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New e-PCs are the promised saviors of simplicity.
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For those who'd rather teach quantum physics to a monkey than figure out how to work a PC, there may be hope. Within the next few months, Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a line of "PC appliances" expected to rival the banana in the ease-of-operation department.

"This new category of computing devices removes complexity from the interface and [allows] corporate users to focus on the task at hand, rather than the tool," says Roger Kay, a research manager at technology market research firm IDC. Essentially, instead of trying to be all things to all people, the new PC appliances are designed to perform one function exceedingly well.

High up on this "digital appliances for dummies" hit parade: an e-PC appliance enabling users to instantly access any computing application--no muss, no fuss. The transition from an offline task to Internet surfing will be seamless, HP says. And users should also expect a secure transaction experience--no matter where they venture on the Web. HP insists conventional PCs will seem like behemoths compared to the diminutive, sleekly styled e-PCs. And the era of system crashes, frozen windows and those rude error messages? A distant memory.

Of course, such improvements don't mean these PC appliances will leave Gates behind. HP has chosen Windows as the e-PC operating system.

According to Eric Cador, general manager of HP's business-desktop division, "Our e-PC initiative bridges the gap between today's computing needs and the approaching services era." Now if only they would get cracking on that "Where does the universe end?" question.

J.W. Dysart (, a software analyst and Internet business consultant, has written for more than 40 publications, including The New York Times.

Edition: May 2017

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