The image above reflect real prices for the Zotac ION. The snapshot is dated 2010-03-25.
Prices start at 164.37Eu (220Dolars) and with such price we get a noise-free nettop with an 1.6Ghz Atom and an Nvidia ION able to play 3D content and FullHD videos. It comes also with a useful handle to hang it on the back of any VESA monitor or TV with HDMI input so in practice, it wastes no space at all.
The Atom is not big deal but is more than just enough for 90% of common office tasks and the Nvidia ION chipset can do magic.
Another "feature" is that these equipments come without CD/DVD. Just an internal laptop HD with 160Gb. Enough to install any OS. Anything else must go into the SD slot or conected through USB. The price is so adjusted that it doesn't even come with a Windows Licence. When you go bellow the 200€ price per unit that's not possible. A bunch of extra euros is too much when you have put all the efforts in getting a final low-price.
This is an start. But something that is going to be more and more normal. Prices will drop down the 150 barrier, then 100. Finally, PCs will be for free for final consumers in maybe one or two years, and most people will get them from its Internet provider.
People will still be able to buy an expensive quad-core and waste 200 Watts power to write a letter or check their emails, paying a "funny" extra bill each month to its power-supply company, bear with the annoying fan sounds and the hot air comming from the inside of the bloated cages that reminds of a old diesel engine. Yes, the will, but most will not. Today is even possible to get Atom equipments for around 100€ by dropping all the goods of the Nvidia ION.
In this context I see no place for the Microsoft tax. Whether they like it or not, it's something not in their hands. Hard times are comming for the old Windows monopoly. Microsoft will need to fetch money from anywhere else. I guess they will try to get it increasing licences fees from their loyal (and somethinglike naïve) customers. They will raise server licences, SQL licences, "whatever" licences. Loyal customers who bet for Microsoft and ignored opensource alternatives, just because Microsoft was a giant in the stock market will now have to confront a world dominated by opensource alternatives. Loyal customers will pay more and more for less and less.
A final note. When using Linux, it's quite easy to make the Zotak ION start through the PXE network protocol. Since network swithches with 48x100Mbs + 2x1Gbs Uplink ports are around 300€ (and droping) that mean we can drop the internal HD and get even a more adjusted price per unit. And having all network based means software updates and central administration comes for free, even for a farm of hundreds (maybe thousands) of PCs.
Just one extra piece is needed. A central NFS server acting as root file system. And today such server can even be placed in a virtual machine. Great, isn't it?