Intel Offers Imaging Guarantee

Program will curtail system tech changes.

Intel Corp.s rollout of its stable imaging program could be a boost to enterprises as they go through PC and laptop replacement cycles.

For the past several years, major OEMs have been offering computers with up to 12-month stable image guarantees: a promise that over that one-year period, the computer makers will not make changes to their systems that would force businesses to tweak their images.

Last week, Intel introduced its Stable Image Platform Program, formerly code-named Granite Peak, which covers Pentium 4- and Centrino-based PCs and laptops. Starting with its release May 21 of the 865G chip set, Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., will not make changes to the technology before the second quarter of next year that would force corporations to change their PC images or retest their software or hardware to ensure compatibility with the image, said Steve Asbjornsen, manager of business demand creation for Intels Desktop Platform Group. The same will be done with the Centrino mobile platform technology. Intel has aligned the system driver software with the packages 855 chip set. Asbjornsen said the mobile technology will follow a 12-month, fourth-quarter cycle.

The program is being supported by top computer makers, which have been offering stable image programs for about the past five years. For example, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., offers its Workhorse Model Program, which ensures image consistency over a one-year period. Similarly, Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., features its Corporate Stable Product offering in its d500 PC series.

"Our goal is not to change anything," said Rich Dodds, product manager of the d500 series in HPs Business PC Group. "We want to keep the drivers stable, keep the BIOS stable, dont add new hardware components. ... If [Intel is] on board, it makes it easier on us."

Steve Kleynhans, an analyst with Meta Group Inc., said Intels program should give end users a greater feeling of security in their PC imaging. "Being able to have stable images and have the same image management program can save 15 percent," said Kleynhans, in Toronto.

Stahls Inc. during the winter replaced 100 PCs from Dell Computer Corp., sending the Round Rock, Texas, computer maker a standard image to put on the desktops, said Mike Terenzi, director of IT operations at the St. Clair Shores, Mich., company. Then Stahls reghosts the image so that it can be quickly installed should a computer go bad, Terenzi said. He said having Intel offer a stable image program "helps a little bit. If Dell and HP and IBM have been doing their own [stable] imaging, I would expect that to be pretty solid. It would add that level of confidence [to have Intel involved]."