Microsoft To Sell Windows For $3

April 20, 2007

Microsoft is innovating. After trying its hand and failing miserably in the gaming and music player markets with the over-hyped and pathetically performing XBOX 360 console and Zune Player, Microsoft has finally decided its next target. And it has devised a painstaking method to go about it.

So what does a company which already has a billion users try to do? Go for a billion more, of course. Microsoft announced a brand new initiative that will make the company's software and technologies available to the world's most needy users at virtually zilch cost. This, in a bid to raise its worldwide user base from one billion users to two billion users by 2015.

Critics say it's Microsoft's way of competing against Linux. Governments of a number of countries have always been inclined towards the low cost alternative of Linux rather than Windows. And this effort from Microsoft is touted as the software giant's attempt to lure the governments into its own Windows based products. And the price tag? $3 for a Windows Edition!

Microsoft's new initiative has been christened Microsoft Unlimited Potential. Under the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program, Microsoft will offer low-income consumers around the world, a heavily discounted version of Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, as per this ZDNet report,

The $3 price includes the software license, while backup discs and documentation will cost extra. In order to be eligible, governments must pick up at least half the tab for the PC, though the software can also be used on refurbished computers, which can cost as little as $50, Microsoft said.

These software will be sold to the governments of countries who would then load it on PCs for the students and consumers to use. The distribution of software is strictly through the government, and only to those who are in the bottom 15 percent of the population, financially.

In case you think, this is a part of Bill Gates' philanthropic efforts, it doesn't seem like. "This is a business, not a philanthropic effort," said Microsoft Senior Vice President Orlando Ayala. But with an annual turnover of over $45 billion, this business initiative is not going to affect the bottom line anytime in the near future. If it's not philanthropy, it doesn't seem like it would help their business either. Either Microsoft is just desperate for doing something different, or they have run out of ideas.

And well, don't be surprised if your ration shop starts selling versions of Windows Vista soon.

Kishore is a techie based in Bangalore. When he's not writing software, he spends his time writing himself out trying to understand the perfection of reality. Read his musings over life, nature, music and the art of living at Dayswork.
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April 20, 2007
03:26 PM

Kishore, Is Microsoft going to give licences to a few ration shops to sell this $3 suite or is it going to be open policy :)

Also this is a one-off product suite or you have a series of patches to follow, which add to the 3 dollars and make a handsome amount in the end....

April 20, 2007
06:00 PM

Where is the fine print, MS is famed for the finest print in this world, either they are upto capturing entire governments in poor countries, or its is just the logic of the cheap airlines, of just recovering your variable costs and still making a difference in your Topline(since u r not going to get any money from the designate poor, u better atleast make 3$ from them!).

I think Bill is still a business man, and he will be in Business for a long, long time, linux or the lack of it!.

Balaji Viswanathan
April 20, 2007
06:29 PM

Dude, get your facts straight about XBOX 360 before writing about Microsoft. XBox 360 is selling like hot cakes (more than 12 million till now) and it made PS3 one big hell of a disappointment. In just 2 years, we came to a totally new field and have had a shot at the goliath of Sony. Veni Vidi Vici - We came, we saw, we conquered. And if you add our traditional hits like Age of Empires, Flight Simulator and Halo, Microsoft's Gaming and entertainment is far ahead of most players in the segment.

Zune, was a bit of disappointment for us, as it is a really kool device and the only serious competitor for Ipod. But, when we bring the second edition we hope to gain the ground back just as how we rebounded with XBox 360 after a bit of disappointment with the first XBox.

Regarding Linux, the world was supposed to move enmasse to the open source stuff by 2001... Any body there?? lol... In school I remember me and my friends trying out every flavor of Linux in the good ol' days when there were too many jobless programmers fired after 2001 recession, busily contributing to open source. After its hype subsided, we got back to our traditional competitor - our own previous releases. The only serious competitor to Vista that could threaten our applecart is XP and not Mac or Linux.

And finally to this $3 stuff, I dont have anything official mentioned about this, but I do know of some programs where we try to support poor nations to come up with low priced editions. This is more of a social initiative for us than commercial thing, and the short term loss by giving away low priced stuff, will help us in having a win-win relationships and we could grow along with the poor economy users.

As for regular users, we still sell millions of Vista copies and adding billions for our stockholders.

Balaji Viswanathan
April 20, 2007
06:47 PM

And regarding our desperation, ya... we are desparate that we are always the No.1 in most of the fields we are in :P...

With the Server release this year and the next generation OS releases starting from 2009, we are far better positioned in this space. Our bros in Gaming, Office, SQL server, Exchange and other Entereprise systems are not doing any bad either and we are collectively worth more than $280 billion (in Indian terms - 15 lakh crores).

And we are in an interesting competition - we compete with Sony in Gaming/entertainment, Apple in Music player and OS, Google in online services, Oracle/SAP in database and enterprise management, Linux in Enterprise OS, Firefox in browser, Blackberry in Mobile devices along with unconquered Office, .NET and a countless other systems. Thus, we are either the No.1 or No.2 in most of the realms of Computing/Media.

Where we are No.1 we need to take bold leadership like this program and where we are No.2 we have got energy boosts and inspiration to get back into the game. And it doesnt hurt that we hold the biggest research division in Computer Science - and we have got a lot of interesting work going on there that are still in wraps and we are seriously waiting for them to be shown to public that will make Minority Report movie look like old. Alteast a dozen interesting inventions that are shown to us, are still confidential.

April 22, 2007
05:32 AM

Hi Balaji u said "And finally to this $3 stuff, I dont have anything official mentioned about this, but I do know of some programs where we try to support poor nations to come up with low priced editions. This is more of a social initiative for us than commercial thing, and the short term loss by giving away low priced stuff, will help us in having a win-win relationships and we could grow along with the poor economy users."

Is MS that Altruistic?, be true to your sould and answer?. DO u do this kind of charity/socially responsible acts(3$ OS for a poor populace) only in the hope that you will someday "Grow along with the poor economy users."
, or is the real reason to run your roots in a corrupt government of the poor nation by first getting in with a politically correct/charitable price of 3$, and then sell the upgrades and associated software at a 'Milking' price-range?.

First mix in, and then make the cream later?(when no one notices, as in when the time for upgrades/patches/support/Service etc. comes up!)

The Enigma
April 22, 2007
06:02 AM

I am not a Microsoft evangelist, but I do recognise downright idiocy when I see it. I'm surprised Aaman promoted this article to the rest of the DC writers, for it is filled with misinformation and vitriol that could only be spewed by someone with a big, BIG chip on his shoulder.

I realise this a forum where we can publish our inner-most thoughts. However, when mentioning "facts" can we please ensure that we use nothing but "facts".

Bankrupt Vista User
April 22, 2007
06:27 AM

Billy "Boy" Gates is a greedy tosser who charges 400 for Vista Ultimate in the UK and a [EDITED]
How is that for FACT #6 The Eggma?

jimmy olsen
April 22, 2007
03:01 PM

Only 3$ to buy the shovel to dig your own grave does seem generous, until one perceives the ultimate goal - death. 3rd world countries don't need buggy software with backdoors to steal government secrets and track the populace online anymore than the U.S. consumers do, but Microsoft is more than happy to provide the chains to bind the populace.. ah the charity of it all.

Bill Gates is a master of marketing and deceit, which are often one and the same, he makes Karl Rove look like a neophyte. The great white programmer appears in the land of the rising sun and offers the natives blankets with smallpox germs on them. Beware white men bearing gifts or 3$ software.

April 23, 2007
05:49 AM

The XBOX 360 is pathetically performing? WHoa..poor english, my friend. Thats enough for me to comment here and close this window after I post this. Please refrain from making stupid statements when you don't know jackshit about gaming.

April 23, 2007
10:33 AM

Archer-The XBOX 360 is pathetically performing? WHoa..poor english,

Maybe he's Japanese?Anyways i didn't you had to be proficient in english to play video games.

April 24, 2007
04:31 PM

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