Has MS Finally Gotten Through To DELL?

I complained on Twitter to @MichaelDell that I could not buy a DELL XPS One 27 with “Microsoft Signature”. Today I got tweet from @MaryFadAtDell that read:

The full of her email is below:

Charlie – I wanted to get back to you on your concerns about
purchasing the XPS One 27 on dell.com vs. at a Microsoft
store. With the introduction of Windows 8, particularly on
our XPS systems, we have committed to a very clean software
pre-install that does not include any bloatware. I’ve provided
a list of the pre-installed Apps/Tiles below. I hope you’ll
agree that they are not bloatware, but please feel free to
reach out or follow up with me to discuss.

Thanks,

Mary

Dell Preloaded MSFT Apps

• Photo Gallery

• Movie Maker

Dell Preloaded Apps

• Office Trial (30-day)

• Windows 8 Getting Started Tile

• My Dell & Dell Backup & Recovery

• Dell Shop S&P App

• Amazon, Kindle

• Amazon Taskbar App

• Retail Registration

• Cirrus

Dell Hardware Enablement

• Skype for Metro

• CyberLink Media Suite

• NetReady Metro App (digital delivery)

In case you aren’t aware, Microsoft Signature is a program (in the US) where Microsoft selects OEM PCs and resells them with a Windows install that is tuned by Microsoft for optimal performance. Microsoft removes all ‘crap ware’ and ‘bloat ware’ and provides some pretty background images.  They sell these PCs via the Microsoft Store (both online and retail).

At some point some OEMs (I don’t recall which ones; I thought it was DELL, but I think that’s wrong) would sell Microsoft Signature PCs themselves.

A few years ago I vowed to never buy another OEM PC without Signature.

This program was created by Microsoft a few years ago in an effort to demonstrate that PC’s didn’t have to be slow to boot, have dozens of stickers on them, and full of useless software that interfered with the core usability of the PC.

It’s a good move by DELL to support, effectively, Signature on their premium line of PCs (XPS). However, you’ll note, that non-XPS DELL PCs don’t get this treatment.  DELL still makes a bunch of money by pre-installing crap and bloat on most of their PCs.

I have to wonder how much an impact Surface had on this. As you know, the primary goal (IMO) of Surface is to be a “North Star” from Microsoft on how PCs should be built and sold. Is DELL on the right path? We’ll see.

FWIW, we have found the DELL XPS ONE 27 to be a really, really, great machine. It is a 27” touch screen all-in-one computer that sits in our kitchen and is my wife’s primary computer (her new Surface is her secondary).  The screen, at 2650×1440, is gorgeous.  With Windows 8 pre-installed it is very fast with a Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. The touchscreen has great responsiveness and can be titled almost horizontal, making it great for situations where you are standing above the device (e.g. on a kitchen counter).  It has a fan, but it is nearly silent.

Like most PCs, even Signature, this machine suffers with needing a slew of updates right away. It took hours to get through all the Windows Update reboots and so forth; including a few times when the PC wedged/hung while trying to access Windows Update.  This continues to be a huge thorn in the side of PCs (and the Mac, by the way, is not immune to this; they require updating out of the box too!). Since being updated it has run flawlessly.

The only real nit we have is the keyboard. For some reason my wife simply cannot type on it without the spacebar not firing. I didn’t have this problem but it drove her nuts so we just used her old keyboard which is a Microsoft Wedge (which she, for some reason loves).

Ironically, I think Windows 8 works even better on a device like this than on the Surface!  This is primarily because Windows 8’s second (or 1st depending on your perspective) personality is not neutered.  That is, the old-school Windows desktop and legacy apps work completely as expected on a full-PC like this whereas on the Surface only a subset of Office (no Outlook) works and interacting with the old UI is difficult with touch.

On a side note related to touch-screen-all-in-one PCs.  I was completely prepared to buy a 27” iMac for my wife, but only if it had a touchscreen.  No way would I buy a $1500-2000 device without a touchscreen these days. Apple has, ironically, missed the boat on this one.

© Charlie Kindel. All Rights Reserved.