Dell, Microsoft ink deal for Windows Embedded distribution

Dell will become a global distributor, outsource manufacturer and integrator for Windows Embedded products.

Microsoft has signed a deal with Dell's OEM Solutions group for the latter to provide Windows Embedded product licenses with its own products, the companies announced today.

It went into effect on April 1.

The idea is to shorten the supply chain -- and thus lead times -- by cutting out middle-man integrators such as Arrow or Avnet.

Because of the global scope of the deal, Dell will now be able to factory-install Microsoft Embedded operating systems (such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but also XP, Server 2003 R2 and 2008). It can install a customer's image (operating system and supporting applications), activate it and provide recovery media. That wasn't possible before.

Electronic devices that fall under the "embedded" category include retail point-of-sale terminals (from brick-and-mortar stores to on-board train ticket sales) and hospitality (hotels, restaurants, etc.) kiosks, among others. 

While its products on offer won't change, Dell hopes that it will speed up the process between sale and shipment.

Chief executive Michael Dell offered strategic context in an e-mail to employees this week :

Dell's strategy of becoming an integrated provider of end-to-end IT solutions is expected to require additional investments in converged infrastructure solutions, software, cloud solutions, application development and modernization, consulting and managed security services.

The deal comes as Dell, a public company, seeks to go private through a buyout . Microsoft is providing $2 billion in financial assistance to the consortium seeking to buy the company in an effort to stabilize a pillar of its ecosystem.