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IBM offers new PCs, services

It's a big day for Big Blue. It announces new desktop and notebook PCs, as well as services to reduce the cost of owning a computer.

IBM (IBM) announced new desktop and notebook PCs today, as well as new financing and support services to reduce the cost of owning a computer.

In conjunction with new PC 300 desktop line and new 760 ThinkPad notebooks, IBM today launched its "SystemCare" program, which in many respects dovetails the Advanced Manageability Alliance announced with Intel in October. IBM and Intel announced then that they were developing standards to lower the cost of managing networked PCs.

IBM is not only advancing this alliance with Intel but is taking it one step further by offering one-stop shopping for services and financing to lower the cost of computer ownership, IBM said. IBM customers will be able to own PCs "without the need to continually reinvest major capital," said Samuel J. Palmisano, general manager of subsidiary IBM PC Company, in a prepared statement.

IBM's SystemCare allows customers to buy, manage, and trade in their PCs and other "information technology" assets through resellers for a single monthly payment.

SystemCare also comprises a set of PC hardware and network management software technologies that will be supported in the new ThinkPads, PC 300 desktops, and existing IntelliStation workstations, as well as the IBM PC Server.

As part of this service, a "Technology Exchange" program provides the option of replacing IBM PC hardware any time after the first two years of a three-year lease for a predetermined fee, the company said. This exchange option allows users to replace older PCs with new IBM computers or IBM Network Stations, the company added.

"[The arrangement allows] us to work with our reseller partners to bundle full service, build-to-order solutions to the customer," said Bob Meador, vice president for channel strategies at MicroAge, a large computer reseller.

IBM also announced networking technologies such as LAN Client Control Manager today. The LAN Client Control Manager supports OS/2, Windows NT, NetWare, Netfinity, and Intel's LANDesk technology and includes technologies that allow PCs to be upgraded and managed over a network from one central location. This, the theory goes, saves money since technicians don't have to visit every affected PC when conducting upgrades.

Technologies based on the Advanced Manageability Alliance with Intel--such as 10/100 EtherExpress with Wake on LAN--provide reliable tools to manage large numbers of systems from a single location, according to IBM.

New ThinkPad 760XD and 760XL notebooks announced today by IBM use the Intel 166-MHz MMX Pentium processor. Other features include 3GB hard drives and integrated and swappable 8X CD-ROM drives. Estimated reseller prices for the ThinkPad 760X series start at $4,999.

IBM also announced the PC 330GL line of desktop PCs.