Microsoft has launched a “pay-as-you-go” PC aimed at consumers in emerging markets, who will be able to buy computer time through pre-payment cards or a monthly subscription.
The software giant’s pay-as-you-go Windows PCs include FlexGo technology, a metering system that shows users how much time they have used. The user will own the PC outright after buying a set number of hours.
The pay-as-you-go model is designed to tap into widespread familiarity with prepayment mobile phones and internet cafes.
Microsoft said the FlexGo system, which has been market tested for a year in Brazil, would allow suppliers to reduce the entry costs of PC ownership by 50% or more. The pay-as-you-go PCs are aimed at emerging markets where lack of access to credit, unpredictable incomes and high costs are a barrier to buying a computer.
Will Poole, senior vice-president of the Microsoft’s market expansion group, said: “Today there are already more than one billion prepaid mobile phones used around the world, so we know FlexGo enables a familiar and comfortable pay-as-you-go model that works for people with variable or unpredictable income.”
A second market trial will be launched in Brazil this week, with plans to extend the pay-as-you-go system to India, Mexico, Russia and China over the next few months.
Microsoft has also been working with telecommunication firms on subscription computing offerings that would provide a full-featured PC with broadband access and software through monthly payments.