May be Dell was different.
I brought a Dell Desktop in 2002 with XP Pro and they provided me with the XP Setup disks with it, as well as the Office XP (2002) setup CD (which was part of my order). Not XP recovery disks, genuine Windows XP installation CD and drivers CD.
I had to use them once as well to reinstall XP onto the system.
So, that was well after 2000.
My new Alienware Desktop, (new 2 years ago), arrived with Vista preinstalled and with the Windows Vista DVD and drivers.
I have not seen any Microsoft intrusion myself and I always understood this change to recovery partitions, then to 'create your own recovery disks', to the manufacturers' own cost cutting exercises.
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