Yesterday we replaced an older HP laptop. We bought the same product line so we could clone the system disk for a quick move to a new machine. Doing this generally saves a day or two getting a machine all setup for a user to use.
I'm shocked at what we received.
Got the machine, opened it up and there is no specific hardware identifier anywhere on it. On the outside of the box, that info is there with the additional "us" designator which used to not be there. HP typically has product and model numbers and those can be used to find out what is actually inside the machine.
On this one, they didn't provide that info.
All consumer products from HP now come as Windows 8 machines. All of them. You have to pay a lot of money for a "business" class machine that can run Windows 7 now.
The only identifier on the machine is a bland Windows 8 sticker, BTW. No license code, nothing.
So we took that system disk out before powering up the computer. My plan is to boot Win 8 on something else for some testing and use of the license. Since the machine shipped to us is secure boot, I wonder whether or not that OS will even boot on any other machine. Will find out Monday. If I were to call in, I have no codes to even tell them what I did, other than to just say, "I moved it to this machine" which I know won't work well at all. To get those, I suspect I have to boot and agree on the original hardware, but maybe not. Again, Monday on that.
Here is the fun part!
I installed the cloned system disk from the older machine and attempted a boot on the new one. Usually, that works with the worst case being a driver or two needed and a phone call to let them know we've taken the old one out of service.
This one just said, "OS NOT FOUND" and offered a Hard Disk diagnostic. I ran that and the machine said the disk was fine. Of course it was fine! It's a brand new disk cloned and tested. That was my first clue about how things have just changed recently. You see, the secure boot BIOS saw the disk, but didn't see the digitally signed OS and would not boot that OS.
Having kept up on trends, I knew I had to go in and select legacy boot mode from the BIOS. Guess what? They don't indicate how to do that anywhere. So I was left to power cycling and mashing keys. Found it, but not on the usual key and it made me enter a code to access the BIOS screen letting me know they could have simply locked that option out leaving me with a locked computer only able to boot the software authorized for it.
Legacy mode means "not trusted" and who is not trusted? Me, of course! I might want to do something I want to do with the computer, because it's well... mine! Truth is, it's mine, only if they say it is. Remember, ALL of the HP consumer devices now work this way. It's not possible to buy one that doesn't.
The trades report that Win 8 adoption is worse than Vista at this point. Well, HP is making sure those numbers come up and are playing hard ball given what I just experienced. Ordinary people will either deal or return the machine. It's that bad.
After booting Win 7, I found network, USB, bluetooth, ethernet all locked out due to lack of driver support. A trip to the HP site for drivers reveals they only offer Windows 8 drivers and a little more digging yields some very ugly statements of theirs. Basically, their position is Windows 8 only, and you can only downgrade legally if you bought Windows 7 Professional. Home users get no downgrade rights at all, which is why HP chose to offer nothing of the kind. Ordinary people don't need open computers anymore and that's the go forward message.
After some digging and a little bit of luck, I got the USB, ethernet and wireless going, leaving some odd bits and pieces not working due to lack of drivers and lack of knowing just what they put in there. That's a trip through the registry and long hours looking arcane and obscure stuff, something nobody is really going to do.
I was there in the 90's and 00's when this stuff was really being discussed. Many of you were too. Remember the rise of the closed smart phone? Well, there you go. At that time, I said that was the computing vision the big players had because that was the only path to a workable DRM. They've not let go of the dream and have just been quietly building this mess and have now deployed it.
On ARM, Windows 8 can only be sold on a locked down box, secure, no alternative OS bootable, unless it too has been signed and I'm unclear, but one or two Linuxes actually did this. On Intel, Win 8 will run on unsecure machines, but won't offer the full experience due to DRM issues. The users of those are not trusted users, meaning they can't have some stuff that users who are trusted --read prevented from doing anything undesirable to the manufacturers and software houses, do get that stuff.
Notice how many web sites are simplifying and applications are beginning to do the same? One UI, suitable for tablet, phone, computer, etc... appliance type computing where your needs are met with apps and dollars. Happy days kids!
I suggest you do some reading on these things and research your new computers very carefully. You may find they won't do what you want them to do.
HP could have locked out the BIOS option, and had they done that, I would have bought a brick, unless I wanted to run Windows 8 on it, and this user is very skilled too. Windows 8 is a huge downgrade in terms of basic user interaction capability. That is expensive enough to warrant buying the higher class machine just to run old freaking software!
This is a mess. I am not a happy camper right now.