PC 98 spec raises hardware vendors’ ire

A lack of synchronisation between Microsoft and PC system suppliers means most new PCs in 1998 will not comply with the hardware specifications needed for the key features promised for Windows 98. Although Windows 98 is due in the spring of 1998, most PC makers will not be in full compliance with the PC 98 hardware specification until late 1998 or early 1999, officials from Compaq and Dell said last week. The unrealistic expectations imposed only two months ago on PC makers for PC 98 compliance has seen the deadline for PC 98 compliance pushed back to January of 1999, and a new specification set for 1998

Due to a lack of synchronisation between Microsoft and PC system suppliers, most new PCs in 1998 will not comply with the hardware specifications needed for the key features promised for Windows 98.

Although Windows 98 is due in the spring of 1998, most PC makers will not be in full compliance with the PC 98 hardware specification until late 1998 or early 1999, officials from Compaq and Dellsaid last week.

The unrealistic expectations imposed on PC makers for PC 98 compliance -- dictating features such as advanced power management -- is coming to bear as system vendors acknowledge they need more time to comply with these stringent specifications made available only two months ago. In fact, the deadline for PC 98 compliance has been pushed back to January of 1999, and a new specification will be released in 1998, sources said.

"IT managers will ask, 'Do we go with Windows 98, or should we delay buying until Windows NT 5.0?'" says Gerry Purdy, president of Mobile Insights. "The new features don't do any good unless both the hardware and software have the functionality."

There is also the possibility that the inability of PC makers to meet the PC 98 standards in time will result in increased system costs, should Microsoft hold vendors to the date.

According to one vendor, if the guidelines are not met and a vendor does not earn the PC 98 logo, Microsoft will require that vendor to pay more for its copies of Windows than those that meet the standards on time, potentially raising overall system costs.

What that means to IT managers is a revaluation of buying strategies over the next year.

"It affects the way we do a rollout. We look ahead a year at a time and when something like this occurs, you have to re-group," says Frank Petersmark, assistant vice president of IS at Amerisure Co., in Southfield, Mich.

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