Is Dell becoming like the companies it put out of business?

There is nothing more frustrating from a customer prospective than a very poorly implemented product launch. When I ordered my new Dell D620 laptop a few weeks ago, I was given the option of adding a biometric fingerprint reader for about $50, which would allow me to use a finger rather than a password to log onto Windows. These devices have been gaining popularity for the past year and the price point seemed right. However, when I got my computer, I couldn’t find any documentation on the system or how to use it, so I called Dell. They explained that the necessary software was actually not installed and had to be added manually to my computer’s BIOS for some security reasons. A rep then proceeded to direct me to a site to download the driver and walked me through the process which took about 40 minutes. I was then transferred to the manufacturer of the product, Wave Systems, whose support team walked me through the very poorly designed and complicated enrollment process, which took another 20 minutes. The whole time, I kept asking both parties if they were really doing this for every single person that had one of these devices installed on their laptop and the answer I got was yes. Putting the obvious customer service issues with this process aside, how can you make money on a product at this price point which requires so much human intervention? For a company that prides itself on the efficiency of its operations, I really don’t get how they let this product roll out the door in this fashion.

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4 Responses to Is Dell becoming like the companies it put out of business?

  1. says:

    Bobby, Wave Systems makes junk. They are in Dell as a band-aid until VISTA comes out from Microsoft.

  2. says:

    Bobby, Interesting article and comment from Bill. I have not had the same experience. I was intrigued with the TPM concept and biometric functionality of the new Latitudes and consequently ordered a D620 which arrived mid month. Contrary to your experience my system had the software and the necessary documentation. Start Button/Programs/Wave Systems Corp/Getting Started Guide. This guide stepped me through the installation process including activation of the TPM and configuring the already installed software. I did not have to download anything nor call tech support. There were also help files for each of the Wave programs.

    It wasn’t a one click process, but then again neither was setting up Outlook, Quicken or any number of other worthwhile programs.

    Security is very user specific. It would be impossible for Dell or any manufacture for that matter to send out a preconfigured machine. The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a separate hardware security chip operating outside of the processor. It’s purpose is to keep personal secrets secret, to effectively deal with the onslaught of hacking, spoofing, phishing, key stroke loggers identity theft and the up coming requirement for multifactor authentication. As a consequence it is shipped in a deactivated condition allowing the end user to establish ownership. It arrives as a “virgin” chip if you will. Do you will remember years ago the uproar about the serial number contained in the Intel processor. I think the industry learned from this mistep and has gotten it right this time. I don’t want some manufactures fingerprint already in my personal security chip.

    The setup process: TPM activation, enabling the password vault, Windows Secure Logon, Pre-Boot authentication, Document Manager and Private Information Manager took about 20 minutes.

    Now for the benefits:

    With just the swipe my finger my D620 will authenticate that I am “me” from a cold start prior to running the BIOS all the way thru Windows logon or just from Window logon if I choose. I can use any combination of password only, biometric only, password and biometric, password or biometric. Biometric being fingerprint or smartcard.

    Document manager creates a secure area (vault) for storage of personal encrypted documents accessible only to the user with the proper credential (password, biometeric etc.). Document Manager has plugins for Office Word, Excel and Power Point.

    It gets better:

    Private Information Manager securely stores all my private information: Name Address, credit card information, passwords etc. All this information is now safely locked away from the prying eyes on the web. The back door is closed. I now can create much stronger passwords which previously would have been very difficult to remember. Now when I log into a web site PIM captures the login name and password and stores it in the TPM (hardware) chip. Subsequent logons now can be made from my 620 with any of the previously mentioned password or biometric combinations. The TPM authenticates that it’s the proper web site, releases the approptiate information and filling in my user name and password. It can also be set up for user-managed filling or automatic filling of online forms for name, address, credit card info etc.

    Software alone has not been able to offer reliable security. The Trusted Platform Module hardware chip is substantially hardening the computer against attack both in a physical sense and online.

    Very shortly Seagate will be releasing their Fully Encrypted Drive which on the fly encrypts all data stored on the drive. If you loose your laptop the only value a drive will have to the finder is as a paper weight. A Latitude with an FDE drive will be bullet proof.

    The setup process is a one time event. 20 to 30 minutes is a small price to pay for the resulting convenience and security.


  3. says:

    First of all, if it was really that easy, why wouldn’t Dell have told me so and why do they have Wave on speed dial?

    Your posting also reads like a press release making me think you are one of the stock promoters or an employee of Wave.

  4. says:

    Got to say that I am an IT Manager for a company which prior to the roll-out of the D620 had standardized on the D610. I thought… piece of cake, new standard… wrong. The first D620 had to have its operating system reinstalled right out of the box… so did the second. When you install the Wave software, it crashes the system until you re-install the operating system(months later I would qualify that and say… if you are using McAfee antivirus). This has been crap. I now got my fingerprint to work…yay! It will sure save me time in the future (of course it took me about 40 hours to work to get here). Do I dare turn on the TPM? Maybe I will. I have learned about XP’s restore points, which has saved me some time in not having to reinstall the entire operating system. Seems like junk to me, too, Bill.

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