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Too many stolen laptops and I know your wasn't stolen because you said it was a 'gift'
Contact dell as they are the only ones that can help you with this. If the previous owner put on a bios password, chances are that even replacing the HD will not work...it is an anti-theft protection for laptops. May as well give the person back the 'gift' as it will only serve as a small boat anchor in it's present condition.
Good Luck ;-)
Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers