Separate from the laptop discussion, I just bought a new home machine. I just wanted a generic PC, high-ish end for longevity and in case I (or someone else) wants to hack on it. This machine will definitely run Linux, but I'm going to keep the Windows 7 install in a partition in case we ever need it. So I'm going through Dell's Windows 7 first-run experience, and it's not great.
The initial Microsoft setup screens are pretty good, although it all seems to take longer than it should. Then you get to a Dell screen asking you to opt into some Dell stuff, which for some unfathomable reason is rendered in the Windows 95/2000 "Classic" theme, gray box scrollbars and all. It's ugly, jarring and totally mystifying.
Soon you're offered the chance to burn system recovery DVDs. I don't understand why they ask users to obtain blank DVDs and burn them instead of just shipping those DVDs; shipping them with every system would add a few dollars to the system cost, but probably save more in support calls and give a much better user experience.
The application that burns the recovery DVDs has one crazy screen that shows you some information and asks you to click "Next". But there is no "Next" button visible. But there's a vertical scrollbar! Scrolling down, you can get to a "Next" button. Of course, the window is not resizable, and it contains lots of blank vertical space so there is no possible reason why the "Next" button should not be visible.
Microsoft's initial Windows network setup asks you whether you're on a "Home", "Work" or "Public" network, which I bet is often hard for people to answer. I wonder how Windows uses that information. But right after choosing that option, the (preinstalled) McAfee antivirus software pops up an ugly little box in which you have to choose those same options again.
Of course I still have to analyze the system for the paid-to-be-there crapware (including McAfee) and uninstall most of it.
I'm genuinely curious about what motivates system vendors like Dell to sully what could have been a better experience. It's not apathy, since they obviously paid people to develop many of these "extras". Whatever it is, it's no surprise platform vendors want to sell directly to the customer instead of working through partners like Dell.