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Education program helps Dell sell

Following Compaq, Dell Computer will release a series of server packages for the education market bundled with Microsoft software.

Following on Compaq Computer's announcement yesterday, Dell Computer also will release a series of server packages for the education market, going an extra step by bundling them with Microsoft software.

Both companies aim to take advantage of a relatively new federal program that offers discounts to schools buying equipment for Internet connectivity.

Dell's server packages will feature Dell PowerEdge 2200, 4200 or Wired schools: It takes a village 6100 server computers, Microsoft NT 4.0, FrontPage 98, and various server software. Also included is networking hardware such as routers, hubs, and cables and installation services.

The servers will further come with school Microsoft Web software and Internet filtering software Cyber Patrol.

A low-end package features a PowerEdge 2200 server powered by a single 333-MHz Intel Pentium II processor comes with 64MB of memory, a 4GB hard drive, a 15-inch monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard. The entire package goes for $4,700.

The mid-range and high-end packages incorporate the same software and networking hardware. For example, the 4200 model can use up to six hard drives. A standard single power supply model powered by a 300-MHz Pentium II processor and including 128MB of memory and three 4GB hard drives is priced at $5,822.

The high-end 6100 uses the same chassis as the 4200, but is more scalable because it incorporates the Pentium Pro chip, which allows the user to add up to four processors to increase performance. The model comes with a dual Pentium Pro 200-MHz processor and features six 4GB hard drives and 256MB of memory for around $14,500.

The PowerEdge 2200 package is priced specifically for schools participating in the federally funded E-rate program, a Federal Communications Commission (FTC) initiative authorized by the 1996 Telecommunications Act that gives schools and libraries discounts when purchasing Internet infrastructure hardware. The program offers $2.25 billion to schools, libraries and other institutions in discounts of up to 90 percent when purchasing networking hardware. Discounts vary according to economic need and location of the school or library.

Dell becomes the latest in a string of PC manufacturers that expect the education market to grow as more schools get wired onto the Internet. And as more schools are beginning to invest in building Internet and intranet infrastructures, PC manufacturers are vying to become primary suppliers of the hardware. The education market is expected to reach $5 billion in 1998, according to market research firm Dataquest.

Dell says its year-on-year growth rate is between 60 and 80 percent in its education division, though figures have not been released yet since the start of the E-rate program. Dell believes the program will enhance growth prospects, now that so many schools see the Internet as an important learning tool.

"If your kids don?t have access to the Internet, then they're going to be behind the curve when they leave school. Schools know this and they're upgrading and putting in new technology," said Dell spokesman Michael Coe.

While the education market has traditionally been dominated by Apple Computer, the company suffered a significant loss of market share in 1997 to PC manufacturers, Dell being one of them.

"The real world is a Wintel world," said Coe. "We need to prepare students for this world."