The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker will start taking orders for the consumer version of Microsofts Windows Vista operating system starting on Jan. 27, the company announced in a statement.
Microsoft released the enterprise version of Vista on Nov. 30, and the software giant said it plans to release the consumer version on Jan. 30.
On Jan. 29, Kevin Rollins, Dells CEO, said in a statement that orders for PCs bundled with Vista were "stronger than expected" during the first weekend. While the company did not provide specifics, Rollins said Dell had taken "thousands" of orders for desktops and notebooks that have the new operating system.
By offering to take orders early, Dell is trying to separate itself from other OEMs that have yet to announce that they will also start offering to bundle Vista onto their machines in the coming weeks. For the last six months, Dell has been in a struggle with rival Hewlett-Packard as the two PC vendors battled for worldwide market share.
Although Dell holds a slight lead in the U.S. market, HP was the top worldwide PC seller during the last two quarters of 2006. For the year, HP and Dell were in a virtual tie for the top place in worldwide PC shipments.
Like other major PC vendors, Dell announced that it would carry and support the enterprise version of Vista with the hope of selling it to both large and small companies. According to Gartner, it will take a minimum of 18 months for IT administrators to start upgrading systems to the enterprise version of Vista.
However, consumers and small businesses might start adopting the new operating system sooner, and that could mean a windfall for OEMs that are looking to separate themselves in a highly commoditized market.
According to Dell, engineers spent more than 100,000 hours testing and validating the consumer version of Vista and experimented with more than 500,000 product configurations. The company also spent 215,000 hours training its support and sales staff to handle Vista-related questions.
Dell is recommending that Vista users choose desktops or notebooks with either dual-core or quad-core processors. Both Advanced Micro Devices and Intel make dual-core chips for Dells PCs. At the International CES in Las Vegas, Intel announced that it would begin to ship a quad-core chip for mainstream desktops.
In addition to the processor, Dell is recommending users purchase PCs with 2GB of memory, a dedicated graphics card with 256MB of memory or more, and a larger hard drive.
In addition to English, Dell will offer Vista in French, German, Spanish and Japanese versions. Additional languages will be added later, the company said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about Dells Vista preorders.