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Sun to develop networked home PCs

Sun Microsystems will work with telecommunications companies to offer a SunRay device that could replace desktop home computers, the company said last week. Instead of a hard drive, the SunRay computer uses remote servers for software and data storage, accessed using a high-speed Internet connection. Network computer products along these lines have failed in the past, but Sun argues that a key problem before was a lack of bandwidth, which is now widely available through DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable broadband.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company also envisions a version of the SunRay device for airplanes. Josef Edlinger, a manager of engineering and technology at a Sun, said the company is in talks with airlines over combining a SunRay machine with a seatback screen to give passengers Internet access and the ability to do tasks such as word processing.