New Windows XP machines hit market

More desktop and notebook computers sporting Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP operating system hit the market Friday from a pair of PC makers, less than two weeks before the operating system is set for its official launch.

Low-cost PC maker eMachines Inc. and Sony Corp. unveiled new products, while Hewlett-Packard Co. touted a number of special features it is offering on XP-powered machines. HP and Compaq Computer Corp. first announced they would ship PCs with Microsoft’s new operating system last month.

Irvine, Calif.-based eMachines is shipping its entire line of PCs preloaded with Windows XP operating system to retailers, the company said Friday. Including rebates, eMachines’ PCs start at US$399, just US$200 more than the price of a packaged version of Windows XP.

The company will offer some extra features with its machines. As previously reported, eMachines said that it has installed Windows XP on PCs in its help center to make use of the Remote Assistance feature in the new operating system. Remote Assistance enables a user to hand over control of his desktop to a remote user.

EMachines has made available the following PC configurations:

– T1090 with a 900MHz Intel Celeron processor, 128MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 20GB hard drive, 56K bps (bits per second) built-in fax/modem and 48x CD-ROM drive, priced at US$399.

– T1100 with a 1GHz Intel Celeron processor, 128MBof SDRAM, a 20GB hard drive, 56K bps built-in fax/modem and 8x CD-RW (CD-rewritable) drive, priced at US$499.

– T4150 with a 1.5GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 256MB of SDRAM, a 40GB hard drive, 56K bps built-in fax/modem and 8x CD-RW drive and Ethernet card, priced at US$499.

– T4155 with a 1.5GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 256MBof SDRAM, 60GB hard drive, 56K bps built-in fax/modem and 8x CD-RW/DVD (digital versatile disc) combo drive and Ethernet card, priced at US$799.

That manufacturer will also be one of the few companies offering Windows XP with a “clean desktop.” The feature means that an eMachines computer running Windows XP will not display icons for third-party or Microsoft applications. Instead, all of the applications and folders will be confined to the start menu.

Several other PC makers have announced deals with third-party application providers to include icons on the desktop. Compaq, for instance, has said it will include a desktop link to AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Internet service. While encouraging PC makers to ship PCs with a clean desktop, Microsoft has said that if machines do ship with third party icons they must also include a few from Microsoft.

Sony Corp. also unveiled a new line of its Vaio computers and laptops loaded with Windows XP – a total of 36 desktop and notebook computers. Only select models will be immediately available in North America, Sony said.

Meanwhile, HP beefed up its Windows XP offerings Friday pitching some added features it will offer to customers of its Windows XP products. The company said it will include its own photo editing software, as well as an application from Detto Technologies Inc. that allows users to easily transfer files and settings from an old PC to a new HP machine.

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