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Dell markets Managed PCs

The company pushes its "Managed PC" technologies in an effort to convince corporate IS departments it is working to lower the cost of owning and maintaining PCs.

Leading computer maker Dell (DELL) announced today that all of its future corporate laptop and desktop lines will use "Managed PC" technologies in an effort to convince corporate IS departments that the company is working to lower the cost of owning and maintaining PCs.

PC manufacturers, such as Dell, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard, have been heavily promoting the NetPC over the NC (network computer) as the cure for PCs' high total cost of ownership (TCO). But Dell apparently acknowledges that all of its PCs have to address the issue of manageability.

"Basically what Dell is trying to do is overcome the perception that PCs are unmanageable individually, and that even if individual computers can be managed, there's no way a company can manage them from a central location," said Rick Villars. The analyst covers desktop management and client-server computing for International Data Corporation, a market research firm.

"They are trying to convince people they've gotten the message [that they] can't just sell everybody NetPCs. They have to make every PC they sell more manageable," Villar added.

Dell says upcoming computers will incorporate many of the features included in the NetPC standard, but will allow users a greater degree of flexibility in configuring both hardware and software. Like NetPCs, the new systems will allow information systems personnel to set up, diagnose, and troubleshoot systems remotely through corporate intranets.

"The Managed PC will offer NetPC manageability in a platform that retains the flexibility and configurability of existing PCs," said Michael Dell, president and CEO of Dell, in a prepared statement. Dell said he doesn't see flexibility and configurability as mutually exclusive, however. He noted that by employing the same infrastructure of management technology, both can coexist successfully on corporate networks.

Dell outlined how the technology will be gradually integrated into its corporate product lines. Initially, systems will support the Desktop Management Interface standard and Microsoft's Zero Administration Kit. The former allows remote PC inventory, the latter lets IS managers control the network by prohibiting users from installing applications and allowing applications and data to be accessed directly from the server. Eventually, Dell will support Intel's Wired for Management specifications as well. New capabilities offered with the technologies include the ability to remotely turn on and configure PCs. In the future, Dell intends to support administration technologies incorporated into future versions of the Windows NT operating system.

Dell said it will demonstrate both NetPC and Managed PC technology at the upcoming PC Expo in New York City, scheduled for late June.