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Some points missed in Return of the ‘free’ PC

The CDs! The hackers!

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Letter The Return of the free PC

From Richard Lloyd, Liverpool

  • Did you calculate how many CDs Metronomy would have to send out to users if all 200,000 PCs were snapped up and kept for the full three years? Yep, 7.2 MILLION CDs - one wonders why at least broadband users couldn't download the ads off the Net rather than from CD.

  • Talking of Net access, it's not clear to me if you have to sign up with *only* the ISPs on their recommended list. Metronomy's Terms and Conditions rather stupidly state "you must maintain an ISP dial-up account throughout the term of the agreement." (doesn't say it has to be a particular ISP though) whereas elsewhere, I've read that you can use either dial-up or broadband.

  • Why not run a virtual desktop on XP and have the ads in desktop 1 whilst you do your work in desktop 2 ?

  • Also, how long is going to take before someone reverse engineers the "phone home" protocol and fakes it to make it look like the user's seen a bunch of ads and has been logged on for 30 hours (that's quite a lot of time for newbie users to spend online) during the month?

My personal opinion is that the PC sells at 411 quid on IBM's site (plus the cost of a monitor, let's round it up to 500 quid...somewhat short of the 800 quid the press releases have been saying) and if a user can't afford a 500 quid setup, then they're not going to be buying anything remotely expensive that's advertised to them.

Conclusion: Metronomy's scheme is doomed and is very unlikely to last the full three years. PCs are just too cheap now (I got my last white box one - minus monitor - for 219 quid) for this scheme to ever work again - not that it did the first time around. ®

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