MANHASSET, N.Y. Microsoft Corp. will begin selling a super-cut-rate edition of Windows in three Asian countries come this fall, the software giant said Wednesday (Aug. 11).
Dubbed Windows XP Starter Edition, the stripped-down operating system is Microsoft's attempt to battle back against the two-headed overseas monster of software piracy and the growing popularity of the lower-cost, open-source Linux OS.
Microsoft is calling the sales a "12-month pilot phase to study and evaluate the benefits created for first-time PC users, software and hardware industry partners, participating governments and Microsoft" by countering pirates and Linux with a OS priced to better match local standards of living.
Not surprisingly, Starter Edition will initially ship on inexpensive PCs in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The Redmond, Wash.-based developer already had rolled out localized Windows XP-Office XP bundles in the first two nations, and Microsoft had previously announced it was negotiating with the three governments.
Microsoft has not yet set the price of Starter Edition in the initial three countries, but will do so as the October roll out approaches.
Microsoft also said it was close to agreement with two more countries, but wouldn't name them, saying only that they would be announced later this year when discussions are completed. Some suspect that Brazil, China, India and Russia are the next likely participants. At July's financial analysts briefing, for example, Will Poole, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows client group, said these four countries "are the big dogs of emerging market opportunities."
China however, seems a long shot, observers said.