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HP claims workstation lead

HP topped the Windows NT workstation market for 1997, outpacing Compaq for three of four quarters last year.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) claimed it led the Windows NT workstation market for 1997, outpacing Compaq for three of four quarters last year.

Workstations, which are high-performance computers used for multimedia applications, computer-aided design, and other high-end tasks, range in price from a few thousand dollars to $20,000 and more.

Until recently, the market was dominated by machines with RISC processors running the Unix operating system (OS). However, NT-based workstation sales have been skyrocketing in the last year, with some predicting that NT systems will outsell Unix machines by a margin of three to one this year.

But the NT market also encompasses computers that could be described as high-end PCs and thereby does not fit into the traditional definition of a high-end workstation computer supplied by Sun Microsystems or Silicon Graphics.

Because NT workstations are relatively new, market research firm Dataquest only began tracking the segment in 1997. In the first quarter, HP led Compaq by 38.8 percent to 27.5 percent on a total volume of 66,092 units. In the second quarter, HP led again, but in the third quarter Compaq bested HP with 28.2 percent of the market to HP's 25.9 percent, on a volume of 71,476 units. At that time, analysts said that the turnaround was merely due to the timing of HP's product shift.

In the fourth quarter of 1997, HP shipped 89,000 units worldwide, compared to 18,388 units last year.

HP shipped 154,250 Kayak Windows NT workstations in 1997, a 156 percent increase over the previous year, according to Dataquest's 1997 Workstations Quarterly Shipments Report. The Kayak workstations accounted for 42 percent of all workstations shipped in 1997.

The study found that the Kayak workstations earned HP $777 million in revenue last year, 192 percent more than the previous year.

Today's news reinforces an earlier report from International Data Corporation which found that HP was the No. 1 overall workstation vendor in 1997, counting both Unix and NT sales.

HP's hold on the top spot may be aided by its fairly wide definition of what it calls a workstation. At the time of IDC's survey, HP defined a PC workstation as using Windows NT, containing 32MB of memory and a 4GB hard drive or larger, and incorporating an advanced graphics system and an advanced Intel microprocessor. Some Unix backers have said that this definition would include some desktop units.