Compaq to Ship iPaq with Management Software Agent

Compaq Computer Corp. will ship its first $499 iPaq desktop computers at the end of the month. They will be equipped with Windows 2000 and a new automatic PC management software agent.

Houston-based Compaq officials told Computerworld last week that the management software from Altiris Inc. in Lindon, Utah, will cut $124 off the average $226 PC setup and deployment cost because it automates the process.

The Altiris deal will be announced officially next Monday, and the software agent will be included in iPaq machines that are also Windows 2000-ready, even though the new operating system won't officially be introduced until Feb. 17, said Compaq vice president Ray Frigo.

The combination of the management software with the iPaq "could be a great concept" in terms of keeping total cost of ownership down, especially in large companies where PC rollouts are in the thousands, said analyst Rob Enderle at Giga Information Group Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif.

IPaq is built on a more stable architecture that should require less maintenance, and the automatic distribution of software would allow quick repairs, Enderle said. "If one crashes, you could have all your files and applications on a server and just replace the machine and flash out a new software imprint," he said. "It's drop-dead simple."

IPaq, announced in November, has a shape that is different from most PCs and a sleek design in black and silver, but it's mostly important for its "legacy-free" components, meaning it comes without a serial or parallel port or a Peripheral Component Interconnect expansion bus. It uses five Universal Serial Bus (USB) slots instead.

Thousands of iPaqs have been ordered directly over the Internet, said Jerry Meerkatz, vice president at Compaq's Internet Access division.

James Fecteau, director of information technology at Eagle River Associates in Kirkland, Wash., said an iPaq with a 500-MHz Celeron processor would be perfect for the typical office user, but he worried that USB isn't widely used enough yet.

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