Microsoft and Compaq to help computer novices

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The Independent Online
MICROSOFT, the world's largest supplier of personal computer software, has launched an initiative with Compaq, the hardware maker, to make computers easier to use, writes Mary Fagan.

The Frontline Partnership is intended to result in products that novices can get to grips with, including pen-based and audio-based facilities. It will promote a concept known as 'plug and play'.

Sandy Duncan, a senior sales manager with Microsoft in the UK, said many customers still found tasks such as expanding memory or plugging their machines into a network a nightmare. The new alliance would result in a set of Compaq hardware standards, backed by Microsoft software, to help resolve these problems.

The two companies said their efforts would be made public over time. Mr Duncan said: 'The whole industry is now one of alliances - no matter how big you are you cannot necessarily go it alone.'

He declined to comment on reports that Microsoft has also agreed to collaborate with another US company, Computer Associates, to make CA's mainframe software compatible with Microsoft's Windows NT, a new operating system,