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Dell extends notebook warranties

For years, PC makers tried to shorten the length of their warranties. Now they are trying to outdo each other by lengthening them.

Dell on Monday announced that it will upgrade the limited warranty on its Inspiron notebooks for consumers from 90 days to 1 year.

Although many credit direct manufacturing as the primary reason Dell has become the largest PC maker in the world, a substantial element in Dell's growth over the year comes from focusing on customer service. Michael Dell himself occasionally dons a headset and answers support calls.

When customer satisfaction ratings began to dip in 2004, alarm bells began ringing in Round Rock. Extending the warranty to one year won't likely result in a huge influx of support calls, but it could help Dell polish its image.

Competitors are tweaking warranties to increase sales as well. Hewlett-Packard on the 5150 desktop, which contains an Athlon chip, to three years. This helps HP sell the box into corporate accounts.