Update: Trying To Dodge The Microsoft Tax

Hey folks,

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. 2008 is just around the corner, where did 2007 go? Anyway, bare with me this post is relevant to Linux and open source honest. I’ve been wanting to replace my clunky desktop tower for a while with a nice new laptop, running Linux of course. So I’m looking for a new laptop and I don’t want to buy one with Windows pre-installed because I will only be deleting it instantly. My original budget was around £500 but I’ve since upped that to £700ish, I may be living on Pot Noodles for most of January though 🙂 I want a nice portable machine yet powerful, a few people have said to me “get a Macbook” but I won’t repeat my reply to that in polite conversation.

As I’ve mentioned a few times I would dearly love a System76 Linux laptop but they won’t ship to Europe. I could get a friend in the US to buy one for me and ship it over but I’d have the hassle of import duties and if something happened to it I’d be pretty screwed sending it back. My next thought was to try one of the smaller sellers in the UK, I’ve looked at The Linux Emporium and Efficient PC but neither of them have a machine I want at a price I can afford which is a shame.

So then it was on to Dell and their Ubuntu laptops or should I say Ubuntu laptop (singular) as they only have one model for sale in the UK. I had a look at the 6400n and I can get a pretty decent spec for £500 but I found the coloured 1520 with Vista has more features, a better spec and only costs £499. This is annoying because I want to support Linux and try to show Dell that their is a market for it but I don’t like the 6400n. So what can I do?

Well, pay attention 007 here comes the plan…. the machine I really want is the very sexy XPS m1330 and I can get one with a better spec than my current desktop for £725 delivered. I’ve even done some research and found that the machine fully supports Linux, the model I’m looking at has Intel wireless and graphics so I can even use the open source drivers. I found a great article about running Ubuntu on the m1330 here.

This is all good but I have one problem, I’m forced to buy a copy of Vista that I will only throw in the bin and the thought of giving Microsoft money for nothing makes me physically sick. I’ve heard that if you contact Dell as a business customer they will ship you a machine with FreeDOS instead of Windows. I’m going to try contacting the company to see how receptive they are to this idea. I’ve heard both good and bad things about Dell in the past. My last resort will be to buy the machine with Vista and then document myself declining the license before sending all of that to Dell with a request for a refund. It’s not about the money for me, it’s about the principal. I know that may seem a bit extreme to some people but that’s really how I feel about this. I won’t back down and if they refuse me a refund they’ll be getting the laptop back, I’ll just have to save up until I can afford a machine from one of the smaller sellers I suppose. Not ideal.

So I just wanted to canvas your opinions a bit, have any of you dealt with Dell in the past? Any experiences you want to share? Has anyone out there succeeded in getting a refund on your Windows Tax? Maybe you know of another UK seller I should try? Any comments are gratefully received.

Hope you all have a good New Year and as the great Chuck D once said “Fight the power!!” “Yeah boyzzzzz” hehe 🙂



  1. well this is quite a problem.

    basiclly i would go for your choise if you have the nerve to stand for it you will get the refund.

    and of i dont think people should think your a fanatic.

    naturally who tha hell whants to pay for something they are not going to use??

  2. Thanks for the support, as you said why pay for something I don’t want. It really annoys me though that it can be so hard to buy a decent PC without Windows pre-installed. Every supplier should offer the option to just buy the hardware if you want to use your own software.

  3. Of course there is a third option if the refund option is not successful, burn the license and put the video of it on youtube.

    I have defected to Mac for desktop for work purposes, but I do use Linux on VMWare Fusion and on all the servers I run.

    If I had to buy a non-mac laptop right now it would be a Thinkpad, but again this has the MS tax.

    Toys R Us have the Linux based ASUS EeePC for £219 although that probably isn’t what you are looking for.

    Good luck!

  4. I do like the eeePC and it’s getting some great reviews but sadly it’s not a desktop replacement. It doesn’t have the power I need. I think it would be great for a lightweight travel machine though, definitely worth a look for that.

    I’m gonna contact Dell today and see what they have to say, I’m toying with the idea of just buying the Linux machine they sell if they are really unresponsive but I’m not sure about that idea. We’ll see what happens

  5. Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é http://www.provedorcrescenet.com . Um abraço.

  6. Not sure what specs you’re looking for, but the base specs for Dell’s “Inspiron Notebook 1420 N” match the base specs for the XPS M1330 and the available upgrades _seem_ to match in both cases.
    Also, given the troubling state of the dollar, you can get it for half-price if you have an associate buy it for you in $US. hohoho •<||:{>
    Just a thought…

  7. Hey Dan!

    Look around for companies that custom build barebones notebooks. I just bought a Compal from Powernotebooks.com that is the equivalent of a macbook pro for 1/2 the price. No M$ or Apple Tax! Honestly, if you shop around a bit, you can build a customized rig that is cheaper than what Dell, HP, etc. are offering. Compal and Asus both have powerful systems based on the Santa Rosa and Conroe centrino platforms.

  8. I feel for you, Dan. Before buying a used laptop for my wife last month, I researched Dell’s Ubuntus and had to do a damn google search to find the page on their site! Next was the sad fact that the Ubuntu Dell machines were pretty weak on hardware compared to the XPS ones.

    Like you, I wasn’t going to pay for either Windows XP or Vista on a laptop, period. I ended up buying a used IBM/Lenovo machine that has worked flawlessly since running Mepis. Otherwise, I think Dell is getting its game back after a couple of years’ worth of bad customer service. Good luck.

  9. Thanks for the encouragement folks, I think I’ve actually succeeded in ordering a Dell XPS m1330 with Ubuntu 7.10 they were very helpful on the phone I must say. I’m gonna post an update on the blog now if you want the full details.

    Happy new year everyone 🙂

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