The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shopping for a PC

When shopping for a PC, avoid the big retailers such as Dell, Future Shop and Best Buy. You will do much better at a small computer shop. For example, I buy all my PCs from Union Computer at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto. It's a small two-person operation, but they provide much better prices and much better service than any of the major retailers. It's easier to have a personal relationship with a small store and over the years Union Computer has done right by me, bending over backwards to resolve all of my computer problems. (It's a bit like having a personal relationship with your local butcher or fish monger who will give you the very best cuts of meat.)

Union will customize a machine for me exactly the way I want it. For example, I have asked them not to include an Operating System so that I can install the OS of my choice at home. This saves me about $100 because this is what Microsoft charges OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) for preloading Windows on every new PC sold. Note that Dell, for example, will NOT sell you a PC without preloading Windows, thanks to the exclusive contract they have with Microsoft.

One other note: The Windows that major retailers will preload on your new PC is Windows XP Home Edition. This is a castrated version of Windows XP Professional Edition, which I regard as the "full" Operating System. In other words, the Professional Edition is "industrial strength" and the Home Edition is "neutered." I don't know about you, but on my computers I want ALL the capabilities present, whether I need them or not.


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