Dell mocks MS' mandatory-OS regime

Virtually naked machines going out the door

Dell has devised a cute trick to accommodate its big corporate customers without crossing its Lord and Master, Microsoft, which has decreed that all OEM computers shall be shipped with operating systems, according to a recent Cnet article.

To make life easier for big shops using Linux, which can be installed on any number of machines without drawing a 'dynamic entry' from the BSA paramilitary squads, Dell is going to ship naked desktops and workstations and simply chuck a copy of FreeDOS into the shipping carton to satisfy the Microsoft licensing Taliban.

Thus it will not be necessary for the recipient to purchase some unwanted OS for hundreds of machines at a time.

Now this hardly qualifies as a boon to the little guy; it will be confined to Optiplex and Precision lines and be available only by arrangement. Dell is hardly contemplating this dodge as a means of sneaking naked PCs to the rude masses, who MS fears would defy their licensing extortion by loading legally-purchased editions of Win-3.x, 95 and 98 on their new boxen (surely no one would voluntarily load Win-Me).

So Tuxers who admire Dell hardware, all twenty of them, will still have to pay for Windows and Office, though they have no use for either. But the concept is intriguing. The FreeDOS chuck-in does satisfy the Redmond naked-box-taboo, so OEMs other than the MS-loving Dell might dare to accommodate the smaller market of individual buyers who like a pre-built box but prefer to sort out their own OS and apps for themselves. ®

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