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Cheap Computers Threaten Microsoft, Dell, Intel

Nonprofits like Inveneo and One Laptop Per Child, which are working to bring computing and the Internet to people in the Third World who have never touched a mouse pad, are a nightmare for Microsoft, Intel and Dell. Their ventures could blow a massive hole in computer prices and win over the next wave of new users. Inveneo's computers, for example, run a Linux-based operating system on a cheap chip made by Advanced Micro Devices intended for photocopiers and cost $400 or less.

The most explosive growth in technology will come from "the next billion users"--the industry's label for that huge slice of the global population that so far hasn't been able to afford PCs.

Machines made by Inveneo and O.L.P.C. might allow buyers to get online without ever using Microsoft Windows software, Intel chips or Dell computers, cutting the tech giants off from the next decade's hottest market. Microsoft, Dell, and the rest have done the math, and are scrambling to get into the game.

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