Dell has grudgingly admitted it sells PCs with a variety of operating systems (OSs) to VARs, but has claimed the channel is just another 'direct' customer to it.
Italy-based reseller Questar is selling Dell's Optiplex mini-tower system, running the Linspire 4.5 OS. The hardware is covered by Dell's warranties while the VAR supports the software.
"Nobody seems to know that Dell has an option for buying systems without an OS, which can then be personalised," said David Orban, chief executive of Questar.
Questar is buying the PCs from Dell under a custom factory integration (CFI) programme.
Orban said interest in the desktops has been high, with 200,000 hits on Questar's web site within the first 24 hours. "There's a big market for British resellers but it is the stores and small European private operations that should be most excited," he said.
Dell has claimed in a statement that the situation is not unusual.
"Questar is a direct Dell customer and that is the extent of the relationship. Dell offers its corporate customers CFI services where a customer can have its unique software image installed, including many different OSs," the company said.
"A number of VARs choose Dell desktop, workstation and server platforms on which they build, providing their customers with unique, customised solutions. This is not a situation unique to Questar."
Eddy Alejos, technical director at reseller Dynax, said this does happen in the UK.
"Dell is so popular people will get on the bandwagon, but the value a VAR can add to a Dell machine is limited," he said. "My view is to avoid it where possible. Dell is a competitor."
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