Compaq's acquisition of Digital last week will help Microsoft push NT into the enterprise market, but may not spell good news for users. The move of PC manufacturers towards the enterprise markets means NT will eventually come to dominate that arena, commented Graham Langford, data centre manager at the United Bank of Switzerland, a Digital user. Compaq will take advantage of Digital's close relationship with Microsoft, combined with the Alpha chip, to make NT robust enough to compete with Unix, he predicted, but he doubts whether this will benefit users. "Users always get screwed which ever way it goes. It will always be vendors who drive change in the market," Langford said. "Compaq will aim to make NT chip-irrelevant for servers with 11,000 to 12,000 users - that's the market it's after," said Mike Cohen, sales marketing director at Computer Solutions and Finance, a Digital reseller. That market is currently dominated by Unix. Analysts agreed that NT will be one of the main beneficiaries of the $9.6 billion (#5.8 billion) deal, which will make Compaq the second largest computer company on the planet, after IBM. In addition, Digital's history in midrange server technology could make Compaq's enterprise solutions more credible. "This deal, together with Compaq's acquisition of Tandem last year, means that Compaq can now offer products from the low-end PC market right through to very large mission-critical servers," commented Ian Darbyshire, programme manager for PC marketing at research firm, IDC. "It will also give Compaq access to a large number of Digital's installed base accounts, but how successful it is will depend on how NT 5 is received by the market." NT 5.0 is not expected to hit users before early next year. The acquisition will also give Compaq access to Digital's massive service and support network, plugging a serious gap in Compaq's portfolio. Hugh Jenkins, enterprise group product manager at Compaq, admitted that this has been a problem in the past. "If you read any consultant's report, it will have a question mark over whether Compaq can be successful in the mid- and higher-end markets," he said. "With Digital's support expertise we can move forward in the enterprise market." TAKEOVER: COMPAQ BACKTRACKS ON ALPHA Compaq's takeover of Digital last week has forced the company to backtrack on its previous rubbishing of the Alpha chip. Hugh Jenkins, enterprise production group manager at Compaq, told PC Week last week that Digital's Alpha-based systems offer inferior performance compared to Compaq's ProLiant range. In the wake of the acquisition, Jenkins rapidly changed his tune. "That was before the takeover, when Digital were coming after us with a new range of servers positioned to compete with our Intel specification," he said. "That was last week."
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