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Dell Offers FreeDOS With New PCs 488

Zed writes "Showing a distancing of itself from Microsoft, Dell now offers businesses a chance to purchase computers without a Windows operating system. The N-Series computers start at $319 from Dell's website and ship with a FreeDOS CD in the box."
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Dell Offers FreeDOS With New PCs

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  • Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsharitt ( 580506 ) * <bsharitt AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:39PM (#8095463) Homepage Journal
    I may be wrong, but didn't they start this a long time ago?

  • Yes but... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:43PM (#8095529) Homepage
    Yes but what can you honestly do with FreeDOS? I assume that FreeDOS is similar to MSDOS. Even if someone gave me MSDOS today I wouldn't want to run it. Unless you're buying the value PC for paying abandonware or really old PC games that you own, I am not sure how useful the setup would be. What is the point of giving people FreeDOS when you can just as easily give them Linux?
  • Re:FreeDOS? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:43PM (#8095532) Homepage Journal
    The idea is that it is "Free", and probably doesn't violate some obscure Agreement Microsoft made Dell agree to, to not sell Linux or such, to be able to sell Windows at all.
  • What is the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ryanmoffett ( 265601 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:45PM (#8095546)
    While it's nice to see that there is an option, this seems like an empty gesture. Not to knock the FreeDOS project, kudos to you, there are SO many better offerings out there that could be packaged. What are businesses or home users going to do with FreeDOS? If anything this comes across like a message that says, "Here's your other choice, it's not really an option at all, is it?"
  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsharitt ( 580506 ) * <bsharitt AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:45PM (#8095556) Homepage Journal
    I think they are trying to avoid parts of their OEM agreement with Microsoft that bars them from shipping PCs without and OS, and FreeDOS is more neutral than picking a linux distro to ship with it.

  • It feels wrong. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by beaverbrother ( 586749 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#8095558)
    At least since OEM versions of windows for them probably barely cost anything. Its like having mcDonalds downgrade their free toy from a fun windup to to just a damn doll that doesn't do shit.
  • Why not Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#8095562) Homepage Journal
    Why FreeDos Opposed to Linux?
    Simple. Every linux distibution is readily available, and attracts zealots. Why offend them thorugh favouritism?
  • Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SinaSa ( 709393 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:47PM (#8095571) Homepage
    When I first read this article, I thought to myself "What use is FreeDOS to a current business user? Is this a flashback to 10 years ago, when DOS was still useful?"

    Then it occured to me that obviously Dell is still just as scared of Microsoft as it was two years ago when they attempted to ship Linux. Microsoft doesn't care if Dell ships with an OS that isn't a threat really. They just don't want Linux in the mainstream.

    Shame on you Dell!
  • Re:Yes but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amokk ( 465630 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:50PM (#8095605)
    Well, you can always buy this PC for dirt cheap and then install a unlicensed version of Windows on it...
  • Re:Yes but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InodoroPereyra ( 514794 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:51PM (#8095610)
    Yes but what can you honestly do with FreeDOS?

    Not much, but it doesn't really matter. Dell is sending a message to Redmond, wait a couple weeks until they get a new deal with M$ ... everyone is doing this very same little trick these days, and I guess freedos is easier to support than linux for Dell while the negotiations take place ...

  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:54PM (#8095658)
    I believe the point has been mentioned before in similar threads, but it bears repeating here.

    Many businesses already have licenses for all the software that they run--either a seat for every user or a site-wide license. For such businesses, a PC that comes with Windows is just wasted money. It would make sense to try to wrestle a discount from Microsoft when such a situation occurs, but monopolies are not often sympathetic to such things.
  • by captain_craptacular ( 580116 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:55PM (#8095671)
    The point is that you don't tack $189 worth of MS tax onto the price of your box when you're just going to format and install [insert favorite x86 compatible OS here].
  • Re:Why not Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:55PM (#8095674)
    I think the answer may be even simpler than that.

    In one word, "Support"

    It's a lot easier (i.e. cheaper) to support FreeDOS than linux. You are still free to wipe the drive and install your OS of choice. ...I'm pretty sure that's what they expect you to do anyway. ...but this way, Dell doesn't get stuck supporting anything more complicated than FreeDOS on it's low end PC's.
  • Re:FreeDOS? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Via_Patrino ( 702161 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:55PM (#8095677)
    Another probably answer of why they don't, sell with Linux but with FreeDOS is that they need to offer little support or none at all.
    If you sell a computer with a software you need to support both, and supporting FreeDOS is much easier than Linux
  • by captain_craptacular ( 580116 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:57PM (#8095702)
    Actually most MS site liscences state that you MUST buy a copy of windows with each new PC. The Windows site liscence just covers upgrades...

    off topic, but the 2 minute rule sucks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:57PM (#8095705)
    But if you package FreeDOS in the deal you know for certain that they wont use it so you will not get complains about it. If you distribute a Linux distribution with it than there is a small chance they will try it and complain about something not working correctly. complains cost Dell money so they wouldn't want that to happen
  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:07PM (#8095805)
    I mean the choice is simple... This one CD has almost everything an average $400.00 computer purchaser would want. The 1 disk distro. has it all ready in "start from scratch" wrapper.

    Nothing for grandma to get messed up with either. Tech support is dead simple.."hello, Mrs. Smigh? Does the computer boot from the CD?'re OK"

    This wouldn't even require formatting the drive....

    FreeDOS is a cop-out...... If it's a "cost" issue on Dell's part...I could burn CD's at my house! I'm in for a stack a week.

    Let's put together a special Dell CD distro. and ask Dell to distribute it with their OS-less systems. It could show real "good faith" towards a heartless company. It could also suck them into the SCO fun!

  • Re:Yes but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:11PM (#8095852) Homepage Journal
    perhaps not 'easier to support'
    but litigation proof, should the FUD of SCO prevail

    if I buy the system with a linux cd in the box and wind up owing licensing fees to SCO, I can complain to dell..

    if I buy the box with freedos, and load linux, then dell has 'clean hands'

  • by MadAnthony02 ( 626886 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:31PM (#8096039) Homepage

    My guess is that a decent number of these will be bought by companies, schools, or other organizations that already have some sort of Microsoft site license. They will still pay microsoft, but won't have to pay for a machine with an OS, then pay more to install something over it.

    The college I work at has an MS site license through a college consortium. We would buy PC's with one version of Windows then overwrite them with images of another, usually because we weren't ready to deploy whatever the latest and greatest OS yet. I'm sure a lot of businesses have site licenses for NT or 2k and aren't ready yet to deploy XP, and don't want to have to pay for XP licenses when XP would be wiped off 5 minutes after opening the box.

  • Re:FreeDOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foonf ( 447461 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:33PM (#8096064) Homepage
    What will actually happen is the vast majority of buyers will install pirated copies of Windows. In fact, Dell probably assumes that will happen, because there aren't that many people who want to run Linux on cheap desktops, who would actually buy prebuilt machines, but there are many more who would love to save money on software they can easily download or "borrow" for free.
  • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:50PM (#8096199) Homepage
    And were are not without /. saying Dell is trying to "distancing of itself from Microsoft". Myabe Dell is only one small step away from throwing down the windows flag and offering only Linux as an option? No, I don't think that is it. I think someone is just spouting off at the mouth. Zealots are blinded by the way they want things to be, not the way things are.
  • by sh0gun ( 85858 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:50PM (#8096201) Homepage
    With Dell doing this they are really benefiting students that attend schools that have a deal with Microsoft. At my school [] all students can get Windows XP Pro for free from all of the computer labs on campus. Now if a student buys a Dell computer they can get one without Windows since they can get a copy of Windows free from school. We also have staff that will assist a student in installing Windows XP for free.

    Seems like anything to save a couple bucks will be good for some students.
  • by taped2thedesk ( 614051 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:50PM (#8096210)
    these guys probably allready own a crapload of licenses

    Yeah, I'd bet that a lot of companies want to purchase all of their licenses through their MS licensing program - I believe my company specifically requires that new computers not ship with Office so that they can use a site-license which "simplifies license management and reduces TCO" or something like that. If they site-license Windows, they buy a (cheap?) license and get upgrades for the life of the license (I think... I stopped keeping up with the MS licenses a while ago)

    The only reason FreeDOS is on there is because they can't ship hardware without an OS.

  • Re:FreeDOS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jacob0531 ( 740869 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:56PM (#8096254)
    Or, more precisely, it's free and doesn't violate the agreement Dell made (and all other MS OEM's) to not ship a PC without an operating system. Microsoft made this agreement under the assumption that if a PC was shipped without an OEM OS the user would install a pirated, or non-licensed, version of Windows on it.
  • by cixelsyd ( 239 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:03PM (#8096297)
    Same message here, totally bullshit canned reply. I tried calling them at that number, and hung up after about an hour... Best idea: just return the operating system =P
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:36PM (#8096517) Journal
    Someone give him a point for the good, relevent article. One quote did bother me tho...

    N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

    Which means they are technically charging you MORE for the computer, since they do not incur the cost of the Microsoft license. Or you can look at is as: "We charge you the same for FreeDOS as we do for Windows", which is kinda expensive for FreeDOS (I have installed it, its a mediocre DOS 3.3 clone by their own admission).

    This does mean bigger profits for Dell, but it doesn't represent a better value for customers.
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:03AM (#8096697)
    $399, after a $100 mail in rebate. Give me a fuckin break. I am so damn sick of seeing "after a mail-in rebate" everywhere. It's at the point where I choose not to do business with companies that pull that BS.

  • by DietFluffy ( 150048 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:11AM (#8096745)
    Why should that $200 rebate be set aside in your comparison? Anyone who frequents the bargains websites knows that Dell always has these types of promotions for their windows boxes.

    If you take into consideration the rebate, and the fact that dell charges tax on the 2400N (because it can only be purchased at dell business versus dell home for the 2400), you are actually paying the exact same price for the 2 configurations.

    Don't be mistaken, you are still paying the Microsoft tax.
  • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:45AM (#8096896)
    While I cannot stand MS, I'd have to agree here. Dell is so far up Billy boys butt, it isn't even funny. I think Dell just offers a few poorly packaged PC's without MS software in the same manner that a teen would rebell against his/her parents.

    I personally think that only HP, IBM and Sun are any of the big boys PC makers that offer real non-MS products. We just got in some multi-million dollar SANS from HP and they threw in a bunch of dual Xeon 3.2 GHz w/HT, 2GB, 136GB U320 Raid 5 Linux servers. HP has Open Source drivers for the Gig cards and even drivers/software for thier HP Lights Out management app for the Linux servers. With Dell you don't get any of that.

  • by claygate ( 531826 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @02:21AM (#8097371)
    He knows that. That is why if you subtract $200 rebate from $599 you get $399. With the 2400N costing $369 and the Microsoft Dell costing $399, the Microsoft tax is $399 - $369 = $30. This is how I read it.
  • Re:Is this new? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:27AM (#8098455)
    But I bet Dell still pays Microsoft a fee when they sell a FreeDOS PC.

Friction is a drag.