Are all Computer Vendors alike?

So, rant on. Not only does Dell computer continue to contract with the lowest bidder to produce their equipment; but they have ended all meaningful support for equipment which is out of warranty.


I understand that this is part of their system which favors those who accept the additional markup in product cost called extended warranty and penalizes those who believe they are buying a quality product that should not require an extended warranty. By my reading of the Microsoft Windows license, vendors are responsible for providing media to allow reload of all windows products during the entire product life and if said media is not included with the product, then they are responsible for providing it at no cost to registered owners of products including Microsoft Licenses at the time of purchase.

This is in stark contrast to what I have experienced this last week while trying to service a 2-year old Dell Laptop. With high hopes, I contacted Dell support through their website to find that replacement media was not available for this product; thinking this must be in error, I opened a chat with a Dell support specialist who confirmed that they had discontinued that service. I asked how this was possible given their contract with Microsoft to provide Windows products. He replied that they would sell me media (at a price very much like full original retail) and that was their commitment to their contractual obligations.

Just for some background; companies like Dell buy licenses for windows at a reduced rate (bulk / quantity discount rate) and do not provide a COA (certificate of authenticity) number with the product; the product ID is pre-loaded on the machine. The result is that the owner of said machine must have either the original media that came with the machine (for cost reasons no such media is shipped with most of these systems) or use an install package specific to their make and model of product. Otherwise, the equipment is not legally licensed to run Windows. Some may not have had the experience of trying to run unlicensed Windows products; quite simply, they refuse to start up once they become unlicensed.

So here I hold what is now a $1400 boat anchor that belongs to a client in need of a functioning computer; I will invest $130 in a new license for it (which Dell is morally and contractually responsible for but not going to pay) and install a fresh retail copy of Windows 10 on the machine and the client who purchased the machine in good faith from Dell is caught in the middle.

As consumers, we all can influence the behavior of manufacturers and vendors alike; choose carefully when you purchase, and when possible, spend the 30 minutes to make your own “original media” on a DVD or on a USB stick. I highly recommend that once you have your computer working “just right”, that you have a complete duplicate made of the hard drive / SSD.

If any of this seems overwhelming, I do this regularly and will be delighted to do it for you. It really is so much more cost effective to do before “things” go wrong; and for when things do go wrong, Make regular backups of your data to protect your work.