Microsoft is about to release a stripped-down, low-cost version of Windows XP into five developing markets. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and two unspecified countries will receive Windows XP Starter Edition in October.
The move is to combat the two main threats to Windows in these markets: piracy and Linux. Microsoft hopes that a low-cost, properly licensed copy of Windows will dissuade users from simply buying a copied disk for a couple of dollars and that the company’s brand and software support will tempt users away from trying out a Linux distribution.
Aside from major changes to the OS, Microsoft has localised screen savers to include local landscape scenes, flags and traditional designs to encourage users to adopt XP Starter Edition.
Microsoft may have misjudged the market, however – XP Starter Edition apparently features lower resolution graphics, crippled networking and bizarrely, only allows users to run three programs simultaneously.
Given that most Linux distributions perform excellently in all of these areas, it is unlikely that Microsoft will be tempting anyone away from the penguin with less functionality rather than more.