The bottom could drop out of the dealer upgrade market next year when Compaq, Intel and Microsoft launch their co-developed PC upgrade component, Device Bay.
The companies have announced plans to develop an initial specification for Device Bay and will announce final spec details later this year.
Although the companies deny that dealers will be affected, Device Bay makes it easy for users to add and configure peripherals and upgrade opportunities for dealers will be limited.
Device Bay will be based on Universal Serial Bus and IEEE 1394 interfaces and promises that the days of opening the chassis to add and upgrade peripherals are numbered.
It defines an industry specification for interchangeable peripheral devices and is expected to be supported in future Intel chipsets, Windows and Compaq products. The concept has already received industry-wide acceptance.
Compaq?s decision to join the Device Bay development party is timely. While Compaq PC products general manager Mike Winkler said that ?it will dramatically change the way PCs are purchased, used and upgraded,? it also comes at a time when Compaq is reviewing its sales channels and will start selling some products direct. Dell has also welcomed the technology.
?It sounds like sod the dealers time,? said John Fenton, managing director of components and assemblers distributor Osmosis, ?but if Microsoft and Intel make it a standard, then you?ve got to listen.?
Pat Gelsinger, Intel?s vice president and general manager for desktop products said that the technology will ?open up new models of upgradability for business and consumer products and nicely complements our vision for NetPC.?
Moshe Dunie, Microsoft?s vice president of Windows operating systems division added that Device Bay will enable ?easy extensibility for every user,? but neither Gelsinger or Dunie said anything to ease the potential effects of the device on third party channels.
*Intel and Compaq are also working together on the PC Theater standard, a device designed to improve PC integration with home entertainment systems. PC Theater will combine PC functionality with TV viewing, audio, digital video disc movies and Web browsing.
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