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Dell Plans Online Maintainence

Dell Computer Corp. announced a new service Wednesday under which the company will maintain customers' servers over the Internet.

A server is the primary controlling device in a computer network.

The goal, said Ro Parra, senior vice president of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, is to eventually have computer systems detect, diagnose and resolve most of their problems without human interaction.

"We intend to use the Internet to revolutionize the customer support experience," Parra said.

The announcement marks an expansion of Dell's Internet capabilities, said Cody Acree, vice president of technical research at Frost Securities in Dallas. "It is not something I've seen in the other major PC manufacturers."

Michael Dell, head of the country's largest PC maker, demonstrated the new technology for diagnosing computer problems online at Dell's first DirectConnect convention Wednesday, though at one point audience members had to prompt the leading seller of desktop computers how to delete an infected file.

The Internet will provide a dramatic drop in costs, destroy old competitive advantages and remake business models, Dell said.

"The Internet is clearly reshaping the flow of capital," Dell said, noting that an increasing portion of the company's sales are over the Internet. "The net is really the backbone of the company right now."

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