Dell buys IT services firm to ease Vista upgrades

Dell has acquired ACS Ltd. of London, hoping to boost its low earnings by helping businesses upgrade to Microsoft Vista.

Dell has acquired a British IT services firm, with plans to offer consulting to large businesses as they upgrade to Microsoft's new Vista operating system.

Dell said Tuesday it acquired ACS of London, a privately held firm that provides infrastructure consulting to businesses listed on the FTSE 100, a stock index of England's largest corporations. Dell did not disclose the deal's cost, but said it would retain all ACS employees.

Dell will use ACS to offer IT support earlier in the planning stages of customers' application deployments, such as migrating to Microsoft Vista, according to a statement from Stephen Murdoch, vice president of solutions and services for Dell's EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division.

Business customers have been demanding better services in virtualization, security and Microsoft products. Dell hopes to meet that need with ACS, which specializes in tailoring software installation routines to meet customer's needs. Dell now plans to extend that "application packaging" service outside the U.K., offering it to customers worldwide, the company said.

ACS was founded in 1990, and has offices in London, Paris, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, and Pune, India. The company focuses on the financial and government sectors.

This move is another step in Dell's effort to rescue its slumping financial results by improving customer service. Dell has missed its earnings targets for recent quarters, was embroiled in a massive recall of laptop PC batteries in August and is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its financial reporting practices.

The company has made several changes to recover, launching a line of computers based on chips from Advanced Micro Devices instead of Intel and pledging to spend US$100 million to improve customer service by opening new call centers.

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