Wal-Mart Debuts $298 PC

Wal-Mart began selling $298 PCs from Everex on Wednesday that use Windows Vista, are free of so-called "bloatware" and feature open source software.

The system features a 1.5GHz Via C7-D processor, which contains energy-saving features. Instead of using Microsoft's Office suite, the system ships with OpenOffice.org version 2.2.

Wal-Mart will feature the budget PC during its back-to-school sales, typically one of the busiest times of the year for computer purchases. It is the lowest-priced computer that the retailer is currently selling, although it does not include a monitor.

An item of interest is the system's lack of "bloatware." Typically, manufacturers have used product placement: trials, icons, and the like, to allow them to sell the computers at lower prices.

However, consumers have begun to voice their displeasure with the practice, leading several companies -- most recently Dell -- to change their practices and begin to offer models without the trial software included.

Analysts are not completely sold on the move. Some say that consumers may be turned off by the relatively slow speed of the processor and the largely unknown brand name. Others may be concerned over compatibility since the PC includes OpenOffice.

It should be mentioned that OpenOffice documents can produce files that are compatible with Microsoft Office applications.

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