General discussion


Computers without software - why not?

By Dogcatcher ·
Why can't we buy fully assembled computers without any software installed?

I'm not talking about making available a few fringe models, but rather to have that choice on every darn model that Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. offer on their custom configuration websites.

The price of the computer can be adjusted for the lost incentives tied to trialware and related software trash.

Hardware drivers can be provided on a CD and made available for downloading.

To say that we must have an operating system installed in order to use the hardware ducks the question and doesn't fit today's mature computer market. Most of us have licensed copies of XP and Vista lying around, we can download Windows 7 RC for free, and many prefer one of the Linux distributions.

If the answer to my question is that Microsoft makes the manufacturers include Microsoft software, isn't that forced tie-in a blatant anti-trust violation?

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Well, as a guess,

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Computers without softwar ...

"Most of us have licensed copies of XP and Vista lying around,..."

Most of 'us' here at TR are IT professionals. Most of the market for consumer-grade systems are not IT professionals and don't have copies of an OS lying around. They don't know how to install drivers, and if they can't get the NIC running then they can't pull down the other drivers they may need.

The market for systems with no OS is pretty small. It's not worth the vendor's trouble to maintain two inventories and price structures for the same system, one with OS and a minority without.

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It's just another option

by Dogcatcher In reply to Well, as a guess,

When you can select from among four to six different CPUs, several versions of Vista, and dozens of other hardware choices, it really is inconsequential to offer a no-OS option. Heck, it actually saves the manufacturer money since there is no cost to image the desired system onto the chosen hard drive.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect there is something much deeper going on here. The uniformity of behavior among diverse manufacturers is a symptom of pressure to limit options, and the one who benefits most from that particular arrangement is Microsoft.

Btw, I've never had a bit of trouble moving an OEM license to another computer. The key issue for the license reps seems to be to get assurance that the license will be used on only one PC.

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Not a conspiracy theory,

by seanferd In reply to It's just another option

just marketing agreements.

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Not legal to move OEM software

by jtakiwi In reply to It's just another option

Even though you haven't had trouble, you open yourself or your customer(s) to legal trouble if you follow this practice. It seems logical as long as you limit yourself to a single install of the software, but, you got the big discount on the software by purchasing with a specific piece of hardware. I don't make up the rules, just interpret (and this one is simple to interpret) them for clients.

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It is legal to move OEM software in most jurisdictions

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Not legal to move OEM sof ...

Microsoft try to say otherwise, but most consumer laws provide that once you buy the licence you have a legal right to put it on any system you want as long as you only have the software on one system per licence. It can also be sold on to a another party as second hand property, just like a used LP or DVD.

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One more option

by Sagax- In reply to It's just another option

Buy from a "white box" seller. They assemble PCs from components made by mainline manufacturers. Example: You must accept that without an OS the pc has not been pre-tested or "burnt-in".

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Not all "white box" sellers wear white hats.

by deepsand In reply to One more option

And, if it's not been properly tested, it's a pig in a poke.

Burn-in can & and should be done even if box is delivered sans OS.

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Marketing and Licensing

by TheChas In reply to Computers without softwar ...

First question, how many retail versions of XP or valid corporate license keys do you have?

You CANNOT legally use an OEM version of Windows from one computer on a different computer. Every Microsoft OEM license is tied to the original hardware it was sold with or installed on.

As to Windows 7 RC, yes, you can use it for "free". BUT, it expires in less than a year. Then what will you do.

As to why the major computer manufactures do not offer "raw" computers, the market is just too small to be worth the effort.

I remember many years back that Tiger Direct was offering a few computers with no OS. As I recall, the savings were minimal. At the time, the average entry level computer sold for around $750. Without software, the computer sold for between $650 and $700.

Combine the low cost difference with a limited market segment and you have no commercial justification for the market.

Yes, Microsoft does consider a computer sold without an OS to be the same invitation to stealing that the RIAA and movie industry see optical disks as. I have heard "rumors" that Microsoft does try to restrict the ability of it's OEM partners to sell systems without an OS. However, it would not rise to the level of anti-trust unless Microsoft required their partners to install ONLY Microsoft software on systems.

In many retail and commercial activities, it is common for the contracts between suppliers and manufactures or retailers to have restrictions, covenants, non-disclosure and non-compete clauses.

Now, there is at least 1 computer company that will sell you a full system with no OS.

Will sell any system they make without an operating system. But, for the most part, you cannot buy an OS for what they charge to install one.


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CHAS - Licences are NOT legally tied to a system or hardware

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Marketing and Licensing

the Australian consumer laws allows you to sell on the licence or move it to another machine if you wish. I forget where, but I did see an article a few years back about some US state consumer laws enforcing the same thing and stating the licence tied to machine aspects of the MS EULA can not be legally enforced in most of the US states, some were listed as having not got a response from the relevant government bodies.

The laws enforces you need a legal licence for each instance of the software running on systems in your possession, but that' s all. You can reuse the licence or on sell it. The fact MS try to enforce the no transfer part of the EULA in unlawful ways is a separate issue. One way they do that is with the WGA and tracking key serial numbers for the registered hardware in WGA.

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Anyone who goes to a Mum and Pop shop can buy what

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Computers without softwar ...

they want, with or without a licence. The trouble is it sometimes costs a bit more. The good point is it's a vanilla system for which spare parts are easily attainable, as are upgrades - unlike Dells and HPS etc, not all can be upgraded very few can do more than upgrade the RAM or hard drive.

I recently got a second hand Dell and I can't even get a replacement PSU for it as it's smaller than the one you get for most desktops, a normal desktop PSU is too big by half an inch in each direction and won't fit. That means I can't install a bigger graphics card to get away from the on board one as the better cards require more power than the minimal 220w PSU the Dell comes with - a P4 with a 220w PSU (shakes heard sadly).

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