Hewlett-Packard has come up with a way it says can save small business server buyers several hundred dollars and put some money in the hands of resellers.

Under the program, dubbed “”CD In The Box,”” the company is packaging an HP-branded copy of the Windows 2000 Server CD with ProLiant ML350G3

servers instead of installing the operating system at the factory.

The version of the operating system is a standard copy of Win2K with five licences, but it’s BIOS-locked and can only be installed to HP ProLiant servers.

While HP installation saves time for buyers, the configuration may not be what the customer wants, says Parag Suri, HP Canada’s category business manager for its Intel servers. The operating system can be bought separately and installed by the customer, but that offers no saving in time or expense to small companies.

So HP has created an option giving resellers the opportunity to do the customizing and pass on a saving on the OEM price of Windows it has negotiated with Microsoft Corp.

The HP-branded Windows could be installed by the customer, of course, but HP is hoping buyers will ask resellers to install and configure it, which will allow them to charge a service fee.

“”The other great benefit to the customer is they get integrated technical support: 90 days free installation set-up and configuration support for the server and the operating system,”” said Suri.

“”That’s a big bonus especially in a small and medium business where they don’t have a lot of IT expertise, so they can call one vendor to call about software and hardware problems.””

HP estimates buyers could save between $200 to $300 by getting Win2K at the manufacturer’s price instead of paying full cost.

The $4,315 server comes with a 2.2 gigahertz Intel Xenon processor and a base 256 MB of memory. Storage is extra.

Suri said the program could be extended to other ProLiant servers if it’s successful.

A Hamilton, Ont. reseller thinks the program could be good for some VARs. “”You can increase your margin a little bit because you are getting OEM software,”” says Paul Furtado, vice-president of Audcomp Computer Systems.

“”For some of the smaller retailers it’s going to open up some additional opportunities. I think for the medium to larger VARs it’s going to have little effect.””

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