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I recently bought a Dell Studio XPS 16, with Windows 7 Home Premium. It came with all sorts of bloatware, so I decided to install a fresh copy of Windows. However, I can't seem to find a way to download a copy of Windows 7 from Microsoft's website. Is there a way that I can do this (as long as I provide a product key)?

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Did you check the stuff that Dell sends you with the computer? Usually they provide a re-install disk. – waiwai933 May 8 '10 at 16:26
Yep I checked, there was no re-install disk. – Matthew Pirocchi May 8 '10 at 16:33
up vote 6 down vote accepted

For the Dell Studio series there is usually a hidden partition on the disk to allow for a reinstall or recovery. This would include the Windows install files (actually its usually just an image of the hard drive in factory state). I would start with consulting the documentation. More often than not I just go to Dell's site and enter the service tag vs. rooting through paper.

The problem of course is that these install partitions usually reset to the factory state, which includes the bloatware that is so annoying. Often if discs are provided with the documentation, there will be the Windows disc and then the Dell disc with their programs/bloatware. If you want discs and didn't receive, OEMs sometimes will ship discs for a small charge, but it varies by manufacturer, I know Lenovo has offered me this in the past, but I am not sure about Dell.

Keep in mind you have a license for the software, you are trying to find the media. Contacting Microsoft will almost assuredly result in them pushing you to Dell. Also, now might be a good time to write down your Windows key, whether its on the bottom of the laptop or if you run a key extract utility.

Finally, you could always borrow a disc from a friend, provided you have a key, and install completely clean. I would recommend downloading Dell drivers first, since the reinstall/recovery partition usually has these preloaded, but a clean install via a different Windows disc will not.

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Thanks. The key is on the bottom of my laptop, I've written it down. I think what I'm going to do is try to get Dell to mail me a disc. If I can't manage that, I'll try to get it from a friend. I actually deleted the restore partition, because I would never want to reinstall all the bloatware anyway, and I want to be able to use the full size of my HD. I'm looking around Dell's website now. If anyone has detailed instructions for how to get them to mail me a disc, please let me know! – Matthew Pirocchi May 8 '10 at 16:44
I found it on Dell's website, and submitted a request for the disc. Do you know if they send a vanilla Windows 7 disc, or if they send the OEM version with the bloatware? – Matthew Pirocchi May 8 '10 at 16:49
Usually its a vanilla disc of Windows, however its branded with Dell markings, i.e. it won't resemble a retail disc. Accompanying this is another Dell branded disc, with programs and drivers. Those "programs" are usually the bloatware, i.e. time trials of antivirus, burning programs, etc. This is the case for the Dells I have seen recently that shipped with discs. Don't know if it would have changed. – mindless.panda May 8 '10 at 17:22
I have done this in the past, and while the disk is not a generic Windows install (this was back in the XP days) it did not contain the bloatware that came with the machine, but according to the label would only install on that particular model. There was no charge for me at the time, YMMV. – chris May 8 '10 at 18:47
@user26453 There wasn't a change, but there was a clear warning: "Only one request per system". Also, I've just sent in the request--it hasn't yet been confirmed. – Matthew Pirocchi May 8 '10 at 19:43

It happens that for companies, bundle a $.2 disc with a $1000 computer it's too expensive. So, they go the cheap way, and put the installation files on an hidden partition.

Also, they take agreements to bloat the standard distribution: they take money for include that, I mean.

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Yep, that's why buying a Dell with Windows or Ubuntu costs the same--the bloatware offsets the cost of Windows. I use Ubuntu most of the time, and just keep Windows for gaming (and just in case I need some Windows program that doesn't work in Wine), so I want a nice, clean system. – Matthew Pirocchi May 8 '10 at 17:06
Yeah, its ridiculous they can't include a disc and instead trade it for advertised hard drive space (which of course is base 10). – mindless.panda May 8 '10 at 17:24

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