Perhaps this post should be titled “How to make a terrible user experience” and be authored by Dell.
Today I’m on my way to London from Hull to go to an event as part of the Windows 8 | Elite Program in which we get to meet Microsoft CEO and all round legend Steve Ballmer. So that I wouldn’t spend the vast majority of my day bored on the train I wanted to bring my laptop along.
Unfortunately my laptop has been out of action for several days now. The reason why? Drivers, and a real lack of support from Dell.
A few months ago I attempted to update my laptop to the Windows 8 Release Candidate, this seemed to work fine until I attempted to boot for the first time and was presented with a totally blank screen, apparently the only driver available didn’t work in Windows 8 on the actual laptop screen — the only way to view what you we’re doing was to plug into a monitor, thus my laptop became the most unportable laptop ever.
This obviously wasn’t good enough but I was told that dell would be releasing an update to the drivers to work in windows 8 at the beginning of October — somewhere around the 8th. This never happened. So I waited, and waited and assumed that the drivers would come out on the day of Windows 8 general availability — October 26th. That they did, ish. If you pressed “Download Driver” the page simply threw up an error message. I’d waited long enough so another days wait didn’t fuss me.
The next day I downloaded the drivers, this time the link actually worked, and reinstalled Windows 8. (I’d previously uninstalled Windows 8 and downgraded to Windows 7 to actual be able to do work at university). I had assumed that to be able to install the driver I would have to connect to a display, which was fine. What I didn’t expect was that having installed the driver nothing would change — I would still be unable to use my laptop screen.
Now, this is the crux of the story. My laptop’s BIOS was 4 versions out of date. I was on version A07, and the most recent release was version A11. I only discovered this however after downloading & installed everything from the Dell website related to the N5110. Once I’d installed my BIOS update everything worked fine. The most irritating part of this experiance is that Dells Update Program didn’t pick up on my BIOS being out of date and none of the driver installs picked up on my BIOS being out of date.
So, in conclusion if you’re trying to install Windows 8 Drivers for the Dell Inspiron 15R (N5110) make sure you install the A11 BIOS update first. Oh and if you happen to be one of the largest PC manufacturers in the world try to improve your user experience so that driver updates first check that your BIOS is up to date, or at the very least the driver download page recommends you update your BIOS first.