May 22, 2006


Affordable PC has a hitch (Brier Dudley, 5/22/06, Seattle Times)

Like one of those appliance dealers on Highway 99, Bill Gates won't be undersold.

He's working on a plan to make your next PC almost free. Free in the way cellphones are free — if you sign up for a network service plan. [...]

"There's going to be a great wave of those things that are going to get rolled out," Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief technical officer for advanced strategies, said at the Future in Review (FiRe) conference.

Mundie said, "You'll basically be able to buy composite hardware and software packages ... on cellphone-type business models where you essentially rent them or pay for them like you have prepaid cards on cellphones." [...]

Whether this financing scheme works abroad or not, the technology could eventually change the dynamic of PC ownership everywhere if the industry moves further toward subscriptions.

As people become more comfortable with the concept of paying monthly fees for their computing, the shift toward digital media and online services will also accelerate.

Having millions of subscribers would also help Microsoft catch Apple Computer in the digital-media business and recoup the billions it's investing in online services.

Free or reduced-price computers will lure people to subscribe to a bundle of services. Then it's easy to start adding things to that monthly computing bill, just as you do with phone and cable television. Miss a TV show? Want that new song or video game? Download them, for a few dollars added to your bill.

Nor will you have three different bills.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2006 11:50 AM

Just two words to the companies trying this: dream on. There is a reason we went from mainframes and dumb terminals to personal computers (people like running there own stuff).

Also, this business plan does nothing to address the combined threat of Open Source software and free (or pirated) content to the software industry. I personally am not going to pay monthly fees for programs or content. I can get high-quality, usable programs for free; and if the content is not freely available then I don't want it. The only reason I still maintain a Windoze installation is to run games, and that's becoming less of an issue.

The only people I can see going for this change of paradigm are AOL subscribers, a user group I will never be able to understand. It may also be that there is a business that would benefit from this model, but I'm not giving that idea too much weight just yet.

Posted by: Jay at May 22, 2006 12:49 PM

Whatever. I'm hooked. However, if I have my druthers, it'll all be wireless.

Looking ahead to a time when we get even older and more crotchety, we're remodeling an old condo built like a 50's bomb shelter which can hold its own against hurricanes, and as space is tight, I haven't allocated a place for a desk bound PC and printer.

It'll be his and hers wireless laptops and a wireless printer out of sight somewhere. I'd like to have TV reception on the laptops too, but was told by the cable company that for TV, the laptop needs to physically hook onto the cable.

Is this true, or was the customer rep. just uninformed?

Posted by: erp at May 22, 2006 1:03 PM

erp: He's probably correct, at least for a basic setup, though there may be a few geeks out there who've figured out how to send a cable TV signal to a laptop wirelessly.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 22, 2006 1:29 PM

Thanks papayaSF. I hope some of those geeks are among the bros and can set it up for me.

Posted by: erp at May 22, 2006 3:34 PM

erp, the Slingbox might do it for you.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 22, 2006 9:03 PM

Thanks. I'll check it out.

Posted by: erp at May 22, 2006 11:00 PM

PapayaSF. I just spoke with tech support at Sling Media and they have exactly what I need to accomplish my task. The fellow I spoke to was incredibly knowledgeable and courteous. Much thanks.

Posted by: erp at May 23, 2006 11:45 AM

You're welcome!

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 23, 2006 2:31 PM