Microsoft to Introduce Windows XP Starter Edition in India

NEW DELHI, India, Sept. 29, 2004 —
Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. today announced that Windows XP Starter Edition will be made available in India early next year. Windows XP Starter Edition is a low-cost introduction to the Microsoft Windows XP operating system, and is designed for first-time home PC users in developing technology markets. The product has been developed following extensive user research and is the easiest to use and most affordable version of Windows so far. The Starter Edition will come with a Hindi interface, and will include resources such as Help and training in Hindi as well. With this announcement, India becomes one of five countries chosen for the Starter Edition Pilot Program that Microsoft Corporation announced in August. At a press conference held in New Delhi today, leading OEMs such as Acer, HCL, HP and Wipro, in addition to AMD, Intel and PCS, voiced their support for the offering. Shri Dayanidhi Maran, Hon. Minister for IT, Government of India, also shared his views on Microsofts latest initiative.

Designed as a result of Microsofts ongoing collaborations with international governments, Windows XP Starter Edition Pilot Program is part of Microsofts comprehensive commitment to enable individuals, communities and countries to gain access to the technology tools, skills and innovation they need to realize their potential. Windows XP Starter Edition will offer an affordable and easy-to-use entry point to the Windows family of products that is tailored to local markets, in local languages, and is compatible with a wide range of Windows-based applications and devices.

Starting early 2005, Windows XP Starter Edition based low-cost desktop PCs will be made available through OEM partners and distributors across India. Over the next few months Microsoft India will work closely with its OEM partners and the government of India to decide the finer points the of the distribution mechanism. Specific pricing information too will be made available to participating PC OEMs and Microsoft Authorized OEM Distributors in the coming weeks.

“Today, technology is a catalyst for economic and social change around the world, but many countries including our own, have a long way to go in providing access to technology and the related skill,”
said Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India,
“We are confident that this low cost, customized and localized technology solution will spur PC usage, creating a new breed of technology aware citizens to contribute to Indias growth as an IT superpower. Creating a product of this nature is a first for us at Microsoft as well, and we hope that Windows XP Starter Edition finds a place in the hearts and homes of consumers across India.”

Commending Microsoft on its efforts, Hon. Shri Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communication & Information Technology, Government of India said,
“It is a known fact that IT has transformed the Indian economic landscape, and we as a country have gained immensely from the opportunities the industry has presented. This, however, is merely the tip of the iceberg, as many of us remain untouched by the power of computing. To succeed in an information-based society, providing every individual with access to IT is imperative. Easy and affordable access to PCs within the shortest possible time is our priority, and it is encouraging to see that Microsoft is with us in this effort.”

The Benefits of Windows at a Lower Price Point

Windows XP Starter Edition offers a simple introduction to personal computing for consumers interested in buying an affordable first computer for their homes. The technology includes the following key features:

  • Localized and tailored support. Windows XP Starter Edition features a redesigned help system, called My Support, which includes a built-in, detailed Getting Started Guide. In addition, Windows XP Starter Edition includes a supplemental CD with local language instructional videos designed for first-time PC users.

  • Localized customization. With Windows XP Starter Edition, users can choose from country-specific wallpapers and screensavers with familiar landscapes, flags and geography-specific traditional designs.

  • Preconfigured settings. Windows XP Starter Edition will help reduce confusion regarding setup options for entry-level users by preconfiguring advanced settings and enabling the Windows Firewall by default.

  • Simplified task management. With Windows XP Starter Edition, first-time home PC users can have up to three programs and three windows per program running concurrently. Further simplification of the operating system includes the display resolution set to 800×600 maximum and no support for PC-to-PC home networking, sharing printers across a network or more advanced features such as the ability to establish multiple user accounts on a single PC.

Elaborating on the offering, Rajiv Kaul, Managing Director, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd said,
“Windows XP Starter Edition is a simple, localized and affordable operating system developed specially for entry-level PCs. This offering will empower a huge section of the Indian population with the tools and skills they require to truly leverage the IT revolution that is sweeping the world. This is a new initiative for us, and we are doing everything we can to make sure we get this right — the first time. We are currently collecting end user feedback from across the country, which will be used to finalize the offering before its availability early next year.”

Windows XP Starter Edition includes basic Windows XP features that allow users to take advantage of computing experiences such as the following that are popular with most first-time desktop PC users:

  • Internet connectivity, so users can access the Internet and browse the Web

  • Software and hardware compatibility, with a wide range of software applications and hardware devices such as printers, speakers and cameras

  • The intuitive Windows user interface that makes it easy for users to get up to speed quickly

  • Advanced security technologies delivered in Windows XP Service Pack 2 that will allow users to stay up to date and be more secure

  • Windows Messenger, which enables users to easily communicate with friends and family through real-time text messaging

  • Digital photography support with easy-to-use tools to help users store and share photos with family and friends, or make their own prints with one of the many printers supported by Windows XP

  • Windows Media Player 9 Series, which allows users to listen to music and watch videos

Commenting on the announcement, Kiran Karnik, President, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said, “Through the years, Microsoft has made pioneering investments in developing products that are relevant to the Indian market. Its product localisation initiative was one of the first in the country, and has helped spawn an entire ecosystem of local language software over the last few years. It’s good to see that Microsoft understands the need to create an offering, which is relevant and affordable for an emerging market like India. We are confident that this step from Microsoft will help homes across India truly experience the benefits of PC computing.”

“We welcome this path-breaking pilot initiative. HP and Microsoft are committed to working closely together to bridge the digital divide and this effort aims at driving increased access to computing and overall PC penetration in the country,”
said Balu Doraiswamy, President, HP India Pvt. Ltd.

HCL Infosystems is driving the development of affordable computing and communications technologies that create opportunities for people across all regions. We applaud Microsoft’s efforts to develop software solutions that are localized specifically to meet the computing needs of India, and we look forward to leveraging our strong production as well as support network to take it to every nook & corner of India,” said Ajai Chowdhry Chairman & CEO, HCL Infosystems Ltd

“There are billions of people throughout the world who still dont have access to technology, including many who live in countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand,”
said Amar Babu, Director, Intel -South Asia.
“We are working hand-in-hand with Microsoft on this exciting and tailored program and in other ways to offer the benefits of Intel-based computers to more and more people in emerging markets throughout the world,”
he added.

AMD is driving the development of affordable computing and communications technologies that create opportunities for people in high-growth regions of the world. We applaud Microsoft’s efforts to develop software solutions that are localized to meet the computing needs of key high-growth country like India, and we look forward to integrating Windows XP Starter Edition into our product development efforts,” said Ajay M. Marathe, Corporate Vice President, Information Technology & President, AMD India.

Opportunity Created Through the Windows Ecosystem

In addition to the social benefits of digital inclusion, Windows XP Starter Edition also creates economic opportunities for system builders and ISVs that are partnering with local governments to deliver a tailored and localized solution built on the Windows platform.

Building Opportunity for Individuals and Communities

The Windows XP Starter Edition Pilot Program further builds on Microsofts ongoing commitment to deliver innovative programs that enable individuals, communities and nations to reach their potential by providing the technologies and education to become part of the global digital ecosystem. In addition to Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft recently announced the Local Language Program, a global initiative to partner with governments to localize Windows in 40 regional languages within the next year, which will double the number of languages supported by Windows. In addition, global programs such as Partners in Learning (PiL) and Unlimited Potential (UP) provide comprehensive IT curriculum development, training and access to technology in schools as well as aid work-force development by providing technology skills training through community technology and learning centers. Together, the PiL and UP programs aim to provide IT skills training to individuals in underserved communities around the world.

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