Nov 18

Vista cuts down on help desk calls

That is what I heard from a Microsoft trainer recently. Does anyone have any direct knowledge of whether this is true or not? The problem with any metric like this is that there are so many more variables than just Windows Vista and Windows XP. For example, take a 3-year old Windows XP machine and refresh it with a brand new PC and a fresh operating system and I guarantee help desk calls will go down, at least temporarily.

Here are some possible reasons that Vista may cut down on your help desk calls. Continue reading

Sep 29

Oooh, I want to create a new OS too!

Saw this article over on Engadget where HP thinks that changing the interface on Linux is equivalent to writing an OS. Original article with more details is at Businesweek.

Just want to clarify something here. RedHat is not an operating system. SuSE is not an operating system. Linux is an operating system. BSD is an operating system. Microsoft Windows is an operating system. If I skin Windows and add in some freeware applications it doesn’t make it a new operating system. I think Microsoft would have an issue with that. The only way people get away with saying things like this is that there is no one who controls Linux from a commercial standpoint.

It is intersting that they think they want to undertake the maintenance duties of developing their own flavor of Linux. I think they would be much better served by using SuSE or RedHat, or even Ubuntu. The major PC vendors have displayed many times that they can’t get open source right. In fact, one of the biggest gripes I have with Dell is that they charge more for their hardware if you buy Linux than if you buy Windows, and they don’t offer their higher end hardware with Linux. I’m the kind of person who always wipes a PC clean and reinstalls the operating system after I get a system, so it doesn’t matter much to me whether or not it comes with Linux, but I think there should be some kind of price break for not having to pay for Windows. Unfortunately it seems that the actual value to the big name PC makers is diminished by having Linux on the box. Apparently they get so many kickbacks from Microsoft that they subsidize the hardware. Right.

Anyway, this rant brought to you because an Operating System is different than a Theme and set of installed applications.

Sep 23

Dell’s Missed Marketing Opportunity

I believe Dell is in a unique situation to actually make something like this work. Here’s the opportunity:

The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 in a business setting.

I’ve been pondering this idea for a while now and have come to the conclusion that it really could work if they could market the idea properly. As with any good marketing campaign you first have to set up a problem, false or not. The following are some problems.

  • Laptops are heavy
  • Laptops are expensive
  • Laptops are too big
  • Laptops are too slow to boot up
  • Laptops carry too much proprietary company data
  • Laptops are easy to break (and loose all that data)
  • Not everyone can have a laptop

The solution is the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. Or maybe they should rebrand it to a Latitude Thin Client, because this is my idea. Marry the Ubuntu OS and a 4GB solid state disk to an install that focuses on Citrix and/or Remote Desktop access. These UMPCs could be so cheap that some companies could easily afford to purchase one for every person, purchase one for every seat in a conference room (don’t lug that laptop!), or have dozens available in break room areas for people who otherwise don’t have access to a computer while at work.

It solves all our problems as above:

  • Laptops are heavy, but the Inspiron Mini 9 is light enough to take anywhere.
  • Laptops are expensive, but the Inspiron Mini 9 is cheap and easily replaceable.
  • Laptops are too big, but the Inspiron Mini 9 can fit in your luggage as an afterthought.
  • Laptops are too slow to boot up, but the Inspiron Mini 9 with its paired down operating system can be up and ready in seconds and can connect to your existing desktop session where all your important software is already running – no need to wait for Outlook to open and download email.
  • Laptops carry too much proprietary company data, but the Inspiron Mini 9 carries nothing but address and connection information that is useless without a user’s authentication.
  • Laptops are easy to break and loose all that data, but the Inspiron Mini 9 has a solid state disk that is tough enough to withstand a drop while powered up, and if you somehow do manage to break it all your data is safe on your desktop in your office.
  • Not everyone can have a laptop, but everyone can own an Inspiron Mini 9 enabling 24 hour connectivity from home for all employees.

I’m sure there are other ideas for this too and that I’ve only scratched the surface of what could be done with this. I’m sure someone at Dell has already thought this through and decided that either it wouldn’t work or that they don’t want it to work. From their perspective, an equal profit margin is better on a $1000 laptop than it is on one at $300. Assuming the profit margins are equal, which is probably not valid, they would at a minimum have to sell more than 3 Inspiron Mini 9′s for every lost Latitude laptop sale. Still, if some company gets this idea first it could have a similar impact but without the Inspiron Mini 9 sales for Dell.

The Latitude would still be useful, but would be reserved for executives and people who really do need to work while away from connectivity. I see the UMPC providing new connectivity more than replacing laptops where they are already useful.

Sep 13

Dell Mini 9 Unboxed

I just watched the video over on Gadgetspot of Dell’s new UMPC being unboxed. It looks like less packing than Dell normally uses, which is a good thing, and I think due to the fact that they aren’t offering any options with the Mini like an external monitor, docking stand, etc. Things that would normally require more room in a standard box. The other thing I was concerned with is how long it took to boot up Windows XP the first time. I know what the performance of the Atom processor should be like since I have a MSI Wind barebones that I built, (more on that later), and this was quite disappointing.

Anyway, I still wish I had one to test hands on. As I have mentioned before, I believe these could have use in the enterprise, and I would really like to replace my wife’s Inspiron 8600 with one as well. At any rate, with that little piece of video and the lousy performance I have no intention of running out to buy one just yet.

Sep 06

Dell Inspiron Mini

I read a post on Direct2Dell on the Mini. I have been anticipating this ever since I first saw the pictures of a red version of this that was caught on camera way back. As I mentioned earlier I am disappointed in the price, and the Ubuntu version costs more than the XP version, all other things equal.

I showed this to my wife and think it would be a good replacement for her Inspiron 8600 that is broken. The power port on the 8600 is nearly broken. It is extremely difficult to get a power connection. Randomly the power will disconnect and the battery will drain.

My work has a Dell Employee Purchase Program and while the prices aren’t discounted much from their regular website, it does offer free financing for a year with payroll deduction. I may end up purchasing one of these for her. I’d really like Dell to send me an evaluation unit though. As I talked about earlier, I think there could be a use for these in the enterprise.