Those cheap bastards!
This isn't quite as bad as the firefox thing though, I had a HP laptop (first year of Windows 7, also when I switched to Linux) and it came with all kinds of crap like "HP-Fotosmart" or some nonsense. I thought at the time "Has anyone ever gone: 'Hmm... And tell me, does it come with Fotosmart?'?"
That aside, later when I went to reinstall Windows much to my disappointment HP Fotosmart was on the recovery disk.
Surely they have an image with firefox they can use, and each hard disk has a serial number, there must be a quick and automated way to make windows images and copy them onto the hard disk (isn't that what they do somewhere?).
If they don't, can't you write a script that looks at some sort of serial number then asks Dell for any custom configurations? Plug in LAN when you're testing it before packing, script uses Python with a socket and a raw HTTP request with the serial number in the header, gets instructions back!
It'd be a one file script (depending on config options)! Have it set the power thing and invoke the Windows wget to get the firefox installer.... is that too hard?
That's what I would do, any reason why they don't? (I've never touched batch scripts and stuff though...)
(I honestly can't believe humans install firefox and set the settings)