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3Com cards turn PCs into Net PCs

3Com's network interface cards will allow an ordinary PC to function like a managed PC or Net PC.

3Com has begun shipping network interface cards (NICs), devices that will allow an ordinary PC to function like a managed PC or Net PC.

NICs like 3Com's product, combined with advances in manageability software, are a major reason the potential market for Net PCs has faded before it ever got underway.

Net PCs, rolled out to great fanfare this past June at PC Expo, were extolled as simplified desktops that would save organizations money because they could be centrally managed. With Net PCs, IT managers could perform software updates, troubleshoot, or shut down desktops because both network software and desktop hardware supported common manageability standards.

Since then, PC makers, software vendors, and component makers have decided to incorporate the manageability standards, such as Desktop Management Interface, into their standard product lines. This in turn has greatly reduced the need for companies to look to Net PCs as a hardware platform because PCs can interact with the same network manageability tools.

"3Com is extending the capabilities of its NICs to lower the cost of PCs," said Dough Spreng, executive vice president of the Interface Product Group at 3Com, in a prepared statement.

The 3Com Managed PC NICs support remote wake-on LAN, which permits a person to turn on the desktop from a remote location; DMI, which allows for general network control; and Managed PC Boot Agent, which allows administrative functions such as bringing misconfigured back to life.

Gateway 2000, Hewlett-Packard, and others will be incorporating the management cards into their desktops. The cards will also be sold separately.

The cards support most major desktop management systems, including HPs' TopTools and Comprehensive Client Manager from On Technology.