Walmart's Ubuntu PC: Bait and Switch?

With all the attention Linux has been getting recently, especially in the form of attention from major hardware vendors, the impact of Walmart’s decision to bring to market a $200 Linux PC (Everex TC2502 Green gPC w/ Via C7-D Processor) should be surprising.

The customers seem to love this computer, if you go by the product reviews: 56 reviewers gave it an overall 4-star rating. There were only two buyers who left one-star reviews, complaining about lack of performance or inability to run Windows XP (not true, since the hardware was certified as XP-compliant).

But what really surprised me was the fact that the item is listed as "out of stock", with a note explaining how you can "Step up to the Everex GC3502 for Double the Memory and Windows Vista Basic" instead. For an extra $100, you get: the exact same computer, but with an extra 1/2 gig of RAM and
             Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic.

Which is kind of funny, because you wouldn’t be able to run Vista on a PC with only a half-gigabyte of RAM.

Anyway, RAM’s pretty cheap these days. You can buy a full gigabyte from Walmart online for $40 or so. Which means you’d be paying roughly $60 for that low-end edition of Vista. In other words, you pay a 25% "Vista tax" on a $240 PC.

The big question is this: does Walmart make any money selling a $200 PC for $200, or is it just a loss-leader to get people in the store and sell them $240 PCs for $300?

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