Dell, CompUSA Gear Up For Vista Launch

"We're ready to work with individual consumers or large enterprises," said Russ Ray, a senior manager in Dell's client operating system product marketing unit as he described the hardware manufacturer's game plan for the launch of Vista. "The smaller they are, the easier it is. We're finding that everybody is interested in getting his hands on it."

Dell, which says it accounts for more than 10 percent of Microsoft's business, said customers with volume licensing agreements with Microsoft can use Dell to factory-install Vista after they have provided their Windows Vista image.

In extensive pre-launch testing of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 with its customers, Dell has found that the ideal PC hardware configuration should grow to take advantage of the advanced functions included in the Microsoft products.

A typical Vista-based configuration should have 2-GB of RAM, a 256-MB memory card, a 7200 RPM hard disk and a dual core processor from AMD or Intel, according to Dell. In particular, the processor requirements represent a new departure for Dell; for years the firm was in a monogamous relationship with Intel, which was the sole supplier of its processors. In recent months, however, Dell has added AMD as a processor supplier.

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The larger more robust configurations are expected to be a boon for memory manufacturers. Marker researcher iSuppli has predicted DRAM sales will grow from $32.5 billion in 2006 to $35.9 billion next year. Forecasting a 10 percent DRAM share to accommodate Vista in 2007, iSuppli is predicting an even larger share due to Vista in 2008 when users are expected to adopt the OS with a vengeance.

All major memory manufacturers including Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor have said they are increasing manufacturing capacity in anticipation of Vista being widely adopted.

Dell is using targeted tool chests to assist customers plan and budget for Vista. Its Windows Vista ROI Tool is designed to help in the migration process while Exchange Advisor Tool will facilitate the use of e-mail.

IT services provider Getronics is another firm with a program aimed at assisting customers migrate to Vista and Office 2007. Getronics' approach calls for IT managers to attend an initial workshop.

"IT executives can then decide which steps to conduct with their own staff and which ones to assign to Getronics," the firm said. "The IT executive can select from business case development, Microsoft Operations Framework Assessment, (and) application testing to migration support."

Getronics, which has some 25,000 employees, said it plans to be practicing what it is preaching: the firm said it will adopt Vista and 2007 gradually during 2007.

CompUSA is offering a Vista implementation program at 160 of its stores in the U.S. The program, to be offered in conjunction with Microsoft's Small Business Value Program, is available for businesses purchasing five or more Vista licenses.