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Sun and AOL form StarOffice pact for cheap desktops

PCs dip below $300

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Sneak Peek Fresh off a major Linux desktop win in China, Sun Microsystems has found a PC friend closer to home with AOL now piloting a program to ship sub-$300 desktops running StarOffice.

We predicted a move like this last week, and it's good to see Sun come through as promised so that El Reg appears somewhat on its game. The deal with AOL is expected to be the first wave of Sun linking with service providers to sell PCs on the cheap with bundled services. Have a stroll over here to see what all the fuss is about.

AOL has teamed with Systemax and Sun to ship a PC for $299, if the consumer is willing to commit to a year long $23.90 per month AOL subscription. The box runs on a 1.7GHz Celeron processor with 256MB of memory and a 40GB hard drive. Microsoft's Windows XP Home Edition is there as expected, but what should come as a surprise is the AOL Office - powered by Sun. The system also ships with a monitor and a Lexmark printer.

Sun and AOL have kept the deal a bit hush-hush for the moment, as it's a trial program. Sun, however, is looking to sell even cheaper kit down the road by shipping thin clients instead of this closed box. The inclusion of a rebranded version of Sun's Star Office productivity suite here lowers the price a fair bit below what Microsoft-tethered PC makers can offer.

AOL benefits by plugging more of its services to the consumer and keeping subscriber counts high.

For Sun, this is an expansion of their rapidly growing desktop business. It announced a deal with the Chinese government earlier this week to ship up to 1 million copies of its Java Desktop System Linux operating system over the next year. Sun hopes to crank that total up to 200 million, if the PRC is willing. ®

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