Compaq's corporate PC makeover

For the first time in two years, there are major changes in the offing for its corporate desktop PC product line

Hearing the name, you'd never guess that anything had changed. But taking a closer look and you'd figure it out immediately. For the first time in two years, Compaq is changing both its case designs and the guts of its corporate desktop PC line, the Deskpro EN.

"Based on customer feedback and new technologies, we decided to finally make a change," said Sharon Doel, director of North America desktop marketing.

Why has it taken so long for Compaq to make a move? Simply put, IT managers, who comprise the bread and butter audience for Compaq's Desktop EN line, are a conservative lot and don't welcome the prospect of manufacturers making frequent changes to their systems. That's because the addition of new components means the addition of new software images, drivers and applications to accommodate the tweaks.

This leads to incompatibilities and increased pressure on technical support departments. In large companies, that expense can run into a lot of money.

In general, the change would have to fall under the umbrella of a new technology that saves money or reduces tech support to convince this buttoned-up crowd to go along.

With networking capabilities included on a chipset, for example, IT managers wouldn't need to buy networking cards and qualify drivers for the cards.

On Monday Compaq will announce the integration of Compaq's latest chipset, the 815E, into the EN series. The 815E, supports PC133 SDRAM memory, 3 DIMM slots, 4x AGP and has integrated network and graphics capabilities. Graphics memory is shared with the system's main memory, and there is a 4MB display cache.

EN systems will also come with nVidia's TNT2 Pro-C graphics chip with 16MB of graphics memory.

Doel said the timing was right to make other changes that customers were asking for, such as new case designs and the removal of ISA slots.

The case of each unit in the EN series, the Small Form Factor, the Slim Desktop and the Convertible Minitower, has changed. The Small Form Factor will adopt a desktop CD-ROM driver instead of the notebook CD-ROM drive that it uses now to bring the cost of the system down. A notebook module was initially used to maximize space savings, with a desktop component the new Small Form Factor is a quarter of an inch taller.

The Slim Desktop will come in twenty percent leaner than its predecessor. The Convertible Minitower, previously the Minitower, can now be used as a desktop or a minitower.

All units in the EN series will come with Intel processors ranging from the Pentium III at Megahertz speeds of 933, 866, 800, 733 and 667 and the 600MHz Celeron.

The systems will also use Altiris Agents PC Transplant and Transplant Pro for network manageability and deployment.

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