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Dell answers program puzzles

The company's new "Direct Effect" site will identify programs certified to run on its computers.

Dell Computer is moving to take the pain out of software adoption through a new site that will identify programs certified to run on the company's computers.

The "Direct Effect" program will essentially provide information at a dedicated Web site on programs certified to run on its corporate notebooks, desktops, workstations, and server computers. The Direct Effect site will also connect to DellWare, where Dell sells third party software and peripheral products.

The program is targeted at corporate customers, which often employ testing procedures on PCs they buy to ensure that software used in their networks runs reliably. Otherwise, rolling out untested software can result in costly user downtime and deployment of maintenance personnel. Participating vendors includeNovell, Oracle, and Autodesk.

"As Dell grows to be more of an enterprise company, this is the type of thing enterprise customers really require," said Jim Mazzola, a spokesperson for Dell on the new program.

Dell has made a number of moves this year to broaden its appeal to high-end corporate customers through ancillary services or products designed to complement its standard desktop, workstation, and server lines.

The company earlier rolled out new service programs to give greater levels of support for businesses and government agencies with complex computer systems. Additionally, Dell in April opened "application solution centers" to help customers and software companies move applications to the Intel platform.

The benefit for independent software vendors comes in the opportunity for incremental revenue. Dell's Web site generates approximately $6 million per day, according to the company, with a goal to garner more than half of all sales from the Web by 2000. A more prominent spot on the site can be expected to lead to additional sales.

And Dell itself will also profit. The company charges customers fees for loading additional applications onto computers and keeps a percentage of the revenue on some of the applications sold.

Software developers also get discounts on Dell systems used for development and demonstration purposes, according to the company.