Compaq lets you try before you buy

With the price of network management software ranging anywhere from US$5,000 to $5 million, users may be a little hesitant to lay down the cash without first giving products a test run. And right now they can do just that.

Compaq Computer and Altiris Software next week will announce a joint development of Web-based PC management software that will help users better manage all Compaq access devices, such as desktop PCs, notebook PCs and iPAQ Pocket PCs. The product, called the Altiris eXpress Compaq Client Management Solution, is "initially available" from Compaq as freeware, downloadable from the company's Web site. Compaq would not comment on how long it would be available for free.

The software can be used with Compaq hardware devices, and all commercial Compaq devices are being shipped with an Altiris agent installed. Users can then download the console software from the Compaq Web site and install it on any server. The client agents residing on Compaq devices will automatically register with the console software.

Net managers can monitor the software versions and status of PCs and other devices in the network. Driver and application updates can also be sent to clients via the software, and users can monitor the hardware environment for problems such as hard drive failures. And the software, being Web-based, lets net managers use any device to log on and perform PC management from a single console.

Users can choose to get Altiris' Web-based management platform and use the software to manage hardware devices from other vendors. The Altiris' eXpress management platform, which the Compaq software taps, is also available for a 30-day trial.

The platform, Altiris says, will let users send software updates and service packs to desktops and PDAs from several vendors from one console through a Web browser. It also provides users with the infrastructure to deployment servers.

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