Compaq has stopped bundling Windows NT with its server products. Instead, it is asking its corporate users to buy the OS directly from Microsoft or from resellers.
Compaq staff attribute the decision, which came to light with the announcement of the ProLiant 2500, to an effort to let users strike a better deal directly with Microsoft. However, US sources familiar with the situation say Compaq's move has more to do with the costs of servicing and supporting NT users.
Compaq New Zealand marketing manager Tony Lambert says Compaq has decided not to put NT software on its SmartStart installation utility because customers often had bought a different form of NT to the one bundled with SmartStart.
"The customer can take any vanilla or flavour NT and with SmartStart have the tools to integrate that version of NT with the ProLiant hardware."
Lambert says customers often buy their NT in bulk from Microsoft, "so we're letting Microsoft sell them NT, then provide the best integration for NT on their Compaq server."
But Compaq will still be pre-installing network OSes from Novell. and The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO).
Some users may find it a hassle not to have NT bundled with the server because they will have to buy a separate CD-ROM and licence for it and then install it.
"Microsoft may have suggested Compaq charge more for their servers, but the move has nothing to do with giving users a price break," one US source says. "It has to do with keeping Compaq competitive."
With competitive pressures driving server prices down, Compaq was no longer willing to subsidise Microsoft's support costs, the sources say.
"There is a notion afoot at Compaq that says, 'Why are we supporting Microsoft? Why aren't you supporting yourself?'" says Frank Dzubeck, president of Communication Network Architects, in Washington. "Compaq chairman Eckhard Pfeiffer for some time has had the idea that software companies should be paying them more for the rights to put their stuff on his systems."
However, Compaq New Zealand's Lambert says nothing could be further from the truth.
"The relationship with Microsoft on NT is very strong. In fact, in a couple of weeks we'll be making some announcements with Microsoft which will seem like we're going overboard with enthusiasm for support on NT."