Windows XP Starter Edition passes 1 million mark

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft today announced that sales of Windows XP Starter Edition, the company's entry-level computer operating system that's been aggressively promoted to "emerging markets" around the world, have recently passed the one million unit milestone.

Windows XP Starter Edition is a basic operating system for low-end computers that aims to help citizens in underdeveloped countries become comfortable with computers. The software is specifically tailored for every market to which it's introduced. Area-specific details, like languages, dialects, and appropriate interface design, are altered for each country, according to Microsoft.

According to Will Poole, the senior vice president of Microsoft's market expansion group, there are 25 different language versions of XP Starter Edition. The software has been installed in computers in 139 countries.

The massive outreach began in 2003 when Microsoft jumped on a request from the government of Thailand for help with a program that would put computers in the hands of lower income families. That led Microsoft to pursue other areas of the world that were behind the technology curve.

The global program stems back to Microsoft's original goal of putting a computer in everyone's home. That mindset has now taken on a worldwide scope. "As Microsoft employees, I guess we also have a better understanding for what Bill Gates and other company founders were saying with the slogan .a PC on every desktop and in every home' when they started Microsoft," said Poole. "This is a business, but it s also about doing what we can to change the world. So to me, there is no product in our portfolio that is more 'Microsoft' than Windows Starter."

Some of the countries that Microsoft has reached with Starter Edition include Argentina, Chile, India, Namibia, Vietnam, and Brazil.

Microsoft recently also introduced a "pay-as-you-go" program that is aimed to increase the firm's sales in emerging markets. The firm's "FlexGo" technology circles around the consept of prepaid phone card. Just like the phone, Microsoft's pay-as-you-go PC is subsidized by the usage of "minutes," purchased for example at convenience stores. The company claims that such an approach could reduce the entry cost of a PC by "50% or more." Other than with the prepaid mobile phone model, consumers are actually owning their PC if a certain number of minutes has been purchased.