From Monday, office supplies retailer Officeworks will start selling a limited range of pre-configured Dell PCs and laptops at 104 locations across the country.
Just 10 of Dell's computer models will be available at Officeworks and will come pre-installed with Windows Vista at prices ranging from AU$999 to AU$1,800, although Dell could not immediately say which versions of Vista will be available on the retail machines.
Dell printers, ink, and flat panel displays will also be available through Officeworks.
A spokesperson for Officeworks said it will gradually make all 10 models available; however, next week only seven will be on sale. A total of five laptops from the Inspiron family, as well as the XPS M1330, will be available next week. Just two versions of Dell's Inspiron 531ST desktops models will be available from AU$999.
According to Evan Williams, general manager of consumer sales, the ability to touch Dell's PCs before buying will help increase sales in the all-important laptop arena.
"We're finding that in this market today, the notebook market is driving a lot of the growth," he said, adding: "People are more and more conscious of the design of the product ... so the more they can see and touch the product is a real benefit."
The deal has been in the pipeline for six months while staff were being trained in the Dell range of products, according to David Oakley, GM of marketing and merchandising for Officeworks.
Although no other retail partners have been named, the deal with the Wesfarmers-owned retailer is not exclusive, said Williams.
"At this time, Officeworks is the only retail partner we're working with. It's not exclusive but we expect to be with Officeworks for an extended period of time," said Dell's Williams.
Williams and Oakley are tight-lipped about expectations for sales in the first year of the relationship.
"It's a bit hard at this time to say. We have bought quite a bit of stock, and have a big stockpile to go through," said Officeworks' Oakely.
Although Dell has released laptops and desktops with pre-installed Ubuntu in some markets where it has retail partnerships, including the UK and US, the open source option will not be made available to Australians.
"We've got no plans [to release pre-installed Ubuntu PCs] at this stage, but we are looking at it closely," said Dell's Williams.