Dell Inc. (DELL) plans to sell personal computers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world's largest retailer, in a departure from Dell's approach of selling machines only directly to customers.

A Dell spokesman said Thursday that the computer maker will begin selling two of its Dimension desktop computers in about 3,000 Wal-Marts beginning June 10.

Dell spokesman Dwayne Cox said the Wal-Mart deal "represents our first step" into global retail.

"Customers want more and new ways to buy our products, and we plan on meeting their needs on a global level," Cox said. "Offering Dell Dimensions in Wal-Mart is a great example of this approach."

Cox said Dell will announce additional moves into retail in the coming quarters, but he declined to give specifics.

The desktops will be sold at Wal-Marts in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Since its founding in the 1980s, Dell has relied on selling PCs and other products directly to consumers and business customers over the phone and Internet. It viewed direct sales as an important cost advantage over competitors who sold computers through retailers.

The strategy worked, helping Dell become the world's leading PC maker. But recently, the Round Rock-based company has lost its lead to a revitalized Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ).