
  • A clean preinstall system is now a selling point? It should be a freaking quality issue! If anything this reinforces my Dell' status as a prostitute.

    Am I wrong to assume that computer sale hasn't been like this since the start in the 90s?

    • Since windows 95, crapware has become standard.

      Heck, windows 95 comes with some "trial offers". Not as invasive as Dell's stuff, but it's still there.
    • I bought a Packard Bell in early 1993 and it came full of crap. Of course, it was easier to clean the crap off it back then, but that's hardly the point. Whenever friends and family buy a new PC, they usually have me wipe it clean for them before they start using it.
  • Why would _anyone_ want all the crap preinstalled? I really wish they would offer all their machines without the bloated rubbish that no-one wants. I had to spend ages getting rid of it all for my in-laws.
    • Most people don't want it. However, Dell gets paid by the various companies to include that crapware on the machines. Oftentimes, they actually pass some of these savings onto you. You pay a lower price in exchange for the extra advertising that AOL et al get.
  • Alienware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @11:03AM (#15220972) Homepage Journal
    Of course they are going to say they listened to the public, but it probably came from Mr dell having a grey alien over his shoulder now whispering things about customer satisfaction and doing the right thing.

    Remember, they were shoving this crap down our necks for years then all of a sudden just mere weeks after buying Alienware we see this...
  • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Friday April 28, 2006 @11:12AM (#15221064) Homepage
    Considering that the Symantec (specifically Norton) products preinstalled on my E1705 were the worst behaving (and most difficult to remove - in fact I couldn't completely and cleanly remove them) components of Dell's preinstall, the fact that they are leaving an antivirus in their preinstall doesn't really help much. Antivirus programs are notorious for causing performance problems.

    Wonderful how Dell is charging you more to offer less. The hardware in the XPS M1710 isn't nearly good enough to justify the 1.5-2x price difference between a similar E1705 configuration (with the only difference being an Nvidia 7800GT vs. 7900GTX).

    A clean E1705 would've been WONDERFUL.
    • Also, when was the last time the Antivirus software on your computer caught _anything_? The only thing I've had since I moved away from booting the OS off of a floppy disk in 1994 (we were behinde the times) is a false positive on a traffic generator I was using to test some network code.

      The tradeoff is a lot of bloat and money wasted on a product that doesn't seem to be useful at all. The only thing I have that's worse behaved is ZoneAlarm, which has to be the most bloated firewall of all time.
    • Now if they switched from the standard Norton Antivirus to the Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition, we'd really be making some progress. :P
    • Considering that the Symantec (specifically Norton) products preinstalled on my E1705 were the worst behaving (and most difficult to remove - in fact I couldn't completely and cleanly remove them) components of Dell's preinstall, the fact that they are leaving an antivirus in their preinstall doesn't really help much. Antivirus programs are notorious for causing performance problems.

      This is no joke. I just ran into a perfect example of this last weekend on my parents' computer. Here's the story:

      1) F
      • I ran into almost the exact same problem with my dad's last computer a few years ago (we didn't try to uninstall/reinstall, but Norton corrupted itself somehow and refused to update or allow a repair reinstall)
        Not too much later I switched him over to AVG Free edition, which worked fine until we replaced the comp with an iMac just over a year ago (his choice, and I wasn't going to discourage him on it -- I gutted the old box and turned it into a fileserver for myself, Norton-free of course).
  • It's nice to see a big computer vendor finally listening to it's customers. It really peeves me and a lot of others when companies sit back, take in all your money and just sit idly by in their boardrooms crunching numbers on how to make even more profits. Excellent move by Dell, and hopefully this sparks other companies to follow suit. :)
    • I wish I could agree, but this is far from being a good start. A good start would be to offer this feature on some of their best selling systems. I don't know the numbers, but my guess is that the XPS systems are not their top product lines.

      To be a good start they would need to do something to indicate that they will offer this for all of their systems. They haven't done anything to convince me that they are starting on a path to go all the way. Instead they've chosen a product line where they hold a sm
  • From TFA: We at [H] are very impressed by this operating system option. It is truly a feature that many gamers and power users will welcome with open arms.

    Something is really getting messed up in the computer market last few years when the lack of software is the hottest and most welcomed feature from the majority of computer users (adware, spyware, rootkits, bloatware, offers, crap on top of crap on top of crap...).

    Oh and you gotta love when they screw up and start running "you spoke, we listened" ads.
  • by skryche ( 26871 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @11:20AM (#15221150) Homepage
    Isn't all that pre-installed crap the reason that computers are as cheap as they are? I say they should go ahead and shovel it on; I'm going to do a fresh install anyway.
  • So does that mean Dell is catching up with the Whitebox (blackbox) makers? Considering most of us making custom systems don't do that for obvious reasons. I know that personally, if you buy a system you should be able to do what you want with it without hinderance of any kind. You don't buy a computer from me so I can advertise to you.

    But then how else do you think Dell (or every other OEM) makes computers cheaper? I could build you a $300 computer too if I got paid $200 to put advertising all over it.
  • The customer that buys an XPS is usually knowledgable enough to remove that crap on their own. The average person on the street buys the major cheap price point - the Dimension desktop. Now.. if you tell me Dell is offering a Dimension series with no extra installs on it - you'd have my attention.
  • I got a Dell. Took it out of the box, popped in my copy of windows. Booted to the disk, formated, installed Windows and linux, and was done.
  • Just include the original XP cd so we can do a fresh install. Thank you!
  • Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:12PM (#15221663) Homepage Journal
    That stuff comes pre-installed because they make more money by having it there. Until they believe that they will make more money by NOT having there, it stays. That's how a free market works. Clearly, Dell has reached a point after acquiring AlienWare where a major portion of their customers will not get a Dell that they might otherwise purchase or at least consider, specifically because of the pre-installed phatware that comes on the system. Whatever AOL et al are paying for this trash, it's going to be trumped by additional sales to customers who would otherwise not buy a Dell. Further, it's quite likely Dell's business partners who push for having their shit pre-installed on Dell systems have some kind of contract, and unless Dell can lawyerweasel out of it or just wait for it to expire and not renew it, that crap has to stay on there. This is why companies sometimes appear sluggish regarding responses to the market.

    "Why don't they just ..... blah ....?" we ask ourselves constantly. In some cases, there are contracts with hardware suppliers, advertisers, marketing teams, delivery and supply chains, retail outlets, and other behind-the-scenes business partners that must be, at the very least, scanned carefully by Dell's legal staff. More often than not, a renegotiation is necessary to change business practices that may impact those contracted partners. This takes time. And when the negotiations stall, there's no option but to wait it out.

    So Dell is going the right thing, and the response here is almost universally negative. Not about the fact that they're doing the right thing by their customers, but that they even had to because they did the wrong thing first. Well I'll tell you what. It's rare that a business "has it right" out of the gate and never looks back. Google is one of those rare companies that has mostly pulled this off. Few businesses do it. They must learn from the market, and shape and mold their business model to maximize profit. Profits are maximized by providing the most people with what they want to buy at a price they'll pay. When the sentiments or demographic composition of that group changes, the company must adjust. Dell has become very successful while bundling garbage on their machines. Clearly the lost revenue from boycotting Slashdotters was made up for by whatever business arrangements they had with AOL and what not. As much as it may pain you to hear it, Slashdot readers make up a tiny minority of the nation's consumer population, and the portion we do make up is a weird niche that is largely disliked by mainstream retailers and traditional businesses.

    So, frankly, there's been no reason to pander to the nitpicky anal retentive whims of a bunch of dorks. Until now.

  • You What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:18PM (#15221714)
    'You Spoke, We Listened,'

    Okay, where's my AMD X2 Processor? .
    I'm waiting...

  • Anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-root-kit, anti-adware, anti-**AA-ware...

    So where's my automatic anti-bloatware remover?

  • true enough (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I recently purchased a pretty decent Dell XPS. It didn't have much on it. I needed to unintall a couple of things that I didn't like, but it was otherwise clean; soundcard software, dvd software, the usual MS crap you find on an xp machine (outlook, messenger...), but nothing much else. I was surprised.
  • They may have listened to customers, but they apparently did not read HardOCP's article about gaming on a dual core system: http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTAwMiwxLC xobmV3cw== [hardocp.com]

    Changed my mind completely about a new system I was planning to buy. No dual cores for me, thank you. I'll either grab an FX-57 when AM2 comes out and drops the DDR1 systems' prices, or I'll wait until the end of the year, see if Conroe lives up to the hype and how Vista affects either system.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.