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Compaq lashes Sun for misleading customers

NT for Alpha will never return from grave

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Analysis While Compaq remains confident that sales of its recently released high end Wildfire GS servers will achieve $1 billion worth of revenues, the firm said yesterday that large corporate customers were being misled by rival Sun about moving from existing platforms to their up-and-coming Serengeti boxes.

Competitor HP made similar allegations about Sun at the announcement of its "A" class boxes last week.

Michael Capellas announced the GS servers at a conference in New York yesterday, while in Europe there was a simultaneous satellite transmission of the news, held in the London Park Lane hotel. The details of the announcements are substantially the same as in the story we reported early Monday.

However, later in the day, The Register had the chance to talk to senior executive John Bennett, marketing director of the firm's High End Alpha Server division.

Bennett, in the strongest of terms, suggested that Sun was deliberately misleading its customers about the upgradeability of their big tin boxes, and said that large corporations it had talked to were unaware of the implications of moving to Serengeti platforms.

He also claimed that Compaq will easily achieve its target of $1 billion worth of Wildfire [stop using that word - Ed] sales during the year 2000, and also outlined some of the reasons why the firm decked NT for the Alpha platform late last year.

Yesterday, Capellas said in his announcement that 237 Wildfire systems had already been sold. Bennett said that the 2000 systems or so that would need to be sold this year was easily achievable. "This is a reality," he said.

The CPQ Alpha roadmap, too, stretched well into the future, said Bennett, and suggestions by competitors that Compaq will scrap systems in the future were totally unfounded.

He said that Compaq had taken the decision to scrap NT for the Alpha last year because the cost of research and development for the OS was out of proportion to the income the firm would get from continuing to support it. Further, he claimed, not one customer was unhappy with the swap-out Compaq came up with last year.

"There will be no return ever of Windows NT on the Alpha platform," he said. So that's that.

Bootnotes from the event

1. Richard George, an enthusiastic promoter of the Alpha platform, and who got into a spot of bovver a couple of years back when he told The Register that the chip was better than anything Intel could come up with, is also a very enthusiastic dancer. Jigging amongst a bevy of beautiful hackettes and not so gorgeous hacks, George was able to shimmy and twist so that his head was level with most other folk's ankles. By the way, top Compaq suits, don't ever get rid of this guy - his enthusiasm for Alpha is, rather worryingly, quite infectious...

2. Remember we told you last week that Compaq had been forced to drop its Wildfire codename because one of its customers, Wildfire Communications, felt it infringed on its rights? Someone should have told Compaq Switzerland, which had already embarked on an expensive set of creatives based on the Wildfire name, all of which had to be canned at the last minute.

3. Bennett gave us his business card but we couldn't return the favour because we'd temporarily run out. However, he was very happy indeed with the alternative, one of the coveted Register pins, which he immediately pinned on his lapel. Many senior Compaq executives, he confessed, were avid Reg readers.

4. A certain tired and emotional hack managed to beat it out of the Circus bar in Beak Street, Soho, which Compaq had hired for the evening, in order to catch his last tube home, only to be woken up by LRT staff in some place called Watford, where he certainly doesn't live. Insiders say that this sort of thing quite regularly happens to British hacks... ®

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