Microsoft's upcoming consumer operating system features software that helps computers boot faster. Dell's upcoming Dimension PCs running Windows Me will include this feature, giving customers quicker access to the Internet and other software, the companies said.
Fast-boot PCs should be able to launch applications in less than 30 seconds, Dell said. Typical PCs take a few minutes to launch. Dell's faster Dimension line will be released by the end of the year, once Windows Me is commercially available.
With the proliferation of easy-to-use Internet devices that offer simple Net connections, PC makers and software developers are looking for ways to simplify personal computers to compete with these appliances, many of which feature instant Net access once the machine is switched on.
Engineers working on Windows Me, the latest version of the Windows 98 operating system, have focused on keeping the system interface simple and straightforward, Microsoft says.
"As the PC becomes a more important device in the home, consumers increasingly expect that it will perform as well as their other home appliances," John Frederiksen, general manager of the platforms group at Microsoft, said in a statement.
The operating system also features improved support for home networking and digital media, two areas that have become increasingly popular following the release of Windows 98 Second Edition last year.
Windows Me is close to the end of its beta-testing period, which is designed to identify and eliminate bugs before the system's official release sometime this summer.
Windows Me is expected to be the last Windows 95-based operating systems. After its release, Microsoft plans to switch home and corporate customers to newer versions of Windows 2000.