With Halloween over, it's time for the next trick-or-treat on the calendar: the run-up to Black Friday, the shopping day after Thanksgiving turned retail extravangaza that includes some of the most publicized leaks this side of an Apple product launch. Those leaks are the ads that once first circulated in Thanksgiving newspapers, but now show up online as soon as a tipster provides them to one of the many Black Friday-oriented sites on the Internet.
This year, Dell is the first major tech retailer to suffer the leak of its ad, and it provides a clue to one of the big themes of the 2014 holiday shopping season for PC sales. For months, we've been talking about how Microsoft is trying to grow Windows 8.1 market share (and thus maintain overall Windows OS mind share) through , with much less expensive Windows tablets and laptops starting to reach the market.
Given some of the deals Dell is offering as part of its Black Friday sales strategy, we can expect a lot of these cheaper Windows PCs and tablets gracing other Black Friday ads soon. As has become a Black Friday trend in the last couple of years, the company is offering "doorbuster" deals that are essentially flash sales with lower prices to stoke demand. Not surprisingly, a few of the Dell doorbusters features sales on budget-priced Windows systems.
For instance,was just released the other day for $199.99, which is cheaper than Windows tablets in the past, but still more than a similar 8-inch Windows 8.1 slate like . Dell will be offering the Venue 8 Pro 3000 for $50 off between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Black Friday -- the same price as the Acer sells for today.
If you prefer a laptop instead, Dell will offer an Inspiron 15 for just $189.99 at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday until the notebook sells out. At 8 a.m., it will put on sale the Inspiron Small Desktop for $199.99, again in limited quantities. In neither case will you get a powerful system -- each comes with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive -- but the pricing is typically at least $100 less than the cost of a Windows PC in the not-so-distant past. (Though Dell did offerfor an Inspiron laptop for Black Friday 2013.)
Other doorbusters include: the 7-inch Venue 7 3000 for $99.99 starting on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m., and the 8-inch Venue 8 3000 for $149.99 beginning at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. There's also an Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 Windows 8.1 laptop/tablet hybrid that becomes available for $349.99 at 8 a.m. on Black Friday.
Dell also has a few non-doorbuster PC deals if you're looking for some a bit more powerful (and pricier). You can grab an Inspiron 15 3000 with an Intel Core i3 processor for $379.99, or one with a touchscreen display, Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a terabyte hard drive for $579.99. Desktops deals include a version of the Inspiron Small Desktop that, at $399.99, runs Windows 7 Home Premium for far more than the Windows 8.1 doorbuster, though you do get a Core i3 CPU and terabyte hard drive in exchange; or a traditional Inspiron tower with Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB hard drive $499.99.
Expect more leaks in the coming days, promising further Windows 8.1 deals as well as the usual jockeying over the best iPad pricing for the Black Friday weekend.