It's the second such announcement from Microsoft this week. On Monday, the company announced plans to launch a similar program in Russia. Last month, it introduced the concept in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Microsoft says it has no plans to broaden the program to additional countries.
The 12-month trial programs are intended to gauge the success of selling discounted native-language versions of Windows XP in countries where the operating system's $199 list price for home users is deemed a barrier to widespread acceptance, giving no-cost or low-cost Linux distributions an advantage. The targeted customers are first-time PC users in developing technology markets. Microsoft wants to "study the benefits" of the program to consumers, software and hardware partners, and the governments of those countries, as well as to itself.
Microsoft hasn't been specific about how Windows XP will be priced in the five countries, but the licensing fees are expected to be substantially lower than elsewhere. Changes to the operating system will be made to support users in those countries. For example, Windows XP Starter Edition will include a revamped help system called My Support with a built-in "getting started" guide. And it will come with country-specific wallpaper and screensavers.
However, the operating system also will lack some of the advanced features of the Windows XP standard edition, such as PC-to-PC home networking and printer sharing across a network.