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IBM plans NetPC debut

IBM is the first company to lay out plans to introduce a NetPC based on standards set by coalition last fall.

IBM(IBM) has become the first company to lay out plans to introduce a NetPC based on standards set by a group of companies last fall that also included Intel, Microsoft, Compaq Computer, and Hewlett-Packard.

The NetPC standard calls for an Intel-compatible Pentium-class processor and a Windows operating system. Intel, Microsoft, and major PC vendors rolled out the NetPC standard in response to criticism from network computer proponents and vendors like Oracle and Sun Microsystems--as well as many customers--that PCs cost too much to own and operate.

The hardware, software, service, and support for one PC can cost up to $40,000 over five years, according to estimates. The NetPC initiative will bring these costs way down, Microsoft and Intel promise, by automating and centralizing PC management and thereby cutting the expense of installing, maintaining, and trouble-shooting PC software and hardware.

IBM plans to introduce its NetPC this summer in the United States, IBM executives said in Japan, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

So far, IBM is the only one major vendor to openly demonstrate a prototype system, in the fall of last year. The system, dubbed simply "the Network PC," comes in a slim case, runs Windows 95, uses a Pentium processor, and has a 1GB hard drive.

The IBM Network PC is designed to let information system managers remotely control software revisions, new installations, start-up software, and shutdown of the computer. The NetPC is compliant with the Intel's Desktop Management Interface, which eases PC management.

Hewlett-Packard has also stated that it plans to bring out a NetPC, possibly as soon as this summer, though the company has not stated specific plans.