Your verdict on the new HP

Hewlett-Packard's final takeover of Compaq has won praise and cautious words in equal measure from users and industry experts.

Hewlett-Packard's final takeover of Compaq has won praise and cautious words in equal measure from users and industry experts.

Its ability to outline product roadmaps on the day the merger was formally completed has gone some way to satisfy the concerns of users who felt they were left in limbo when the merger was first announced last September.

Users of Tandem and Digital equipment - both companies were taken over by Compaq in the late 1990s - have been particularly concerned.

Dave Berwick, IT operations manager at Mitsubishi Motors, uses both HP and Compaq products and told that he was happy with what he heard so far.

"We are going to see how things pan out. We run Tandem boxes and the service we've had from Compaq has been excellent. If that is carried over to the new HP organisation, I'll be very pleased."

Compaq bought out Tandem in 1997 and has announced it will stop supporting Tandem products in five years' time. "That is adequate for us. I have no complaints," said Berwick, who will review his future platform option in the next two years.

UK users have had to fight hard for clarity from the new HP organisation. "When the merger was first announced they were very arrogant," a senior figure in one of HP's user groups told "As they started to talk they realised they had to keep us on board."

Martin McGuckin, research area director and vice-president at analyst firm Gartner, said the new HP still had a difficult story to sell.

"The main challenge within the first 100 days of the merger is to rebuild the trust of the customer and boost the morale of the staff against a backdrop of redundancies. The image of HP has been tarnished by the proxy battle and it must now go out and communicate with its customers."

Graham Fisher at Bloor Research said IT organisations should be on their guard. "Users need to check whether they will have equivalent levels of support [from the merged organisation]."

It is important to determine how your contact with the merged company will change, Fisher added. "Check whether you are dealing with the same account management team."

Ovum analyst Gary Barnett's main concern was the company's product roadmap. "It is encouraging that there is a tangible statement from HP on the company strategy, but there needs to be a very detailed roadmap." He added that this needed to be delivered within the next six months.

Tim Jennings, research director at Butler Group, said the merged company had done well to give HP and Compaq users a view of the future.

"They have mapped out a reasonable transition route," he said. "In those areas where product lines will disappear, users should identify the technology features they want transferred to the new products and make their need known."

Jennings said users could strike good deals on the back of the merger. "HP has no option but to be extremely aggressive with its marketing now the merger has gone through," he said. "Rival vendors are also going to be offering good deals," he added.

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