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Digital expands desktop line

The moves reflect a continuation of product development efforts, rather than any change in strategy owing to a pending merger with Compaq.

Digital Equipment (DEC) broadened its desktop line, announcing a new series and also incorporating Intel's fastest Pentium II processor into an existing series.

The moves reflect a continuation of product development efforts at Digital, rather than any change in strategy owing to the pending merger with Compaq, the world's largest PC manufacturer.

Digital announced a midrange line called PC 3500 that features speedy Pentium II chips running at 233, 266, and 300 MHz as well as network management software. Like all of Digital's PC models, the PC 3500 series is targeted at corporate or "enterprise" users.

Meanwhile, the higher-end 5510 series will come a 333-MHz version of Intel's top-of-the-line "Deschutes" Pentium II starting later this month.

Following last month's news that Compaq intends to acquire Digital for $9.6 billion, onlookers speculated Digital's PC line would not likely survive the merger. But Digital will continue planned product rollouts at least until the merger is completed. "We're operating under business as usual," said Tom Roberts, product marketing manager for desktops.

The Maynard, Massachusetts, company is unlikely to soon abandon its Digital PC line, agreed analyst Richard Zwetchkenbaum. "Digital has made investments in its inventory and product development plans for many years. They have a substantial customer base and relationships they are concerned with maintaining," he said.

Zwetchkenbaum, who thinks Digital's line of Hi-Note notebooks is more likely to endure beyond the merger, says Compaq-Digital's intentions aren't likely to become evident until at least this fall. "The fall product refreshes will be indicator as to whether we're likely to see product lines formally or residually phased out," he said.