Microsoft to limit capabilities of cheap laptops

Microsoft is launching a new program to get Windows installed on ULPCs, one effect of which will be to limit their hardware capabilities, IDGNS has learned.

Microsoft is launching a program to promote the use of its Windows OS in ultra low-cost PCs, one effect of which will be to limit the hardware capabilities of this type of device.

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), IDG News Service has learned. 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.

The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service. The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don't eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista, something both Microsoft and the PC vendors would want to avoid.

Imposing the limitations solves a number of problems for the PC industry, said industry analyst Roger Kay, president of EndPoint Technologies Associates. "It allows PC makers to offer a low-cost alternative, and it prevents eroding of pricing and margins in the mainstream OS market," he said.

Microsoft declined to comment on the documents. "We don't speak publicly about our agreements with [PC makers]," the company said in a statement via its public relations agency.

ULPCs are an emerging class of laptops that carry low price tags -- about US$250 to US$500. Early examples include the Asus Eee PC and One Laptop Per Child's XO machine. The systems already have limited hardware configurations. Microsoft's program appears designed to ensure that distinction is maintained and to prevent ULPCs from cannibalizing sales of higher-end systems, Kay said.

Twenty or more other designs are expected to enter the market over the next six months, and Microsoft expects 10 million to 13 million of the devices to sell this year, according to the documents. IDC's forecast is more modest: On Thursday it said it expects ULPC sales to hit 9 million units by 2012, up from 500,00 last year.

Microsoft notes that the OSes under consideration for the devices include Windows and Linux. Some PC makers have expressed a preference for Linux because it helps them keep down the cost of the devices.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?