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SGI's new direction: NT workstations

SGI's new direction: NT workstations

Last week's launch of Silicon Graphics's Windows NT workstation represents a make-or-break move for the beleaguered California-based vendor. The once high-flying maker of costly, proprietary, Unix- only workstations and servers has been struggling with internal snafus and bruising competition from low-cost Wintel boxes. Here, CEO Richard E Belluzzo, a former No 2 at Hewlett-Packard, talks with IDG's Jaikumar Vijayan about $US3.1 billion SGI's entry into the Windows workstation market.

IDG: Why was last week's launch so important for SGI?

Belluzzo: First of all, from a business perspective, it really gives us the opportunity to stimulate growth. It reflects the new SGI.

Our products have always delivered performance and innovation, but we used to focus on a very narrow market. What we are doing with this launch is taking our technology and making it more mainstream.

Analysts are concerned that SGI's new Windows NT workstations are still too narrowly targeted at the high-end market.

I have always believed in focusing . . . on picking a segment where you can deliver differentiated value. We picked on not being a "me-too" vendor.

If you look at HP, Dell and Compaq Windows NT workstations, they are really high-end PCs built on the same boards. They are purely in a price game with undifferentiated products.

Is it too late for SGI to enter the Windows NT market?

If we had a choice, we would have gotten into the market earlier, but we certainly don't think it is too late. There is a lot of demand for differentiated products.

Will the new focus on NT mean a dilution of effort on the Unix side?

NT will allow us access to a broader market . . . but we simultaneously remain as committed to the Unix space as in the past.

SGI has had some lengthy product cycles and manufacturing delays in the past two years.

We have worked on those issues considerably . . . and if you look at the operational side, we have made a lot of progress. We want to have more of a stated rhythm in terms of delivering products. Today, we are all about delivering products in a more timely manner.

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