Microsoft’s Starter Windows

Microsoft is going to start offering Windows XP Starter Editions in local languages in many Asian countries, according to WSJ.

Ms. Chian said that the Starter Edition software sold in Thailand and Malaysia will be in local languages, and not in English, making it doubtful that the software could compete with products sold in developed markets like the U.S.
The name of the new software — a product Microsoft officials have previously hinted was in development — was reported Wednesday on a technology Web site called

Ms. Chian, in Singapore, declined to offer details about what features the software will include and what it might cost. She also couldn’t confirm exactly when the Starter Edition would debut, though Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in a radio address this month that it would be available in his country in September.

The software could offer fewer features for a lower price.

Microsoft has been experimenting with offering software through cut-rate government programs in places like Malaysia and Thailand, where authorities are also offering cheap Linux machines to their citizens. In Malaysia, consumers can now purchase a Microsoft-loaded PC with a processor from Intel Corp. for about US$300, including a monitor.

That’s a significant discount from prices paid by consumers in the U.S., and it raises questions about how Microsoft will be able to maintain its traditional, more uniform pricing structure if it offers selective discounts in some countries, analysts say.

Microsoft has noted that it already offers some discounts to customers like schools and says its price cuts in the developing world are similar.

This can be seen as a response to piracy, growing competition from open-source applications and pressure for more affordable solutions. It is not clear what options will be available in India.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.