Microsoft Selling Software for $3 to Reach the 5 Billion People without PCs

Microsoft software will sell for just $3 in some parts of the world in an attempt to reach the five out of six people worldwide still not using computers. The software giant has a goal of bringing computing to a further one billion people by 2015 (doubling the current number of computer users). Bill Gates made the announcement during a speech in Beijing:

“All human beings deserve a chance to achieve their full potential. Bringing the benefits of technology to the next 5 billion people will require new products that meet the needs of underserved communities; creative, new business approaches that make technology more relevant, accessible and affordable; and close collaboration between local governments, educational institutions and community organizations.”

Here’s how it will work: Microsoft will provide the $3 Student Innovation Suite to governments that agree to purchase PCs directly for students to use in their schoolwork and at home. This new suite of software will start shipping in the second half of this year and includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live Mail Desktop and many other educational products.

Minimum eligibility for governments is that they pay for at least half the cost of the computer, though the software can also be used on refurbished computers. Microsoft explains that refurbished computers can be purchased for as little as $50.

So now the developing world has the $53 Microsoft computer vs. the OLPC $100 laptop in the works. Whichever becomes more viable, it’s only good news for those 5 billion people without computers…

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