Dell promises 'every PC is going to be an AI PC' whether you like it or not

Windows 11 didn't kickstart a refresh cycle so here's another excuse

Dell Technologies has joined other PC vendors that bought a ticket on the AI hype train as it prepares to release a swathe of new devices.

According to the hardware giant, the industry is at the cusp of a major refresh cycle, and what customers really want is an AI PC (even if they don't know it yet).

During a briefing, Meghana Patwardhan, Dell veep for Commercial PCs and Software, told The Reg that while the immediate future would consist of two worlds – one with AI hardware and one without. "Every PC is going to be an AI PC in the longer term."

Windows 11 has yet to set the PC hardware market alight, despite Microsoft's determination to cease support for Windows 10 and force customers to upgrade their devices. Manufacturers are therefore pinning their hopes on the hype surrounding AI translating into sales as customers, fearful of missing out on The Next Big Thing, ensure that whatever they buy to replace existing machines will be capable of running on-device AI that Microsoft, Google, and their competitors have in store.

In terms of new hardware, Dell used the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona to show off new versions of its Surface-baiting Latitude 7350 convertible – "the world's most serviceable commercial detachable," according to the company – and its workstation-class Precision 3680 tower. Other devices in the Precision range include mobile workstations and the 3280 Compact Form Factor PC.

Dell was also determined to present itself as a leader in hybrid working with the Premier Wireless ANC headset, replete with AI-based noise cancellation.

Duringt our talk, AI was never far from the lips of Dell's spokespeople as the company talked up the energy efficiency and future-proofing it saw in dedicated AI hardware, such as Neural Processing Units (NPUs) that are increasingly cropping up in CPUs. To illustrate the point, Dell boatsed about how much more efficient background blurring is on video calls when AI hardware is running compared to when it isn't.

Hopefully, Microsoft will soon deliver a version of Windows capable of demonstrating a use for AI hardware that is more than hiding distractions in the background.

Defining use cases for AI was highlighted as a problem for PC makers in October. Despite the hype surrounding the tech, analysts including IDC have worried that "use cases have yet to be fully articulated." That said, considering an AI PC is just a normal PC with a bit more RAM alongside a decent GPU and NPU, the future envisioned by Dell, where every PC is an AI PC, requires no great leap of the imagination.

Microsoft's arbitrary changes to the hardware requirements for Windows may not have significantly shifted the PC market in the short term. However, Dell is aware that kit issued in 2020 to staff that found themselves suddenly asked to work remotely will have to be replaced. And when it is, the company will have a broad range of margin rich AI PCs ready to go. ®

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