XP Light for Developing Markets

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.

Microsoft on XP Starter Edition

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?