IBM has dropped plans for a NetPC machine, despite showing prototypes of such a system at PC Expo back in June.
Instead of releasing a NetPC, the company will introduce a managed PC device which will be based on its PC 300 desktop family. IBM said the machine, to be launched in October, will be targeted at users who want to gain the benefits of network computing without having to give up the flexibility of their PC.
According to Nick Eades, product marketing manager at IBM's PC Company, the machine will offer all the features of the company's NetPC prototype but it won't be restricted to the NT platform, like NetPC devices. Users will be able to choose between Windows 95, NT and OS/2 Warp.
"Around 99% of PCs come with Windows 95. Some customers simply cannot go to NT yet," said Eades.
He explained that the decision to drop the NetPC device was driven by customers: "Our customers don't want another desktop; they want the functionality of desktop PCs with the manageability and security promised by NetPCs."
IBM will adapt the PC 300 family by removing the floppy disk drive and providing a sealed case, similar to that documented in the NetPC spec.
System management features will include IBM's LCCM (LAN Client Control Manager) software. This will enable system administrators to set up the machine on a network and download software such as the PC BIOS and operating system from a server. The LCCM software also supports "wake on LAN", another feature of the NetPC.
IBM has yet to set a price for its managed PC but it is expected to cost u839.
This new IBM machine appears to be a NetPC in all but name. It lacks a floppy disk drive, prevents end users from unscrewing the case and offers remote management and "wake on LAN" - just like the NetPC.
The only feature it lacks is Microsoft's Zero Administration for Windows (ZAW). IBM's overall goal is to move its customers onto NCs such as its own Network Station. The company's managed PC is a stepping stone to getting them there.
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