well true as that may be, I still say that an image CD resolves a lot of conflicts about support issues that a customer could potentially do him/herself. Though it made it easier for a newbie computer user, it ultimately saved the company some pennies on support. As you said fringe benefit. But you make it sound like it was unintentional, which I doubt. Because of this post I did happen to find out from some of my peers that when they "reinstall" their windows (which more and more people are doing on a regular basis) they, by choice, are using their image CDs instead of the OS cds (which I'll point out, their computer came with both).
However, I am aware of some that did not. It's gotta be some license issue that saves them money or something (I don't know) or perhaps enough customer complaining got them to spend the extra pennies to ship the OS cds too.
I would be pissed as well.