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Compaq, HP Each to Unveil New PC, Minus Some Frills

November 08, 1999|JOSEPH MENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., two manufacturers battered in the vicious PC market, are moving at least in part away from the traditional desktop unit after discovering that as far as profit-conscious Wall Street is concerned, PCs aren't very PC.

Hewlett-Packard plans to announce today that it will soon begin shipping a computer called the e-PC, which it describes as halfway between the traditional desktop machine and the anticipated "Internet appliance" of the future.

The e-PC is smaller and cheaper than a garden-variety business desktop. And because it has fewer features, it should crash a lot less often.

But the device can't be upgraded, for example, by snapping in extra memory. And it isn't backwardly compatible, meaning that it can't use many applications designed for standard personal computers.

The e-PC will have Internet access and will use Intel microprocessors as well as Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system, according to Palo Alto-based HP.

Houston-based Compaq, meanwhile, plans to introduce an Internet appliance Wednesday.

It too will use Intel and Windows. It also will get rid of some ports that connect PCs to specific peripheral equipment in favor of a universal system.

Compaq declined to elaborate before Wednesday's presentation by Chief Executive Michael Capellas.

The new devices follow Sun Microsystems Inc.'s introduction of the Sun Ray 1, a cheap, simpler appliance tied to network servers that uses Sun's proprietary operating system and chips.

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