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$999 Gateway PC for business

A sub-$1,000 PC with built-in networking is another piece of the direct vendor's effort to nab a larger share of the corporate market.

Gateway rolled out a sub-$1,000 PC that comes with built-in networking features to appeal to business customers, as part of the direct vendor's effort to nab a larger share of the commercial PC market.

The new E-1000 200 model comes equipped with a last-generation 200-MHz Intel Pentium MMX chip, 32MB of memory, 10/100 Ethernet networking, and a 15-inch monitor. For a list price of $999, the system also comes with a free upgrade to Windows 98, the revised Microsoft operating system that's due out next month.

Unlike an earlier version of a similar Gateway computer, the E-1000 also comes with a floppy drive. Last year, manufacturers began to deliver "Net PC" computers which did not include an external drive. Deleting the drive was designed to limit the "total cost of ownership" for corporations by limiting users' ability to change their desktops.

Managed PCs came to prominence shortly after the idea of the NC (network computer) took hold, but both kinds of systems have been undermined by the rise of low-cost desktops below the $1,000 price point.

With built-in networking cards and protocols like Wake-On-LAN that allow administrators to maintain a fleet of machines remotely, managed PCs have proven slightly more popular. As proof of the market's tepid response, however, the E-1000N is identical to the E-1000 200 except for a 1.44MB floppy drive. It costs $10 less.

In the direct marketing realm, Gateway remains more aggressive about low-end pricing than rival Dell, which has so far declined to join the sub-$1,000 market, even with processors using the previous generation MMX technology. Gateway jumped into the popular segment at the end of January.

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