Dell is giving its flagship PC lines a boost. Dell on Tuesday announced updates to the Latitude, OptiPlex and XPS laptops and desktops. The new machines feature Intel Relevant Products/Services's Haswell Core processor Relevant Products/Services for longer battery life.

The new XPS 27 All-in-One PC offers a touchscreen experience with an Adobe RGB Quad HD display. Meanwhile, the XPS 12 convertible laptop is now designed to be faster and more efficient than previous models. Dell cited a 63 percent overall performance improvement, making the XPS 12 1.6 times faster, with up to eight hours and 43 minutes of battery life. That's over two hours more than the previous generation. Dell also rolled out a new and improved XPS 8700 desktop.

On the commercial side of the business Relevant Products/Services, Dell is offering the Latitude E6540 laptop, which features a FIPS 140-2 certified Trusted Platform Module and Dell Data Protection with file-level encryption, advanced authentication and malware protection Relevant Products/Services.

Cloud Desktops

Dell is positioning the OptiPlex 9020 as its most powerful commercial desktop to date. The OptiPlex 9020 can be cloud Relevant Products/Services-enabled with the Dell Cloud Desktop feature, a new fully incorporated desktop and application virtualization Relevant Products/Services technology powered by Dell Wyse WSM.

With Dell Cloud Desktops configured to be stateless and diskless, the company said, the OptiPlex 9020's capabilities can be shared to a number of virtual Relevant Products/Services users in a secure Relevant Products/Services environment with centralized management and storage, while delivering the same look, performance, feel and function of a traditional desktop with an OS.

The XPS 27 All-in-One, priced at $1,399, and the XPS 8700 desktop, priced at $1,499, are available now in the U.S. and in a few countries around the world. The XPS 12 convertible laptop, priced at $1,099, and the Latitude E6540 laptop, OptiPlex 9020 desktops, and multifunction printers will be available in the coming weeks. Other pricing was not disclosed.

The Software Factor

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Relevant Products/Services, said the biggest question marks around Intel's fourth-generation Core relate to software Relevant Products/Services rather than hardware.

"The largest of these is Microsoft's Windows 8, which seems to have set a new bar for product design and launch bumbling," King told us. "But if rumors of a Windows 8 redesign -- with a return of the Start button and relegation of the Metro interface to a toolbar option -- are true, a refreshed Microsoft OS could significantly bolster sales of Haswell-based products."

King said another issue that may be just as critical is whether or how fourth-gen Core systems might eventually incorporate apps and widgets, like those available on the Apple Store or Google Play. Tens of millions of users have become accustomed to and enthusiastic about apps, resulting in billions of dollars in revenues for developers and vendors, he said, but with Microsoft's Windows-based app efforts lagging so far behind other players it would be in Intel's interest to consider ways to integrate and support alternative app platforms and developers in the Core ecosystem.

"Keeping these considerations and challenges in mind, Intel had to deliver a game changer that would effectively silence 'end of the PC era' tablet cheerleaders, and provide the company's OEMs the tools they need to take the field and be fully and truly competitive," King said.

"With the stakes including success in increasingly mobile, user-empowered markets, Intel appears to have hit one out of the park with its new fourth-generation Core processors."