Dell, Give Folks Their 64-bit Media

I’m going to give Dell one warning. Give folks their 64-bit media for Vista, when they request it. Dell claims that OEM copies of Vista cannot be switched between 32-bit and 64-bit installs. This is flat out wrong, a photocopied misconception, and a rather shameful response by the world’s largest PC maker.

For example, you can take an OEM 32-bit Product ID for Vista, and use the same product key with the standard OEM 64-bit install disc. Was that so hard?

Aparrently for Dell, it is. See, top-tier OEMs use different Product ID algorithms (to protect from piracy). So, you need a Dell 64-bit Vista Install Disc to use that license (which you’ve already paid for) as a 64-bit version of Windows. All Dell needs to do is hit the burn button on their CD copier, and put that disc in the mail when a consumer wants it. We’re more than willing to pay a $10 handling fee for your $2 disc.

What Microsoft says is that they will not assist OEM users in obtaining different media… because system builders can select between 32-bit and 64-bit media at purchase. Retail users have to pay a handling fee to obtain a Retail 64-bit disc (Ultimate Retail comes with both 32-bit and 64-bit discs). The reason Microsoft does this, is precisely because Dell, HP, and other top-tier manufacturers use their own algorithms… and thus, there are actually several OEM Vista discs.

What will happen if Dell (and others) don’t start making good on customer requests? Well, I personally think that they are breaking the law, interfering with the Microsoft EULA, which appears to permit OEM users to go the 64-bit migration route… making Dell the giver of “undue, unconscionable interference between Microsoft and the consumer” — Christopher Price. I don’t have a law degree (we’ll see about that later), but I’m warning Dell… lots of other class action lawyers do. Dell, according to Microsoft, and themselves, is the sole actor that could issue customers 64-bit media. The only other option for customers to enforce what their Microsoft license terms allow, is to pirate Vista, which in turn then breaks Microsoft’s license. Hence, Dell is forcing customers to either re-purchase Windows Vista, or violate their license with Microsoft.

Bear in mind, most customers don’t know the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit at purchase, and Dell really doesn’t reference the distinction (to the typical buyer). Guess what’s going to happen when those folks take their PCs into a shop and ask for a RAM upgrade of 4 GB or more?

21 Responses

  1. kane
    kane October 1, 2007 at 2:09 pm |

    Well put. I’m about to buy a dell and I want both the 32 and 64 bit cd’s. This when when I go to 4gigs of ram I will have the os install ready to follow.

  2. Romualdas
    Romualdas January 8, 2008 at 12:12 am |

    I’m waiting for a Dell workstation to arrive today. It comes with 32-bit Vista, but I will be trying to get the 64-bit CD as well, becouse I already have 4 GB of RAM and plan to expand to 8-16 in the future. My experience is if you want something (from Dell, etc.) – it’s best to ask straight away after delivery (within 30 days) – that way you’ll have a better chance to get what you deserve…

  3. Bob
    Bob April 3, 2008 at 5:58 am |

    When I ordered my Dell Laptop last year they did not even hae 64bit as an option. I rather run 64bit and Dell is useless to help

  4. Katie
    Katie August 12, 2008 at 10:08 pm |

    I purchased one of Dells new studio’s with 4gigs of RAM assuming that because other laptop manufacturer’s know to give you 64bit for that much RAM that Dell would also. I ran into this exact problem when, after seeing that I was only running 32 bit and at most using 3.2 of my 4 gigs, I called Dell this afternoon to request an installation disk. I was by 3 people (one a “supervisor” that id finally asked for) that not only are they blatenly refusing to assist me in upgrading to 64bit but I don’t need it because “consumers do not use the type of programs that 64bit runs” and that my 32bit is using all of my RAM.
    So after a total of 2 hours of being repeatedly told I don’t know what I’m talking about I’ve decided to return my 5 day old laptop, get a refund, and go to HP where it’s an easy free upgrade to move over to 64bit.

  5. Ed Davis
    Ed Davis September 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm |

    Dell and Best Buy are doing one worse now. We bought a Dell Inspiron 530 with 64 bit vista installed 2 weeks ago. I need to reinstall the system because of a driver problem. Dell told me they have an agreement with Best Buy’s Geek Squad and I will have to call them. I did, and they told me they would not tell me how to access the system software unless I paid them 169 dollars. I got a hold of Dell and told them this and they said there is nothing they can do. They have an agreement with Best Buy and call them. So if you buy a Dell from Best Buy and need to reinstall the OS prepare to pay the Geek Squad 169 bucks to find out how. I will probably end up buying a version of vista and installing it. And Best Buy and Dell will never get another dime from me. And the usual ways to restore a Dell system do not work now on this computer. F8, ctl F11 etc.

  6. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price September 9, 2008 at 11:56 pm |

    Ed, it sounds like Geek Squad used a retail CD to install Windows Vista, and enahanced the sale with a 64-bit copy.

    Remind them that you are legally entitled to the restore discs, to preserve your license rights ensured by the product key.

    It is possible that Geek Squad added a pirated copy of Windows Vista to your system, which added 64-bit to help secure a sale.

    I wouldn’t let this one go… you may have to dispute the charge with your credit card company (assuming you bought it with one). I would also ask for the manager on-site, and if that fails, an appointment with the store’s general manager.

  7. Ed Davis
    Ed Davis September 10, 2008 at 9:42 am |

    Chris, Follow up:

    A Dell Global Escalation team member called me and is going to send me the system disks, no charge. This was a day after I sent an email to a Dell VP explaining the situation.

    So, buy a Dell at Best Buy, you have to pay an extra 169 bucks to the Geek Squad if you want any support because of this agreement that no one is disclosing until after the fact. Probably in fine print somewere to keep it legal but it smells.

    Dell, please make it easy to obtain these disks or provide them at the sale. As to this Best Buy agreemen. Your bottom line will tell if this move was good.

  8. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price September 20, 2008 at 2:40 am |

    Ed, did you actually receive 64-bit restore discs from Dell? I think that would be a first if it did in-fact happen.

  9. Ed Davis
    Ed Davis October 16, 2008 at 6:39 pm |

    No, got a 32 bit set of disks. Explains why when I punch the computers tag into their web site all I see is a 32 bit model and why Dell won’t support computers sold by Best Buy. I got tired of the hassle and purchased my own 64 bit oem version for less then half the cost they want to charge me to give me the secret code to restore the system. All I can say is, good luck Dell, people want Dell service, not Geek Squad service (for 169.00). Dell will not stand behind a computer sold at Best Buy and people should be told that when the buy it.

  10. Steven Taub
    Steven Taub October 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm |

    I believe that at the least, dell is immoral. Whereas most companies will automatically upgrade to the 64 bit (if you order 4 gigs of memory) Dell seems to have “accidentally” left out the message when you click on the 4 gigs of memory option. My fault, assuming they do it automatically. I assumed this because I used to think pretty highly of this company.

    I don’t even want the machine now. I don’t think that I should have to wait another day or 2 or more for the disk to arrive, then install and hope that nothing else unusual happens. When I buy new, i want the product ready to go out of the box. And if one weird thing happens during install, I have to spend additional time figuring out what it is.

    An analogy is buying an automobile (fully equiped) and assuming the top of the line radio also comes with it. It doesn’t and you call them; they say, well you should have asked for it but we will send you the radio and you have to install it yourself.

  11. Chris Baker
    Chris Baker November 19, 2008 at 11:53 am |

    I have been having a battle with Dell for a couple of weeks now in the UK over this issue. The computer is brand new not bought directly from Dell but they claim the System Service Tag does not match their records so they will do nothing to help me get a 64 bit version of Vista.

    All I can do is agree with others who are saying that Dell stink and like other large companies try to ride roughshod over Joe public.

  12. Kai K.
    Kai K. January 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm |

    This took me a while find, maybe some of you may find it useful.

    If you have an OEM copy and are wondering how to switch from 32 to 64 or 64 to 32 (OEM versions only come with either 64 or 32 bit media not both).

    I was looking for a legit solution to upgrade to 64 bit without purchasing another windows license.

    It costs $30.00 USD or so.


    Retail link is here

    $10.00 USD

  13. John
    John January 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm |

    Just bought a 64-bit from Dell. What can I say. The 64-bit is too soon for programs like Flash Player and many others who only have a 32-bit program. In my opinion, make sure you make the right choice…not in the computer processer but in computer Customer Service. I have spent the last 2 months in hell with Dell. Between 15% restocking fees, UPS return labels which never arrived, oh and the 21 day customer satisfaction guarantee?…B.S. When I cancelled well before it was shipped, they lied to me and told me it was had already been shipped and later found out Fedex didn’t receive it until 3 days later. If you think Dell representative give a crap about whether you get help or not, you will be in the same boat I am. Been there, done it, and will never, ever do it again. Dell sucks. Customer service is out the window at Dell and unless you want to have it shoved up your ass, take the plunge (and enjoy it if you do) because once they get your money, you can kiss customer support GOOD BYE. Owned Dell for years…will never own another one as long as I live. Promise!

  14. Saif
    Saif January 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm |

    Hello – just wanted to share my experience on 32bit and 64 bit hassle with Dell. I bought my dell laptop from bestbuy and was missing the installation media (OS, drivers, applications etc) DVD/CD so I called Dell Canada to get the installation media and requested both 32 and 64 bit. They refused it and informed me that I can only get 32bit and this is an exception because bestbuy should have provided me the disk the first time. I got the 32bit media for the laptop from Dell Canada two days later. However, they do told me that for any technical help I should call bestbuy directly not dell.

    Later I was reading lot of forums on the net and found that all 32bit customers are eligible for a free 64 bit media upgrade from Dell. With some Google searches I was able to find the right person to get 64 bit media. So now I have both 32 bit and 64 bit Vista home premium without paying extra to anyone. Please note you can only get same Vista in either 32 or 64 bit. That is don’t ask for ultimate if you have premium version.

    Here is what you can do:

    – Join dell community, its free.
    – Send a Personal Message to “Dell-Chris_M” and provide him the following to request 64 bit media

    Email Address:
    Shipping address:
    Phone number:
    Service tag number:

    If you can not find him on dell community user search then here is the link to his profile

    You can also read about him at

    The only thing I would say if you need technical support then don’t buy dell laptop from bestbuy instead go to dell directly.

  15. Dell Rep
    Dell Rep May 30, 2009 at 8:40 am |

    yes you can get a 64 bit version of Vista for your system given that your system was ordered with

    vista home premium
    vista ultimate
    vista business

    you can request that from the media CD request link from dell and you will beresponded via e-mail….

    please do not forget to indicate that you are requesting for a 64 bit version of VISTA as if NOT

    the dell rep will send you a 32 bit copy of VISTA as they assume that you are just requesting a copy of the original CD’s that came with your system, hence again you will receive 32 bit if you did not indicate that you want a 64 bit version..


    Concerned Dell Email Agent

  16. Juan
    Juan July 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm |

    Guys, it’s not some little and occassional “misinformed” customer service rep. Dell and Microsoft are deliberately making it difficult to get the 64-bit disks (that should come with every single computer, a single DVD fits both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista anyway).

    This is a systemic problem, it’s funny to me that this so-called liason Chris-M has stopped taking requests instead of doing his job and fixing the SYSTEMIC PROBLEM.

    I am interested in getting involved in a class-action lawsuit (this problem is systemic and deliberate, not isolated and accidental). I have several Dell computers and have spent hours on the phone with Dell while they pretend (or perhaps they deliberately misinform their agents) that I must buy a RETAIL COPY OF VISTA to switch to 64-bit version. I literally had the person on the phone quote me like $299 for this. My whole computer was about $500.00 and comes with a license for Vista.

    If anyone has any inkling of an idea as to who has started a class-action lawsuit against Dell over this, please let me know. I don’t want to start from scratch (I won’t, I wouldn’t know how) but I’m 100% sure I want to do my part for the cause.

    I returned a Dell product and it took about 8-months for them to issue me a refund. I assumed it was a “freak accident”, and I later found out that this was a systemic and deliberate problem. If we all stay quiet and assume that something “terribly unusual” has happened, we will never see the light. Dell has an “official policy” of issuing these 32-bit to 64-bit disks at little to no charge. They have that policy because it would be illegal to do otherwise. However, their internal policy and their internal training is to tell customers that they are not entitled to these disks. So they’ve covered themselves legally while in fact doing something entirely different.

  17. Juan
    Juan July 26, 2009 at 11:43 pm |

    I am ashamed to own Dell products, and I am embarrassed to have recommended them to others.

  18. Juan
    Juan July 28, 2009 at 11:15 am |

    Actually, they have changed their tune, I had a relatively easy time getting Dell to send me 64-bit media this time around. I do think that it may have to do with the fact that Windows 7 is coming out soon and so there might be less push for more sales of Vista, or overprotection of Vista.

  19. Jonathan
    Jonathan September 17, 2009 at 9:34 am |

    How do you it in the end, Juan? I agree with you on “Guys, it’s not some little and occassional “misinformed” customer service rep. Dell and Microsoft are deliberately making it difficult to get the 64-bit disks” bit and the same with Chris-M.

    I have spent hours on the phone with Dell while they pretend (or perhaps they deliberately misinform their agents) that I must buy a RETAIL COPY OF VISTA to switch to 64-bit version. I either pay £120 for the full 64-bit version or £60 for the upgrade 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium because the previous owner has purchased 32-bit Windows Vista from 10-08-2008!

    No thank you! I’m not spending £120 or £60 for only 64-bit version of Windows Vista while Dell owners get it for free, I’ll use the money for 8GB RAM chips for my XPS 630i PC instead!!

  20. chaitanya
    chaitanya November 19, 2009 at 11:33 am |

    Yes,True,As a valid licencs holder,we are eligible to have a both 64 bit and 32 bit media of windows 7.But Dell is not providing this choice to us.

  21. Steven
    Steven November 19, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    After Dell mislead me, I made a big deal about the restocking fee, and they actually returned the full amount of the laptop to me.

    I then bought an ACER Aspire 64 bit, and it’s been the best computer I’ve ever owned..Even Vista works pretty good.

    So Dell isn’t the only game in town. It’s too bad because they were once practically the Gold Standard. And I’m seeing more and more Lenovo’s at Microsoft.


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