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April 19, 2007

Microsoft touts philanthropic programs for developing nations

Posted by David Hunter at 5:07 PM ET.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates used a speech in Beijing to introduce a number of new Microsoft philanthropic initiatives directed at developing nations. Attracting the most buzz was a bargain software package for students:

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said it plans to offer a software package called Microsoft Student Innovation Suite for $3 to governments purchasing and giving Windows-based computer to primary and secondary students.

The software bundle, which will be available in the second half of 2007, includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live Mail desktop and other programs.

It’s not clear how many relevant governments have the wherewithal for extensive rollouts of PCs to students, but the thought is nice even if there is more to it than sheer altruism.

“This is not a philanthropic effort, this is a business,” Orlando Ayala, senior vice president at Microsoft’s emerging segments market development group in an interview before the official announcement.

In many emerging markets, Microsoft has seen its software pirated and sold at a fraction of the price of a genuine product. Microsoft said the technology industry must also adapt business models to developing nations.

Case in point: the report at in which they quote the “Windows Vista chief distributor in Beijing” to the effect that:

However after 2 weeks (Jan 19 to Feb 2) from launch Microsoft managed to sell a mere 244 copies of Windows Vista. Software piracy is rampant in the middle kingdom and a pirated version of Vista sells for a mere $1 on the streets.

They have some nice box shots of pirated copies of Vista too and not unexpectedly, humorous comments abound at slashdot like “244 copies ought to be enough ….”

Filed under Bill Gates, Executives, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft, OS - Client, Piracy, Public Relations, Windows Vista, XP Starter Edition

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