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washingtonpost.com: Low-Cost Windows Launched in Brazil

Low-Cost Windows Launched in Brazil

By ALAN CLENDENNING

The Associated Press

Thursday, April 14, 2005; 10:42 PM

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Microsoft Corp. launched a scaled-back version of its Windows operating system in Brazil on Wednesday, hoping to get more people using computers in Latin America’s largest country while cutting down on rampant software piracy.

Brazil becomes the first country in the western hemisphere to get the low-cost XP Starter Edition, which lets users run just three programs concurrently and has lower-resolution graphics.

The announcement came only weeks before Brazil’s government is expected to decide whether the version will be included in a program aimed at helping millions of poor Brazilians buy their first computers.

Designed for first-time users, the stripped-down Portuguese operating system also lacks capabilities for home networking and multiple user accounts.

The stripped-down Windows is already being sold or will be soon in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and India. At a press conference in Sao Paulo to launch the Brazilian version, executives did not say whether Microsoft would start selling the system in other Latin American countries.

While Brazil has a population of 182 million, only about 12 percent of the country’s households have computers and a mere 10 percent have Internet connections – and many experts say the numbers must be increased for Brazil to emerge from the ranks of developing nations and vault itself into the information age.

“We’re determined to decrease digital exclusion and Windows XP Starter Edition is precisely what we need to help us in this effort,” said Emilio Umeoka, chief executive of Microsoft’s Brazilian division.

Umeoka said the timing of the announcement wasn’t linked to the government’s impending decision on whether to let Microsoft participate in the PC Conectado (“Connected PC” in Portuguese) effort to make computers available for about 1,400 reals ($538), payable in 24 monthly installments of about 58 reals ($22) each.