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September 22, 1995

DEC PURSUES ITS WINDOWS STRATEGY WITH LOW-END NT-ONLY KIT

By CBR Staff Writer

Digital Equipment Corp’s inexorable move away from Unix to Windows NT at the high end of the personal computer market and in low-end servers continues apace with the launch of five NT-only Digital Personal Workstations. Three are based on Pentiums and two on Alpha RISCs. The machines are being aimed at the computer-aided design and finance markets. The plan is to work with key application providers, so that the company can show that the machines offer a significant performance advantage in some key applications. DEC said it expected the workstations to appear on people’s desks first and then to move further into the back office as servers. And in the UK at least, it has grand plans to become the number two workstation vendor behind Sun Microsystems Inc and overtake Hewlett-Packard Co. The workstations are PCI-based deskside units, with six expansion slots, 1Gb disk drives, floppy, video board and CD-ROM drive, and will be packaged as personal computers. The Alpha versions, the XL 233 and XL 266, have Alpha chips running at those speeds. The 266MHz model will become the entry version when the 300MHz Alpha chip becomes available later this year. The Pentium versions, called Celebris XL, come with 100MHz, 120MHz or 133MHz Pentium in single or dual processor configurations with 16Mb RAM. These will be upgraded to Pentium Pro when that becomes available and are board-upgradeable to Alpha for around ú2,000. DEC’s interest in NT is linked closely to its increasing dependence on Microsoft Corp, rather than a belief that’s there no more money to be made in Unix, and also due to a worry that without a link to NT the Alpha, as a RISC, would not survive for much longer. DEC will attempt to migrate its VMS users to NT, without too much loss to rivals that are already circle this group, ready to gobble up stragglers straying from the herd. Microsoft has given DEC $65m to cover the cost of training 2,300 of its engineers in Windows NT (CI No 2,772). Under the deal, DEC will second a team to Redmond to hold Microsoft to its promise that new versions of Windows NT will continue to run on the company’s Alpha RISC. The workstations will be sold only through resellers, with the Pentiums being dealt with by DEC’s personal computer unit and the Alphas by the systems business unit, and come in seven configurations. At the the lowest end is a diskless 100MHz Pentium, with 16Mb RAM for ú2,000; a diskless dual processor 133MHz model costs ú3,290. Diskless Alphas, again with 16Mb of RAM but also a CD-ROM, cost ú2,740 for the 233MHz model and ú3,190 for the 266MHz. The disk-based systems start at ú2,860 for a 100MHz Pentium with 1Gb disk drive, 16Mb RAM, graphics board, CD-ROM and NT installed, rising to ú4,150 for a dual 133MHz Pentium. In the Alpha range, a 233MHz model with the same peripherals and software but with 32Mb CPU costs ú3,810; the 266MHz XL costs ú4,245.

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