Microsoft enters specialised PC world .... again

Microsoft and UK system builder Scan Computers International has introduced a PC aimed specifically at project managers and custom-built to run Microsoft Project, part of the Microsoft Office System.

The machine, called Project PC, was announced at the Association for Project Management's awards show on Tuesday and is available immediately. The system packs high-end specifications into a small form-factor chassis from Hoojum Design and features two TFT monitors as standard, a feature designed to allow project managers to more easily juggle multiple project plans, Excel spreadsheets and email, Microsoft said.

Top-end features such as a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor, dual 17-inch flat-screen monitors, a 128MB XFX PCI-E GF6600 graphics card, a 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM and a DVD-/+R writer are matched by a relatively steep price tag of £2,231.33 inc VAT, according to Scan. The same system assembled from separate parts would cost significantly more, Microsoft said.

Project PC is currently only available in the UK but could be introduced elsewhere after a trial period, according to Michala Alexander, Microsoft UK product manager for Microsoft Project.

Microsoft and Scan rolled out the system based on feedback from customers who said that a dual-screen system was best suited for project managers. "When they're writing up an update on a project, for example, they need to get information out of the project plan, as well as from an Excel report generated from the plan, and type it into Word, as well as having access to email of course. The dual screen allows them to do it all at once," Alexander said.

Microsoft has promoted other specialised PC designs in the past, notably the Media Center PC and the Tablet PC. Neither has found great success in the enterprise, although Intel has put a wireless-enabled Tablet PC into a surfboard.

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