Budget Wal Mart PCs flying off the shelves


— 4:17 AM on December 10, 2002

Wal Mart's $199 Microtel PCs are apparently selling well, despite their lack of Windows and decidedly low-end hardware spec.

As Wal-Mart heads into its first holiday season offering the $199 machines, it says sales are already exceeding expectations.

"What we're finding is largely tech enthusiasts buying these items, but we've also seen some individuals, as well as businesses and some schools," said spokeswoman Cynthia Lin. She declined to quantify sales, although knowledgeable sources put them in the thousands of units per month.

That enthusiasts looking for a second PC make up the majority of sales isn't terribly encouraging for the mainstream Linux movement, but at least businesses and schools are picking up on the budget PCs. Brisk sales could encourage other manufacturers to offer similar products, and perhaps even ones directly targeted at business or educational applications.

While Microsoft enjoys a mindshare monopoly among consumers, businesses and educational institutions may be more open-minded about adopting a low-cost Linux platform, especially one with a sub-$200 price tag. Microtel's $199 PCs should be more than enough for what most businesses and educational institutions actually need.

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