The Frustrating World of Dell Driver Downloads

I like Dell hardware.  Between home and business, we own 7.  My brother's laptop is here for some work, and Dell once again proved why its the company people hate to love.  Harware good, support not so much. It's been over an hour and I'm not sure if I have all the drivers I need, or even how to install them.

I don't know if they never had a drivers CD, or they forgot to send it, but it's not here.  This is an older laptop, and Inspiron 600m, and apparently not everything is plugh-and-play, or XP failed to recognize the hardware.  Whatever, I need to go find some drivers.  Should be easy–just go to Dell's site, download the divers I need, install, and good to go.

Simply finding the drivers proved to be the first challenge.  I can look them up by service tag, but that takes me to a page with drivers for every possible configuration, not the specific drivers.  If I log in to my account and look it up by service tag, I can see exactly what was installed.  I now have to cross reference one list to another.  A better idea is that I'd enter the service tag and be shown only the drivers I actually need.

Selecting the drivers was an even bigger challenge.  You can download them one at a time, or you can add them to a download list and download them all at once.  Good idea in theory, but the javascript was so poorly written that I somehow ended up with 4 partial lists.  Once yo've built your list (or partial list), you go to another page to confirm the downloads and uncheck any you don't need, then choose ZIP or TA, then download the file.  Not so bad, but why can't I have the checkboxes and format on the previous page?

Dell recommends installing in a particular order, and they have a handy page you can print.  Great, until you open the ZIP you just downloaded.  All the contained drivers have names like R113575.EXE and R56673.EXE.  OK, which one goes first?  This will be fun.

In an ideal world, this would have been about a 5 minute operation.  Log in, select system by service tag, then download all relevant drivers.  The filenames would clearly indicate what they are, or even the install order.  Here's hoping for some improvement on supporting the older machines. Experiencing this makes me wonder how support will be for our other PCs when they need it.