MICROSOFT TRIALS FOR NO-FRILLS XP

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Microsoft is rolling out trials for developing a low-cost Windows XP edition in India in a couple of months.

Though India still does not officially figure in the name of countries where the cheapest-ever version of Windows will be developed and sold, the tech giant is already in talks with the Ministry of Information Technology.

Senior officials from Redmond were in Delhi last week to firm up plans for Windows XP's stripped-down version for India.

"Trials for the low-cost starter edition should start in India in a couple of months. We have begun initial rounds of talks with the government,'' confirms Ravi Venkatesan, chairman, Microsoft India.

Refusing to give details on the pricing for India, he merely confirmed that it will be in line with other countries. To begin with, the starter pack will be launched in five countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Interestingly, China is yet to appear on the country list for software designed for first-time desktop PC users who are interested in an affordable, entry-level version of Windows. Initial research for the pilot programme targeted at first time users was conducted over 1,000 people.

Besides a redesigned help system, local language instructional videos designed specifically for first-time computer users can choose from country-specific wallpapers and screensavers with familiar landscapes and geography-specific traditional designs.

XP has also been changed to only allow users to run three programs at once and forces all users of a single PC to use the same desktop but log in separately to the software they use.

The starter edition also has many of the common settings in Windows pre-configured to help users get started. Microsoft has not yet officially announced any price, but the stripped-down version is expected to be significantly cheaper.

Microsoft had till now maintained rather uniform global pricing model, although large corporate customers often get better prices.

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