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HP releases new TopTools

Manageability is fast becoming one of the competitive grounds among the major vendors.

Hewlett-Packard this week unveiled the second version of TopTools, an inventory and diagnostic software package that the company will include on its corporate computers and workstations.

TopTools is one of a number of software applications designed to make managing fleets of desktops easier and less expensive for large organizations. Speaking broadly, the applications allow companies to monitor or fix desktops from a central server. They formed the basis of the original appeal of the Net PC--and Net PC appeal has waned precisely because these tools have migrated to desktops, say some.

TopTools in particular focuses on the status of desktops on a given network, according to Achim Kuttler, worldwide program manager for TopTools. "It gives you a single view of the network and gives you control of the entire topography," he said.

With the tool, for instance, network administrators can tell whether desktop cases are open or closed and whether overheating is occurring. TopTools also tracks hardware inventory and serial numbers, among a number of other factors.

While TopTools will allow administrators to monitor the health of computers that comply with the Desktop Management Initiative standard, the application allows administrators to take corrective action on HP desktops. An administrator, as an example, could update the BIOS on a HP computer or lock out the keyboard and mouse remotely if sabotage seemed afoot.

This feature will be added to HP printers and HP Unix machines in the future, Kuttler added.

The software will officially come out on October 15 and be available on HP's Kayak workstations and Vectra PCs.

Manageability is fast becoming one of the competitive grounds among the major vendors, according to Bruce Stephen, an analyst at International Data Corporation. "They are all dedicated to being on the forefront of it," he said. Compaq, he noted, has released its first Net PC, which showcases that company's manageability features. "The big issue is getting these people onto the client management tools," he said.