Windows XP June 30 Cut-Off Final, The ULCPC

Microsoft announced today that June 30 is indeed the final cut-off for manufacturers to make Windows XP a pre-load option on PCs, with an exception being made for those now popular low cost portables, like the Asus Eee, Intel Classmate, and others. Those low cost portables will still be allowed to ship with Windows XP Home Edition through June 30, 2010 or one year after the general availability of the next version of Windows.

In familiar Microsoft fashion, they’ve also come up with a name for those low cost, XP Home Edition sporting portables: the Ultra Low-Cost PC. Now, don’t get those confused with their more powerful brethen, the Ultra-Mobile PC, ok?

Here is Michael Dix, General Manager of Windows Client Group Product Management explaining what a Ultra Low-Cost PC is:

PressPass: What are ultra-low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs)?

Dix: ULCPCs are a new and growing class of mobile computers designed for first-time PC buyers and customers interested in complementing their primary Windows-based PCs with companion devices with limited hardware capabilities.  These machines vary, but they typically have smaller screen sizes and lower-powered processors than more expensive mobile PCs. While originally intended for students and other first-time PC customers in emerging markets, we’re now seeing interest in these affordable devices in developed countries as well.

One thing we’ve heard loud and clear, from both our customers and our partners, is the desire for Windows on this new class of devices. We are enthusiastic about this category because it enables us to bring the benefits of Windows to more customers. ( emphasis mine )

If memory serves me right, wasn’t one of the major goals of the Ultra-Mobile PC / Origami initiative to be in the $500 range, which is where these Ultra Low-Cost PCs are currently priced? Wasn’t it also designed to be a companion device that also had limited hardware capabilities?

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That Q & A reads just like what the Ultra-Mobile PC / Origami space was after and targeting several years ago, but apparently lost its way. Now, the industry and consumer has let Microsoft know what it wants and the type of low impact software it wants to run, and Microsoft is wisely listening. This little tidbit bodes well for mobile devices – running Windows on devices with less than 4 GB of flash-based storage:

We are also taking a number of steps to enable our partners to support this growing class of computers, such as publishing formal design guidelines to the Web to enable manufacturers to build Windows-based flash-based machines with even greater hardware limitations (e.g., under 4GB flash-based storage).  We believe these guidelines will enable PC makers to build more reliable, low-cost and easy-to-maintain ULCPCs for customers. 

This makes me wonder, though – where does this all leave the Ultra-Mobile PC? Could we start to see a shift in to the ULCPC area? By the way, thanks for muddying up an already muddied up space with the new name.

via Mary Jo Foley

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