Dell’s founder and chief executive, Michael Dell, said recently that people who purchase a new computer with Windows 7 installed and then buy Office 2010 when it comes out next year would experience a “computing catharsis.” While speaking at an event hosted by Silicon Valley’s Churchill Club, Dell said, “You will love your PC again. We have not been able to say that for a long time.”
The well-documented problems of Microsoft’s Vista operating system created a marketing nightmare for the software giant and personal computer manufacturers that pre-installed the Vista OS on their desktops and laptops. After Vista’s release, its shortcomings were shared around the world online and both Microsoft and PC makers went into damage control mode.
Dell knows firsthand how customers’ relationships with their PCs suffered during the Vista years. Around 80 percent of Dell’s business customers requested that Windows XP be installed on their new computers instead of Vista. Since Vista’s release, Dell has resorted to extraordinary measures to distance itself from the flawed operating system. Surprisingly, the company has been an aggressive advocate for Linux-an up-and-coming and far more secure and stable OS than Microsoft’s products.
Dell released a laptop this fall that uses Linux and a mini-motherboard to give owners almost instant access to the Internet and their email. This represents a significant change of course for Dell. It gives users an opportunity to eschew Windows entirely by using this new instant-on system for most of their personal computing needs. Before the release of the new laptop, Dell conducted studies to determine its market potential. Their studies indicated that people chose to spend 70 percent of their time in this new instant-on environment rather than waiting for Windows to boot when they were at home.
In addition, the new laptop isn’t the only new product Dell is considering. While addressing the Club, he also mentioned Tencent, a Chinese company that buys Dell servers and storage systems. It provides a variety of online services for cell phone users.
“They have 650 million customers,” Mr. Dell said. “They are all the people in China who use cell phones. Their users are not using PCs. I think, ‘Oh, that’s pretty interesting.’ We get kind of intrigued by that.”
Dell experimented with cell phones for the Chinese market and there are ongoing rumors that the company plans to release a cell phone in the U.S.