Microsoft Corp.'s heavily hyped Windows 95 operating system will appear Aug. 24.
Meanwhile, Intel Corp. this fall will introduce the successor to its hot-selling Pentium chip.
The two companies have moved in lock-step-and become dominant in their markets-since IBM Corp. picked their technologies for its groundbreaking 1981 PC. Intel this year will make more than three-fourths of the 79 million PC microprocessors sold worldwide, estimates Mercury Research, a Scottsdale, Ariz., semiconductor market research company.
While Windows 95 overnight will become standard equipment on new home PCs and many business PCs, Intel plans a far quieter and slower introduction for its new chip.
The chip, going by the code-name P6 until Intel settles on a brand name closer to launch, is expected to appear on limited top-of-the-line business models late this year.
"My indication is there will be P6 [computers] from somebody at Comdex" this November, said Dean McCarron, principal at Mercury Research. Mr. McCarron said Gateway 2000 and Dell Computer Corp. are likely prospects to be prestigious launch customers for the new chip.
The first P6 machines probably will sell for about $4,000, though competition might drive the launch price below that, said John Hyde, P6 technical manager. But Mr. Hyde envisions $2,000 P6 models, putting them in the heart of the market.
Though Pentium took off with consumers faster than in business, Intel isn't saying whether it expects the same to happen this time.
"The big wild card is the home market," Mr. Hyde said.
Multimillion volume sales of P6-powered PCs-and Intel's major marketing push for the chip-probably won't start till sometime next year. Mr. McCarron said he expects P6 sales to soar in 1997, making that year to P6 what 1995 is to Pentium.
PC buyers, he added, have forgotten about a minor Pentium glitch, followed by a major public relations gaffe, that ended in Intel recalling Pentium chips late last year.
Rivals like Advanced Micro Devices and Cyrix Corp. belatedly next year will have Pentium clones that may be faster than Intel's Pentium. But Intel is the only company with the capacity to meet demand next year for such chips, Mr. McCarron said. Intel's main ad agency is Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City.
"It doesn't make any sense for them to make any noise [about P6] until there's a real threat to Pentium," Mr. McCarron said.
Despite Intel's built-in advantages as market leader, it's no sure bet consumers and businesses will jump to P6. Intel has faltered before, as when its 386 chip floundered after launch in the late '80s. But sales took off after Microsoft introduced Windows 3.0 and Intel reinvented chip marketing with its revolutionary "Intel inside" branding program.
P6 is a good match for software that will come out in the next year to work with Windows 95, though Intel had banked on the operating system being in the market long before P6's arrival.
"We expected Windows 93," Mr. Hyde said. For Intel, "it's going to take some marketing imagination to get over that delay."