NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell is betting big that Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 operating system will be a hit with businesses and consumers alike.
Appearing in a wide-ranging on-stage interview here at market researcher Gartner's annual security and risk management conference, Dell offered insights into several of his company's rapidly evolving business lines, including the decision to walk away from Android tablets in the U.S. market in favor of Windows.
"I think the Microsoft Windows 8 solution is going to be very attractive to customers for a number of reasons," Dell said. "You'll see us at launch, at Windows 8 launch, with a full complement of devices—tablets, hybrids, convertibles—you know every imaginable and maybe some unimaginable forms."
Dell said that he expects Windows 8 devices to enter the market with an attractive price point, and that in the business sector, where the company primarily plans to focus, shops that already run Windows will be inclined to remain in that environment as they deploy tablets and other new devices.
Windows 8 'Evolutionary'
Dell said he is "super excited about Windows 8 and what that brings to touch computing and tablets," saying the next iteration of the operating system will chart an "evolutionary path for Windows into tablets."
Dell also confirmed that the company plans to bring an ARM-based tablet to market. But his enthusiasm for mobile devices does not extend into the smartphone arena. He said in no uncertain terms that the company has no plans to bring a phone to market.
"You're not going to see us in phones, not in terms of hardware," he said.
As for Android and Apple devices, Dell said that the company is making a bid to offer businesses support through its expanding services division, which takes a "device-agnostic" approach.
"If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, we want to manage and secure that for you," he said.
Those efforts tie into Dell's work on desktop virtualization, which includes integration with mobile devices running Android or iOS. Dell indicated that the company will introduce a new package of software for securing and managing Apple and Android devices in a virtualized desktop environment later this year.
Asked if he had considered abandoning PC production as IBM did and HP has signaled it is considering, Dell dismissed the idea, saying that the company remains committed to its traditional PC business while embracing the transition to virtualized environments.
"We are unencumbered by legacy," he said. "So if you think about those other companies with one or two fewer letters in their name, they have this old stuff that they're protecting in one form or another. And we don't care about old stuff. In fact we want to get you off the old stuff and get you onto the new platforms. This is why we're emphasizing things like application modernization and migration. It's why we're taking the x86 solution and pushing it to the absolute maximum."
Dell also indicated that the company plans to pad out its portfolio of security products, a business line that the firm has been expanding with the recent acquisitions of SonicWall and SecureWorks. He said that security is one of three core business lines the company is focusing on, alongside connected devices, comprised of PCs and other end user products, and virtual infrastructure, which includes product lines such as servers, storage and networking equipment, as well as the software to bind them together.
"You really cannot be an end-to-end IT company without having a very strong security capability," Dell said.
No Cloud as Commodity
In the arena of cloud computing, Dell is staking out a position as a provider of secure private clouds and related services. But the company has no plans to enter the utility-like business of providing on-demand computing resources as Amazon and others offer.
"You're not going to see us get into sort of the commodity, you know, infrastructure as a service," he said. "That's not a high priority for us."
Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.