SAN FRANCISCO (02/15/2000) - Dell CEO Michael Dell sought to clarify his expectations for Windows 2000 on Tuesday, saying his comments that Microsoft's operating system will not boost sales should not be read as a criticism of the product.
Analysts pointed to two events last week that resulted in Microsoft taking a stock hit: Gartner Group issued a report claiming that one-fourth of corporations going to Windows 2000 will experience significant software compatibility problems; and Dell stated that he was expecting no "massive immediate acceleration" to Windows 2000.
After his keynote here at the Windows 2000 Expo, Dell said the juxtaposition of his comments, made during Dell's quarterly financial report, and the Gartner Group study's release was "an incorrect connection."
Dell said his view should not be interpreted as a knock against Windows 2000, which he touted as an impressive upgrade to Windows NT 4.0. While Dell will offer Windows 2000 on a wide array of its servers, desktops, and laptops, the final call on the OS is the customer's hands, he said.
"We are not at the stage of deciding for the customers," Dell said at a press conference, predicting "strong" adoption for Windows 2000. "We'll ramp [to Windows 2000] as our customers ramp ... We're ready for it to happen as soon as our customers are ready for it to happen."
Indeed, Dell made a strong pitch for Windows 2000, touting his company's participation in Microsoft's Rapid Deployment Program and the help Dell offered the software giant in stamping out bugs in the operating system.
Corporate customers -- and a few home users, as well -- will see a marked improvement in the Windows operating system with Windows 2000, Dell said.
"We have a significant interest in moving companies to new technology," Dell said. "You don't see Dell out there plugging Windows 95."
Nevertheless, the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker is embracing Linux as well. Dell said that by offering Linux and Windows, his company has covered about two-thirds of the server market.
Dell's keynote speech kicked off the Windows 2000 conference, which will culminate Thursday with the official launch of the long-awaited product and a presentation by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.
On other topics, Dell said that Dell Computer is watching as the "PC model is being pulled in two directions," the traditional market and the burgeoning arena of hosted applications. Soon Dell will unveil dellhost.com, its foray into this space.
"For Dell to succeed in that model, we need to be in the hosting business," Dell said.
Dell also offered a vague defense of Microsoft in the Redmond, Wash. company's antitrust trial. Dell said his customers "like Microsoft products" and do not want to see the U.S. Department of Justice meddle in the company's affairs.
"Generally, we are not a big fan of government intervention in a corporation's business," Dell said.
Dell Computer Corp., in Round Rock, Texas, is at http://www.dell.com. Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash., is at http://www.microsoft.com.
Bob Trott is an InfoWorld associate news editor based in Seattle.