IBM is to expand its initial network computer offering by launching two faster, more advanced models before the end of the year.
The existing Network Station will be renamed the Series 100 and will be joined by the Series 300 shipping this week and the Series 1000 to ship in November.
The company claimed the NC model would achieve the goal of increased efficiency through remaining operating system and processor independent while offering PC functionality with the advantages of traditional mainframe administration.
The Series 300 will operate three times as fast as the Series 100 and will be capable of running basic Java programs and a Web browser. IBM admitted neither was designed for Java, though the 300 could run basic applets. The Series 1000, using a different processor, will be 10 times as fast as the 100 and be fully configured to run Java applications.
Users will therefore be forced to wait until November before they can purchase an NC for Java applications but IBM said it has a leasing offer on the first two models that would enable users to run NC pilot schemes now and then trade-up to Series 1000s in November.
?Java is coming but it?s not here yet. The existing technology means users can get started and test the model,? said Derek Ashmore, marketing director for the NC division, Emea.
The company has already shipped 10,000 network computers in Europe and a similar number worldwide since the March launch.
?If it continues at this pace,? said Ashmore, ?It will be the fastest ramp-up of any product in history.?
At the launch IBM demonstrated 3270 and 5250 terminal and Windows NT emulation on the Series 300 NC, as well as its Network Station Manager administration application for configuring and downloading software to networked NCs.
Price differential - the 100 retails for $700 (about #450), the 300 for $930 and the 1000 for approximately $1,100.
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