Pentium Pro-based workstation vendors could face long delays in shipping boxes after it was revealed that Intel's shipments of the chips are weeks behind schedule.
The problems will hit Digital, IBM, Dell and Gateway which are looking to counter Compaq's recent move into the workstation market.
According to several PC vendors, they are waiting up to two months for Pentium Pro shipments. Dell referred to a six to eight-week delay and Gateway said four to six weeks.
These are high-volume OEMs, so companies such as Digital might wait even longer.
A Digital source said its new models are partly designed to fend off the Compaq's challenge in the mid-range sector.
Howard Elias, vice president of Digital's PC division, said the new Prioris range was designed to increase the proportion of high-margin products sold by the unit, to improve profitability, and to 'be very competitive in features and price'.
Analysts are divided over whether NT workstation products are set to move into Sun's traditional market. Dataquest said it has seen Sun's share of the workstation sector grow from 36 per cent to almost 42 per cent in the past year, and does not see such a lead being dented 'for a good while yet'.
But Tom Copeland, director of workstation research at IDC, believes NT machines are starting to make an impact on traditional Risc/Unix territories.
Sun has also responded to the NT threat by slashing prices on its Risc range.
The entry-level Ultrasparc-based machines, the Ultra 1 range, are now half the price they were when they were introduced a year ago, though boasting memory doubled to 64Mb.
Intel and Microsoft are moving towards integrating Windows NT at chip level, a Microsoft development partner claimed last week. Intel will be able to add processors to motherboards to give the platform midrange power, requiring a rewrite of Windows NT.
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