A side note of Tuesday’s Hewlett-Packard Co-Microsoft Corp lovefest yesterday (CI No 3,123) was the confirmation that HP is to release a NetPC of its own, to be called the HP Net Vectra PC series, to be sold for $1,000 available in the second half of the year. As noted (CI 3,119), defining a NetPC is about as easy to achieve as defining a Network Computer, ie, about as hard as selling umbrellas in a Monsoon. NetPC requirements include a 133MHz Pentium processor or equivalent, 16Mb RAM, Universal Serial Bus with a least one USB port, and a SMART-compliant hard drive. But in the spirit of the new alliance, the primary difference between a PC and a NetPC will be the management software, through remote management and configuration tools. Hewlett-Packard helped draw up the NetPC specification along with Compaq Computer Corp and Dell Computer Corp, and it is also endorsing Microsoft’s Zero Administration Kit for Windows NT Workstation 4.0, which includes centralized configuration, a security system preventing local access to the desktop computer, and configuration software to load applications from the network. Speaking at the event in Palo Alto, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates took a sideswipe at the whole Network Computer phenomenon as he spoke of the industry wide activity around his version of low-cost desktop computing: The trend to put the computing resource back at the centre of the enterprise is expensive and eliminates the interactivity personal computer users have come to expect. HP itself claims to be a believer in the NetPC style idea, through its PC-Common Operating Environment internal management program, which chairman, president and chief executive officer Lew Platt claims has shaved 50% of the $400m cost that he would have paid, according to Gartner Group’s well-known metric on the cost of supporting modern full-function PCs, for running its own 100,000 desktops and ‘probably equal’ number of scanners and printers worldwide.