CASE STUDY: Optima is ready, willing, and able

CASE STUDY: Optima is ready, willing, and able

Having shipped more than 2500 XP-ready systems to retailers since the end of September, PC manufacturer Optima is confident the launch of Microsoft's new operating system will be the most significant for the channel in recent years.

As a local OEM, Optima has a 12-year history with Microsoft and over the past three months has been working closely with the software giant to ensure its products and support are 100 per cent ready from day one.

"It has helped us be the first to ship XP-ready product," says managing director Cornel Ung. "We have worked very closely with Microsoft and with our suppliers to be ready for the launch and demand has been fantastic from the retail channel. Retailers are very XP-focused - and we haven't seen that from previous launches."

With systems ready to go, Optima will now embark on its own campaign in TV, broadcast and catalogue advertising. The promotion will coincide with Microsoft's own advertising.

"Microsoft sees XP as a driving force for people to upgrade and at the same time Intel has launched its own high-level promotion," Ung says. "We are very excited because we believe by leveraging the promotions, we will get the benefits."

Those benefits are likely to last well into the holiday period, with Optima expecting big sales over Christmas. But the launch is already having a positive impact on the company's PC business.

"October is traditionally the slow month before Christmas, but we have already shipped more systems than we expected."

Following a week-long training partner program and XP technical training, Optima's technical team has in turn finished training the company's help-desk staff to provide support to both end users and channel partners. All Optima's systems have shipped with standard memory of 128MB and 20GB hard drives since August, so system requirements have been easily met.

"Whether it is driver issues or questions regarding technical compatibility, our help desk is ready to support all levels of our customer base," Ung says.

Support will be a major issue for resellers. Microsoft recently completed a national training tour educating 1290 system builders on Windows XP. The difficulty from an assembly point of view has been to ensure the compatibility of hardware and software - an area in which Ung believes Optima is a "hell of a competitor".

The challenge, says product manager Henry Lee, lies in the technical issues of optimising systems to the new software.

"There are a lot of driver issues and we have had to work very hard with the manufacturers to overcome these issues before the launch date. It has been a tough six weeks, but because of our close relationships with suppliers, we have been able to overcome any problems."

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