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Dell has secured download reselling rights for Microsoft Office, the first time Microsoft has allowed a third party to do this. That's what Dell says, at any rate.

The deal looks like a toe-dipping exercise on both sides. For starters, Dell is a download minnow, only opening its download store in January, with lines from McAfee, Intuit, CA and Webroot. Some 10,000 people visit the download store each week, which probably translates into unit sales in the very low hundreds a week. Also the agreement is for the US only- but expect the companies to roll out elsewhere if customers show appetite for this service.

With PC and server markets stalled, Dell is looking into every nook and cranny for revenue growth. But retail downloads are small potatoes compared with the company's ambitious push into Cloud-based software, back-up and security services for big businesses.

Dell recently set up the Modular Services division to enable enterprises to mix and match their software-as-a-service offerings - and it talks about this today and fields questions from viewers in an exclusive Register webcast (details here).

The company may be the world's second biggest PC maker behind HP, but has lots of experience in infrastructure-based services, often obtained through small bolt-ons. It is on the look-out for acquisitions in the tech services and data storage sectors, CFO Brian Gladden told the WSJ last week. The paper notes that Dell has $9bn in cash. ®

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