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HP To Introduce Linux-Based PCs In Asia 2

The move could be a threat to Microsoft's dominance of operating systems for the desktop.
TOKYO (AP) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to become the first company to trumpet personal computers that run the freely distributed Linux operating system in Asia, HP's Japanese unit said Tuesday.

Other details, such as when the sales will begin, haven't been set yet.

The move by HP, the world's largest PC maker with a global market share of about 17 percent, could be a threat to Microsoft Corp., maker of the leading Windows operating system.

For its Linux PCs, HP "will target emerging markets, where Windows PCs are not used so widely," an HP spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires. But, he added, "We don't know whether we will sell them here in Japan."

Linux is an open-source operating system, meaning its code is freely distributed and shared by programmers, though various companies sell Linux-based programs tailored to specific tasks.

The HP computers will use an operating system made by Tokyo's Turbolinux, and will include the company's OpenOffice.org 1.1 suite of software. OpenOffice is designed to be compatible with Microsoft Office.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday that HP plans to start selling several models of the Linux-based desktop PC in June in 12 Asian countries including Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and India.

Shipments of these PCs could reach 1 million units in the first year, the economic daily said.

HP's move may prompt other PC makers to follow suit, since prices of Linux PCs are expected to be lower than those of Windows PCs.

That would further fuel already-intense price competition in the global PC market.

Global PC demand is picking up strongly. Merrill Lynch & Co. said last month the global PC market is likely to expand 13 percent to 191.3 million units in 2004, following 11 percent growth in 2003.