Microsoft aims to add 1 bln more users by 2015

SEATTLE Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:33am EDT

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates waits to testify about American competitiveness before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington March 7, 2007. Microsoft Corp., trying to meet its goal of doubling the number of computer users to 2 billion by 2015, promised to cut its software prices to governments in developing countries that provide free computers to school children. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates waits to testify about American competitiveness before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington March 7, 2007. Microsoft Corp., trying to meet its goal of doubling the number of computer users to 2 billion by 2015, promised to cut its software prices to governments in developing countries that provide free computers to school children.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp., trying to meet its goal of doubling the number of computer users to 2 billion by 2015, promised to cut its software prices to governments in developing countries that provide free computers to school children.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced the program at a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.

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.

"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.

The company is working with retailers and computer makers in Brazil to test a pay-as-you-go system, because that model has been successful with mobile phones in the country.

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