Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bought a Dell XPS 8700 Desktop Computer

Beware! Buying a new computer is not the happy, streamlined experience it once was. I've been coaxing my old Dell XPS 420 along for 7 years, or more and finally broke down and got a new system. I shopped my heart out. Compared everything every which way. Watched YouTube videos researched reviews and took my sweet time, instead of just jumping in as soon as the urge struck me.

My old XPS 420 computer ran on the Microsoft Vista operating system it shipped with, which would indicate how long ago I bought the system from Dell. Too many hardware items no longer function, or worse, function intermittently, to indicate here.

Suffice it to say, it was time to retire the old boy.

The new system is a 4th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, running at 3.6 Ghz with 12 Gigs of memory and a 1 Terabyte hard drive. It came with a corded keyboard and mouse, and a Nvidia GTX-745 graphics card with 4 Gigs of RAM! It has 6 USB ports, an HDMI port in addition to it's normal video output, as well as built-in audio, WIFI, integrated LAN and Bluetooth capability. Here's the kicker, it came with Windows 8.1.

Problems With Dell

I ordered it on August 25th and it was supposed to arrive on September 3rd, but by the 3rd, it still hadn't shipped. It arrived on the 8th. This was probably the second indicator that I was in for a bumpy ride with Dell. The first bump was, I found a price online at Best Buy for less than the published price on the Dell website and I chatted with Dell support to ask if they matched the competitor's price. They claimed they did, but it took an hour of back and forth before they complied with a matched price. They rode me pretty hard trying to up-sell all sorts of warranties and protection add-ons but finally relented, so I placed the order. I discovered later, I could have purchased it for less if I had asked about dent and scratch availability.

Problems With Windows 10

So OK, I power the computer up and start transferring and installing to my heart's content. This went swimmingly for two days. Then I chose to take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 opportunity and waited a good hour before that was completed. This was a major mistake.

For whatever reason, Windows 10 set all my files and folders to "Read-Only" and I couldn't save word documents or backup my financial files. I spent another two days adding Administrator privileges to my account and resetting the files and folders to Read/Write, three separate times, but the changes would not stick. Every time I restarted the computer, the files and folders were Read-Only. Thank you, Microsoft and Windows 10!

Having had enough of that, I decided to rollback to Windows 8.1, the OS the machine arrived with, only to find out this was not possible because the "hidden" Administrator account  (I unhid), could not be changed or removed. At this point, I tried twice to let Dell know I wanted to return the computer. They ignored both requests, one by chatting and one by email.

Over the weekend, when I knew they were not available to assist, (they don't assist much anyway), I managed to download their Recovery software to roll back to Windows 8.1. That worked, but I lost everything I had loaded and installed to that point. I didn't care because I thought I was returning it anyway. Well, a new monkey wrench into the works. My old system gave up the ghost and died. I couldn't connect my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse so I had no way of doing anything. I had second thoughts about returning the new system about that time.

After a good night's rest, I realized I could connect an older USB mouse to the old system and recover some of the files. The new corded USB keyboard and mouse would not work on the old system, of course, because it needed drivers for them. The old system is so old, Dell doesn't provide new drivers just like Microsoft doesn't want to support Vista or any other old operating system.

There's More

Now Windows 8.1 won't let me change the Account or Screen Lock photos. They worked fine the first time around, but now it's rocket science to get them changed. In my search for a solution, I found this is a common problem and complaint. Microsoft still hasn't figured out how to produce a flawless operating system all these years later. I was around for Windows 2 and MSDOS so I've seen many different attempts at the operating system game from Microsoft over the past 35 years.

So unless you are a computer guru, you might want to get your system installed and your important data transferred by someone who has more experience than I do. This was not a very pleasant experience.