Oracle Firm to Offer Low-Cost Computers July 4

Low-cost computers from a company established earlier this year by Oracle Corp. will go on sale to consumers July 4, Oracle's chairman and chief executive officer has announced.

Known as New Internet Computers, or NICs, the computers will be priced at US$199 excluding a monitor, and are designed to offer quick and easy access to the Internet and to applications like e-mail.

Customers who buy NICs will also be able to get a lifetime's supply of free Internet access from ISP (Internet service provider) NetZero Inc., Oracle Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Ellison said. Monitors will cost in the order of an additional $100, he added.

NICs will be available directly from The New Internet Computer Co. (NICC), an independent company that was launched in May and funded in large part by Ellison. Previously, the computers had been available only to educators, Ellison said.

NICs have no hard drive, instead, they access applications from a central server via a Web browser. The computers shun Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, using a version of the open-source Linux OS instead. Oracle is a long-time bitter rival of Microsoft.

July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S., a holiday when Americans celebrate freedom from British rule. NICs will be launched on July 4 because the date represents "freedom" Ellison said -- implying freedom from Microsoft's Windows.

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