3Com, Microsoft release home networking package

3Com Corporation and Microsoft Corporation announced Wednesday that they had shipped the first in an expected series of home networking products that will make it easy for consumers to connect computers at home and share Internet connections. The 3Com HomeConnect home network product line is a co-branded series of external USB and internal PCI products offering speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

The key to the products is simplicity and the home networking kits ship with Microsoft's HomeClick network software, which features the wizard-based front-ends we've come to expect from the software giant. Previously complex network configuration options are completed behind the scenes, and users need to complete only a short series of steps to get their systems connected.

"With more and more homes having multiple PCs, people want to be able to share files and resources such as printers and Internet connections," says Rick Thompson, vice president of the Hardware Group at Microsoft. "The HomeConnect home networking kits make this simple."

Currently, two products are available, the "3Com HomeConnect Home Network Ethernet Kit/Internal," which offers 10/100 Mbps connectivity with PCI-based network cards, and the "3Com HomeConnect Home Network Ethernet Kit/External," which offers 10 Mbps USB-based networking. Each kit contains two network adapters, an Ethernet hub, two 25-foot Ethernet cables, Microsoft's HomeClick networking software, Microsoft Windows 98 Updates CD, and a Microsoft games sampler CD. The internal kit costs approximately $180, while the external version will set you back about $190.

Once you've got a home network up and running, you may want to splurge on a few add-ons. 3Com is selling additional external and internal network adapters, and 10/100 and 10 Mbps Ethernet hubs.

"3Com is synonymous with networking," says Rich Redelfs, the vice president of 3Com's Wireless and Home Connectivity Division. "Today's announcement extends that expertise into homes for the first time, connecting consumers to information that matters. What's more, 3Com stands alone in our ability to offer both an internal home network and an external network connection with our DSL, cable, ISDN and analog modems."

For more information, please visit the HomeConnect Web site

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