Hewlett-Packard has introduced two desktop PCs for small business and enterprise customers, and reorganised its commercial PC ranges.
The reshuffle groups PCs into basic, mainstream and advanced ranges, the HP Compaq 2000, 5000 and 7000 series.
HP will sell the new business PCs alongside the existing d200, d300 and d500 business PC product lines, said David Hemphill, a product manager with HP.
The first model in the 2000 series, the dx2000, comes in a compact microtower case measuring 356mm high by 180mm wide by 396mm deep, with eight USB 2.0 ports. It can be ordered with Intel's processors ranging from a 2.6GHz Celeron to a 3.0GHz Pentium 4.
The dx2000 ships with 128Mbytes of DDR SDRAM, and it can hold up to 1Gbyte. The machine is available with hard disc drives from 40Gbytes to 80Gbytes in capacity, a choice of optical drives and either Mandrake Linux or the Home or Professional versions of Microsoft Windows XP. The cheapest configuration will cost around $389 in the US.
HP promised that the other new model, the dc5000, will have a lifecycle of at least 12 months. It is available in two case designs: small form factor and microtower. The dc5000 can be ordered with Celeron or Pentium 4 processors running at up to 3GHz, and fitted with up to 4Gbytes of DDR SDRAM, a hard disc up to 160Gbytes in capacity, a choice of optical drives and either Mandrake Linux or Windows XP Home or Professional operating systems.
A bottom-of-the-range dc5000 will cost around $599 in the US.
Eventually, HP wants to guarantee IT managers that they will ship business PCs with a stable platform for at least six months on the low-end machines or 12 to 15 months on the more powerful desktops, Hemphill said.
Every time a PC manufacturer upgrades to a new chipset, IT managers need to create new software images of their corporate applications that are loaded onto a PC instead of installing all the applications separately, smoothing the rollout of new PCs.
Updating software images can be a time-consuming process, and maintaining a single image for a set period of time makes an IT manager's life easier, Hemphill said.
Most companies buy new PCs in phases, upgrading certain users while other users stay on the older equipment, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing at IDC.
This means that manufacturers have to keep older technology in the product lineup so corporate customers can complete their rollouts, and maintain their software images. In the short term, this can confuse new customers rather than simplifying matters, Kay said.
"You want to have the same platform throughout the rollout period, so one of the things that happens is that PC companies are forced to keep products in their lines that are not the latest and greatest. Inevitably, you've got complexity," Kay said.
The first models in the 2000 and 5000 series are available immediately, directly from HP or through its reseller channels, although HP's website is not yet taking orders. HP's old d200, d300 and d500 ranges remain available on its website.
Models in the 7000 series which, HP said, will feature advanced security and service and management features for deployment in corporate networks, will not be available until the third quarter.
The 7000 series PCs are likely feature Grantsdale, Intel's forthcoming chipset with support for PCI Express interconnects and DDR2 memory, Hemphill said. The 2000 and 5000 series PCs will be upgraded to Grantsdale by next March.
The dc5000 PC is available in Latin America and Canada, as well as the US, and the dx2000 PC is available worldwide.
Peter Sayer and Tom Krazit write for IDG News Service