I don't want to pay Bill Gates twice!
December 7, 2006 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I already have a copy of Vista through work but my PC isn't robust enough to run it. Is it possible to buy a name brand PC without Windows?

My current custom built PC doesn't meet the requirements to run Vista and I don't want to go through the hassle of upgrading it. I also don't want the hassle of building another PC. Can I get a name brand PC from a company like Dell, Gateway or HP without an operating system installed? If not, what other options would I have if I don't want to build it myself? If I can at least get a decent base system, I'd be willing to do small upgrades like a DVD burner. FYI, I know it's not difficult to build a PC (I've built dozens), I just don't have the time or desire to research and shop for the parts. I want the PC to come already assembled (and with parts guaranteed to be compatible with Vista) from one place where I can call up and yell if somethings not right.
posted by bda1972 to Technology (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here we go again. Basically, no.


But, more helpfully: The closest you will get to an OS free system is ordering something with Linux from, say, Dell. I see people asking this all the time (throughout the tubes, not here), and it seems like you're stuck paying the Windows Tax. But not always

I'll be following this - hopefully by this age of Power Users, I can be proved wrong.
posted by niles at 4:06 PM on December 7, 2006


It pretty much isn't possible. Partly that's because of the threat of lawsuits by Microsoft (who contended, not without some justification, that most bare-metal computers would end up with pirated copies of Windows installed on them) and partly it's because there just isn't much demand for such things.

For them the inventory cost and tech support cost of additional configurations isn't worth the hassle. They have experimented in the past with offering Linux as an alternative, and hardly any such were sold.

The OEM license doesn't actually add all that much to the total cost you're paying, especially if you get it from one of the big manufacturers. The volume discount for OEM licenses is quite steep.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:07 PM on December 7, 2006


I had a great experience buying from ava direct and my friend loves the box he just got from shuttle - you select the parts, they build it for ya.
posted by gnutron at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2006


If Steven's suggestion is correct that the OEM license is actually quite cheap, then I suggest ensuring that you get a system that comes with the proper XP install disc, not some stupid preinstall reset system, then you squirrel that XP away, wipe the drive, do the Vista thing, etc, because chances are that a copy of XP will come in really handy some day, eg maybe you get someone a used laptop from ebay for a gift, but it needs an OS. Maybe five years from now, you want to play an old favourite game or retrieve data from an old application, but it's not compatible with the current generation of system, meanwhile you can get the hardware to make an XP system for free, but MS doesn't sell XP any more. Whatever, something will happen - I find that having spare OS's lying around is always well worthwhile.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:39 PM on December 7, 2006


Harlequin: OEM copies of Windows cannot legally be installed on a system other than the one it came with.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:56 PM on December 7, 2006


Apparently Dell will give a refund, in the UK at least. As you don't say where you are, I can't tell if this is relevant.
posted by pompomtom at 4:58 PM on December 7, 2006


Here we go again. Basically, no.

Sadly, my initial research got me the same answer.

I'll be following this - hopefully by this age of Power Users, I can be proved wrong.

Me too! That's why I posted this question. There's got to be an option out there I'm missing.
posted by bda1972 at 4:59 PM on December 7, 2006


Actually it IS possible to buy a name brand PC without Windows installed...sort of.

The catch is in the 'User Agreement' that you must either 'decline' or 'accept' when setting up your new machine. The 'User Agreement' states that if you decline the 'User Agreement' you are entitled to a refund for the software from your PC manufacturer.

This obviously sounds like a long-shot but it works. This BBC article details how a man documented the entire setup expecting to take the matter to small claims court.

After an email to Dell explaining that he had declined the 'User Agreement' he was contacted two days later and given a full refund.

Simple as that.
posted by ASM at 5:11 PM on December 7, 2006


I figured I would get a lot of responses mentioning this story. I'm in the US, but it seems like it's only been this one guy in the UK so far. I've seen this story reprinted many times but have yet to see another documented example of anyone getting a refund. I wouldn't consider that evidence that I could buy a PC and then return Windows for a refund. I'm sure this was a fluke and the Dell employee lost their job immediately. If it was that simple, tens of thousands of people would have already done it.
posted by bda1972 at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2006


Here we go again. Basically, no.

Nonsense.

Here's an exceptionally loaded IBM. It doesn't get more name-brand than that.

Sun builds plenty of AMD Opteron machines, including the Ultra 20

Dell still sells their Linux desktops, as long as you order through Dell business.

HP will sell you a Dual Opteron with FreeDOS installed.

None of those machines comes with Windows. Two of them come with RedHat Enterprise Linux, which actually doesn't add much to the price (though in truth, neither does XP these days)


The limiting factor in your question is the words "Name Brand". If you've got a local clone manufacturer, they can build a decent machine for you without an OS... no problem.
posted by toxic at 5:27 PM on December 7, 2006


I'll second the recommendation of a local white-box maker. But then again, I have a very good one in my community.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2006


Sidebar: Why didn't you check your specs before you bought Vista? You say you got it through work, but you also "don't want to pay Bill Gates twice" so I will assume you paid for a legal copy.

There's even a Vista Upgrade Advisor program to download from Microsoft, or PC Pitstop will run a readiness test online.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:14 PM on December 7, 2006


You could buy a Mac, install Parallels and install your Windows Vista into that.

I'm just saying.
posted by inviolable at 6:23 PM on December 7, 2006


inviolable: Macs are even harder to buy sans-OS. Is it even possible to get a clean Mac?
posted by -harlequin- at 6:31 PM on December 7, 2006


Find a local computer shop that builds systems. They're likely to have pre-built computers for sale, and you're more likely to be able to request an OS-free system.
posted by neckro23 at 6:47 PM on December 7, 2006


The catch is in the 'User Agreement' that you must either 'decline' or 'accept' when setting up your new machine. The 'User Agreement' states that if you decline the 'User Agreement' you are entitled to a refund for the software from your PC manufacturer.

I happened to buy a new Dell laptop earlier this week. When starting it up, it says "press any key to accept the EULA"

As such, I really have no idea how one would go about NOT accepting the license agreement.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 6:51 PM on December 7, 2006


Sidebar: Why didn't you check your specs before you bought Vista? You say you got it through work, but you also "don't want to pay Bill Gates twice" so I will assume you paid for a legal copy.

There's even a Vista Upgrade Advisor program to download from Microsoft, or PC Pitstop will run a readiness test online.


I ran my the Vista Upgrade Advisor against my PC which is why I want to replace it. It actually meets the minimum requirements but I would never run Windows on the minimum. Work is paying for it so, yes, it is a legal copy - just not paid for by me. If I was paying I would have just bought a new PC loaded with Vista. I'm taking this as a sign from the gods to finally upgrade my home PC.
posted by bda1972 at 6:52 PM on December 7, 2006


Sure you can. Dell -> Small Business -> Open Source Desktops. They ship with no Windows, and a copy of FreeDOS.

Easy as pie, and Windows-free.
posted by drstein at 7:25 PM on December 7, 2006


I kinda buried this in my first comment, but here's a story about not accepting Windows and getting a refund. This is in Austrialia, FWIW.
posted by niles at 8:20 PM on December 7, 2006


I second shuttle. Their PC boxes are small, cute, silent and fast. They are a motherboards company that design their own cases. Excellent mortherboard, and excellent cases. They are a little bit more expensive than full-sized PCs, and I felt it was money well spent.
posted by gmarceau at 4:57 AM on December 8, 2006


Mwongozi: "Harlequin: OEM copies of Windows cannot legally be installed on a system other than the one it came with."

...and if I pay for a copy of an OS, I want the OS, not a "reinstall" disk. I don't mind screwing a company over if they think it is fine to screw me over in the first place. Microsoft would be better-liked if they stopped treating paying customers like pirates.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:46 AM on December 8, 2006


I bought my computer from a group like ava direct. I had the option of not buying windows, if I didn't want it. Great warranties, too. I can look up the company name when I get home.

If there's a store local to you, I bet you could just say, "I want a computer this fast that's compatible with Vista."
posted by muddgirl at 7:41 AM on December 8, 2006


inviolable: Macs are even harder to buy sans-OS. Is it even possible to get a clean Mac?

No, but then that's not what the poster is asking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2006


Build one yourself; it's educational and fun.
posted by kindall at 8:45 AM on December 8, 2006


(I know you rejected that option, but it's not much more hassle than installing Windows is, I'm sure you could find a good bundle of parts without having to do much shopping.)
posted by kindall at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2006


Blazecock: Read the rest of the question -

Can I get a name brand PC from a company like Dell, Gateway or HP without an operating system installed?

Apple is name-brand, but doesn't come without an operating system installed.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2006


FWIW, the copy of OS X provided with a Mac is free - you don't pay any extra for it. (That's why the bundled versions are locked to the type of Mac you bought, whereas retail copies work on any Mac.)
posted by Mwongozi at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2006


Sure you can. Dell -> Small Business -> Open Source Desktops.

That's nice, but what is the price comparison? Go look at a deals site and you will see that the best priced systems from Dell always come with Windows. It's possible that you can save money on multi-unit purchases, but even that probably doesn't amount to much..
posted by Chuckles at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2006


"but what is the price comparison?"

If the OP is really worried about price, maybe they should just go with the "build it yourself" route.
Except that the DIY route isn't always the cheapest. You have to factor in your time as well, and support issues.

A Dell box is an excellent idea, and you know that you can get it without Windows, and it'll work with Vista. That was the question the OP asked.

(FYI, we test newer Dell boxes with Vista. Everything is working just fine.)
posted by drstein at 9:57 PM on December 9, 2006


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