Dell No Longer Supports Vista x64...and Other Rants

Let me step onto my own personal soapbox for a minute.

I've always been one of those do-it-yourself, "hardcore" PC guys. I believed that the only good desktop PC was one you built yourself, and that's just what I've done for the last 10 years.

Then I found an incredible deal online through Dell last September. I realized that for under $1000 I could spec out and build a machine that would cost me a few hundred more to build myself. At that point I should have remembered the old adage, "if it's too good to be true..."

However, being the sucker that I am for a good deal, I ordered the PC. A Dell XPS 410 with Intel Core2Duo E6600 (x64 CPU, this will come into play later), 3GB of RAM, 500GB of HD space, and all the usual other accoutrements. The Dell site stated that the estimated ship date for the item was late September. Great, a 2-week lead-time shouldn't be a problem.

Then came the order detail e-mail. In the e-mail I was told that my order was to be delayed by a month. The earliest ship date was now mid-October. So I e-mailed Dell wondering why their site shows one date, yet their instant Order Confirmed e-mail showed yet another.

The response I received was as follows:

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"Thank you for contacting Dell Online Customer Care.

I understand from your e-mail that you want to check the credit status of your order I would like to inform you that the order lies in the hold status as the authorization from the dell prefered account is still pending. I would request you to kindly wait for 24 hours so that status will change."

My question at this point is who is reading my e-mail? I had asked why the site shows one status and the e-mail another. Never did I ask anything regarding my account. I wrote support another e-mail trying to be more clear. Once again I received a somewhat canned reply:

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"I would like to inform you that I have checked your records and found that your shipping date for this order is Wednesday, October 11, 2006"

Now I'm really wondering if any at Dell Support reads anything before they reply. I already knew the estimated shipping date. My issue was why their site was still giving false dates for shipping newly ordered systems. I wrote Dell a few more times and they ended up giving me a $100 Dell coupon & upgraded my shipping. The system ended up being delayed one last time, but finally shipped on October 13 and arrived on October 18.

Why all the fuss over a simple PC you ask? I test software for multiple companies and needed a testbed for both 32-bit and 64-bit software. To me this was a mission critical PC and Dell was failing to deliver, especially since the XPS line is supposed to be their top end systems.

Now before anyone gets upset and states that I should have ordered from the Dell Small Business site I'd like to point something out. The Dell Dimension 9200 & the Dell XPS 410 are the same machine with a different label on the top. The XPS systems are supposed to have the top-tier support out of all of the Dell systems.

Now flash forward almost 1-year. I haven't had a single issue with this system until August 2007. It seems the DVD-Burner has decided to stop working properly. It randomly drops out of Explorer, and sometimes doesn't show up during POST. I run through the usual diagnostics (checking my connections, changing power leads, etc.) and it still doesn't work.

At this point I decide to call XPS Support and they make me re-run through the diagnostics while I'm on the phone with them. The XPS Support tech thinks a firmware flash will fix the issue. So I do the flash and sure enough, the drive is alive again, for a month.

September is back and it's been almost a full year since I placed my order. I wake up one morning and want to burn a CD for a road trip, and the drive fails and disappears from Explorer, again. I run through my diagnostics again and it's behaving the same way. I call up XPS Support and once again they refuse to replace the drive but insist I re-flash the firmware again. I flash the firmware and sure enough it works again. I tell the tech this is what happened before, but he states it will stay fixed this time. I continue to argue and he tells me that they require 3 calls about the same issue before they can send a replacement. I request a supervisor and the tech hangs up on me.

I decided to be patient and see if he was right, if not it will fail soon enough and I can request a replacement. So another month goes by. I go on a trip to Microsoft in October for a few days. I come home the night of October 13 around 11:30pm and startup my PC. I notice the drive is missing from POST again. I call the Dell XPS Support line, and it turns out that Dell doesn't have 24/7 tech support as they claim. So I go to bed aggravated, and go to sleep intending to call them first thing in the morning.

The next morning I pick up the phone and call the XPS Support line. I wait only a few minutes and then I'm connected with a Support Agent. I detail my issue and he stops me half-way through and lets me know that he will not be able to assist me. I ask why, and he states because I am out of warranty. Sure enough my warranty expired as of 11:59pm on October 13. I was literally 9 hours out of warranty.

I asked the technician if I could purchase a warranty extension and he stated that I could have, but once you are out of warranty you can no longer purchase extensions. I then proceed to argue with the technician for over an hour. After all I had requested a replacement drive multiple times and had been turned down, and the drive had also failed while in warranty. After the end of an hour he finally agrees to setup an exchange. I receive the new drive, and it seems all is well with the world.

One Week Later...

So now I'm thinking everything will be ok. I decide to do some OS testing and validation, and so I do a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition. The install finishes and my system reboots with in-box drivers for almost all of my hardware. The first thing I do is go to the Dell Support site and download drivers, or do I? It seems that Dell has decided to stop supporting all 64-bit editions of Windows, thus nothing to download.

I make a post on their forums asking if anyone knows if it's temporary and I receive this response from a Dell employee:

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"It cost us in time and money to validate drivers. We built PCs with specific operating systems in mind. That is all we will support."

I mention to the Dell employee that he must be mistaken as that would violate their Vista Logo contract with Microsoft. At this point the Dell employee replied tersely with the following:

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"Be assured, our legal team is on top of this decision."

At this point I'm stumped and a bit angry. After all the OEM Logo requirements state, "OEMs using x64 implementations must have signed drivers available to end users if shipping a 32-bit version of Windows Vista on the system."

By removing their x64 driver support they have now violated their contract with Microsoft. Any x64-based systems they sell now with the logo are illegal. One can only help but wonder, why would Dell put themselves in this position?

I'll kindly step down from my Soapbox now, but I ask one question to all of you.

Where do we go from here?

View: Windows Logo Program v3.0 FAQ's
News source: In House

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