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Free-pc.com locks aim on UK

Brits to get in yer face advertising on the desktop

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Free-PC, the US company that gave "free" computers to punters willing to sell their soul and intimate financial details, is coming to the UK. The US company gave away 10,000 Compaq Presarios this month in a $10 million experiment. Its owner Idealab will launch here this year, according to Ziff-Davis’ news site ZDNet. Free-PC makes its cash by selling advertising that regularly bombards users on-screen. It also sells personal information about its users’ buying habits. See earlier story. One million people applied for the Free-pc.com computer give-away bonanza in the US. Only 10,000 were selected. CSL analyst Clive Longbottom said this should be a lesson to us all, but feels it could give the IT industry a boost. "Customers must have the right profile to qualify for one of these machines. The questionnaire only targets those people the advertisers are interested in, and that’s people with disposable income," said Longbottom. The PCs have a 15" screen, with banner advertising constantly taking up around 2" on every side. This restricts the user to around a 10" screen, whilst subject to the barrage of distracting advertisements vying for their attention. Longbottom said: "I think people will get so fed up with this." He could be right. The ads cannot be removed, but this need not infringe on your personal space too much. After extensive research, The Register can reveal that a piece of cardboard strategically secured around the inside of the screen can block out those pesky ads. And voila - a genuine free PC. ®

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