Software and Installing your Own Windows
The Dell XPS M1710 comes with a few software items preinstalled. I’ve heard the gripes from other users about the quantity of “bloat” on the XPS, so I was curious to see this for myself. I was expecting a desktop laden with a few dozen icons for applications I won’t even use, but the M1710’s desktop wasn’t all that bad. On the factory installation, besides the drivers and the OS, there are the following pieces of additional software: Google Desktop, McAfee Security Center, Dell QuickSet, Dell Support 3.0, Sonic CinePlayer, Roxio Creator, and WordPerfect (or whatever office productivity suite you chose during purchasing). Of this software Dell QuickSet is the most important, and McAfee Security Center and Dell Support 3.0 may have potential for being useful.
McAfee Security Center is a suite of security applications that protect your system from virii, spam, and unauthorized network activity. The default installation comes with a 90-day trial, after which you can choose to purchase a longer subscription. Many users already have their security software of choice, but for a new user who wants everything in one package, McAfee offers a pretty good program.
Dell Support 3.0 is a unique application developed by Dell for XPS customers that helps keep them informed of critical updates such as security patches, newer drivers, and tips/notices on how to make the most of your Dell computer. The software runs in the background and periodically polls the Dell server for updates under two categories: Support, and Critical. Support information isn’t necessarily useful to expert users as many of the topics are basic computer habits like “how to protect yourself from spam” or “how to enable the firewall”. Critical updates are a bit more useful as those items are generally deal with security flaws or software updates. In the options for this software you can disable the checking of Support information all together so you only get notices for Critical items.
Users who value their privacy and security may want to disable and/or unistall Dell Support 3.0.
Dell QuickSet is a control panel type program that gives you direct access to WiFi, battery/power, display, and LED controls. This software is probably the most important as it’s the only way you can change the colors of the LEDs without having to boot into the BIOS.
Keep in mind that all the software preinstalled with the M1710 can be uninstalled by you. For one, I recommend removing Google Desktop as it’s been known to have exploitable holes from time to time.
Installing Your Own Windows XP
Though M1710 comes with Windows Media Center Edition pre-installed, some of you may want to install your own copy of Windows. For me it’s a matter of knowing exactly what is installed, but for others it may be features of XP Pro, or perhaps just an easier way of wiping off all that preinstalled software. I’m happy to report that the whole process goes smoothly as all the drivers are located on a CD along with the import bits of Dell software (i.e. Dell QuickSet), but there is an important detail you should be aware of.
If you’re looking to use Dell’s Media Direct functionality, you will need to do some adjusting in order to get the Media Direct key to properly launch the software. Dell’s Media Direct feature is located on a hidden partition on the hard drive and if you install your own OS, you will need to do some magic to get the Media Direct key to work again. The process has been refined and mastered by users over at NotebookForums.com, and this thread in particular gives you all the details you need to get things going smoothly.