Network computer (NC) pioneers Oracle and Sun have predicted that the hardware units will be made available free within the next few years, as manufacturers reap their costs through service subscriptions instead.
Speaking at the Millennium conference in San Francisco last week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy admitted that networking devices will become free as network access providers will supply them bundled with service subscriptions.
In the same way that satellite boxes are often free to subscribers, the NC gurus expect network access providers to lend or supply NCs free under their own brand in return for payment for access time.
Ellison and McNealy reiterated their claim that the NC will destroy Microsoft?s domination of the IT industry, but Ellison pointed out that Microsoft would not disappear. According to Ellison, he expects a typical NC server box to use Oracle NC Server, Unix or Microsoft NT as its OS.
Ellison estimated that offices will pay between $200 and $800 for NCs but SoHo users should get machines free.
?It should cost $10 to $20 for network access for users without Lans,? he said. ?We are looking at distribution models now, including one where providers give them a set-top box, perhaps under their own OEM brand.?
McNealy said network access providers could also charge for storage or access time.
Ellison claimed corporates will not lose their PC investment by taking on the new devices, as PCs can be converted into NCs or NC servers. ?PCs are not going away,? he said. ?NCs will not replace them, just as PCs did not completely replace mainframes.?
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