Trialware and the Dell Vostro

Dell has had its share of bad press over bad decisions. Usually, they’re like most big companies that just don’t get it. Now, they’re advertising a new series of computers, called “Vostro”. No, I don’t know how they could possibly trademark that in Italy, where it would mean “Your Computer”. Like I’ve said, bad decisions. Could have been worse, like sending the Chevy Nova to Spanish-speaking countries, where it means “doesn’t run.”

But maybe they’re done something right. Never know. Random roll of the dice, and all that. The Vostro will, according to the press release from July 10th, be somewhat free of what they’re calling Trialware.

New York, July 10, 2007

Dell today extended its commitment to customers with a new brand of notebook and desktop computers designed for small businesses. The VostroTM branded products feature no trialware and simple to use tools that address top-of-mind problems such as data back-up, PC performance and health, and specialized networking support for customers without dedicated IT staff.

The Vostro (Latin for “yours”) product and services family is a milestone in the company’s strategy to reduce the cost, time and complexity of managing information technology for customers of all sizes.

OK, now this sounds good. Then again, they don’t really understand what their customers want:

Regardless of geography, small businesses told Dell that tools to help accomplish common, time-consuming tasks associated with backing up data and optimizing system performance, and easy support options rank among their top IT needs. To address these needs, Vostro customers receive automated support tools customized for small business at no additional cost for the first year (minimal charges may apply in some countries).

The tools include Dell Automated PC Tune-Up, which reduces more than 30 tuning, performance, security and maintenance tasks to one click; Dell Network Assistant, which simplifies the set-up, monitoring, troubleshooting and repair of a customers’ network; and Dell DataSafe Online for online backup of up to 10GB of user data and protects against data loss resulting from disasters, theft or damage.

Translation: Dell isn’t going to include Trialware, which is the word they’re using to describe free trial software that they get paid for any time a PC user clicks through and buys, upgrades, or views ads from the icons and pre-installed software on all their other machines. Instead, they’ll provide up to one-year versions of their own private-label clutter that changes standard Windows functionality to favor their own system, and auto-runs at startup. Prices for these “solutions” after the first year’s free trial weren’t announced.

Good? Well, maybe. Depends on implementation. If the startupware they install is designed to work together, it’s a smaller burden on the system than the usual combination of startupware, trialware, and bloat. But calling these boxes ‘clean’ would still be false–they’re still loading products beyond Windows and hardware drivers.

Have you bought a Vostro? Post a comment back and report if the configuration is an improvement.

More information: Here is Dell’s press release.