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Brazil Getting Windows XP Starter Edition

Brazil is the sixth country in line for a Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft's nationality-specific versions of stripped-down Windows offered at lower cost to appeal to first-time PC buyers.

The Starter Edition is Microsoft's attempt to battle software piracy and free or low-cost Linux distributions in countries with low average household incomes. Microsoft began naming countries to get the cut-rate edition in August. Other countries offered Starter Editions include Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and India.

Windows XP Starter Edition has several limitations. PC users can only have three programs running concurrently and only three windows per program open at the same time. The maximum screen resolution is 800x600, and there is no support for PC-to-PC home networking, sharing printers across a network or establishing more than one user account on a PC.

Microsoft Brazil President Emilio Umeoka told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday that the OS will be available in May from five PC makers in Brazil. He said he expected sales in the tens of thousands of units. One of the companies, Positivo, said the complete systems will cost about $625 in U.S. dollars, still almost 20 percent more than the local cost of a PC with Linux.

According to a November speech by Microsoft group vice president for sales, marketing and services, Kevin Johnson, Brazil is one of the main places Microsoft is looking toward to fuel future growth.

"[IDC] looked at many of the emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Brazil and certainly in those countries the PC household penetration is much, much smaller. If you look at where that growth in install base will take place over the next five years, over 50 percent of it will take place in these types of emerging markets," Johnson said. Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country.

The timing coincides with an enormous near-term opportunity in Brazil, where a "digital inclusion" government program called PC Conectado will involve the purchase of up to 1 million computers. While Microsoft is lobbying for Brazil to use Windows, the government is also considering Linux.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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