Some people will go out of their way to avoid using Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows operating system. If you look around carefully enough, you can escape the "Microsoft tax" and get a PC for a lower price. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) already sells PCs that don't use Windows, and it's about to add a laptop PC to the mix.
The world's largest retailer will begin selling an ultra-light, two-pound laptop PC in a few weeks. Made by Everex, it comes with gobs of Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) applications and links to online services pre-installed. These services include Google Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google News, Google Maps and YouTube. There are so many links to Google's online content that the laptop is already being referred to as containing the "Google operating system."
Is this the first shot by Google in a war with Microsoft's Windows operating system? Possibly, but not on Google's part. Everex is using cheaper components like a processor from Taiwan's VIA and a free operating system known as Ubuntu Linux for the new product, which will be priced at $399. Too bad -- that's probably not low enough, considering how relatively weak the new laptop is. Spend about $50 to $100 more, and you can get a fully-featured Windows laptop with much more powerful performance.
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But then again, that's not the market this new laptop PC is gunning for. Looking at the Everex product, the target market for this VIA-powered ultra-portable seems to be beginners, enthusiasts and road warriors more concerned with weight, size and price rather than overall performance.