Seattle: Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, will sell a $3 (Rs130) package of Windows, Office and educational programmes to governments that want to load the software onto personal computers for students.
The package, called the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite, will include the Windows XP Starter Edition operating system, Microsoft Office and Live Mail e-mail software, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said in a speech at a conference for government leaders in Beijing on 19 April. The company is selling the programmes at cost to governments that buy a minimum of 10,000 copies, Microsoft senior vice-president Will Poole said.
The programme is part of a strategy to boost ownership of computers among 5 billion people who don’t have them. Microsoft is pledging to reach the first billion of those users by 2015. The company will try to ensure that countries that offer free or cheap PCs to students will choose Windows instead of the freely distributed Linux operating system.
The programmes would normally cost between $100-200. Microsoft has seen sales increase in China over the past few years after the country began curbing piracy. Still, large numbers of Chinese cannot afford retail prices for Windows and Office. Pirated copies are openly sold for about $1 each.
Dell Inc., the world’s second-biggest personal-computer maker, on 21March began selling a low-cost PC in China. The company also said it was looking to sell the same PC in other emerging markets like India and Brazil.
Low-cost PC efforts, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child plan, rely on versions of Linux. Classmate PCs, a line of inexpensive computers backed by Intel Corp., are available with both Linux and Windows.
Microsoft also plans to add to its network of Innovation Centres, which let local businesses gain access to software and training. The company already has 110 such centres in 60 countries and will open 90 more in another 25 countries by 2009.
Job Site in India
The company is working with the government and businesses in India to set up a Website that helps engineering job candidates assess what skills they will need to find employment. The idea came out of a conversation between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who expressed concern that many Indian graduates are unable to find jobs.
Of the 400,000 engineering students who graduate annually, only a quarter find jobs, he said. The site will open by the year end and Microsoft will expand the programme to other countries.