Microsoft and the $100 PC: A Reality?

Dennis Faas's picture

In a recent address of tech industry executives in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer encouraged his listeners to get behind a plan that would see PCs become drastically more affordable for the world's less affluent users.

The magic price tag?

Just $100 -- a number that for most North Americans has proved hardly enough cold hard cash to purchase basic software (usually from Microsoft itself), let alone an entire system.

For Ballmer, lowering PC costs to just $100 could in turn curtail rising piracy rates, which Microsoft has recently becoming increasingly determined to root out. For many users in countries who are now contributing to the tech industry but still predominantly poor, like China and India, piracy is a major part of the computing business. (Source:

So, is it possible?

According to many experts, if the basic architecture of a system's microprocessor is altered so that it does not need to fit the more powerful chips, such as Intel's, the $100 price tag for a complete PC is possible.

With these proposed ultra-cheap systems, processors with lower cooling needs could still perform basic business tasks, and thus offer a development evolution to the third-world's expanding tech market. (Source:

So, is it likely?

Microsoft would not immediately see a boost from the spread of $100 machines. None of these systems, because of their basic design, would be out-of-the-box compatible with Microsoft Windows. Instead, Ballmer's proposal would depend on the long-term growth of third-world and developing tech markets, which would eventually (in a perfect world, perhaps) be able to purchase Microsoft's software.

The real stickiness might lie with the state of piracy in these developing countries. According to most reports, for now it is popular enough that most black-market buyers can get a whole lot more for $100.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet