Compaq will make a bid for an even bigger share of the desktop market when it shows off “beta units” of its NetPC in New Zealand this week.
The NetPC — a limited configuration PC that a user cannot upgrade and is managed remotely — has been touted by the likes of Andy Grove of Intel as a platform for both Java and PC applications as well as Web-based management.
The NetPCs on show are expected to be demonstration units like those shown recently in the US. Fully functioning Compaq NetPCs — which are yet to ship in the US — are expected later in the year. Few other details of the Auckland launch were available at press time.
Intel and Microsoft announced the specifications for the NetPC — managed remotely using Intel’s LANDesk Configuration Manager — at CeBIT 97 in March. Grove said then that Intel was working with Compaq and Microsoft to bring Web-based management to market and make it the foundation for all management software.
Intel claims the NetPC will run Java applications faster than Sun Microsystem’s own Sun Java station. The NetPC will also run all PC applications as well.
The first NetPC hardware systems, which will be touted as the PC industry’s answer to rising concerns over cost-of-ownership issues, will cost less than $US1000. Among the vendors that plan to deliver NetPC systems are NEC, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Gateway and Dell.
Unlike its counterparts, such as IBM’s Network Station — which uses software that lets it emulate Windows on the client while executing functions at the server level — the NetPC will run Windows locally and can access applications from the server or its own hard drive.
The NetPC’s real savings, according to Microsoft and Intel, will come from management software — namely Microsoft’s Zero Administration for Windows Initiative and Intel’s Wired for Management guidelines.
The Zero Administration software will let information systems managers accomplish tasks such as distributing software and driver updates from a remote central
location. Wired for Management focuses on the same types of issues, putting configuration and instrumentation at the fingertips of IS.
The tools are expected to be available by year’s end. Local pricing and availability will be announced by Compaq this week.