Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Great New Dell Vista Laptop but No Internet

My sister Mary Elizabeth had a huge smile yesterday when she learned her new Dell laptop had been delivered to my office. Her joy quickly faded when we discovered her brand new laptop couldn’t access the internet. It found my Linksys wireless network just fine but only had “Local Access”.

After I used up all my ideas including unplugging the cable modem, router and rebooting I gave her the bad news. You’re going to have to call Dell Support. ::shudder::

I can’t adequately describe our experience with Mark at Dell Support. I only wish I had video taped the experience because it would have been a hit on YouTube. My only chuckle came when the rep told us to click on the Start button and select Run. Oops! There is no more Run option on Vista. This was after he told her she had to plug in an ethernet cable to help configure the system. Even then, this brand new machine needed wasn’t properly configured to find the network without help.

If we had finally resolved the problem I would go into the all the technical steps but there was no solution. Once we did get the hard wire connection established, he had us run a program allowing Dell to connect through a back door and fix things. Unfortunately, the most they could accomplish was a “Limited Access” state but they went away after two minutes and we were back to Local access only. Ultimately, they blamed my router. I think she’s heading to Starbucks today so we’ll see how it does there.

My brother and daughter are both currently shopping for laptops and until today they were going to take the leap toward Dell and Vista. In the past, we’ve had good luck with Dell but those machines all came with an established OS called Windows XP. When we find the solution, I will post it in hopes it might help others.

Update: Click Here for final results

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Blogger Corrine said...

Since you mentioned Linskys router, I'm hoping you will find what you need here: Proxy Settings When Using a Router on Windows Vista

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter is graduating from college in May and she wants to replace her 4 year old Dell desktop with a new laptop.

Thanks for the heads-up on Dell and Vista. Now I know what they mean when I hear the expression, "Going to Dell in a handbasket!"

3:22 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hate to be a pain again, but I just want to point-out that Vista's networking capabilities are far, far better out of the box than XP's, especially when it comes to using WPA on wireless networks (it actually detects the settings, rather than playing hunt-and-click with the Properties menu).

As for comment. I have a Compaq R4000 laptop and an IBM Thinkpad, both of which I love. Dell's aren't the worst, but they have their issues.

And Dell tech support...heh.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Corrine, Thank you for the tip! We'll try it out tonight.

David, please continue to share your views. I'm not in anyway against Vista, I'm just sharing my experiences and I want people to respond.

God help anyone who comes here and accepts everything I say without question. ;)


5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to call Dell today and I am dreading it. They don't want to deal with the situation via email.

After full preparation and a successful install on my Dell desktop, I went ahead and installed Vista on my (one year new) laptop.

"Vista installed successfully"
Not happy.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a pre-Vista Dell laptop and other than them lieing about having a spearate video card they promised I have had little to no problems even with Dell support.

My PROBLEM comes now in buying a new desktop ASAP as Dell and Gateway both have Vista as their preferred software and I do not know of a reliable configurable company I can trust to build a part-gaming part-media based on Win XPPro.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter bought a Dell 1501 with pre-inst Vista, and with 1GB memory the dang thing will hardly crawl. Dell sent her a 2nd and it's worse, will hardly boot up. I guess Mike Dell has all he needs, maybe hoping for bankruptcy. In my poinion it would be too good for him.

I bought a cheap Toshiba and haven't had`a minits problem.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is John, and I work at Dell headquarters. I couldn't help but notice that there isn't any conclusion to this story. How did the trip to StarBucks fare?

I would be more than willing to make sure any of you who need help receive it. You can contact me at If I can't help you myself, I will most certainly make sure one of my colleagues here takes good care of you.

Dell Customer Advocate

7:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey John,

Thank you for you stopping by and leaving a comment. We weren't successful with Corrine's proxy setting changes and she didn't have luck at Starbucks. I found a message on the CNet forum with some ideas that I hope to try tomorrow night when she stops by.

I appreciate your comment and will note this positively when I write more on the topic.

I do have good news. My brother did receive his new Dell Inspiron 6400 and was successful getting online immediately. He's got the Intel Pro 3945 802.11 a/g mini card. I need to check with Mary but hers did include /n which I tried at one point to disable as a fix.

They both did run into a problem with the Roxio/Sonic Solutions DLA problem but I see our old buddy ChrisM has addressed this at

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heya Bill-

I never saw a conclusion to your story. Was it ever resolved? If so, what was the solution? Did the information I provided help at all?


5:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sorry to say, there is still no resolution. Mary purchased a brand new router which specializes in the new 802.11n protcol and it works fine at her house.

I did update my firmware and it helped a little bit. It now says it has access but it's slower than dialup. I even tried setting my router to just support g-only to get rid of the 11b trafficc but no difference.

So, I would stay away from the 802.11n Wifi devices if you still have an older router. So much for backward compatibility.


7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about that Bill. Unfortunately, n is in draft phase and has just been recently approved for standard. Since it is still draft technically, I read nothing but interoperability problems on forums and tech sites everywhere. Now that the standard has passed vote (as of March 9th), hopefully these problems will be resolved in the next revision, and with it, new firmware from all vendors. Don't lose hope! As with all new technologies, the longer it is sold and developed, the more stable the technology becomes.

Dell Customer Advocate

4:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks again for keeping up on the situation. I agree with you about the 802.11N evaluation.

I will recomend that users stay far away from N at this time.
While this is not a Dell or Vista issue, I do think it's wrong for Dell or any OEM to ship a device that is this unstable.

For Mary, this may not be a problem although could be in her travels. If I had purchased this new laptop it would have been worthless to me. I can't just change routers and shouldn't have too. I still have multiple devices like my HP All-in-One wireless printer and my TiVo's who all use 802.11b. I'm currently typing this response from a hotel in Germany that has a WiFi network. If I had Mary's new laptop with me I'd be screwed.

Thanks again,

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago, I made a commitment to myself about new electronics. If it does not work out of the box, it goes back to the manufacturer. Computer companies treat consumers like we are stupid.

It should be rare that a new computer doesn't work. Obviously from the posts here, most of us, myself included, are veterans at working out tech support problems.

But we shouldn't be required to sit in phone queue hell to own a shiny new laptop.

There is no excuse for it and consumers should not put up with it for more than half a second.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

am always amused when folks start blaming Dell or any other PC manufacturer for the problems they having. Yes, hardware does have it share of whoos, but the real culprit most of the time is the operating system (i.e. Windows). Unfortunately for the hardware manufacturer, they are forced to release all of their new systems with the current Vista OS instead of making it optional. Remember when Xp was first dumped on us? Wow, it was PC hell until Service Pack 2 was released. It still is with all the stupid service packs and security patches. I run Suse 10 on my Dell C600 and don't have any problems. The hardware is solid. The OS? Well, even in XP I sometimes loose my wireless connection. My point is before blaming some PC manufacturer for making a piece of crap, be fair an look at the other culprit who really might be the blame, aka Microsloth. Good luck with your Dell. They have a solid product or they would be out of business by now, do you remember Micron? How about Tandy? Dell is not going away! --- Cheers!

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vista is beautiful but a mess to connect wirelessly to. Have called Dell and did Dellconnect 6 times in 4 days to reconfigure they say my wpa2 is too high for vista so I need wep,i say the computer is going back and I'll stay away from vista.There are comments about this issue all over the web.what a dissapointment,monday I think I'll sell all my Microsoft stock before it gets worse.Who knows when they will fix this problem and I have XP on 4 other computers some wireless and it does a great I'll buy the same notebook with XP,because Dell was forced by consumer community to add it to there sales options,and that about says it all.good luck

3:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

hope this is the right place to ask this.... first time blogger... I recently upgraded desktop to vista (I am very glad of it) but my xp laptop which connects to a wireless access point will not get online through the desktop any more. I am connectted to the network and can print, explore shared files, but no internet. Any thoughts?


9:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi David,

Probably not the best place for interactive help but hopefully, some of the feedback left by myself and other users will help point you in the right direction. I don't think you're alone with your problem.


1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the responses but I can tell one thing for sure:Vista simply CAN NOT surf!! It has nothing to do with Dell or wireless. I (and many others) had the same problem in the dormitory i live with perfectly functioning Ethernet and of course latest drivers.. still nothing. It is just unacceptable for a such a promising OS published in the year 2007 not to be able to do the most fundamental thing... to surf. no comment!

6:16 AM  

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