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RealTime IT News

Dell Does Deals With MSN, AT&T

Top U.S. personal computer manufacturer Dell Computer Corp. Tuesday tapped MSN Internet Services and AT&T Corp. to provide Internet access to different segments of its consumer-based and small business initiatives.

Dell aligned with Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet network to offer co-branded Dellnet by MSN Internet services to home-based users.

The AT&T strategic relationship is designed to provide Internet access for Dell's U.S. small business customers. Dubbed, DellEPro, Dell and AT&T plan to work together to bring other small business offerings to market later this fall.

Both deals are efforts by Dell to offset diminishing margins on its computer hardware lineup. Each provides the means for Dell to stay connected with customers at the point of purchase.

Dell customers would still be able to opt for America Online Inc. or other Internet service providers, but AT&T and MSN are Dell's preferred partners for Internet access.

The Dell, MSN collaboration is designed to advance anywhere, anytime access to the Internet for the consumer market segment. Dellnet by MSN is scheduled to be a feature on Dell's U.S. computers this fall.

Dell and Microsoft plan to offer consumers the ability to purchase a new Dell computer and sign up for Dellnet by MSN services, all at the same time.

Frank Muehleman, Dell's worldwide home and small business group senior vice president, said when the new computer arrives consumers need only to plug it in to connect to the Internet.

"We feel that by working with MSN, we can build and offer Dell consumers an industry-leading Internet experience," Muehleman said. "Dellnet by MSN will also provide consumers one of the easiest ways to get to the Internet within minutes of setting up their new computer."

The two companies plan to investigate develop new devices and services that extend the reach of the Internet computing experience in the home and personal environment.

Brad Chase, Microsoft senior vice president of the consumer group, said the software giant was very excited about working with Dell.

"Our alliance with Dell will make unique MSN-based content and services easily available through one of the world's premier direct suppliers of Internet products and services for consumers," Chase said. "Through this alliance, Dell and MSN plan to jointly develop next generation Web-based products and services."

DellEPro will be available later this summer on Dell notebooks and desktop personal computers. It will also available through employee purchase programs of Dell's corporate customers.

Dell is already working with AT&T to provide DellEPro services to more than 100,000 employees of American Airlines.

Kathleen Earley, AT&T data and Internet services president, said the two companies intend to tap into the small business market segment by developing private label IP services.

"Analyst forecasts show that small businesses will spend roughly $28 billion on Internet services this year," Earley said. "AT&T recognizes this and is committed to helping these companies transform themselves through innovative services such as DellEPro.'

Dell's e-business Web site already features new Internet-based business services for procurement, marketing, accounting and financial management. To make these online services available to small business customers, Dell has teamed with a variety of application service providers including Works.com, Eletter.com, among others.

Dell's Muehleman noted that Internet-based companies continue to