Microsoft seeks new markets

Microsoft has announced that it will target African markets with a specially-tailored version of Windows XP Starter Edition that will ship in July. Windows XP Starter Edition is a cut-down version of Windows XP aimed at developing countries that only supports screen resolutions up to 800x600, limits multitasking to three applications each with three open windows running simultaneously, and lacks support for multiple user accounts, home networking, and printer sharing. The operating system currently ships in 83 countries including Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, and Thailand. Microsoft says the OS's African release will have "extended help and assistance functions," as well as "locally relevant screensavers and wallpapers." Nigerian economist Zubby Opene welcomed the move, but added that "for a country like Nigeria where more than 70 percent live on less than a dollar a day, the new system may well be for the rich only." Microsoft did not specify in which countries the new operating system would launch, or how much it would cost.

This latest announcement follows the signing of a deal between Microsoft and the Chinese government that will result in the company purchasing $700 million's worth of Chinese hardware, and investing $200 million into the country's software companies. Ten days ago, Microsoft also entered an agreement with Lenovo that is expected to guarantee $1.2 billion in Windows sales to the Chinese computer manufacturer over the coming twelve months. eWEEK also reports that three other Chinese computer manufacturers have echoed Lenovo, announcing plans to purchase a total of more than $400 million in Windows licenses.

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