Bill Gates was Compaq's best e-business salesman at Compaq's Innovate Forum '99, an event overshadowed by the company's current financial woes.
Compaq copied the e-business term from IBM, which has spent millions popularising it. Compaq's NonStop eBusiness program is designed to help its customers offer a 24 by 7 Internet marketplace. According to Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer, NonStop eBusiness products will run on Compaq's Alpha and Intel-based servers, along with a range of operating systems, including Tru64 Unix, OpenVMS, Windows NT and Tandem's NSK.
Some attendees were more concerned about Compaq's own business, as Q1 revenue is now predicted to be half what was expected. Pfeiffer says the problem is trivial, and blamed it on price competition and softer PC sales in the mid-size to large business segment.
Drawing from his Digital Nervous System mantra, Gates spoke of an interconnected world of knowledge workers with the customer at the centre. Gates also praised Compaq, gushing that "there is no more important partner [for Microsoft] than Compaq".
While most of the messages Compaq officials gave at the conference seemed painstakingly rehearsed, there were a few crossed wires. For instance, some Compaq executives had nothing but good things to say about Intel's 64-bit Merced chip and the Monterey 64-bit operating system being developed by IBM, Sequent Computer Systems and The Santa Cruz Operation. These products, along with the upcoming 64-bit version of Windows NT, will help Compaq offerings compete against other high-end servers, officials said.
But executives from Compaq's Tru64 Unix operating system division weren't as thrilled. "Frankly, Merced doesn't look too interesting as a volume platform," said Don Jenkins, a vice president for Compaq's Unix business segment. "I don't think it will have the performance. The compilers will still be somewhat immature. People will try it. Independent software vendors will port to it. But I don't think Merced will be a strong price-performance competitor to Alpha."