Just when you thought you'd seen the last of network computers‹that loudly heralded, low-cost computing alternative that many were predicting would be the perfect solution for schools still battling those hefty kid-to-computer ratios‹here comes IBM.

The network computer, aka "NetPC," is a scaled-down machine that derives most of its power from a central server. With its rock-bottom price tag and sealed-case security features (no floppy disk drive), it was supposed to replace the PC in your classrooms. But then in December the price of full PCs hit the floor, and you could get a desktop...

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