Dell OEM has just launched our Microsoft Embedded program making us the only tier 1 manufacturer with the ability to direct factory install Microsoft’s Embedded operating systems to customers globally. I sat down with Jason Szatkiewicz, from the OEM Solutions Product Planning Team, to learn more about the enhanced program.
Sam: Can you start off by explaining the difference between Microsoft Embedded OS and the standard windows operating system?
Jason: This is probably one of the most important questions we field from OEMs not already building on the Embedded version. Microsoft has a “For Embedded Systems” version of each of their standard client and enterprise operating systems that’s the same functional product, but allows an OEM to incorporate this Embedded version in a fixed function solution and resell or lease that license to an end user. So essentially it is a licensing difference that fits the OEM Solutions business model. The Embedded OS has a 15 year product life cycle (minimum 15 year product availability and 10 year support cycle). OEMs are no longer forced to upgrade their Embedded application every few years as Microsoft upgrades its operating system. This is especially important for OEMs who require government certifications with each operating system update. Another great value is that the Embedded version allows the OEM to create and ship system recovery media. This essentially returns the system to “fresh from factory” condition because the embedded application and operating system are part of the recovery media. This is a real benefit to End Users. If you’re an OEM using the standard Microsoft operating system in a fixed function design and reselling it as part of the solution, you should switch to the Embedded version.
Sam: So tell us about Dell OEM’s new Microsoft Embedded agreement.
Jason: I’m excited because after over two years and many customer requests, we’re finally going with this program. The Microsoft Embedded agreement is a global rollout of the program we have today. Under the program launch on April 1st, Dell OEM will now be a direct embedded distributor of the Microsoft Embedded software. The agreement gives us embedded distributor capabilities, which we can use to deliver more complete solutions to customers built on Windows Embedded software.
Sam: What do you mean by direct distributor?
Jason: Dell can now globally factory-install Microsoft Embedded operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and prior generation operating systems such as Windows XP, Server 2003 R2 and 2008 that are available through a CFI project). These are “For Embedded Systems” versions, which offer extended availability and support and are meant for fixed function or embedded solutions. Before this program rollout, many customers would go through an integrator, but now they can come directly to Dell. Dell OEM can install the customer’s image, including the operating system and supporting applications, activate it, and provide recovery media –so a complete solution can be distributed for customers through this agreement.
At April 1 launch, it is the same product offering that we offer to customers
today. Any offering that has been set up through a CFI project has also been created to support existing customers. The difference is instead of going through an integrator or partner; you can now come directly to us. And we offer these capabilities worldwide.
Sam: What is the biggest advantage for customers?
Jason: There are a few key benefits. One is that existing customers will see reduced lead times. With the new agreement we will stock Microsoft COAs or Certificate of Authenticity labels in our factory. These will be affixed to hardware upon order. Previously, we were purchasing these labels from an external supplier which involved waiting that extended order lead times.
This agreement also enables availability worldwide at launch. We are able to sell the software and ship anywhere in the world except for a few countries. OEMs based in those countries can use a partner to sign up with the program.
Sam: What sort of process will change for customers?
Jason: The process should be basically the same for customers. There is an engagement process and pre-sales discussions such as what type of software is best suited for the solution, and allowing the customer to evaluate it. There are the proper agreements that have to be signed between the customer and Dell and Microsoft. The intake design registration process won’t change either, although we will move some of the agreements to an online format in the near future, making the signing process easier for our customers.
Sam: How quickly can existing customers switch over to this new agreement? Or how does a new customer get signed up?
Jason: If you are an existing customer on the program today, your account team and the dedicated regional transition leads have been working with you on a transition process to the new program. Overall, we have a plan in place to make sure there is no disruption to customers’ shipping product lines.
If you are a new customer who would like to investigate whether a Microsoft Embedded operating system is the optimal software platform for your solution, contact your account team or fill out a contact form to start the process. We have technical resources available and people assigned regionally to guide customers through the pre-sales evaluation of Windows Embedded software, and to complete the customer sign up process with Microsoft.
In my experience with the Microsoft Embedded Program I’ve listened to our customers and their needs around operating system software and related services and support. Microsoft and Dell have some great products both released and on the horizon. I hope to expand what we can deliver in terms of products and platforms with the Microsoft Embedded Program in the near future.
Sam: Sounds good. Thanks for your time. It’s great to see another customer driven program launched by Dell OEM Solutions.