Latin America Gets Slimmed Down XP

In an effort to quell rampant piracy throughout Latin America, Microsoft has introduced a Spanish version of its slimmed-down Windows XP Starter Edition. The low-cost version of Microsoft's flagship operating system strips out home networking and limits the number of programs that can be opened simultaneously.

Starter Edition also includes a number of features for first-time PC users, including a redesigned help with a detailed Getting Started Guide. Microsoft has also localized the system with country-specific wallpapers and screensavers.

Previously, Microsoft has targeted Windows XP Starter Edition at individual countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. A version for Brazil was also launched in April. The new approach -- enabled by language similarities -- means that a single version can be deployed across the continent.


The idea, Microsoft says, is to bridge the digital divide and reach the underprivileged populations, along with teaching customers about the dangers of software piracy. About 65 percent of Microsoft software used in Mexico is pirated, according to company statistics.

Windows XP Starter Edition will not be sold in retail form; computer manufacturers will distribute it with new PCs. A number of local OEMs have already signed on to use the low-cost operating system.

Despite its altruism, Microsoft has been criticized by Gartner for the software's inability to grow with users as they advance their technical skills. A Gartner report recently concluded that due to its limitations, users may become frustrated and feel that Microsoft is attempting to push an upgrade.

Nonetheless, Microsoft remains optimistic about the program. "It is an initiative that provides access to technology for more Mexican homes, and through that, it sees towards a more competitive Mexico," said Felipe Sanchez Romero, CEO of Microsoft Mexico.

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