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NEC unveils Microsoft-Intel PC

Over the last 15 years or so, NEC in Japan has resolutely stuck to PCs based on its own proprietary design.

At long last, NEC Computer (NIPNY) has released PCs based on the worldwide Windows-Intel standard.

Over the last 15 years or so, NEC has marketed personal computers based on its own proprietary design. Since the early 1990s, the company has sold PCs that use Intel processors and run Windows software but are nevertheless based on a proprietary architecture and not compatible with industry-standard Windows-Intel boxes.

In recent years the company has come under increasing pressure as competitors such as Fujitsu have gained significant market share at NEC?s expense by selling PCs based on the Windows-Intel paradigm. IBM Japan, which also sells industry-standard PCs, is another major force in Japan.

On Thursday in Japan, NEC began sales of the PC98-NX series of industry-standard personal computers. The company has rolled out a total of 26 models for both business and consumers.

Interestingly, the company is offering a Net PC model for corporations, something most PC vendors in the U.S. have been reluctant to offer. The NEC Net PCs come with an optional liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor. Net PCs are marketed as low-cost, stripped-down corporate PCs that can be managed remotely by server computers in order to save on maintenance costs.

In addition to high-end and value-line notebooks, the NEC has also begun selling the mobio NX, a mini-notebook (see related story) that packs a new Intel MMX processor for mini-notebooks.

But NEC's older, proprietary line is still alive. The company also released 15 new models in its PC98 series.

NEC aims to sell 4 million machines in the coming year, hoping to move 3.2 million units of the PC98-NX series and 800,000 of the proprietary PC98 series.

The company sold 1.55 million PCs in the first half of fiscal 1997, down nine percent from a year earlier. It has revised its sales projection for the full year to 3.71 million, up six percent year on year, but down from an earlier prediction of a 15-20 percent rise to more than 4 million, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan?s largest business newspaper.