Dell Launches New PC Line for SMBs

Dell's Vostro line eyes companies with less than 25 employees.

NEW YORK—In an ongoing effort to reinvent and reinvigorate itself, Dell is launching a new set of desktops, laptops and services specifically aimed at the smallest of small businesses.

The new PC product line—called Vostro—debuted at an event for analysts and customers at the Reuters Building in Times Square July 10. These PCs, along with the services that Dell began offering Tuesday, are specifically geared toward businesses that employ between one and 25 people.

Included in the launch are a desktop model, the Vostro 200, which comes in two different form factors—a mini tower and a slim-tower—along with four different notebooks with a range of features and configurations.

At the New York City event, Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell, said the company surveyed about 2,000 small and midsize business customers and found that most wanted to simplify their IT needs and wanted tools—hardware and services —that made its easier to set up a business.

"We are very proud of what Vostro represents," Dell said. "Todays announcement is more than just products, its also about services…We are building services that address some of the biggest headaches that our customers face."

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In addition to the companys direct sales model, Michael Dell said both the hardware and the services can be purchased through VARs who work with the companys channel program.

Tuesdays launch of Vostro marked a change for Dell as the company signaled that it was moving away from its previous stance of selling Latitude notebooks and OptiPlex desktops to all of its business customers. Instead, Vostro is dedicated to a specific segment of the market.

In addition, Dell is focusing on part of the market—SMB—that is increasingly important to both itself and its competitors, namely Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

The launch also showed off some new industrial designs that Dell is hoping will make its PCs more attractive. In a roundtable discussion after the event, Michael Dell said that PC design is an area that his company will focus more of its energy on in the coming months.

"We are looking at it [industrial design] across the board but I think with mobile computers, theres a heightened awareness," Dell said. "We have spent a lot of energy and attention to understanding [our customers preferences] in regards to design."

There are some elements missing from the launch of Vostro product line. For example, the company did not introduce a dedicated server for SMBs.

Dell will also not offer factory-installed Linux with this new line of PCs, however company executives noted that Linux operating systems remain a possibility in future updates. Right now, Dell only offers Ubuntu Linux with its consumer PCs.

For now, Dell is offering PCs with the option of either Microsoft Windows Vista operating systems or XP.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about Dell offering more Linux options.

In addition to these new PCs, Dell launched a new set of services aimed at this part of small businesses users. Besides options such as online storage and simplified network setup, Dell executives said the company was eliminating so-called "trialware," such as AOL, that had been installed on PCs.

Dell will continue to pre-install its own software—although customers will have the option of removing those applications as well—in addition to tools such as Google Desktop and anti-virus software.

Some of the services that Dell is offering include DataSafe Online, which allows for up to 10GB of remote storage through a secure Internet connection, and Network Assistant, which allows customers to set up and connect to wired or wireless office networks.

Next Page: Dell sets its sights on very small businesses.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...