Dell Computer will begin shipping its n-Series corporate workstations and desktops in September, 2002 that will not have a Microsoft Windows operating system installed, nor any other pre-installed operating system. The n-Series computers will be sold as part of Dell’s Optiplex line and Precision workstation line, and come with a copy of FreeDOS OS in the shipping carton, which can be installed by the customer at a later time at their option. While Dell announced that this was due to customer demand for flexibility and choice in operating systems, it appears to be an ingenious maneuver by Dell to sidestep Microsoft’s new licensing terms, which mandate that manufacturers of computers must ship their PCs with an operating system. Microsoft’s Windows OS is now considered one of the biggest expenses in PC manufacturers’ costs, since the manufacturer must pay the Windows licensing fee at the time the system is installed.
Dell will offer this option to only its Optiplex customers who purchase in large quantities through Dell’s Custom Factory Installation Program, and will offer the n-Series Precision workstations to individual purchasers only through Dell’s web site.