Dell: Windows for business tablets, Android for consumer

While unveiling the biggest-ever refresh of its business computer range, Dell said it will release a 10-inch Windows 7 tablet for 'serviceable' enterprise use
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Dell is planning to release a Windows 7 tablet for its enterprise customers in the first half of this year, arguing that businesses will prefer Microsoft's operating system to Google's Android.

New Dell laptops

The new Dell Latitude laptops, including the E6520, have been redesigned. Photo credit: Dell

The manufacturer trailed the 10-inch device on Tuesday, as it unveiled the largest-yet update of its business computer portfolio, showing off 24 new laptops, tablets, desktops and workstations in the Latitude, OptiPlex and Precision ranges. Dell also launched its new Data Protection software, while simultaneously announcing that its acquisition of SecureWorks — first announced in January — had successfully closed.

According to the company's business product marketing chief Kirk Schell, the portfolio refresh marks the "biggest year in the history of Dell".

Referring to the revamped Latitude mobile PC range — into which the as-yet-unnamed Windows 7 tablet will fall — Schell said that "just about every inch of the product has been redesigned" to "feel more premium". The new Latitudes are also unified communications-certified, with improved audio and video capabilities.

Dell has seven new Latitude laptops — the budget E5420 and E5520, and the rugged E6520, E6420, E6320, E6220 and E6420 — and one new convertible Latitude tablet, the XT3. All feature remote data deletion capabilities and free-fall sensors and come with Intel's second-generation 'Sandy Bridge' Core processors. Dell is also planning support for pre-integrated Citrix and VMware remote desktop clients across the range.

Selling points

One of Dell's big selling points for the new Latitudes is the fact that they can use common docking stations and batteries. According to Schell, the Windows 7 tablet will be launched sometime in the first half of this year, will also be able to use the same docks and adapters.

"We build products that are serviceable for IT managers," Schell said, explaining that Dell would stick with Windows 7 for its business tablet line-up while basing its consumer tablets on Android. "There's a major distinction between just plugging a consumer device into the corporate market and [addressing] business needs."

Dell plans to offer the Windows product in the first half of 2011, aiming it primarily at customers who need application support and want to manage and secure devices across multiple form factors, according to Schell.

Multiple platforms

"Business professionals will tell you that... by introducing multiple operating systems there's a degree of management cost and consistency that makes that difficult," he added."Encrypting data, remotely wiping data, provisioning and managing patches and so on — there's a common set of ways to do that across Windows. In an enterprise environment, the goal would be to handle all those devices the same way."

Asked whether Dell was working with Microsoft on the upcoming version of Windows for ARM architecture — Windows 7 tablets currently have to use x86 architecture, although Schell declined to specify the processor in Dell's most imminent device — the marketing chief said his company talked to Microsoft "weekly" about the subject.

"We'll be looking at a variety of architectures for Windows, including ARM," Schell said.

Outside the Latitude range, Dell unveiled three OptiPlex desktops. The new 990, 790 and 390 models will use Intel's latest vPro processors. The OptiPlexes will start at £629 and be made available in "the coming weeks", Dell said in a statement.

Dell workstations

The company also announced three Precision workstations. The T1600, which can use second-generation Core or Xeon processors, starts at £499. More details on the M6600 and M4600 mobile workstations will be released in the coming months, Dell said. The Latitudes have also not yet been priced.

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