Seattle PI’s Nick Eaton got us the PDF for Dell’s amicus brief in support of Microsoft’s appeal to delay the injunction banning Word. The PDF link is available via GrokLaw. It is extremely heavily redacted, and I do hope the redacted part is more convincing than the non-redacted part on the hardship felt by Dell if the appeal court does not delay the injunction.
The non-redacted part is simply not convincing enough. First of all, Dell is doing hard disk image all the time. New computer in the line up usually means a new image. With new computer, I do not mean a new line only, but include existing lines that have things changed, e.g., a new graphic card or a new piece of hardware etc. I am sure Dell got the imaging process and the testing process down to a tee. That should not create much hardship. Moreover, if imaging and testing had been so difficult, why do Dell preinstall all those “crapware”? Dell have hard disk images without MS Office. How do I know it? I usually buy computers at work without MS Office and Dell is happy to sell me one.
The second part is about testing. Why? The big part in imaging is actually the testing. Testing is only difficult if you change hardware. For software, it is easier, particularly if it is about removing non-critical software. Microsoft would had been responsible to make sure that removal of MS Word will not affect other part of the Office family. Therefore Dell’s testing requirement is about informing Microsoft of any testing problems. That is easy. All it has to do is to run the program through its existing test suite and report this results to Microsoft. The other part is about collecting customers comments and send a report to Microsoft. Whatever Dell cares to say about how rigorious its testing process and how it will affects its customers is rubbish. If it finds any problem, it has to wait for Microsoft to supply a fix. The last time I check, Microsoft do not issue Dell-specific fixes outside its normaly update process. The update I got directly from Microsoft is no different from the one Dell’s get. Also, the bottom line: Dell will happily sell you a malfunctioning Microsoft Office even if it finds fault. This is partly because it cannot do anything about it.
So it boils down to will removing MS Word make a dent in Dell’s profit? Yes. A big one. But that’s life. Dell will not go under if it does not sell MS Office. Particularly if its competition cannot do the same either.