Microsoft Corp. will introduce the Windows XP Starter Edition in India early next year, the company said Wednesday, two days after announcing similar plans for Russia.

A stripped-down, low-cost version of Windows XP, the Starter Edition is meant to increase the penetration of Microsoft’s operating system in developing countries. Microsoft previously announced plans to release the Starter Edition in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Starter Edition received endorsements from the Indian government, and information technology associations in India such as the National Association of Software and Service Companies in Delhi, according to a statement from Microsoft. Several multinational and domestic PC makers have also indicated that they will offer machines with the Starter Edition.

India’s PC sales were up by 39 per cent from sales in the same quarter last year, according to the Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAIT) in Delhi. Aggressive pricing by PC vendors helped improve PC penetration, especially in households and small and medium-size businesses, according to the MAIT.

A Hindi language interface and resources such as help and training in Hindi will accompany the Indian Starter Edition, Microsoft said.

Starting in early 2005, desktop PCs with the Starter Edition will be available through Microsoft’s OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners and distributors across India. Microsoft Corp. will introduce the Windows XP Starter Edition in India early next year, the company said Wednesday, two days after announcing similar plans for Russia.



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