Dell talks netbooks, diversifying, and Windows 7

At a sponsored dinner on Tuesday night, Dell Founder and CEO, Michael Dell, told of his dislike for netbooks and admitted that the "biggest mistake" of his career was not diversifying the company sooner.

When asked about the growing netbook market, Dell said that "a fair amount of customers" were unsatisfied with the poor performance parts and the smaller screen size when compared to traditional laptop computers.

"Take a user who's used to a 15 inch notebook and then give him a 10 inch netbook. He'll say 'Oh, this is so cool, it's so lightweight'. Then 36 hours later he'll say the screen's not big enough, give me my 15 inch back".

This reportedly got the room talking, given that Dell itself offers a range of netbook computers for sale.

When asked by a diner what his biggest mistake as an executive was, Dell said it was retaining the existing strategy of direct sales for too long and not diversifying the business sooner. "We probably should have - or could have - intervened a bit earlier and said 'we should hit the reset button here and try some new things to anticipate this challenge coming up'", he said.

The challenge Dell is talking about is the expansion of its competitors like IBM and HP into a broader market of hardware, IT services and "solutions".

Last month, Dell agreed to purchase computer services company Perot Systems for $US3.9 billion in an effort to better compete with IBM and HP. However, Dell was clear in his intentions not to emulate the rival companies business model. "We want to do it different to the other guys", he said, by offering more remotely managed services to consumers.

On a positive note, Dell took the opportunity during his speech to express his enthusiasm towards Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7. "If you get the latest processor technology and you get Windows 7 and Office 2010, you will love your PC again...it's a dramatic improvement", Dell told the audience.

Dell predicted that the combination of Windows 7 with new chips from Intel will lead to a "very powerful refresh cycle" in the near future.

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"Take a user who's used to a 15 inch notebook and then give him a 10 inch netbook. He'll say 'Oh, this is so cool, it's so lightweight'. Then 36 hours later he'll say the screen's not big enough, give me my 15 inch back".

Wow thats exactly my case. I wanted something in between like a 12" lightweight notebook but had to settle for a 10" netbook for budget reasons.

Same here. I'm regretting my netbook purchase because of the processing power as well, wishing I got a bigger laptop with a better CPU etc.

.Patrick said,
Same here. I'm regretting my netbook purchase because of the processing power as well, wishing I got a bigger laptop with a better CPU etc.


Netbooks are by and large a subset of portable computing, and are popular primarily because they cost less than the larger laptops and notebooks. As opposed to a netbook, I look hard at "legacy laptops"; these are used/reconditioned older-but-still-serviceable laptops with P4 processors or better; typically, they ran Windows XP, though the newer ones may have run Windows Vista. My Mom has such a laptop (a Gateway 600YGR) that I helped her pick out (she bought it for $150). It has a 14" 1024x768 24-bit display (far larger than that of the average netbook), has fairly-decent AMD Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics, and while this model came with Windows 2000 Professional originally, is quite capable (with a RAM upgrade to 1 GB) of running XP (or Windows 7) on the P4 processor built in. She uses it as a portable Internet surfer (I have a WRT54GS router that is five years old, and the Gateway has a PC Carfd-based wireless-G adapter) and is nice in the netbook role.

I'm personally looking for a second legacy laptop in the same formfactor for my own use; the only changes I'm seeking are a DVD drive (Mom's has a CD-RW drive) and a larger hard drive (I'm not even looking for a larger display).

May be I am a little thick headed, please, someone explain what good is a netbook? Yes, I know they are small, light weight, but they offer nothing for the price you pay to own one. Dell is right they are worthless, even if his company does produce them (it is because they make money for the company and stock holders).

Some people like them. My friend's roommate has one (Acer Assfire, I mean... Aspire) and she loves it. I let her use my 15.4 inch HP DV5000 and she said it was nice having a bigger screen but it was a little too heavy for her liking.

I tend to agree on netbooks. The screens are just too small IMO. I prefer a laptop.

With regards to Dell, I don't mind the company in a lot of ways, but they have to step up their quality in a lot of areas and their customer support as well. They've improved things, but there's more to go...

Yeah, I think the same, way too small. Many types of netbooks I've used have a touchpad that is not as good as most any notebook I've used. Also, not haveing a CD/DVD anything is a problem for me sometimes. Time you buy all the extra stuff many people add after they buy a netbook, they end up with a pricetag of "almost" the amount of a Notebook that is quite a bit faster. Hey, but that's just what I've been running into.

I tend to agree on netbooks. The screens are just too small IMO. I prefer a laptop.

With regards to Dell, I don't mind the company in a lot of ways, but they have to step up their quality in a lot of areas and their customer support as well. They've improved things, but there's more to go...

I tend to agree on netbooks. The screens are just too small IMO. I prefer a laptop.

With regards to Dell, I don't mind the company in a lot of ways, but they have to step up their quality in a lot of areas and their customer support as well. They've improved things, but there's more to go...

I really don't get the whole PC vs. Mac thing. A HUGE percentage of Mac owners own a copy of Windows or a separate Windows PC. In fact, they end up paying for software from Microsoft TWICE (and they have to pay for a FULL copy of Windows, not a discounted one that is included with a new PC).

For the reasons stated above, there's little reason for Microsoft to be scared of Apple. It hasn't penetrated any of it's traditional markets such as businesses, and Apple users still have to by Office (they are the de facto standards for files after all). And I doubt businesses would like the "take this or nothing at all" approach Jobs tends to use with his products, even when he's flat wrong.

Have to agree about being off topic. In fact why was this remark even posted. What, did you have a bad situation between you and some Apple product?

dagamer34 said,
I really don't get the whole PC vs. Mac thing.

That's because it is a false dichotomy perpetuated by marketing types. There are many different computer manufacturers out there building machines running a variety of operating systems. It helps one company over another to set themselves apart and compare themselves to the competition regardless of the fact that it isn't really representative of the whole market. Nothing new for advertising.

Are Americans taught about adverbs in school? Or are they simply planning to remove them from the language altogether, much like Webster did with his simplification of spelling. I often wonder about this.

Anyway, I am not a fan of DELL at the moment. At work we have DELL PCs, but the cables supplied with all the monitors are the worst I have ever used in my life! They have these tiny ferrite cores on them - probably placebos - that do absolutely nothing. Half the people in the office have to put up with "waviness" on their screens, until I get around to replacing them all.

jOshay said,
Blame your work for buying the cheapest dell parts there is. I have never had any problems.

I don't recall choosing the type of cable supplied with the monitors being an option.

If you get the latest processor technology and you get Windows 7 and Office 2010, you will love your PC again...it's a dramatic improvement

I have to agree with that statement. Although I don't have the latest processor technology, I've been running Windows 7 and the Office 2010 CTP on my work laptop for about a month now, and I couldn't be happier. I never feel like I'm fighting the OS or Office anymore. In fact, I hardly ever think about the OS at all anymore. It just works in the background, allowing me to focus on the applications - which is the way it should be.

There is no "beta" of Office 2010, there is that leaked early build of the beta that is riddled with problems, but was an internal build not intented for public consumption. To be honest, you don't need to wait for 7 and Office 2010 to love your PC again, I'm loving it now with Vista and Office 2007 (but 7 and Office 2010 are even better of cause!)

Xerxes said,
There is no "beta" of Office 2010, there is that leaked early build of the beta that is riddled with problems, but was an internal build not intented for public consumption. To be honest, you don't need to wait for 7 and Office 2010 to love your PC again, I'm loving it now with Vista and Office 2007 (but 7 and Office 2010 are even better of cause!)


There is a Technical Preview of Office 2010. I've been using Windows 7 and Office 2010 for awhile now. They are both a lot better.

dogmai said,
There is a Technical Preview of Office 2010. I've been using Windows 7 and Office 2010 for awhile now. They are both a lot better.


+1

The later Technical Preview and Windows 7 (both in x64 on my PC, and both in x32 on Mom''s PC) indeed work VERY well together; what crashes there have been have occurred in Outlook 2010, and there have been darn few of those (and even those have not resulted in so much as a single lost piece of data), and I push Outlook 2010 considerably harder than I did Outlook 2007 (not to mention pushing Windows 7 itself much harder than I pushed Vista, and I actually liked Vista); in fact, I am pushing Word 2010 a lot harder mostly due to the PDF-export feature (which is a great deal faster in 2010 than 2007 SP2); if I had an ODF viewer similar to Adobe Reader (which I use in Windows to view PDFs), I'd test the ODF-export (also incluyded in Word 2010) as well.