First, their claim on the matter, from the page where they're selling these computers:
These computers ship to you completly assembled but without the operating system or any other software loaded on the hard drive. The perfect solution for those who want to load alternative operating systems or have already purchased a licensed copy of Windows for this computer.
Granted, it's a little fishy, and this seems ripe for exploitation by anyone with a cracked/warez copy of Windows, but this is also coming from a store that sells Linux and computer monitors. Just stop for a moment and imagine Eric Raymond's infmous Aunt Tillie is computer-shopping at Wal-Mart:
Aunt Tillie: Excuse me, young man, I'm looking to buy a computer. Could you help me pick out a nice one?
Wal-Mart Employee: Why certainly, Ma'am. If you'll just come over here and take a look at our bargain computers, you'll see we have a fine selection of them, all at rock-bottom prices!
Aunt Tillie: Oh, how lovely! I like this one (points to a 1.4 GHz Athlon system). Now, does this come with everything I'll need to use it?
Wal-Mart Employee: Well, Ma'am, this is your basic computer. You'll want some software for it and a monitor, too, so why don't we go look at this nice package we've got over here? All the programs you need to run your computer, only $29.99 (takes a copy of Mandrake Linux off the shelf)! And right here on these shelves you can see our fine selection of monitors - maybe you'd like to try a nice 19" model?
You get the idea. This could be a great marketing move for Wal-Mart, and kind of reminds me of their CD pricing scheme (which they were being sued over a while back, I never saw how it turned out) - they lure you into their clutches with rock-bottom prices on one item, and then they've got you in the store and they can sell you all sorts of other stuff...sounds like a good plan to me. Granted, they seem to only be selling these computers online, but note that they link to their "PC Buying Guide", which mentions that you should be sure to buy any "perpherals" you need, and what do you want to bet Wal-Mart sells just those particular peripherals you need to go with your system? It's the same plan, implemented online.
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]