Microsoft Japan to ship over one million XP SP2 CDs

Microsoft Corp.’s Japanese arm will begin giving away more than a million CD-ROMs of the company’s latest security update, Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) from 27,500 locations during September and October, the company said on Thursday.

Downloads have been available from the Microsoft Co. Ltd. web site starting Sept. 1. Microsoft will ship the CD-ROMs, plus paper instructions, to 2,500 PC retailers by Sept. 17 and 25,000 post offices by Oct. 1, Kazunori Ishii, a Microsoft spokesman, said on Thursday. People will be able to pick up the CDs free of charge, he said.

“We are sending the CDs to post offices from Hokkaido (in the north of Japan) all the way down to Okinawa (in the south of Japan), so it takes a little time,” he said.

Microsoft hopes that more than 40 percent of Japan’s Internet users will eventually download the updates. Ishii said the SP2 update file can be as large as 270MB. The company wants to make sure that people who don’t have broadband, or those who might feel uncomfortable about downloading SP2, have the opportunity to update, Ishii said.

“The CDs are also for beginners, or for those who are still unsure about information technology. We’ve included an explanation magazine with the CDs,” he said.

Microsoft will not say how much the free distribution is costing the company.

This is not the first time that Microsoft has distributed CD-ROM updates to users in Japan. A year ago, the company began a month-long giveaway of CDs containing updates for its Windows XP operating system to about 2,000 PC retailers. That distribution was in response to prompting by the Japanese government, which was worried about a series of virus and worm attacks that had hit the nation’s Internet infrastructure over the summer of 2003.

This time, the idea for the free distribution of SP2 CDs came from Microsoft, although the measure has the support of Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT), Ishii said.

Japan’s increasing number of broadband users are still outnumbered by those on narrowband. At the end of 2003, 48 per cent of home PCs were connected to the Internet by broadband, and 52 per cent of users connected by narrowband, according to the MPHPT.

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