Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
HP Hardware

HP Sells Cheap FreeDOS PC in China 241

Johan writes "HP has started selling a Yuan 3,999 ($483) PC in China. The cool part is that it runs FreeDOS! Not sure why FreeDOS was chosen, but I suspect they expect it to be replaced with Linux or Windows by the user. By not having to pay for Windows, they are able to include better hardware. They probably didn't want the support burden of bundling the PC with a Linux distribution." And while we're on China, Cringely has some prognostication and speculation about IBM's sale of their PC division to a Chinese company.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HP Sells Cheap FreeDOS PC in China

Comments Filter:
  • Uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Friday December 10, 2004 @05:51PM (#11056373)
    Is $483US really cheap in China?
    • No kidding... Fry's had a computer (No monitor) for $99, no rebate required after Thanksgiving. It is regularly priced at $199.

      Sure it's not the best quality, but if you need a computer and are poor, $99 sure beats nearly $500.
      • Re:Uh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:34PM (#11056710) Homepage
        Sure it's not the best quality, but if you need a computer and are poor, $99 sure beats nearly $500.
        No, it's not the best quality, but it's Great Quality (that's the brand name -- geddit, huh? huh :-)

        But seriously, I've bought three of the $200 Great Quality machines from Fry's, and actually the quality has been quite good. They're made in Taiwan, BTW -- I don't know if that would prevent them from being exported to PRC.

        I'm sorry, but $483 doesn't even sound like a cheap price by my U.S. standards, forget about China! You can make a heck of a good high-end PC yourself for about $600 (high-end meaning a big hard disk and a pretty darn fast CPU, although maybe not the very fastest CPU or fanciest 3-d video card for gaming); producing them in quantity, they should easily be $450 to $500-ish. If anybody is still paying $1000 for a PC in this day and age, I assume it's a pretty serious server box (or maybe a very bleeding-edge gaming machine, where you pay an extra $500 for an extra 10% in performance).

        It's kind of pathetic that the CNN article doesn't give any specs, doesn't provide any links, and doesn't say whether the machine comes with a monitor.

    • Is $483US really cheap in the US? It's not cheap in Canada (unless a monitor is included).
      • Maybe it's the difference between "official exchange rates" and actual ones.

        In Soviet Russia (no, this is not the beginning of a joke) as a tourist, you could get rubles for the official rate from the government exchange offices (a ripoff). Or you could get about twice as many rubles per dollar from someone off the street.

        Perhaps there is a similar situation in China.

        • And that would be cheaper for chinese people (who are buying with yuan) how?
        • No. The official peg is the best price you'll get in either direction. There's basically no spread to work with, and no black market in RMB or USD, except for that swirling around black market, counterfeiting, etc. On the street, a dollar is a dollar is 8.29 RMB is 8.29 RMB. This stability has been a major part of the economic success of PRC as a global trading partner over the past 15 years.
    • It's about 3/4ths of a year's wages at the Ohio Arts Etch-a-Sketch factory....
    • The s**t will hit (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ehack ( 115197 )
      when the chinese move to their own processor design - which they can do anytime if they decide to run Linux .
      • This is more prophetic than most people realize. An edition of Fortune magazine (yes, I'm a loser who reads a magazine) a few issues ago spoke about Western companies doing business in China.

        Under one of the stipulations for many industries (automotive was the focus for this article), the Western corp must:

        • Partner with a Chinese company
        • Share design and technical info
        • License design and IP in such a way that the partner company can create new designs from the original and derivative works are owned b
        • Re:The s**t will hit (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @07:28PM (#11057103)
          Under one of the stipulations for many industries (automotive was the focus for this article), the Western corp must:

          * Partner with a Chinese company
          * Share design and technical info
          * License design and IP in such a way that the partner company can create new designs from the original and derivative works are owned by the Chinese company


          Well, tying the two stories together, it doesn't look like IBM is going to have any problem with that [power.org]
        • I'm sure they're trying to be hard-nosed, but these companies smell dollars. In some ways I guess I'm suprised given how low income is even for middle and some upper class Chinese remains. I wonder how big the market really is...

          While the way they are going about it is disgusting, China is attempting to finally hurl themselves into the modern age and bring the majority of its population to the point where it can make money and buy stuff. China has the potential to be the most powerful entity in the wo

    • Is $483US really cheap in China?

      Not to mention the cost of a Windows license on top of that. Why bother unbundling it when users can get Windows through a major manufacturer like HP MUCH cheaper than they could get it at the retail stores? Ooohhh, right, this is China. It's probably about $2 for Windows 2003 Server there in the average store.

      • Not to mention the cost of a Windows license on top of that. Why bother unbundling it when users can get Windows through a major manufacturer like HP MUCH cheaper than they could get it at the retail stores?

        Part of it is probably that you can get windows from an illicit source on any streetcorner, but I suspect a lot of it is because they're not expecting people to run Windows at all. I think they're expecting people to run Linux on them. They're not going to announce this obviously but Linux is quick

    • China's currency is undervalued by 20% or more compared to the dollar, so imported products cost huge amounts. That still is pretty steep, though.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Well, it's in Chinese, but you can see the specs of the 3999 RMB HP Pavilion a801cl here . [hp.com]

      AMD Sempron(TM) 3000+ (2.0GHz 333MHz); 80GB disk,7200 RPM; 256 MB RAM (which is plenty to run FreeDOS), etc. I don't think it includes the monitor. Which does make it quite a bit more expensive than a similar white box machine you could buy in China. Of course, the white box comes loaded with anything you want at no extra charge, so they're sidestepping the hopeless task of trying to compete with these for software.

  • FreeDOS In chinese (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Janitha ( 817744 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @05:52PM (#11056379) Homepage
    I am having a hard time imagining FreeDOS with the chinese character set, if thats what is used.

  • Anytime a major vendor starts shipping affordable (and hopefully quality) consumer boxes that are free from the Microsoft tax, I get that warm fuzzy feeling.

    Then again I suppose my G4 iBook counts too. ;-)
    • For the price of this computer you can get one from Dell with the MS Tax. Really, how usable is FreeDOS to the average user?

      • Neither Windows nor Linux are that hard to install on a new machine with supported-out-of-the-box hardware. I use linux mostly, but if my computer vendor preinstalls a copy for me, it is quite improbable that it would be the right distribution, the right selection of packages and the right configuration for me, so they would just spend the installation and support costs in vain.
    • ... I get that warm fuzzy feeling. Then again I suppose my G4 iBook counts too. ;-)

      iBook? Warm feeling? That's your scrotum [slashdot.org] burning!

    • "Then again I suppose my G4 iBook counts too. ;-)"

      Why? Can you buy an iBook without MacOS?

      Seems to me that Apple'd be in even deeper shit than MS around here if forcing bundled stuff was really the issue that twisted up everybody's panties.
    • every Apple sold gets Bill G. money.

      so I suppose it doesn't count.
  • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @05:55PM (#11056396)
    HP's new model, part of its Pavilion series, features a central processing unit (CPU) from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and a FreeDOS operating system, both cheaper alternatives to more popular CPUs from Intel and the Windows operating system from Microsoft.

    I think the reporter has never used FreeDOS, nor knows what it is (surprise surprise).

    FreeDOS is very useful, but for the vast majority of users, it's not an "alternative" to Windows. It's an alternative to MS-DOS!

    • Y'know, you can buy a PC with FreeDOS installed [dell.com] today, in the U.S., from Dell. FreeDOS is there to meet their "preloaded OS" requirement. At the same time, it assures that they never have to support it, because nobody is really going to use it. My $350 Dell is happily running Gentoo, no Microsoft tax paid.
    • FreeDOS is very useful, but for the vast majority of users, it's not an "alternative" to Windows.

      Windows is an Operating System. Therefore, FreeDOS is a literal alternative to Windows.

      They don't write this stuff for the technical masses, they're just trying to explain to people that it comes with something other than Windows.
      • Windows is an Operating System. Therefore, FreeDOS is a literal alternative to Windows.

        ISTR that DOS wasm't really an operating system--just a glorified boot loader. If that's the case, I doubt that FreeDOS has extended it to the point that it qualifies.

        That would mean that FreeDOS isn't an alternative to Windows, let alone Linux or *BSD.

        • That would mean that FreeDOS isn't an alternative to Windows,

          No, you can make all the qualitative arguments you want, and it doesn't change the fact that it is a literal alternative. Just as a Geo Metro is a literal alternative to a Jaguar. They may be at vastly different levels, but you must choose between them, so they are literal alternatives.

          Since you can't run FreeDOS and Windows/Linux on the same hardware, they are, and will always remain, literal alternatives to one-another.

    • DOS sounds better than Linux to a lot of customer. I have heard something older folks refer Win95 as DOS7.0, and Win2k as Dos8.0... The shop assistant can probably use the same tactic.

      Just like desktop machine bundled with OpenOffice... Many smaller shops prefer the following wording:

      *FREE Office Productivity Suite -- OpenOffice 1.0 ... Now they can use

      *Preload with MS compatible DOS operating system -- FreeDOS x.x

  • $483??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, 2004 @05:57PM (#11056409)
    Er, it doesn't say if it includes a monitor. If it doesn't then that is a lousy price. Both HP and Dell sell their low end PC's for $350 here in the U.S. Even with a flatscreen the dell cost is $539 with printer and XP Home edition. That for a P4 3.8 ghz with 236megs ram.

  • Losers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eander315 ( 448340 ) *
    From the article:

    "Losers in the deal are HP, Intel, and Sun. Especially Sun. Those guys are in trouble."

    Especially HP. Those guys are the losers. Their hardware is cheaply made and getting worse by the month while their main competitor Dell is still chugging along eating up the market. It's too bad HP won't spin off the printer division (the only people in that company with a decent product) so they can make a profit.

    • After the Compaq merger I kind of want to see how bad things will get. I'd like to see what they could do if they get really serious about ruining the company. Maybe they could merge with AOL Time Warner.
    • Honestly I find their _calculators_ more attractive as a whole than their printers. HP has done good work on a few printers I know of, (mostly 4l and varients), but I dont think any of the inkjets are legit, and some of the laser printers have problems too (1100 series, more?)

      HP doesn't do a good job marketing things, they just expect people to buy because they have a lousy "invent" motto, and they're a big spanking company. Dell on the other hand projects a totally false image, and people buy.
    • Not sure how long printers can support them. Right now printing is a fairly mature technology, in some ways even more so than computers. This type of area is perfect for someone with a more efficient manufacturing and distribution model to come in and take over. Dell has already entered the market, stated it will purposely run with a lower margin than HP just to eat away at HP's profits, and will soon cream them here, at least in the low end. Soon HP will have no other high profit center to sustain them
  • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:02PM (#11056443) Homepage
    Sure, you can install Windows or Linux on these...but an hour later, you'll just have to reinstall.
  • Why is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by poofyhairguy82 ( 635386 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:03PM (#11056456) Journal
    I don't get it. This doesn't sound like big news. right now I can buy an HP for $379. [hp.com] I could probably get a cheap enough monitor to make it under the $483 price. So why is this news? Because its China? Why does that matter?

    • You can. The rest of the world can't; depending on taxes, inflation rates, and average income, in another country US$483 might be "cheap", translated to its currency.
    • OK - what's this thing in your sig?

      This Sushi project 'allows you to play a classic pen-and-paper game over the internet'. Which one? Any of them? I don't know, and can't tell from looking at the site.
      • This Sushi project 'allows you to play a classic pen-and-paper game over the internet'. Which one? Any of them? I don't know, and can't tell from looking at the site.

        I didn't even bother visiting the site, but I'm completely guessing that this is a simple collaborative whiteboard application. Both people look at a blank screen and use their mouse to draw on it. Voila! Pen and paper, reproduced electronically. I think I handed something like that in as a computer assignment ten years ago.
    • Yep, because China matters. Big time. Better get used to it.
    • could probably get a cheap enough monitor to make it under the $483 price.

      Yes, and you could just get a cheap computer instead of an HP as well.

      However, since an HP monitor costs $200+, that puts the total near $600. So, HP dropping their prices $100+ (about a 20%) would be a significant story.

      But besides that, retail price is usually much higher than the real sale price (specifically when buying over the internet), so what you can get an HP for, is not a good comparison. You should be comparing MSRP.

  • Oh, Come on (Score:3, Insightful)

    by northcat ( 827059 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:04PM (#11056462) Journal
    I suspect they expect it to be replaced with Linux or Windows by the user....They probably didn't want the support burden of bundling the PC with a Linux distribution.

    Oh, come on. Don't be such a zealot. Lets get real. How hard is it for a vendor to install linux? They are going to replace it with a pirated copy of windows. Yeah, so slashdot is a site for (open source) geeks, but this is just going too far. This is just plain lying. BTW, I live in a developing and there already a LOT of PCs by compaq which have freedos or some other DOS. I KNOW what these PCs are used for. They are just replaced with a pirated copy of Windows. Trust me. I know.

    The next thing you know, slashdot will be reporting in a few days that the Linux desktop share has exceeded that of Windows desktop share.
    • Re:Oh, Come on (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bersl2 ( 689221 )
      I KNOW what these PCs are used for. They are just replaced with a pirated copy of Windows. Trust me. I know.

      This is why a sucessful anti-pirating campaign by Microsoft in Asia would be a great boon for FOSS. When you can't get Windows for very cheap or free anymore, do you think that everyone will still want to pay for XP? No, I don't think so. That is where we can fill in the void.
      • This is why a sucessful anti-pirating campaign by Microsoft in Asia would be a great boon for FOSS.

        Excpet that Microsoft's idea of a successful anti-piracy campaign would be to force computer manufacturers to install Windows on every machine sold. Then it wouldn't matter if people wanted Windows or not -- they would be forced to buy it either way (unless they wanted to build the computer from components). That's pretty much how MS came to dominate the US market.
        • As long as OS companies have descrete major versions, people will be buying OSes separately from purchases of their computers. As long as continue to pay for software, they will continue try to pay less or nothing for software.

          As for being able to pull off that same anti-competitive practice, I don't think they'll (be abe to) do it again, but I can't prove or disprove this.
    • Re:Oh, Come on (Score:2, Insightful)

      by flithm ( 756019 )
      To be fair, he did say... and I quote: "to be replaced with Linux or Windows ".

      It does make sense to put FreeDOS on it, if you what you want is something really really cheap. Even in terms of just setting up the initial disk image for all the machines you intend to produce. Instead of the half an hour it might take to set up GNU/Linux, you can slap FreeDOS on there in like 45 seconds. Who cares. The idea is cheap... so that once again:

      it can be "replaced with Linux or Windows".

      Give the guy a br
    • It takes a lot longer to install Linux then FreeDOS. WHen your kicking aroung 1000's of machines, even 5 minutes and install is a nice cost savings.

      that is the only reason for the choice.
    • Oh, come on. Don't be such a zealot. Lets get real. How hard is it for a vendor to install linux?

      Maybe you should stop being a zealot.

      Facts:

      • For a vendor, it's equally hard to install Freedos and to install Linux
      • A halfway complete Linux distribution is much more useful than Freedos because it includes office suite, IM, media player, etc. Actually out of the box it beats Windows easily as well. So if you are not into games and also don't need other Windows-only software, Linux doesn't looks very good.
  • by MonkeyBoyo ( 630427 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:04PM (#11056464)
    pirating is rampant in China. Is HP thinking the PC will probably get a pirated copy of Win-XP, but it is not their fault if it does?
    • Well I am reminded of a recent surevey by Gartner

      "80% of all PC's shipped with Linux are made to run pirated versions of Windows XP"

      Anyway a recent undisclosed survey has found

      "100% of all PC's shipped with FREEDOS are made to run pirated versions of Windows XP"

  • Here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by northcat ( 827059 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:06PM (#11056477) Journal
    Here, in India, there are already a lot of PCs sold by compaq that have freedos or caldera dos installed.
    • Re:Here (Score:2, Informative)

      Being from India, and subscriber to 3 national newspapers, I can surely disagree with you. It is for me really hard to even find on most occasions anything related to Linux. It is quite possibe that they might be selling it from an underground shop, but I don't think that is how they are going to sell it. The truth is More than 95% of households in India run on (pirated) Windows.
    • or caldera dos installed.

      So you're saying India supports SCO? That's just sick...

      :-)
      • Actually, Caldera DOS (now renamed back to DR-DOS) is now independent of SCO [drdos.com] and still available.
      • by SEE ( 7681 )
        Well, not SCO, one of the other Calderas.

        First, we have the SCO Group, formerly Caldera, founded by a former Novell exec as part of the Canopy Group, which used to sell a version of Unix Sys V it bought from the Santa Cruz Operation, which Santa Cruz Operation bought from Novell, with Novell bought from AT&T. It also used to distribute Linux and DR/Novell/Open-DOS, but doesn't anymore.

        Second, we have DRDOS Inc, founded by a former Novell, Caldera, and Lineo employee, which sells DR/Novell/Open-DOS, w
  • They can't sell real Windows for cheap, but know, that the frugal Chinese will install a pirated version.
  • FreeDOS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Eberlin ( 570874 )
    Any site linked from Slashdot is bound to get a free DOS.

    Now to be more on-topic: Does it have FreeDOS installed or does it just come with a FreeDOS disc? I remember a while back that someone used that as a loophole against an MS contract that mandated the company not to sell machines without an OS. They responded by shipping the machine with a copy of FreeDOS. (was it dell?)

    As I'm sure it'll be tough to get online, download Linux iso's, and burn them to cd-r using FreeDOS, are there any provisions ma
  • by Fortun L'Escrot ( 750434 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:13PM (#11056531)
    is what cringley had to say. the whole cheap PC china thing should have been the side note.
    • "And even in the PC business, IBM is suddenly much freer to sell PowerPC chips to HP and Dell, though I really doubt that will happen -- not unless Microsoft suddenly opts for a PowerPC version of Windows. But stranger things have happened before, eh?"
      Ummm... The new XBox runs on a PowerPC and if it like the old XBox it will run a version of Windows... Windows on the PowerPC.
      I have to wonder if IBM is planing on using the Cell CPU to take back the market from Intel. The Mac has shown that the PowerPC can co

  • With the IBM/Lesovo deal, Sun aggressively marketing JDS in Asia, this HP PC, and with China's different opinions about intellectual property, I wonder what Microsoft is thinking about all this. Perhaps HP is saying that people in China would rather pay for better hardware and get Windows, um, elsewhere.

  • As mentioned in other posts, this sounds exactly like what Dell did. In order to satisfy a contract with Microsoft that requires every PC to be sold with an OS, if you bought an "OS-less" PC, it included FreeDOS on a CD. Of course, nobody is going to actually use FreeDOS, but it satisfies the contract.
  • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @06:29PM (#11056671)
    but FreeDOS won't be replaced by Linux. 99.99 % will install Windows on them. I have been there. You can go into any shop (almost all carry them) and get a CD for about a buck containing Windows XP, Office, Photoshop and Dreamweaver in a printed cardboard cover.

    Nobody, not even the largest businesses will get bothered if they only install pirated versions. Considering the fact that all large Software makers dont't do discounts in countries with a lower average income I have a hard time imagening anyone paying for Windows in China.

    So Windows is basically free (as in beer) for everyone in China. So Linux and Windows are on par considering price. On how many desktops do You see FreeDOS getting replaced by Linux again?
    • You have a point, but you neglect to notice that there are distributions of Linux that handle Chinese character sets better than Windows does. For some people, Linux may actually be better, though I'm not sure if it will be more or less of them than here.

      There are three primary reasons to run Linux here in the U.S. The first is wanting to be able to get software for free without breaking the law. The second is wanting to get Free software, because of some moral opinion. The third is because it's better.

  • Newsflash! Slightly overpriced PC goes on sale in China! What a deal!
    Barebones PC for only 50% more [dell.com] than you can get one in the US. With the same "OS".

    Someone please tell me why this is a) news, b) a good deal?

  • * Sokoban
    * Pharaohs tomb
    * Commander Keen
    * Doom shareware
    * and similar stuff [dosgames.com]
  • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Friday December 10, 2004 @07:31PM (#11057122) Homepage

    Hi, I'm the coordinator for the FreeDOS Project, and webmaster for FreeDOS.org. Looks like we're getting a minor slashdotting. Thanks, guys! :-) In case the main page becomes unavailable, you can use this list of mirrors instead:

    slashdot.php [freedos.org] or slashdot.html [sourceforge.net]

    The primary mirror site is at sourceforge:

    http://freedos.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

  • HP Sells Cheap FreeDOS

    Wait a minute. If FreeDOS is free, which it should be, because it has the word "Free" in its name, unless it doesn't mean "Free" in the sense of "Free as in beer", or as some might better understand, "Free as in you don't have to pay money for it", which could mean that it means "Free" in the other sense, which means "Free as in you're not in jail or something", but I believe it means the former, because usually when a free software project puts the name "Free" in the name of the free

  • According to Chinese Govt Stats for 2001, farmers on the average makes about 300 US$ a year and city folks about 600 US$. Let's assumed those numbers doubled in the past three years, that's still only $600 and $1200 respectively. So HP is going to sell their $400 computers to ... who?
  • This is ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bayerwerke ( 513829 )
    So HP has only to ship the computer from the manufacturing facility in Taiwan to China instead of to the U.S. or other market and probably saves on Windows tax and the computer sells for more than a low end machine where costs are higher?

    What would be the opposite of 'dumping'? Is there no end to HP's efforts to destroy their entire business?
  • These are enterprise PCs, not personal PCs. Yes, you can get it for cheaper, but I'd like to see you go to Fry's and try to drag out 5000 units.

    Enterprise PCs are not intended for flash graphics, etc. They are intended for easy management, and stability. The company that sells an enterprise computer is required to maintain the _original_ image for a number of years. Therefore, if someone bought 5000 computers from HP with Windows 94 5 years ago, they can still get the same exact image restored, since HP ar
  • They probably didn't want the support burden of bundling the PC with a Linux distribution.

    This is subtle linux bashing at its best... or perhaps FreeDOS is the cheapest alternative for an OS; which is able to verify the working state of the hardware.
  • If you buy a linux box from hp when you get it you get a box with freedos loaded on it. You get a set of linux installation disks. Now the fist time I got one of these I wondered why bother even putting free dos on it? Well it did not take me long to figure it out. Their MS contract probably does not allow them to sell a box without a os on it. The quick way to get around that deal and not have to actually provide support is to load freedos and ship it out the door.
  • As a British computer guy living in Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China, this isn't a very good deal...

    1. The local supermarket sells PC's for around 4,500yuan that include monitor and a valid version of XP Home.
    2. You can get a C3 based small form factor box (w/o monitor) from the same place for 1,500yuan which also comes with XP Home.
    3. If you go to the local computer market (huge place, hundreds of shops) you can get a brand name (Chinese) PC with a 15" flat screen for about 4,500yuan (o/s included)

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.

Working...