Dell Support – is this a joke?

I just got off the phone from a call to Dell Support. Here is my problem… As I have mentioned on a couple of occasions here I installed Vista on my M90 laptop pretty much as soon as it was released on MSDN. Installing this early left me with a few driver issues but undeterred I soldiered on. Slowly but surely the drivers started to appear on the Dell site and I installed them with varying degrees of success. The sound driver still gives worse performance than the XP one I tried and a few other issues….

I was just setting up another new Dell laptop when I noticed that the Notebook System Software utility was running (on Vista) and was periodically checking for updates from Dell having scanned the system to determine the hardware. That sounds about the cut of my jib thought I and off I scurried to install it on my M90. Having run the installer 3 times I still haven’t got it working, hence the call to Dell support.

After the usual switchboard tennis I got through to the person I needed to speak to.  I explained that I had upgraded my operating system and that the Notebook System Software (NSS) wasn’t working. “I don’t think we are going to be able to help you” he told me. Why, because they don’t know if that application will work on my machine with Vista. “So”, I argued, “why does it appear in the Vista 32-Bit Drivers and Downloads list and state in the release notes that it applies to the Precision M90″. “Err…”, he replied, “that is only with the operating system that we supplied the machine with.” After a bit of pointless to-ing and fro-ing I capitulated and hung up.

During the call he also suggested that I ‘try the Internet, you know blogs or newsgroups’. Obviously, I had already done this but his suggestion to try ‘blogs’ was a good one, hence the post :)

So, the moral of this story is, once you upgrade your operating system you are screwed as far as any Dell drivers or system software is concerned. You are on your own…

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15 Responses to “Dell Support – is this a joke?”


  1. 1 Kim March 28, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I installed Vista once I got the RTM version through MSDN. I didn’t have any Windows issues, but some 3rd party suites would not install properly. Regarding the audio issue, I just installed the XP version of the driver from the resource CD.

  2. 2 Graham Pengelly March 28, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Kim… Yes, I had the XP sound driver and it was working a treat until I upgraded to the Vista one. I haven’t got around to putting it back on yet. Did you manage to get the Notebook System Software thing running? The Dell ‘representative’ seemed to think that it was crucial that this was installed before any other drivers which sounds like a load of cobblers to me but what do I know… It doesn’t mention anything about that in the release notes.

  3. 3 Kim March 28, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I never installed the Notebook System Software. It was my understanding that the auto updater from DELL wasn’t supported on the M90. In order to get timely updates I subscribed to email updates for any release relevant to the M90. It’s not as convenient as an auto updater system, but at least I get to know when there are new drivers available.

  4. 4 Graham Pengelly March 29, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    According to the dell support driver download list Notebook System Software is supported on Vista on the M90. This is also repeated in the Version.txt that is comes with the installer. Either way it isn’t working for me…

  5. 5 John April 2, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    This is John, a customer advocate at Dell headquarters. I thought I’d chime in, as upgrading to Vista has been a confusing issue for many of us (I’ve installed it on my system at home as well).

    This software does work with the Dell implimentation of Vista, as evidenced by the fact that we sell the M90 with Vista pre-installed on our website. Our factory image includes the software in question. If that software installs correctly and works on the MSDN distro or the Vista retail version is really up in the air. Much of all OEM’s driver support for Vista is really up in the air at this stage of the game. For example:

    I installed Vista Ultimate (MSDN version) on my machine (nForce590SLI, Athlon X2 5200+, 2GB OCZ PC2-6400, EVGA GeForce 8800GTX) and although most things installed without a hitch, the video driver proved to be VERY unstable, and nTune wouldn’t run properly. Looking at their support site at least let me know that other people are experiencing the same thing. Vista has presented very real challenges to all hardware manufacturers, Dell included. At this stage of the game we can only really guaranty that our Vista drivers and system software will work on our OEM version of Vista.

    I would be happy to provide any assistance or information you need. Feel free to contact me:

    customer_advocate@dell.com
    ATTN:John

  6. 6 Graham Pengelly April 3, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Well, John. You can’t say fairer than that. Thanks for dropping by :)

    I understand the issues with drivers and the new driver model in Vista and remember when XP came out having similar problems, despite the far less radical changes that XP had.

    If Dell will only support their OEM distributions of operating systems shouldn’t they sell Dell compatible upgrades? I’m sure this would cause a shit load of licensing hoohah with Microsoft but it would be much easier for the end user, not me mind as I would still want to use one of the licenses that comes with my company’s partner programme membership.

    That said, why not allow me to use my serial?

    Thinking about it, we already have this in the mobile space as the vendors, Dell included, have such varied hardware platforms that PocketPc and SmartPhone versions of Windows Mobile are different from vendor to vendor and require specific upgrades.

    Anyway, thanks again John for offerring to help…

  7. 7 John April 4, 2007 at 12:12 am

    I agree entirely, it would be easier to use an OEM upgrade. We actually offered an express upgrade for those who ordered a Vista Capable system between October 26th 2006 and March 15th of 2007. I don’t know all of the behind the scenes details on this, e.g. why those particular dates were chosen (probably the licensing hoohah we worked out with MS), but one was offered. It would appear that your particular system wasn’t a qualifying system.

    http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/solutions/en/vista_express_upgrade?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

    Regardless, I will do my best to help you in any way I can. If you have any questions or need anything at all, feel free to shoot me an email!

  8. 8 Graham Pengelly April 4, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I think that date was chosen by Microsoft as the time that vendors could start offering a free upgrade, I suppose to stop sales falling off too much with the impending release of a new OS.

    You are right, my system didn’t qualify because I bought it way before those dates.

    It is a shame that Dell couldn’t offer upgrade versions for sale to other customers like me. I’m sure they wish they could too now the trouble everyone is having getting to grips with the new driver model is coming to light.

    Anyway, I’m sure the drivers will sort themselves out before long…

  9. 9 Rob April 18, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    In response to your comment about poor sound driver performance, I have seen some suggestions on the Internet that have fixed some of those issues. In particular, when you have a play list in Media Player, you’ll noticed some stutter/ in the sound, about 8-10 seconds before the end of each song. If so, check out http://computershopper.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2130 and look at the post at March 22nd, 2007, 07:24 PM.

  10. 10 Graham Pengelly April 18, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks Rob… I’ve had a look at that and will give those solutions a shot. My media player seems to be ok. Where I notice a problem is some of the system and app sounds crackle, particularly the Skype log-in sound.

    I haven’t looked at the drivers for a couple of weeks so I’ll have another look as there may well be some more drivers by now (he says, with fingers crossed…)

  11. 11 mnkymanslim August 27, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Next time try dual booting before you switch o.s. you then you don’t have to wory about these kind of problems

    umm actually there is a website explaining how to do this

    XP installed first
    http://apcmag.com/how_to_dualboot_vista_with_xp__stepbystep_guide_with_screenshots.htm

    Vista installed first
    http://apcmag.com/how_to_dual_boot_vista_and_xp_with_vista_installed_first__the_stepbystep_guide.htm

    I also suggest getting partition magic to help you set up partition sizes it makes it a little more convenient

    I also suggest making another partion formated with no o.s. just for your music, picture, txt….ect… files to help share between o.s.

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