Selling Linux PCs to Senior Citizens: The WOW! Computer

Desktop Linux will be ready for the masses, the old adage goes, when your grandma can use it — which is arguably not yet the case. If the WOW! Computer is any indication, though, Linux’s time has come. At least, that’s what the machine’s engineers, who have used open source software to develop a computer specially targeted at the senior population, seem to think.
I generally am skeptical of products and services that needlessly embed punctuation marks into their names. Yahoo! is bad enough. But obnoxious appellations aside, the WOW! — which is identical in form and price to the Telikin Elite, although the WOW! is marketed separately by partner company FirstStreet — represent an intriguing concept, particularly for the open source channel.
The basic premise behind the machine is to offer a no-hassle, easy-as-pie computing experience for people — especially seniors — who have no interest in learning to use traditional PCs. To that end, the WOW! sports a customized interface designed to make it easy to launch a limited number of basic tasks, along with a stack of applications to achieve those tasks.
Of course, the ease-of-use comes at a cost. The WOW! is quite locked-down and doesn’t allow users to

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