There were few surprises at DEC's desktop strategy announcements held yesterday - the company duly launched the first of its MIPS based system family - the 3100 workstation and server - along with the VAXstation 3100s, as detailed yesterday (CI No 1,090): but it turns out the multi-processor mid-range VAX 3250 and 3450 are programme announcements, with no date or prices attached. UK prices for the DECstation 3100 start at UKP8,800 for the diskless, monochrome version, while the VAXstation Model 30 base system comes in a UKP5,800, rising to UKP20,000 for a fully configured system. The products were accompanied by some of the most aggressive price-performance claims yet made by DEC - with the DECstation 3100 claimed to be twice the performance of a comparable Sun 4/110 for around half the price. The VAXstation 3100 uses the same CMOS VAX chip as the current VAXstation 3200 and 3400 systems, but has been squeezed onto a single board. As expected, DEC Europe held back on the announcement of the MS-DOS DECstations launched in America, with UK managing director Geoff Shingles saying that DEC would launch an international PC this calender year, but had not yet committed to follow its US parent in getting them from Tandy Corp - further details will follow by April for delivery around September time. But although the hardware attracted much of the attention at the DEC event, the company also introduced a wealth of new software, and attempted to clarify its long term desktop strategy. The centerpiece was DECwindows, finally announced for VMS as well as Ultrix - this was originally expected at the beginning of December. DEC also announced its plans to provide an MS-DOS-based DECwindows Display Facility for MS-DOS machines, a DECwindows version of the All-in 1 office software, and VAXpc, an emulation package for running MS-DOS software under VMS, on which DEC is working with Phoenix Technologies Ltd, Norwood, Massachusetts, for availability in March. The DECwindows Display facility will allow users to access DECwindows applications residing and executing on other systems, and will be part of a future release of DEC'S PC Integration software later this year. And DEC took the opportunity to confirm that it is working on a Posix interface to the VMS operating system, giving DEC a common platform for application development - no dates were given. The Posix interface will reduce the amount of work necessary to enable software developers to produce versions of their to run under both VMS and Unix - but will not in itself enable fully portable applications to be developed. Amongst the software houses willing to commit themselves to support DECwindows at the announcement were London-based Aregon International Ltd, which produces VAX/VMS financial trading system software; Oracle Corp, graphics specialists Precision Visuals, Boulder, Colorado, and the SAS Institute, Cary, New Jersey.
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