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H&Q may leave Macs for PCs

Hambrecht & Quist, which helped take Apple public in 1980, is considering a switch from Macintosh computers to Windows-based PCs.

    Hambrecht & Quist, which helped take Apple Computer public in 1980, is considering a switch from Macintosh computers to Windows-based PCs.

    "It's being looked at, it's being considered, but the decision has not been made," a spokeswoman said. "H&Q has not made a final decision to switch from Macs to Windows NT."

    If the banker were to switch computing platforms, it would underscore the long-running debate between PC users and Mac enthusiasts about which operating system is better.

    Many Mac users have long touted the OS as an easier-to-use interface, but critics countered that not as many programs are available for Macintosh computers. H&Q's plans were first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

    The possible blow to Apple comes one day after the Mac maker posted better-than-expected earnings and its first annual profit in three years. Apple has cut its product line back significantly in the last year and one of its most popular systems is the new iMac, a lower-cost consumer desktop computer aimed at the home user.

    Other companies, however, use both competing platforms at work with no immediate plans to switch.

    WebTV Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, uses both Macs and PCs, a company spokesman said. "It's freedom of choice around here," he said, noting the company does not care which platform employees use.

    Apple's strongest base has long been the high-end graphic design, publishing, and education markets, while PCs based on Microsoft software and Intel processors dominated the corporate space.

    Macintosh computers accounted for only 2.6 percent of all new PC shipments to big businesses in the United States--defined as companies with more than 500 employees--during the second calendar quarter this year, according to International Data Corporation.

    "In business the leaders are Dell and Compaq in the mid- to high-teens and Apple sits at close to 2 percent of the market," said Bill Schaub, vice president for personal computing at research firm Dataquest.