If Dell accepts a $2 billion loan from Microsoft (MSFT), will the PC giant get locked into Windows 8.1 -- and what does it mean for potential Google (GOOG) Android tablets and Chromebooks?
Amid the PC industry sales slump, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Lenovo and Samsung now offer Google Chromebooks and Android tablets. Dell, which may go private with a $2 billion loan from Microsoft (MSFT), has yet to introduce a Chromebook and hasn't made much Android noise. For Dell, is getting cozier with Microsoft smart or foolish? Hmmm...
First, the upside: Dell recently announced reasonably good quarterly results. And a plan to go private -- involving an investment from Silver Lake Partners and a $2 billion loan from Microsoft -- seems set for a Sept. 12 shareholder vote.
Let's assume shareholders approve Dell's plan to go private, and the PC giant accepts a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. On the server, The VAR Guy suspects, Dell will continue to offer and/or support Linux distributions like Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. After all, even Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud and Hyper-V hypervisor now offer extensive Linux support.
On the desktop and in the mobile market the situation is less clear. Of course, Dell will insist that it's free to make make its own decisions. But behind the scenes, it's easy to imagine Microsoft pressuring Dell to focus heavily on Windows 8.1 -- perhaps even offering up some new incentives to keep Dell loyal to Windows.
So where does that leave Chromebooks and Android tablets? Dell can dance around that question a bit -- unless HP shows serious mometum in those markets. HP is set to announce quarterly results later this week. If CEO Meg Whitman offers any upbeat statements about Chromebook and Android tablet demand, then Dell will likely be pressured to offer similar solutions.
Visit Dell.com/tablets and you'll only see Windows RT and Windows 8.1 offerings. Surely, customer demand for Android tablets is strong. But will Microsoft's $2 billion loan come with Windows loyalty strings attached? Hmmm...
Before you claim Dell is climbing completely into bed with Microsoft, consider this: Dell recently shipped Project Ophelia -- a PC on a thumb drive that runs on Android.