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-- by Joseph C. Panettieri
The next time you turn off your corporate PC at the end of your workday, don't be alarmed if the power comes back on. The likely culprit is your network administrator, armed with new tools for remotely managing your PC-even after you've left.
Under new Management
Compaq, Digital, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are just a few of the top-tier PC makers now building advanced management capabilities into their latest desktop offerings. The most obvious goal, of course, is to reduce PC operating costs. Another goal is to re-centralize control of corporate desktops-remember the good old days when MIS shops with huge mainframes had control of every dumb terminal?
HP's latest Vectra PCs (from $1,759 for a 166MHz Pentium model; $2,624 for a 200MHz Pentium Pro) include TopTools, a family of administration software based on the desktop management interface (DMI), as well as remote power-on features. Using TopTools, an administrator can rewrite your flash BIOS, change your passwords and even disable your power button-locking your system on or off-without physically visiting your PC.
IBM, which knows a thing or two about centralized control, is also getting into the act. Its LANClient Control Manager, a tool for NT, OS/2 Warp and NetWare servers, lets remote administrators install new software and applications on IBM's IntelliStation workstations and PC 300GL commercial desktops (at http://www.pc.ibm.com/desktop/lccm). And Digital has the Celebris FX-2 (pictured), which includes the company's SecureOn manageable technology.
The net result is more power for network administrators and less control for you. Surely you didn't think your boss would let you run wild with an unbridled PC to play Solitaire or roam the Web forever?