WSJ writes that after Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia, India has become the fifth country to gets its low-cost Windows (XP Starter Editions) pilot programme which will last a year. In India, the first language chosen is Hindi.
The Starter Edition tests are part of a wide-reaching effort by Microsoft to gain better connections with governments around the world. Over the past few years, many governments have started to explore Linux and other alternatives to Microsoft products. Several developing nations also are considering programs to distribute Linux-based personal computers as a potentially cheaper alternative to PCs running Microsoft’s Windows.
The tests are a break from Microsoft’s policy of following a strategy of offering “global pricing” that dictates uniform pricing for its products world-wide. By making Starter Edition very focused on first-time users — and leaving out certain features that businesses would need — Microsoft executives say they can curtail the cheaper software seeping into other markets and eroding its prices.
“This is a product that we are trying to make more relevant to a segment of customers that are ready to purchase their first PC,” said Mike Wickstrand, manager of the Starter Edition program.
By seeding the markets with a version of Windows that is more affordable than today’s versions, Microsoft hopes the program will allow it to combat software piracy, which is rampant in Russia and other young PC markets.
While the price hasn’t been disclosed, it is likely to be around Rs 1,500-1,800 from indications from the other countries.
Microsoft is caught between piracy, non-consumption and Linux in the developing markets. Rather than low-cost, reduced functionality Windows, it should look at reducing cost of the desktop computers (think thin clients) and running Windows off centralised platforms, with a pricing of $1 per month. Not just the limited versions, but the full-featured versions. But this requires Microsoft to think not like a monopoly but like a utility company.