Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I want my Win XP!

About a month ago, I spent an hour on the phone screaming (yes, literally screaming) at Dell because they had sold me a machine with Windows Vista. Admittedly, I knew that it would have Vista because when I ordered it online, I was not given the option to select XP. Fortunately for me, Dell recently reversed its decision to impose Vista on the world, so as soon as I saw the post on Slashdot, I got on the phone with Dell and demanded XP again. (After the previous conversation with them, I was planning to return the machine altogether.) This time, they acceded.

You may be wondering why I wanted Windows so badly, and in particular, why Windows XP? A couple of years ago, I bought a Dell touchscreen (model E153FPT) in hopes of building my own little kiosk. It would have been ideal to hook it up to my Mac Mini, but I could only find drivers for Windows. Also, there are still a few things that I use that only work on Windows, such as X10 ActiveHome and the Google Talk client, both of which I would like to use on my kiosk.

When I ordered the machine, I thought it might be fun to try out Vista, but instead it was a nightmare. The new UI paradigm where they hide the menubar by default drove me nuts (as I expected it would), and the popup situation is just as bad as the I'm a Mac "Security" claims it is. But the real deal breaker was when I discovered that there were no drivers for the E153FPT – I got on the phone and was furious that Dell would force me to buy a new machine with an operating system that was incompatible with other hardware I bought from Dell. The first time I called, the best they would do was sell me XP for $120 instead of the retail price of $200. I found this pretty outrageous as the machine I bought cost less than $500 in the first place.

I'm happy that the problem is resolved, but after the second phone call, I had spent a total of two hours on the phone and had talked to at least seven people, all because I wasn't offered the option to select XP with my new machine on their web site in the first place.

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