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HP to sell Unix software online

Now that Hewlett-Packard has set up an online store to sell PC hardware to small companies, the company is turning its attention to software.

    Now that Hewlett-Packard (HPW) has set up an online store to sell PC hardware to small companies, the company is turning its attention to software.

    HP announced today that it is launching an online store to sell its Unix software to corporate customers.

    To avoid competing with HP's resellers, the software depot will funnel the financial transactions through its resellers and distributors, even though customers download the software they buy through the Net. Hallmark Computer Products currently handles the sales, paid for by credit cards.

    For now, HP's big customers with an HP sales rep also have their purchases channeled through a reseller. HP is working on giving its big customers their negotiated pricing through software depot.

    "HP is making a commitment to being in the electronic commerce space," said Rosemarie Larsen, an HP marketing manager involved with software depot, hardware-oriented HP's second software initiative this month. On December 2, the company announced its first-ever dedicated sales force for its software offerings, a sign that HP sees software as increasingly strategic.

    Initially HP will sell applications running on its HP-UX operating system--the first product available is a version of Java Workshop for HP's flavor of Unix. Selling Unix applications means most customers will be in MIS departments and will have fast Internet connections, a significant issue when downloading software from the Net.

    But the company plans to add consumer and business software in six to eight months.

    Software depot also represents another step in HP's we-get-the-Net initiative. A different division of HP is launching an online store this month to sell PC servers and printers to small businesses, with a similar effort to sell hardware to big customers also planned. Like software depot, the HP Commerce Center hardware site is channel-friendly--buyers must get pricing and take delivery from a reseller, not HP.

    For now, Java Workshop is the only product for sale in software depot, but the storefront also offers free trial software, technical documentation, and upgrade releases for some HP software through its electronic catalog. Larsen said software depot will focus on HP-UX and Windows NT software but will sell applications from other software developers.