Dell yesterday claimed it has become the first PC vendor in the UK to ship systems with Windows NT 4.0 pre-installed. In a press release, the company said it has commenced shipping the operating system on its OptiPlex GX Pro, Dimension XPS Pro and selected other desktops, and will shortly offer it on servers, portables and more desktops.
The announcement surprised many observers who had not expected PC vendors to deliver the pre-installed product until mid-September at earliest. Dell, however, has been pushing the Pentium Pro/Windows NT combination very hard and said it had made a special effort to be first out of the traps with Microsoft's OS.
"The difference between Microsoft delivering NT 4.0 on August 1 and getting the product pre-installed is down to things like validation of downloads, driver support and so on," said David Moore, senior product manager at Dell Direct. "We pulled out all the stops but we had a large amount of experience from the beta programme and our experience pre-installing NT 3.51."
Moore added that direct vendors like Dell also have the advantage of building to order whereas firms that sell through resellers will inevitably be slower to offer pre-installed products. "The indirect people will be forced to do things like double-load operating systems, which is a very slow business, or maintain separate SKUs. We certainly expect people to transfer from other brands to Dell."
Dell's entry-level NT 4.0 system is a 200MHz Pentium Pro-based Dimension XPS Pro with 32Mb RAM, 1.6Gb hard drive, eight-speed CD-ROM drive, 15-inch monitor and Microsoft Office Professional for £1,599 + VAT.
PCDN Comment: Nobody is pushing Pentium Pro with Windows NT 4.0 as hard as Dell, which is even recommending it for users of Windows 95 who plan to upgrade their OS at some point in the next four years. Getting NT 4.0 stamped on its drives so quickly isn't a strategic advantage for Dell but it does signal the strength of the firm's commitment to the product and the flexibility of the direct model. Similarly indicative is the very low pricing.