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IBM to roll out new business PCs

The company unveils its latest small-business server and will debut its new line of Intel-based, small-business PCs tomorrow.

IBM will debut its new business PC models tomorrow, a line centered on Intel's Celeron chip and with a starting price of $850.

IBM also unveiled today an inexpensive small-business server based on Linux or the Windows NT operating systems that makes it easier to link computers and the Internet.

IBM first introduced its 300GL series of business PCs based on faster Celeron processors in March. At the time, analysts said IBM meant to fiercely compete on price with Dell Computer and Compaq for new corporate customers.

The systems can use Windows NT or Windows 98, Celeron chips running as fast as 500 MHz, and hard drives up to 20GB.

A system without a monitor and a 433-MHz Celeron processor is priced at $849. With a 500-MHz chip, the price is $929. IBM is also releasing new small-business models priced between $980 and $1,139.

The new 300GL is the smallest design to date, according to IBM. IBM will continue to offer leasing options for 300GL customers who buy at least $1,000 worth of equipment.

In addition to the Windows operating system, small business models include Microsoft's new Office 2000 Small Business and Lotus SmartSuite.

This lineup is in marked contrast to IBM's Aptiva consumer PC division, which is bringing out boxes based almost exclusively on the Advanced Micro Devices Athlon processor. PCs with processors from AMD have yet to penetrate the business market in a big way.

Big Blue will also supply "manageability" tools for these news desktop models. The Universal Manageability service is a software program that allows for remote management of PCs. This is targeted at companies that don't have a technology specialist on site, IBM said, and comes with six software programs, called UM Desktop Extensions, for computer maintenance. For example, one of the programs helps minimize user-induced errors by allowing computer system administrators to hide or disable certain operating system features from employees.

On the server front, the Netfinity 3500 M10 server IBM unveiled today can use two Intel Pentium III processors running at 600 MHz and starts at $1,765. This is the first server from IBM to come with 90-Day Server Startup Support for Linux.