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XP shrinks to fit Russia

After offering a simplified and cheaper version of Windows XP for sale in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, Microsoft has decided to do the same in Russia.

The Russian version of Windows XP Starter Edition will be available early next year. Microsoft also said it would be announcing the availability of Windows XP for first-time PC users in a fifth emerging technology market.

XP Starter Edition is part of Microsoft's efforts to take on the growing threat of Linux and the piracy common in developing markets. The cheaper version of Microsoft's flagship operating system offers localised support and customisation options, preconfigured settings and simplified task management.

The starter OS does not support home networking, printer sharing across a network or multiple user accounts on a single PC. It also limits the number of applications that can run at one time to three. Analysts at Gartner have dismissed the OS, saying it fails to meet the most basic needs of users.

Microsoft has identified emerging markets as a major sales opportunity partly because PC penetration in those countries is low. In the US about 60% of households have a PC, in Western Europe about 30%, but in India the figure is below 2%, while Russia and China are below 5%.

Microsoft plans to study user reaction to XP Starter Edition over a 12-month period and assess feedback from industry partners and participating governments. After the 12-month pilot, Starter Edition may be offered in additional markets.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service


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