Dell, the number two personal computer maker, will announce today a high-end line of laptops that include microprocessors designed by the UK’s Arm Holdings, a first for the company.

The machines will run Microsoft’sâ€*s new Windows 7 operating system on an Intel chip most of the time.

But the Arm chip and a version of the free operating system Linux will be used for instant access to some functions as soon as the laptop is turned on.

Dell’s inclusion of Arm and Linux follows longstanding user frustration with the slow Windows boot-up process. During the US Justice Department’s antitrust case against Microsoft, the software giant lost its ability to dictate how PCs start.

As a result, computer makers are planning to undercut that part of the Windows experience even in the machines they are rolling out to take advantage of Windows 7, which is available from October 22.

With Linux, $2,000 Latitude Z can start as soon it is opened, giving access to e-mail, the web and documents. However, the documents cannot be edited and there is no access to the computer’s hard drive or a corporate network.


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