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Dell offers PCs without Windows

Dell has been selling business PCs without Microsoft's Windows operating system installed to business clients for some time, the company admitted this week.

The Optiplex GX260, Precision 530 and Precision 340 can be ordered by certain high-volume business clients with a clean hard drive and a copy of FreeDOS, an operating system distributed under the GNU General Public Licence, the company said.

Dell has been selling PCs without an operating system installed "for some time, for an extremely small minority of our customers who prefer this option," according to a spokesman.

Microsoft's new licensing policies demand that manufacturers ship all PCs with an operating system installed, saying this is a way to reduce piracy.

However, companies that wish to use other operating systems such as Linux find it easier to install alternative operating systems on a PC with a clean hard drive, Pete Kastner, chief research officer at analyst Aberdeen Group, said. PCs have to be wiped clean of the old OS before a new one can be installed, which requires time and labour by a company's IT staff, he said.

By putting a copy of FreeDOS in a PC's shipping box, Dell is complying with Microsoft's policies while continuing to meet the requests of its customers for a PC without an operating system.

Dell already ships PCs with distributions of the Linux operating systems for select business customers who request specific software to be installed on their PCs before delivery.

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