Brain-Dead PCs

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If 13 out of every 100 new cars wouldn't start, Detroit would be a ghost town. But somehow Silicon Valley keeps booming despite the fact that a significant fraction of the computers it ships either don't work as advertised or don't work at all. In a new Windows magazine survey, some 87 percent of respondents reported that their computers booted up just fine. That sounds pretty good at first glance; but what it really means is that an astounding 13 percent of PCs are either dead on arrival or seriously maimed.

The good news is that not all brain-dead computers are created equal. Hewlett-Packard had the best rating in the survey; its computers worked on startup 92 percent of the time. By contrast, 17 percent of AST users had a bad out-of-box experience. Interestingly enough, AST users, while reporting the most initial problems, were also the least likely to call tech support -- a level of diminished expectations that may explain how PC makers can ship nonfunctional products and still make the big bucks.