By THERESA BRAINE, Associated Press Writer
Beset by rampant counterfeiting across Latin America, Microsoft on
Tuesday introduced a cut-rate, reduced version of Windows XP that is
aimed at first-time, low-income computer users who might otherwise run
XP Starter Edition helps users learn to use a mouse and other computer
devices, but strips out networking, limits the number of programs that
can open and won't work on top-level processors.
The program "is for people who want access to legal software," said
Microsoft Mexico General Director Felipe Sanchez Romero. The company
sees a large potential market, given that 83 percent of Mexicans don't
have personal computers.
The company says most novice users don't need the advanced functions
and it says it has designed the bottom-tier version of XP to be "an
affordable and simple introduction to personal computing."
Microsoft launched the Spanish language version of the program at a
news conference in Mexico City that featured several partners,
including a state-owned lending agency, the main phone company Telmex
and local computer manufacturers Texa, Lanix and Hergo.
The software will be available only pre-installed on machines, not as
a boxed product. Microsoft has not offered it in the United States or
The company earlier had released versions in Thailand, India, Russia,
Malaysia and Brazil -- other markets where counterfeiting is common.
A report by the Gartner consulting company last year criticized the
product for limiting upgrade opportunities as people gain expertise.
Sanchez Romero said last week that about 65 percent of the software
used in Mexico is pirated. Even some small local computer makers
include counterfeit versions of Microsoft Office on their machines and
counterfeit software is sold openly at hundreds of impromptu stalls on
Mexico City sidewalks.
While mainline computer makers usually include Windows, customers who
want to buy a legal boxed version of Windows XP Home must pay more
than $300 - almost a month's wage for the average Mexican worker. A
boxed package of XP Pro costs about $500 at major computer stores in
The ubiquity of pirated Windows software also may have slowed Mexico's
adoption of a Windows rival, the open-source software Linux, which has
grown more rapidly in other Latin American nations.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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