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iToaster BeOS box sells at $20 a month for Web and PC

Another one of those no-MS Web beasts comes onto the market next week

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Microworkz, designer of the $199 iToaster machine and a belated MS trial exhibit (MS exposes AOL BeOS PC plan), has announced a go-it-alone pricing plan for getting the machine onto the market. Not that this means the company won't be doing deals with AOL or other interested parties as well, of course. The iToaster is a stripped-down PC that looks like a piece of hi fi, and doesn't use any Microsoft software. It runs BeOS (for reasons of multimedia functionality), and the hardware is 32 megs RAM, 2.1 gig hard drive and a 266MHz Intel CPU. (Note the significance of that last bit - we'll chase it another time though). As a small start-up, Microworkz surely has to do deals with bigger companies in order to get its products out there in volume, and as the iToaster is a consumer Internet machine, AOL and maybe Dixons-Freeserve (Dixons £200 Web PC plan) might be logical partners. But although the company recently admitted it was in talks with AOL, it has also just announced a solo implementation of one of the approaches likely to be common for this kind of device. For $19.95 a month for two years, Microworkz is offering an iToaster, 15in colour monitor, tech support for two years and 150 hours of Internet access through its own ISP, Microworkz.com. This compares with an outright buy price of $199 plus $14.95 a month for Microworkz.com access. But it does look more like a toe in the water than a break for the big time. The company plans to start shipping a first production run of 10,000 units next week, but it'll likely need backing to ramp to more credible volumes. Which takes us back to AOL, and friends. ®

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