Venus Brings the Power of the Internet to Millions of Chinese Households

SHENZHEN. China, March 10, 1999 — While the United States and Europe have already embraced the “Web lifestyle,” it’s important to remember that the Internet is a truly global phenomenon. Bringing PC technology and Internet connectivity to nations such as China requires special attention to those countries’ unique computing needs. To meet this challenge, Microsoft today previewed an innovative new technology – developed in China specifically for Chinese households – that provides PC technology and Internet access in a simple, easy-to-use set-top box.

At a launch event in Shenzhen, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates previewed the Venus project, an inexpensive entry-level computing solution for China. “Our goal is a very aggressive goal, and that is to expose millions and millions of people to computing and the Internet,” said Gates. We believe that a computer connected to the Internet is the most important business and learning tool ever created. So, as part of our commitment to China, we have been studying what kind of special products can we produce [for China] to grow the usage of computers and the Internet.”

Starting with the simple, flexible technology of Windows CE, Venus uses standard PC-like input devices such as a keyboard, joystick or mouse to provide an entry-level alternative to expensive PCs. The project will be able to run several CE-based applications in Simplified Chinese, including games, educational and productivity software, Internet browsing and email. Venus will also support Video CD (VCD) a popular Chinese format similar to DVD.

“Early last year Microsoft made a decision to establish a Windows CE product group in China. [Venus] will be the second Chinese product coming out of this team,” said Dr. Sean Zhang, director of the Microsoft China Research and Development Center. “I am really excited about the potential benefits this product will bring to our consumers.”

China is rapidly developing into a wired nation – the country already has over 300 million televisions, 20 million cellular phones and 40 million Video CD players. However, the installed base of PCs in China is still rather small, and bringing the power of the Internet to China is still a major challenge. Venus meets this challenge by providing an inexpensive computing platform that requires only a television set.

“Web lifestyles are spreading quickly around the world,” said Gates. “I want our Chinese customers to be an integral part of this phenomenon.”

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