This M4700 with W7, Dell docking station, older E port plus (about 3 years old) two monitors P2211H with DVI remain off (yellow standby) until after boot into windows, I end up entering the Bit Locker password in the dark sort of speak. I see now dell splash or per boot options, because no monitors are on.
Is there a way to fix this, so the system will recognize the external monitors before windows is booted? Shouldn't it recognize at least one of the two external monitors when booting to the BIOS?
I have the exact same problem. I've heard that disabling "Optimus Technology" in the system BIOS may fix it, but I can't test it myself because my BIOS is locked with a password and I can't access it.
If this is successful for you, I'd love to hear feedback.
Update: I was finally able to edit the BIOS, and disabling Optimus technology did "fix" the problem. Now that I've had a chance to research this a little bit, here's what's really happening.
The laptop actually has both an integrated Intel graphics adapter, as well as the discrete Nvidia adapter. "Optimus" technology is the thing that forces the PC to use the Intel adapter to save power, unless you really need the Nvidia card (like when a 3D program calls for it, or if you have multiple monitors attached, etc). Well, during boot and before Windows loads, the only card that is enabled is the Intel one. And the Intel adapter can't use the DVI ports.
The way to avoid this madness is to simply disable "Optimus" technology. The side affect of this is that now the Intel adapter is completely disabled, and will never be available to Windows. The Nvidia adapter will now be the only adapter ever used, all the time, including during boot.
Only downside is possibly reduced battery time, but that's for you to decide.
Have you tried BIOS setting called "Enable dock Display Port through Integrated Graphics"? It should be under Video section, at least it is in A07 BIOS for M4800. There's a chance it was introduced also for other M4xxx models.
However, it doesn't work for me at all and - as said above - the only working solution seems disabling Optimus technology...