Microsoft has launched a campaign to promote the use of Windows OS in ultra low-cost PC notebooks. However, the company is asking hardware manufacturers to limit the hardware capabilities of these machines as to avoid cannibalizing sales of higher-end notebook computers.
Microsoft plans to offer PC makers steep discounts on Windows XP Home Edition to encourage them to use that OS instead of Linux on ultra low-cost PCs (ULPCs). To be eligible, however, the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs.
GNU/Linux has found a niche in this market, as it has been available on the XO, the Eee, and others. ULPCs have great potential to solve problems around access and affordability to technology in the classroom. It’s unfortunate that the true potential of computers like this will not be realized due to manipulation of the marketplace by companies like Microsoft.