So, there I am, helping my much loved and elderly aunt with her computer. The computer's a tad old, running, more accurately crawling, mostly unpatched Windows XP Home and, like many of its age, the Windows installation has become somewhat overburdened by cruft; although given the 9 year old Celeron and 256MB of RAM I have difficulty believing it was ever sprightly. So I offer to help her get a new one and come and make it all work. Having clarified that all she is interested in is getting her email and writing the odd letter or two, I determine that a Kubuntu setup is going to be plenty for her purposes. I figure this will save her a few pounds also as well as make future maintenance very easy.
Check: Internet connection is not some weird Windows specific "lite" solution - nope, is TalkTalk ADSL with ethernet adapter.
Check: email account works fine with Firefox - no problem, some other sensible member of the family has already installed Firefox as the default browser on the old computer.
Excellent. Just before I leave she mentions that her current computer has been very good and she would quite like one of the same brand. Dell. No problem, says me, Dell I use at work, I'm sure we can get one plenty good enough and within your budget. As we have several recent Dell PCs running Kubuntu I am also confident that will be a good choice for the project.
So, knowing that Dell UK list no desktop PCs without Windows next chance I get I order through the company account at Dell, paying on my credit card. No problems.
Except for that one, tiny, crazy, recurrent problem...
My account team have absolutely no problem with my ordering a single PC without an operating system; I go on the website, check out the lowest price one, up the mouse option to the laser one and call it done, then email the account team the details, deleting the Windows (v.7 rather limited edition) and Works lines from the spec; formal quote promptly comes back, but while Works is gone, Windows is still on the spec listing. So I email back and point out that Windows is still included.
There follows a delay.
Then a telephone call. Sure, absolutely no problem, we can sell you that PC without Windows, but because it is a bundle deal on offer, if we build from components on the system, it will cost you £30 more. Sigh...
So once again, for the record.
To all PC manufacturers: I don't want to have Windows on my PC. It costs you money, I don't want it to cost me or my aunt money, it should be cheaper to sell me a PC without it; unless in all these special offer cases *someone* was funding the sale of the PC with Windows on it such that not only has the OEM cost of Windows been absorbed, but £30 more? Hmmm.
To the competition authorities: surely something must be going on? Maybe you should actually investigate?
To the statistics guys: yes, this PC will register as having been sold with Windows on. Like several percent of others sold that way, shortly after delivery it will not have Windows on anymore; to stop my aunt from having problems viewing websites maintained by people with little understanding of the web, standards and trends, I may well set the browser agent so it looks like it is IE8 on Windows Vista. Just so you know, ok?