Gateway 2000 became the first vendor to announce a NetPC today, when they unveiled the--ahem--"Gateway NetPC." This imaginatively titled machine represents the first time a major PC vendor has created hardware that pretty much conforms to Microsoft's NetPC specification.

One difference: the box isn't sealed, per the specification, but has a one-screw chassis. This was done in response to customer wishes, said Gateway Chairman Ted Waitt. "We've worked closely on these specs, and this is what customers want. The specs have really evolved over some time: First it was a sealed box, but then we realized a 'sealable' box was a better idea."

Other vendors, including Dell, Compaq, and Hewlett Packard will unveil similar machines next month. Acer displayed a $800 "NetworkReady PC" on Monday.

Gateway's machine, which begins shipping in July, is about half the size of a typical desktop machine and features a 166MHz Pentium, 16 MB of RAM, a 1.2 GB hard drive, a floppy, 10/100MBs Ethernet capability, 16-bit audio, one PCI slot, and one shared PCI/ISA slot. It will cost $900 sans monitor or CD-ROM drive