When I upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 in the near future I would like to do a clean install (from my own experience and from reading, that seems preferable to an in-place upgrade). I am wondering, though, whether I need to have an installation disk from the vendor (Dell in this case) containing their customizations for my system to properly take advantage of their hardware.
On the one hand, it seems very sensible that I would need it, since Dell would be the best one to know what drivers, etc. are needed. But at the same time it does not make sense: if that were the case how could anyone ever take an off-the-shelf Windows installation disk (i.e. Microsoft's disk purchased from a retail vendor) and get a working system? Does the Windows installer examine the hardware and automatically load all the right drivers?
Now I have installed various Windows to virtual machines a number of times and they just work--but then again the guest OS leverages the host OS which was probably a vendor-specific installation, so this does not prove anything one way or the other.
So I am hoping to get a better understanding of the installation process and the ramifications of using a vendor-specific installer or not.