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Compaq Shifts Focus 98

Matt Watson writes: "MSNBC is running this story on Compaq's shifting mainly to software and services. The article states that the sluggish PC market is partly to blame." More specifically, Compaq is talking about "industry-specific" packages. Niche marketing, basically, but with a very lage company that can concentrate on certain areas.
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Compaq Shifts Focus

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  • It's a shame to see a company like Compaq willing to take such drastic measures for the sake of short term results. They're divesting themselves of the Alpha and basically making themselves slaves to Intel in order to make their quarterly report look good. This is probably great for bonuses at the top, but it's pretty short sighted. And it's really sad to see the company that so revolutionized personal computing in its early years (first portable PC(tm), first 100% compatible IBM PC BIOS clone, first 386 PC, etc) so completely at the mercy of stock market volatility.
  • Compaq has always had a software and services section, or at least they did when they acquired Digital. Where I worked, we had Compaq (then Digital) people helping us out with projects.

    Of course, I think Compaq has some overpriced hardware, and their decisions to lock people into proprietary upgrades makes me not recommend them to anybody, but the service folks were A-OK. :)

  • by Kostya ( 1146 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:03PM (#129352) Homepage Journal
    So, after purchasing Tandem computers in 1997 and DEC in 1998, Compaq has now decided that they are not in hardware. Instead, they plan to build on their incredibly foresighted purchase of Altavista in 1998 and become more about software and services.

    Poor DEC. They will never live again. Most of us knew that when Compaq acquired them after Tandem (remember, they bought Tandem and then phased out all Tandem stuff in favor of Compaq hardware) that it was probably not a good thing for DEC. Now it appears that it has happened. Granted, it took 3 years, but still--DEC is the stuff of Legends. I still have a DEC VT plugged in to my Linux servers via serial cables. It's like using a piece of history for daily needs.

    I never got to use an Alpha chip. I always wanted one, but I just never got around to it. Now it appears to be too late (what are the real odds of Intel not doing what Compaq did with Tandem?).

  • Hey,

    So they didn't phase out the tandems, they just appended the name compaq to them. They still run mips and they still run tandems os. When they bought tandem, they did screw it up, but the architecture of the tandems wasn't changes. See Here [] for more info on the s-series, runnign mips 12000 processors.

    Gerhardt S. did in fact say he wanted to move the himalaya to the alpha, but lacked the proper focus inside the company to accomplish that. The tandem os is very very cleverly designed, as is the hardware, but not trivial to port to new architectures. The tandem processor to mips conversion took years of development, and the conservative nature of tandems customer base meant that only in the late 90's did most customers upgrade.

    I could go on forever about the acquisition of tandem and compaq, how compaq under Schroeder screwed up the culture, engineering and drove gobs of key engineers into the waiting arms of the .coms, but I won't. So, yes, the tandem acquisition was screwed up, btu no, the hardware wasn't molested.

    Chris DiBona
    Grant Chair, Linux Int.
    Co-Editor, Open Sources

  • ...because there seems to be something about human nature that works that way. Particularly in the business world. Two cases in point:

    * IBM made a lot of money shifting focus from hardware to services. Therefore we (for large values of "we") must shift focus to services, and we will also make lots of money. Logical flaws in this line of reasoning too numerous to point out!

    * Some companies out there (Cisco, fooConsulting) are making insane gross margins. Therefore, all of our product lines must make insane gross margins. Therefore, we must "exit" (i.e. sell or trash) any business which doesn't make insane margins this quarter. Prime example: HP begets Agilent, because instruments "aren't growing fast enough". Agilent sells medical instruments, because they "aren't profitable enough". In 2 or 3 quarters I wonder if HP will wish they had those medical instruments back, given that people will still be using hospitals when all the dotcoms are dead?

    Why can't business "leaders" see that _everyone_ can't do the same thing, or everyone will end up with a zero profit margin? And I ask that as an evil MBA, too!

  • "Compaq created the first PC BIOS"

    Um, I think that would be "the first legal 100% compatible clone of the IBM PC BIOS".

    Point being:
    * There were PC BIOS' before the IBM PC
    * The Compaq Portable and Compaq Deskpro were clones (PCM or "plug-compatibles" in the jargon of the day) of the original IBM PC.

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:11PM (#129356)
    "Pretty standard in the business. Look on any oil rig, medical shop, mineral company, steel mill, etc, and you'll see standard technology selling at super premiums"

    While niche markets are the place to be to make money, the gross margin for the whole business isn't what you would think from the mark-up on the components. R&D, conformance to industry specs, support, and quality/reliability expectations eat up a lot of that money.

    Industrial customers don't accept the "blue screens happen" philosophy - they expect your products to work, and for you to stand behind them. I once saw the follow-up from the customer when a mission-critical product failed in a steel mill. 15 member team roaming the halls and shop floor grilling randomly selected employees on procedures, specifications, etc.; parts pulled off shelves at random and tested for specs., etc. Can you imagine the typical commercial software supplier surviving that kind of inspection?

  • ("Whadya mean my HDD won't work if I don't buy it straight from Compaq!?!"). If Apple ever went into the PC market, they'd look like Compaqs.

    Except I can use all standard parts in my Apple (RAM, HDD, PCI Cards) - I just have to make sure the specs are up to snuff, like anything. The only thing you can't put in there is an Intel processor. We're beating up Compaq for being an Intel sycophant, remember?

  • As a guy in the trenches, I must say this is the dumbest move for Compaq ever. From much experience working with Compaq (my job for the last year until I got canned for interviewing) was in an all Compaq shop. Their Prolient and ML*** line of commidity servers are really a stellar product line. Even on thin margins if you sell enough of these puppies you make decent money. Thier "services" staff just isn't up to snuff to make them money backing anything but THIER hardware. Sorry Compaq we had hope for you when you bought DEC but it looks like your going to go down the toilet. Let me see now.... can I sell people IBM servers?

  • I absolutely agree, however there are many cases where it is completely stock equipment. In the case of the medical equipment it was a clone PC running Windows 95 & MS Excel and a DDE driver(i.e. this wasn't realtime, but rather the downloading and analysis of medical data).

  • As with #38, I do agree that there are a lot of cases like this, but at the same time that generic explanation is used to justify an enormous range of grossly overpriced hardware (i.e. see $10,000 nuts and bolts sold to the US Army : 90% of the time they're standard run of the mill, but when explaining every vendor will talk about the super high requirements of the military that apply to 10% of it). In the case of the medical collection device it was a standard clone PC with a serial cable (not isolated) running to a medical device (and the software was billed separately). This is very common in niche markets, and I'm sure if they asked they were told that this run of the mill clone was specially built to handle the rugged 23C temperature and desktop environment.

  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @11:57AM (#129361) Homepage Journal

    Niche markets are sweet in that companies can get away with charging absolutely ridiculous prices for otherwise generic hardware. As a case in point I've seen medical equipment where the hardware company charges $15,000 for an interfacing PC, and said PC is nothing more than a $700 clone PC. Pretty standard in the business. Look on any oil rig, medical shop, mineral company, steel mill, etc, and you'll see standard technology selling at super premiums.

    At the same time though is this really nothing more than a "please don't pay attention to our results for the next couple of quarters because we're pursuing this great new business" type initiative that is so common in public companies? Given the size of compaq I find it very hard to believe they will do anything to threaten their hardware market.

  • Microsoft isn't a hardware company, except for their mice, joysticks, keyboards, and frisbees (but I'm still not certain why they keep putting them in CD jewel cases.)
  • The web selling engine still won't let you specify Linux for a professional workstation. I presume that it would work, but why should I do business with a company that makes it difficult. Any business.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I wouldn't say sparc is dying. The UltraSPARC III is out now and it kicks ass. I hope Sun doesn't adopt IA64 as their architecture. BTW, you missed MIPS in your list which is dead too, now that HP is moving to IA64. The HP's sucked anyways.
  • they're really a lot broader than most people realize, esp. since acquiring DEC.
  • For everyone here who's slagging Compaq, why don't you guys go get a REAL Compaq (like a Deskpro) and then tell me what you think.. if all you've had to deal with is a Presario, your opinion is flawed, because you've never seen what they can really do..

    Well, you actually hit the nail on the head in another way, probably without intending to. Anybody on this board who uses a Presario shouldn't be using one, anyway. Talk to the real Presario target market - first time computer users, moms, dads, grandparents - and you'll get a different opinion. While I'd never buy a Presario for myself, and they're never something I'd recommend for a second computer, they're a great starter box. They give you everything you need with an awesome out-of-box experience, very friendly and easy to use.

    The biggest problem with Presarios is that advanced users (like Slashdot readers) see them at Best Buy for very reasonable prices, and don't understand what's in the box before they pick one up. Read the displays, and Compaq is very specific about what OS runs on each machine. If you want to get Windows 2000 on a baseline Presario, for example, you just can't do it. It's not that the machine isn't fast enough, or that they're trying to build value, but they just don't have drivers for the hardware, and they don't intend to start. That's fine for what they're sold for - my grandma's never going to upgrade her Presario to Windows 2000, not when she can get an all-new Presario in two years that has more stuff and comes with Windows 2000 built in.
  • I see very few informed opinions about Compaq on this thread. Compaq has it's fingers in a LOT of pies, and they do a pretty damn good job of tasting them all. Compaq created the first PC BIOS, the first portable PC, and has been a dominant (typically top dog) force in the PC industry for over 20 years.

    Now, that's what you hear from the media, and perhaps from passing knowledge. Most people don't realize that Compaq has been, and is currently, a major innovator in Intel-based and Alpha-based server technology, handheld devices, networking technology, storage area networks, clustering, Operating Systems development, and ultra-high-end servers. Compaq is so much more than a PC-clone OEM that it's ridiculous that people see that as the entirety of the company.

    Anyone who has actually *worked* with the professional workstations (Deskpro) or the mainstream servers (Proliant) knows that they are a joy to work with, and a breeze to maintain. Compaq goes to great lengths to ensure a better product than their competitors, and they do a damn good job. Compaq sells more storage equipment than it's next three competitors combined. They sell more mainstream internet servers than anyone in the world. And you know why? Because they make a better product.

    A Presario is intended to do exactly what they sell it for, give the home user a carefree experience. If you want to run the latest and greatest stuff, don't buy a presario. If you want to give your grandmother a new machine, buy a Presario.

    I'm typing this on a Compaq Presario 1700-465, the finest laptop I've ever owned. It's well engineered, and is a great machine. I *know*, however, that whatever I want to do with it, I can. It's multi-booting RedHat 7, Win2k Pro, MSDOS 6, and FreeBSD. If you know what you're getting in to, Presario machines are exactly what you'd expect for a low-cost PC.

    {|}---Tony Hagale -- --
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:36PM (#129368)
    I see a lot of "I hate Compaq" posts..

    For everyone here who's slagging Compaq, why don't you guys go get a REAL Compaq (like a Deskpro) and then tell me what you think.. if all you've had to deal with is a Presario, your opinion is flawed, because you've never seen what they can really do..

    I LOVE my Deskpro's - they're completely SILENT - as in NO noise.. they're easy to upgrade.. I can open it up, and install a new CD ROM, or HD, or any expansion card in 5 seconds, without the need for a screwdriver. It's like working with a Formula 1..

    Presarios are consumer-level crap - pretty much disposable.. if that's all you've ever seen, you'll surely be disapponted.. but open your mind and see that there is more to Compaq than the Presario..
  • Yeah, there's a lot of markup on the price. But a lot of it goes to cover insurance costs on many of the applications you mentioned. Especially medical devices. When a computer controls something that could hurt people (or through inaction allow harm), insurance companies start charging very high rates.
  • compaq has tons of software engineers, and high-level support engineers, design engineers, etc.

    why? because they already do huge support contracts for big companies... ie, compaq runs microsoft's big data center south of seattle (takes up an entire floor+ of exodus-2 seattle).

    compaq also does premier support (ie support contracts for big ecommerce and it companies developing middleware and other apps on top of MS products) for MS customers... if you want to buy premier support, you can buy it from compaq. companies can also buy sun, apple, (maybe?) linux, etc premier (and other level) support contracts from compaq. these cost lots of money, on the order of millions+ for big development/IT companies.
  • You've got to be kidding me. Wait until those Deskpro's hit the one year mark and start falling apart. I've got 70 Deskpro's in a location with about 400 total machines, and they are the bane of my life. The monitors burn out, the keyboards are crap, within four months of buying them we had 25 dead video cards (to Compaq's credit, they did, after several phone calls, replace the cards in all the machines). Did I mention the one that caught fire two weeks ago?

    As an added bonus, whenever I get an upgrade request for one of those machines, I can't just buy parts; I have to buy parts that will work in a Compaq.

    I'm firmly in the "proprietary crap" camp.
  • Sounds like a good idea to me... I mean... we all know what a juggernaut Compaq is in the software arena.
  • Umm, dude, Microsoft _never_ sold hardware.

    Sure they did. One of their early successes was the Softcard, a Z80 card for the Apple II, running CP/M.

  • I meant non-standard as in different from every other computer manufacturer on the planet. I don't work on cars. I work on computers. And every other computer that comes through the shop uses hexagonal wide-thread phillips head screws. And they seem to work pretty damn well with our power screw drivers, thank you very much. The only company that has a worse case design team than Compaq is Packard-Bell, but at least they were smart enough to use the same screws as everyone else.

  • If I never have to work on another Compaq pos case again, I'll be a happy, happy man.

    Who was the brilliant genius in their case design department that said "Hey, we've got all these non-standard screws lying about, let's use them in our computers! And after that, let's make it impossible to access the CMOS unless you stick a non-functioning hard drive onto the primary IDE channel!" No joke there, that was what a Compaq technician told me to do to get into the CMOS. And you know what? It still didn't work.

    Now if Compaq shifted focus completely to the iPaq and dropped the price by about $200...*grin*

  • non-standard screws? You mean Torx-head screws? They're a very standard item on factory-assembled items. They're great for use in power screwdrivers, and it's nearly impossible for the bit to slip out of one.

    Hope you never have to work on any cars. You'll see Torx and Pozidriv screws and complain that the manufacturer sucks.
  • First, it's worth noting that Compaq is not leaving the hardware business, contrary to what Hemos put in the subtitle. In fact, the article states they plan to grow their workstation and server business.

    Second, a lot of people have been slagging on Compaq. If your only experience is with the one your mom bought at Best Buy, I can see why you'd feel that way. But then pretty much any consumer oriented PC is gonna suck to the average /. reader. I honestly don't know why Compaq doesn't just punt most of their consumer line.

    However, in the world of business with lots of systems to care for, Compaqs are great. They're very easy to work on.
  • Lack of change makes a stagnant company. A company which can't change to deal with changes will ultimately fail.

    If compaq can't make money on a division, and has no visions in the forseeable future of making a profit on that division, it has an obligation to its shareholders to get rid of it.

    Yes, that may mean that many people lose their jobs in the short term, but if it weren't for that happening, the company may go under, and everyone loses their job. [well, probably not with bankruptcy protection and the like, but you get the idea] If an entire company the size of Compaq goes under, this would have a dramatic effect on other sectors, too.

    They may be taking a risk in this untested market, but if they don't get into it quickly, they might be too far behind to make it. They may fail in their endevor, but they definately would not have succeeded if they hadn't tried.

    [goddamn it...I sound like a damned optimist or something today.... what the hell is up with this? Luckily, knowing their tech support, they're going to have to make some major changes to succeed in a service based model...]
  • The power supplies aren't even standard ATX connectors. They have 4 extra pins (these are the P3 DeskPro EN series). And what's up with those slotted/torx combo screws?
  • The reason that commodity equipment becomes obscenely expensive in a medical context, is that all such equipment must go through extensive, and expensive, certification procedures.
  • I worked for one of the biggest oil services company and they are not exactly making easy money. There are only two big oil field service companies in the world which means the market is duopoly. (They do anything but selling the oil). Niche markets don't make a load of money unless they are also monopoly. Competition drives the price down, regardless of the type of product. This is why Microsoft makes more than any oil companies.
  • I wonder how long this will last. A company like Compaq has made its money, and built its business, on the PC and Server market. I dont think that this will pan out to be much more than 5 or 10% of compaq's business model. They rely to heavily on the markets they have to ever be able to shift gears like this.
  • If I were Compaq, I'd get the hell outta the PC business, too.

    Bill Gurley has an interesting editorial on the subject in his Above the Crowd [] column at

  • After Compaq obliterated some of the best technologies the computer wolrd has created (VMS, Alpha and now Tru64), I can only be glad for them to pull this stuff. They're going to go down in flames, and I can't care less. So, Compaq, you crave for a Wintel world? Sure, too bad you won't be around to enjoy it!

    Yeah, I know, -1 flamebait. BTW, I am sorry for the great Alpha design engineers that had to go through all this shit, at Compaq. I'm sure you'll se some sunny days, again.

  • I had some experience with a compaq computer once(not mine), I learned my lesson and tell people I know not to buy them anymore.
    • Entering services will be difficult for Compaq, just as it has been for Dell, H-P, and all the other OEMs that are jumping on the bandwagon.

    Of course, unlike Dell and HP, Compaq isn't just now entering services, they are expanding on what they bought when they got DEC, combined with their own services organization that they've been developing for years.

    See here [] for more information.

    Disclaimer: I happen to work for Compaq Services.

  • In case you hadn't noticed, Llama Keeper was talking about servers while you were talking about desktop PCs. I'd say it's safe to say those are two different markets, and a company excelling at one and sucking at another is not unthinkable. I have had a somewhat positive experience with Compaq's server line, while I have had an overwhelmingly negative experience with their desktops. I think you're both right.
  • I wonder how long this will last. A company like Compaq has made its money, and built its business, on the PC and Server market. I dont think that this will pan out to be much more than 5 or 10% of compaq's business model. They rely to heavily on the markets they have to ever be able to shift gears like this.

    Easy now. Compaq is a large company with a lot of cash in the bank. Part of this is a reshaping of the former Dec portfolio. Cash in the Alpha, roll-over everything to Itanium (where there are two existing open source operating systems to sort out the bugs before our engineers need to look at it). The money from the Digital side is in competitive support contracts, support for Tru64 and VMS (both of which have sizeable userbases).

    And on the flip side Compaq is one of the largest players in the business sector for contracts - competing head to head with Dell. And the sooner they can provide a comprehensive support package, the better. As computing becomes increasingly networked, large companies need support. They want a network with Unices and Windows boxes working together, and complementing the company's interests. They want someone to come out and replace the motherboard that fried last night. This is the way Compaq can achieve an edge in corporate computing. They can go to those corporate contracts and sell them Unix and support in addition to the gazillion Windows ME boxes.

    This is risky though... Compaq OWNED the high performance computing market with the alpha, and they are throwing that to the wind to compete on services.
  • In my hometown of Huntsville, AL the local-boys-made-good company of Intergraph (noted for their innovative CAD/CAM terminals 10 years ago) tried to get out of hardware and focus on software [] to cut losses but it didn't help. [] They've lost over a quarter billion dollars in the last five years and haven't had a profitable year since 1992. They're still saying they'll be profitable someday []... Good luck Compaq - it was nice knowing you....
  • What DID happen to alpha? What would have happened if Compaq hadn't bought Digital, and there was still a company around that cared if Alpha lived or died. And what happens to Alpha now? I see no mention of it in this article.

    If Compaq didn't buy DEC, then DEC would have most likely gone the way of SGI, and faded into gradual irrelevance. With the acquisition, the best DEC technology (VMS, Tru64) will be able to survive, and now is a lot more sustainable than it would have been under DEC.

  • or is it composed of people who disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle? or perhaps the Atlanteans?

    BTW, I hear Disney has a new documentary out about Atlantis. You may want to check it out.

  • Where have we heard this before?

    Dell is supposedly moving into the services business. H-P has (so far unsuccessfully) been attempting the same thing.

    IBM has (successfully) moved into the services business, but only because they were already diversified enough to make the move.

    The trend isn't new. As long ago as 1999 [], the writing was on the wall. The problem is, most of these hardware OEMs are going to have a difficult time making the transition. They're used to competing on price, not on service. The OEM business is brutally competitive in the price arena, but let's be honest, most PC clone makers are not really innovating. All they're doing is trying to squeeze inefficiency out of manufacturing and distribution, making money on very thin margins.

    Entering services will be difficult for Compaq, just as it has been for Dell, H-P, and all the other OEMs that are jumping on the bandwagon. Compete on price alone at your own peril.

  • <troll>
    How long have people been saying Apple is dead? How many armchair CEO's have said this or that about whats will prevent apple from dying, port to i386, allow clones, open source everything, etc. Now we see compaq essentially getting out of the hardware buisness. Where were the people predicting compaq's demise? Who but a very few predicted packard bell, emachines, micron, all going or gone from the computer buisness, yet apple is still going strong. Think about how many computer companes apple has seen die before you predict its immanent doom in the future. That is all
  • by Dman33 ( 110217 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:09PM (#129394)
    Anti-flame disclaimer: I am not an expert of Compaq hardware, nor do I know how the current Compaq PCs are shipped. If I am incorrect, it is because this is my impression of Compaq hardware from the past, and that carried on to my current impression of them. If this info does not currently hold true, that is becase Compaq did nothing to change this rather common impression of them and their hardware.

    Compaq desktops suck because they are so darn proprietary. They leave very little headroom for upgrades and the upgrades that are available are very expensive. The average user may not notice this but there is a reason that Compaq is getting out of the PC market and the reason is because people are reluctant to buy it due to negative word-of-mouth! Compaq could have easily avoided this common impression by pumping more money into marketing but they didn't. That is one big reason why they are crapping out today. If they would have used more standard equipment and offered better upgrade packages for the older models, they would have been better off in the long run. I understand that the goal was to get people to buy a new PC every time the old one got too old, but that closed mindset came back to bite them really really hard in the Compass.

    Of course, that is just my opinion.
  • I still have a DEC VT plugged in to my Linux servers via serial cables. It's like using a piece of history for daily needs.
    Or like the classic Volkswagen bug in Woody Allen's Sleeper -- the dang things just won't die. Some Compaqs are like that, too -- I've still got my old Aero notebook, and it's on its third hard drive now.

    I've finally forgotten the 'finger macros' for EDT, though...


  • I disagree. At least with the laptop part. I used to do some PC support at two different companies that used Compaq laptops, and they make one of the worst laptop lines and have one of the worst service departments I've ever worked with. The laptops would break on a monthly basis, and it was like pulling teeth to get Compaq to fix them, despite the fact that they were well within warranty.

    My favorite one was that we had a number of them develop a loud clicking noise. It sounded like someone had put baseball cards in the spokes. When we called Compaq to get them repaired, we were told that it was a known issue with that model, and, therefore, they weren't going to fix it.

  • It might also constitute dumping, which is a well-proven anti-competitive tactic, and given that the US government has already declared them a monopoly, would probably get them in serious hot water.
  • Calm down.

    Regardless of whether you agree with it, the government has judged them to be a monopoly. And using further anti-competitive tactics will only get them in more trouble.

  • It still agreed that Microsoft is an operating system monopoly. Maybe you should read the news (or the decision itself), dumbass.
  • I liked the old arm-stretchers (sewing machines, luggables, whatever) BITD. After that, everything they touched turned to shit.
  • Well, one of them was really more of an Alpha article...
  • Yeah.. I've used a few Compaq desktop PC's without joy. Conflicts galore.. The only thing I wonder is how this decision will affect the only good piece of Compaq hardware I've used- the iPaq. It looks like demand is still high on that one though, and I guess it *kind of* fits into a niche market..

  • Every Compaq that I have ever seen purchased (dozens, perhaps even a hundred) I have had to fix at one time or another. I am sick of poor uneducated people going to Best Buy to buy a computer and get a crappy Compaq that doesn't last a year because it breaks so often. It's just frustrating.

    Going inside Compaq's is almost always a new experience - they've changed their case design more times than I can count with my fingers. To try to make the cases small they have weird swing-open power supplies and impossible to remove 5 1/4" half-height bigfoot drives.

    Like others have said, though, Compaq can't survive without the massive amount of computers it ships out, they will always be making computers and attempting to be #1.
  • Its a conspiracy!
    Slashdot went down saturday because of lack of funds. Compaq got them back up with cash, with the condition that they said it was a hardware issue, but everyday they need to mention Compaq at least 3 times in a positive manner.

    You laugh now, but when Taco mentions how all the servers are switching to Compaq machines, we'll see who gets the last laugh!!!

    OK, I know the article says that Compaq is getting outta the desktop market, but it kills the whole story!

    "That's one small step for man..."
  • My experiences with C-Paq hardware have been mixed. The current Presario (an Athlon 1.1G model) is a dreamboat, although one thing that drives me slightly nuts is the sloping case that makes it impossible to rest something on top of it. (I wonder if that was the idea.)

    The server that we used in-house from Compaq was pretty solid, as was a workstation that I wound up using for a while. Unfortunately, all of the above are also pricey -- but with PCs as with anything else, you do get what you pay for.

    As far as shifting to services - I don't think they are considering ditching PCs altogether. They're just finally realizing that there are lots of folks around who can undercut them any day of the week (and who won't yell too loudly about it when they realize that this involves various creative ways of corner-cutting).
  • Actually, it sounds like an electric hand-drill would probably have been the right tool for the job.

    In this case, I think you took the old saying, "when your only tool is a hammer, every job starts to look like a nail" to literal extremes. :)

    Still, kudos to you for your quick&dirty hardware hack.

  • Actually, liability is an obvious cost when selling parts to the military. If your $0.15 bolt fails, causing a $3Billion jet to crash and end the lives of a couple pilots, you better have damn good insurance covering your warranty. Hence, you end up selling that $0.15 bolt for $30.00.

    That's not to say that the industry doesn't bilk the government whenever they can get away with it, but even at it's worst (in the 70's and 80's, before people got wise to it) that sort of thing was not as common as the press may have lead you to believe.

    (Your example was an obvious exaggeration. The only "$10,000 nuts" in a fighter jet are the ones between the pilots legs, and medical research may even make those cheaper to replace eventually.)

  • Umm, dude, Microsoft _never_ sold hardware.

    Point is, Compaq did, but I guess they finally realized that their product (and service) sucks.

    Aka, they're switching to software (last ditch effort).

    I'm eager to see their death. Inferior product.

  • Are you saying that Microsoft is "letting" Linux stay around?

    You betcha. All it would take is a short-term 50% drop in software prices and Linux is suddenly dead on the desktop before it ever hits 5% market share. The only reason why your PHB would consider anything other than Microsoft software right now is price and Redmond is certainly not stupid enough to allow that factor alone to sway market share in any other direction.

    "Oh, you're so stupid. Microsoft would never do that". You're right, because with an ~80% lead over everyone else, they don't yet have to.


  • Still, its sad. now everybody will be at the mercy of intels shipping cycles and blunders.
    You forget, sir, a certain company named AMD.
  • I agree. In my experience there are actually two companies named Compaq. There's the Compaq that makes utter shit for the Best-Buy crowd. And there's the Compaq that makes fairly kickass servers, laptops and workstations for business use.
  • I'd be interested to know if other companies have experienced a similar slowdown that would suggest a "death of the PC" outlook that Compaq seems to be touting. Remember, Microsoft is an MSNBC affiliate, so any stories that talk about the death of the PC and stress the importance of services actually play right into the hands of their .NET strategy, not to mention marginalizing the PC entertainment market into going towards their gaming platform.

    Yeah, I know that sounds paranoid, but corporate influence affecting journalism isn't a new thing. Burston Marstellar did it with environmental-based journalism on a national level up here in Canada, and MSNBC has long been a pro-MS news source... remember, this is the same place that had an editorial saying that MS wasn't a monopoly (great timing there, too, because the editorial came out about a week before the Findings of Fact :).

  • If compaq needs advice on where to go now, they can always ask Be Inc. They know a thing or two about focus shifts.
  • Unless your name is Microsoft...
  • You HAVE got to be kidding Its taken me a year + get rid of the damn Deskpros out of my company. I HATE those things. The boot up diagnostic partition on the hard drive? What is that? One P2 266 deskpro I saw had the Slot 1 CPU sitting to the side.. How many engineers did Compaq pay to make that stupid idea work? I dunno if I'll get modded down for this but the truth hurts. PS: Too bad they killed DEC (I used to work there in Atlanta when Compaq brought them out)
  • Good god. change the title of slashdot to:
    News about Compaq. stuff that matters.

    this is what? the 3rd compaq related article in like 48 hours...phlueez isnt anything else going on in this world? &lt/rant&gt

  • Well, two of them were..but compaq owns alpha, so =P
  • Good Point!!! While I work for neither DEC nor Compaq I,ve been pretty close to DEC for the past 21 years. DEC may have stumbled at the end but for a long time they were the only serious competition to the old evil empire, Big Blue itself. DEC had a great service reputation through it all, and with the news that Compaq is selling Alpha I'd say the only part of DEC that is still together at Compaq are their services people.

    And on an incidental heads up, I've noticed a lot of DEC's old east coast service infrastructure, the people who were district and regional service and support chiefs a few years ago are all showing up with Houston addresses the past 18 months. I wiss the mill!!

  • Couldn't the same have been said about IBM 15-or-so years ago?

  • From my humble corporate experiences, I can definitely imagine Dell surpassing HP and Compaq in the services business. HP and Compaq seem to operate only for the quickest buck. Watch them quickly make changes to past decisions and also lack in customer support. Dell has always seemed to have a strong determination to keep its customers happy. Positive customer image and loyalty have been a large part of their success. It's much more important in the services business than the hardware business, so I think Dell has the right attitude to surpass HP and Compaq in this area.

  • More specifically, Compaq is talking about "industry-specific" packages. Niche marketing, basically, but with a very lage company that can concentrate on certain areas.

    Sound like Apple to anyone else ;)

    Seriously, though, The big Q makes some nice servers. Of course the desktops suck goat balls, but the Proliants are damn fine machines. I hope the mid-range and up Server market is one they remain focused on.

  • Time for today eubonics language lesson:

    My! You are a lovely young lady.
    Damn! You'se a fine mother fucker.

    Let's go for a ride, shall we?
    Hey baby, let's jump in my low-rider and let's rotate these tires.

    You are beautiful. I would like to make love to you.
    Damn bitch! You stupid fly! Let me pull up to your bumper and smack that monkey.

    Hello sir.
    What up, dog.

    May I borrow some money?
    Hey, let me holds some ends, I will hit you back on the first, my brother.

    You don't have it? Thanks anyway.
    Fuck you!

    Hello sir.
    What up.

    I admire your fashionable running shoes.
    Drop them Nikes off your ass before I blast you mother fucker!

    I used to be a stuck white-boy, faking the funk,
    bump that, I ain't bullshittin' on front street no more thanks to todays eubonics language lesson.
  • This isn't any kind of surprise, they have a culture in place that doesn't listen to their customers. We bought over 300 IPAQs at our company, and I asked if I could buy one with Linux instead of Windows. Answer NO. When I asked if I could have the contact information for someone at Compaq that would be interested in some feedback about what a customer may want. Answer NO. I couldn't believe it. Even Microsoft, yes Microsoft said I had a choice, and it was up to Compaq to force me to buy Windows.
  • more recently, they put shitty components in overpriced computers.
  • Does it fit in their new business model? If they're dropping all things DEC, will they also drop iPaq? Or, conversly, might we soon see iPaqs with Linux direct from the factory?

  • Neither was Intel until they got the Alpha. There is a lot of hype about their 64 bit processors but they have yet to show that they can produce and sell any kind of volume. They haven't even shown that their chip can perform at a satisfactory level.
  • As a guy who has had to work on Compaqs in the past I can sum up my feelings in one word. 'Good'.
  • I'd say it was Compaq's sluggish hardware that was to blame.

    (Okay I know, cheap shot.)

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • You need to to pop on over to ThinkGeek and get one of their "No, I am not going to fix your computer." t-shirts. Spoken as someone who has seen more than his fair share of vacation time spent fixing relatives' computers.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • I have a "new" Presario, less than a week old as of today. It is fantastic! Vertical HDD mounting, Standard parts, I have already upgraded the crap out of it. I bought a cheapy on thier website and made it ROCK. The case is great! Its easy to work in and the parts are standard, I know it was a problem in the past but my new one is a cream pie. It was very reasonable too, all in all I would sayu Compaq learned thier hardware lessons.
  • Can Compaq make such a transition? I know they incorporate the old DEC, but if they're mostly a hardware company, do they have much in the way of software development resources in house?

    I would think after manufacturing, they'd have a lot of customer service staff.

    Can anyone who actually knows something about Compaq's current atmosphere tell the rest of us if they're even equipped to do this?
  • charges $15,000 for an interfacing PC, and said PC is nothing more than a $700 clone PC.

    Maybe it could help to break the total cost into components:

    • Clone PC: $700...
    • Interface Logic: $1200...
    • Doctor uses PC to control medical equipment and save dying patient: Priceless. Err... I mean $13,100
    Anyway, the cost doesn't look to outrageous compared to an ordinary doctor's office visit, where you pay up to $200 to talk to some guy in a room for 5 minutes. What makes this racket worth the money is that he's (hopefully) going to tell you that contrary to your worst fears, your symptoms are not in fact life-threatening.
  • Check out
    Here is one of their newer initiatives. The software is free... they are opening the source on a lot of stuff. They will make their money making the stuff work: )
    New business paradigm. Give the software away, but make it so difficult to use that it takes the author to make it work.
    I like it becuase it opens quite a few doors. My client can now afford a clustering solution for themselves (since the software is free), and I can make money on implementing solutions that were previously out of reach of my clients.
    PS, Compaq will never be out of the hardware business. They are only shifting focus, not dropping products.
  • So Compaq is trying to become the Sega of the computer industry. "Good riddence," I say! Aside from being Microsoft's personal bitch in the PC market (always ready to agree with whatever Microsoft said that week), I'd have to say that they were the #1 culprit of putting extremely proprietary stuff into what is supposed to be a fairly open PC/AT/Wintel/whatever archtecture ("Whadya mean my HDD won't work if I don't buy it straight from Compaq!?!"). If Apple ever went into the PC market, they'd look like Compaqs.

    So good-bye, so long, and I hope to see you disappear from NASDAQ soon.

  • "Compaq's shifting mainly to software and services" is a big overstatement. The article says that they want grow thier services and software business to 1/3 of thier revenue, from 1/5 today. No big deal.
  • Compaq desktops suck because they are so darn proprietary.

    Excuse me while I insert my own anecdote into the mix. A few years ago I was doing workstation support for various departments, one of which had bought exclusively Compaqs. They were interested in upgrading their hardware but didn't have alot to spend so I suggested they start out by replacing their old 15" monitors with some 17"ers. So on my advice they bought a few standard 17" monitors.

    Now imagine my surprise when I showed up to install the monitors and found that the 15 pin connectors were incompatable with Compaq's 14 pin video cards. The adapter was identical except that Compaq had filled in one of the holes in their VGA plug and removed the same pin from their monitors. Essentially they wanted to force all their valued customers to only buy Compaq monitors in the future.

    I scratched my head over this for a while and eventually came back with a hammer and a small nail. I carefully pounded another hole into the back of each video card. The point is, after years of working with computers, I finally found a computer problem that required a hammer to fix. Only with Compaq.

  • Given the margins in the service business, I'm not surprised Compaq is trying to grow that part of their business. An added benefit is the service side can pull through hardware sales - something has to run that new piece of software. It opens a whole new way to sell - bundling high dollar "consulting" with discounted hardware, and once your in, you have plenty of opportunities to sell follow-on work. The key is, how? One way is to grow your own - slow, expensive, and time consuming. My bet would be on buying a firm outright - such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (the consulting side only). Why PwC - they have done the pricing work from the failed HP buyout, times are tough right now for the Big 5, and the partners would probably welcome a new offer that makes them rich. Compaq gets the consulting expertise it needs, and a way to fight the HP-Accenture linkup. Downside - mixing Compaq and PwC culture will be tough - and since PwC's main assets (besides its outsourcing work) are the consultants - and they can walk at anytime.
  • Ah, good, so all their hardware markets are belong to VA Linux now. Good, that means that VA can finally MAKE SOME MONEY AGAIN! (up 23 cents whoohoo)
    • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
  • After seeing so much crap about Compaq, I conclude that they should end up at f* Seriously, when you've got nothing left to sell, and killed off all your good developers, you might as well end up in the dumps.

    The only respect for them I have left was their original intent of making the PC public, but this was years ago.

  • Cheap shot yeah but if it's true you can't dismiss it. Their stuff crawls and it's packed with things people neither need nor want. I got tired of keeping my computers, my wifes computer, her two sons computers, My brothers computer, my brothers wifes computer, and my Dads computer all in free maintenance (clones, you build one for someone and it's lifetime warranty service if they happen to be family members) and just told my mom to "buy a Compaq or something" and since then I've paid the price. It's simply the crappiest piece of work I've ever seen. Managed to convince my boss to ditch the Compaq desktops at work but can't get him to part with the servers. Actually don't have too much trouble with their servers. The desktops were almost as bad as the Presario my mom bought though. Good riddance.
  • I always got a kick out of the torx screws with the slot in them. I really loved the big ass slotted screws on the back of the last bunch of Deskpro's we got. The ones where anyone with their fingers could get them off quickly. I grabbed all of them and replaced them with regular old philips screws. They found their way onto my boxes at the house and in my humble opinion this is the best part Compaq ever used in building a PC.
  • You forget, sir, a certain company named AMD.

    I am not aware of AMD being particularly strong in the 64bit large scale server market at this time.
  • Compaq is not abandoning its hardware. Rather its focusnig on just adding value to its high end servers through software solutions! Think clustering, server management, fail over, operating system support. I take as my source an internal letter sent by CEO to employees. The MSNBC piece seems like general uninformed FUD in light of recent news of Alpha's demise.

    Regarding that, the Alpha platform might have been technically superior. However in the next two or three generations it could not compete with the massive amounts of cash that Intel can throw at its fab process. Economy of scale wins out. Look at SGI, and I predict also sun in couple generations.

    still, its sad. now everybody will be at the mercy of intels shipping cycles and blunders.
  • I was with Digital when the barbarians bashed the doors down with rolls of cash. One of the first organizations to be decimated was Digital Consulting. The thought being with the mainframe dead and UNIX about to be beaten back by the 64 bit INTEL Alpha ripoff, who needed consulting beyond Windows on an Intel box? They just don't get it. Look for a Wang/Burroughs/Sperry (you young puppies remember them I'm sure) outcome.
  • The software development resources and consulting resources they needed came to them from Digital. They ran them off, as well as killing ALPHA, stagnating StorageWorks and disgusting any and all former DEC people that tried to tell them there were other hardware platforms than INTEL and other software than Microsoft. Such massive stupidity leads to a Darwinian conclusion.
  • If INTEL hadn't used at least 10 stolen patented processes from Digital, there wouldn't be any Pentiums. (they were only caught on the 10, they made it go away with much money)

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."