Sun Microsystems' Java Desktop System is now available on a line of basic, bargain-priced home computers exclusively through Wal-Mart's online store; and currently not offered through any of the company's retail outlets.
Starting at only $288, the Microtel PCs are the first offering of the alternative operating system targeted towards consumers rather than the business, governmental, or educational markets. While most of the mainstream vendors have shied away from offering Linux-based systems to consumers, Wal-Mart has marketed this type of personal computer through its Website since 2002, when the Lindows equipped Microtel appeared with breakthrough prices as low as $199.
While Windows-based systems overwhelmingly dominate the personal computer market, consumer demand is building for more secure and cost-effective solutions to their "real world" needs – something that this new offering seems to address.
A basic entry-level setup currently sells for $288 and is powered by a 1.2-gigahertz AMD Duron processor. This system includes 128 MB memory, a 40 GB hard drive, CD-ROM drive, an Integrated 10/100 Ethernet connection, a 56 Kbps modem, a keyboard, stereo speakers and the LindowsOS 4.0 operating system – but no monitor.
According to Wal-Mart's Website, the system is designed for Web browsing including pop-up ad blocking, sending and receiving e-mail, contact management including an address book, instant messaging, playing audio CDs and MP3 files, networking printers and PCs, including Windows-based models, and suitable for playing a variety of games – in short, the typical needs of many home users – or of current PC users looking for an additional machine.
Whether more widespread offerings of these types of systems and software are made will depend on the public's adoption of these initial forays into "non-MScentric" personal computing; and peripheral vendor's abilities to support the needs of this growing community of users.