March 13, 1997 11:15 AM ET
Intel elaborates on specs for reducing cost of PCs, NetPCs
By Lisa DiCarlo

  HANNOVER, Germany -- Intel Corp. on Wednesday unleashed a two-prong approach to controlling client costs for both standard business desktop PCs and forthcoming NetPCs.

On the eve of the CeBIT trade show here, Intel held a standing-room-only press conference at which it laid out its plans in the form of a NetPC Reference Specification and a WFM (Wired for Management) Baseline specification.

Despite the news, however, there were few surprises in either category.

The NetPC specification, released for industry review, with a final version due by month's end, includes six major points that have been bandied about since its inception last fall.

The spec calls for all hardware devices to be recognized and managed by software, remote management via standard interfaces (i.e. DMI), automatic system configuration and installation from a server, automatic updates during off-hours, a sealed case, and no ISA slots.

Intel will allow for a maximum of one PCI slot inside the system, which IS managers can configure.

The WFM spec, meanwhile, covers the same ground as NetPC with respect to remote management, automatic configuration and updates. However, Intel will take it a step further by detailing a spec for notebook PCs, servers and workstations, said Pat Gelsinger, vice president of desktop products at Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Intel will elaborate further on how it plans to manage those devices by midyear.

Both NetPCs and WFM-based PCs will eventually be managed by enterprise software packages such as Intel's LANDesk Manager, Tivoli's TME and Computer Associates International Inc.'s Unicenter.

The long-term plan, Gelsinger said, is for corporations to create an IS infrastructure of both NetPCs (for single-task users) and full-fledged desktops that adhere to the WFM spec.

However, the long term may not be so far away.

`You can expect all business PCs to be managed in this way by the end of 1998, maybe sooner,'' Gelsinger said.

Intel said to expect NetPCs from several major OEMs within 90 days. Sources said that PC Expo in June will be the coming-out party for the systems.

Intel was joined here by Moshe Dunie, vice president of Windows operating system products at Microsoft Corp., which held a press conference later in the day to showcase the first pieces of its Zero Administration for Windows initiative (see story).

Both Dunie and Gelsinger took mild shots at Java-based NCs that also promise to lower the overall cost of system ownership.

"This does not require a change in environments. We're not demanding a paradigm shift,'' Dunie said.

Intel also offered the first public demonstration of Pentium II systems running applications such as Outlook and Adobe JPEG files.

Gelsinger did not disclose pricing or benchmarks.

In addition, Intel demonstrated remote configuration of a PC. When prompted, the PC downloaded Windows NT 4.0 and Microsoft Office, using Intel's LANDesk Configuration Manager.

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